Tribute: Remembering Ahmadu Bello on anniversary of the establishment of ABU Zaria, by Comrade Olumuyiwa Onlede

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Late Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto) and former Premier of Northern Nigeria.

Tribute: Remembering Ahmadu Bello on anniversary of the establishment of ABU Zaria, by Comrade Olumuyiwa Onlede

Today marks another anniversary of the establishment of the great Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, the citadel of learning where leaders are made, an institution that was your brainchild.

Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto) and former Premier of Northern Nigeria, your vision in establishing the school was to give quality education to your region in order to liberate them and make them competitive even within Nigeria and outside of it.

But the dream later became bigger than anyone could envisage because Ahmadu Bello University which started as an institute of Administration became the largest University in south Sahara and the biggest in the North of Limpopo. The School through the management extended its tentacles to every part of Nigeria and Africa as a whole. No wonder the school is the most liberal University in Nigeria where every tribe and ethnicity is well represented.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, I remember you because I am part of the story of the school as a beneficiary of your great vision and that prompted me to go the extra mile to study your person and it was easy to discover and understand that your motive and your political will and ability to serve your people was second to none. And if anybody were to doubt it they should remember how you established Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and not in Sokoto your home state.

Throughout your lifetime you demonstrated the kind of selfless leadership that makes the world a better place for everyone. Today there is nearly no old state capital where you don’t have a street named after you and this is not because you were rich as an individual but because you sacrificed personal interest for the interest of your people and you served with integrity.

Today leaders across the board, from political to religion to traditional leadership are people whose appetite for public wealth is completely insatiable.

The moral hygiene that made you go through the sacrifices you made is now lacking in our society.

Those that were alive then during your rein and those of us that have been made alive courtesy of history will remember that you wrote a will that when you are no more the ownership of your farm in Shika present day Katsina State should be transferred to the government as you said the farm was a proceed from government coffers.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, I remember you on this day, you were so clear about what you have to do to serve your people better and about what they wanted. Your clarity can be found in your word that you spoke in the early 60s that the north then was behind the south in education and there is a need for something to be done urgently. Your leadership was the kind of leadership that made the north compete with other regions and not the kind of leadership of selfishness that will make you compete with other premiers for personal aggrandisement.

Your agricultural revolution that made northern Nigeria a toast of even other countries is one of the reasons the queen of England then had no choice but to award you with the honour of ‘SIR’ the agricultural feat today is a shadow of itself due to the discovery of oil in the southern part of the country.

According to history, I remember how you saw Christian students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kongo campus where the school started, from worshipping under a tree when it was about to rain and you ordered the building of a chapel for them, which is now chapel of resurrection.

You told your cabinet how necessary it was to work hard for the betterment of the people so that the north will not lag behind in future. All those words that you spoke are still as evergreen as when you spoke them. In order words, you can be termed as the man who saw tomorrow. You saw tomorrow coming but the enemies of our dear country Nigeria did not allow you to witness the tomorrow and so on the 15th day of January 1966, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and his counterpart Major Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna planned and executed that bloody coup that consumed you, the premier of northern Nigeria, Akintola of the western region, Okotie Eboh who was finance minister and Tafawa Balewa who was the Prime Minister and the rest of the finest and most patriotic and dedicated leaders Nigeria ever had. After that coup Nigeria has never remained the same again, different kinds of leaders started emerging from different parts of the country in a claim of government of national unity that was led by General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, but the unity they prophesy is still very elusive in Nigeria today after more than fifty years.

Leaders whose greatest claim to fame was that they exploited their people and destroyed their regions and states dotted Nigeria’s politics. We started having leaders who could not see what you saw sitting even when they are standing on 10-story buildings.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, I remember you and in a manner that is completely invincible to me, I know in your grave you are turning uncomfortably and weeping uncontrollably because your region and the whole of Nigeria is bleeding. The northern Nigeria that you laboured and sacrificed a lot for in terms of education, economy and agriculture is bleeding, from her armpit in Borno she bleeds, a state that can be so rich and viable economically, sharing a border with three different countries is only known for the wrong things lately, people killing their innocent brothers for no just cause, it does not stop bleeding there, in Zamfara State she bleeds, one of the highest resource state in Nigeria with a Gold deposit worth billions of naira under her belly, she also bleed in Niger State, a state that was so peaceful sometime ago has been in the newspaper headlines lately for the wrong reasons, in Plateau state anyone below the age of twenty is younger than the crisis in the state, in Katsina state she bleeds, men killing men for no reason, in Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Benue, Kogi State she bleeds. In other words, your region and the country that you fought to liberate from the chain of colonialism are turned asunder.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, that is why most of us that believe in your leadership and vision are saying if it is the sin of shedding your blood and that of your contemporaries on the 15th day of January in the year 1966 is the cause of our predicament then we apologise on behalf of the perpetrators of the most heinous coup in the history of our country Nigeria.

Today the reason for that assassination has been defeated, as those that saw nothing wrong in that January 15th, 1966 act are the loudest in the agitation for a regional in what they called restructuring of the country back to the kind of system they dismantled.

Today it is done on everybody that patience, patriotism and greed can never work together and that nobody can eat his cake and have it.

Our dear country Nigeria which was ahead of Brazil, India and South Korea when you held sway is now a shadow of herself. That is why we remember you today, if your leadership and vision were not interrupted, Nigeria would have been an attraction to other civilisations.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, you were right those that truncated your government were wrong.

Comrade Olumuyiwa Onlede is the
Executive Director, Citizens Awareness Against Corruption and Social Vices Initiative.

Culled from the Summit Post.

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