I met Sir Ahmadu Bello in flesh. How did it happen! Very simple. I was picked up from my parents at the age of five and brought to Sokoto by my elder brother the present Murum Mbula, Murum Joram Joel Fwa who was a teacher in a secondary school in Sokoto. We were living in a two bedroom house in Sokoto.
I still could vividly remember his shinning dark face and his sparsely populated beard.
My elder brother’s wife prepared a sumptuous meal. I got to know he was the one because my elder brother greeted him in Hausa “ranka ya dade Premier”.
I later got the details when I was fully matured to engage in a discussion with my brother. This is the full story. My elder brother was a teacher to younger brothers of late Macido, the eldest son of the then Sultan of Sokoto Sir Abubakar 111, who later became Sultan and my elder brother also became Murum mbula and they worked together in various Fora of traditional rulers before Sultan Macido died in a plane crash. In fact because of their long standing relationship, he made my brother the secretary of Northern traditional rulers Forum.
The younger brothers of Macido were very fond of my brother because of his teaching prowess. It was because of that Macido decided to get to know my brother and before you knew it,they had become close friends. Macido was a regular visitor in our house. He went a step further by introducing my elder brother to his father Sir Abubakar111.
When his son introduced my brother as Mr Fwa, his father changed it to Mustapha. Macido who was then the Magajin garin Sokoto. He promised my brother that one day he was going to bring Sardauna to his house and the D day came and here was Sardauna life.
My elder brother told me that Sardauna was very impressed with him. As soon they finished the dinner, he said to my brother that he had received reports of his competence and because of that, he would ensure that he was appointed as a principal. Sardauna fulfilled the promise because two months after his visit, he was made a principal and posted to craft school, Numan and within two years he was appointed the principal of a big school that was teachers’ college, Gombe.
What is the essence of this story? This a typical example of Sardauna none discriminately policy. That once you were competent, he never bothered whether you were Christian or Muslim. Once you were a Northerner, he would reward you handsomely because of your COMPETENCE and not because your ethnic or religious background. Secondly, it goes further to reinforce the humility of Sardauna. A whole Premier visiting the house an ordinary classroom Teacher?
These two character traits resonated through out his tenure. He knew that the North was heterogeneous and backward. It was therefore not possible to engage in ethnic or religious bigotry. He was therefore for all Northerners. This was very pronounced in the armed forces. He visited schools in the north encouraging Northerners to join the armed forces, irrespective of your ethnic or religious affiliation. That was why it was possible for minorities and Christians to get admitted easily in the officers cadre. It was the detribalized policy of Sardauna which nurtured a united Northern Nigeria.
The slogan was one North, one destiny. Because of this solid, none discriminately policy of Sardauna, we developed an unbreakable Northern bond.
This policy outlived Sardauna for quite sometime. Even when there was a coup and Northern leaders were killed in 1966 (including Sardauna) and because of Sardauna’s none discriminatory investment in the armed forces, both Christians and Muslims were united, with no exception, to counter the coup that killed their leaders, largely sponsored by Southern Officers. Both the Muslims and Christians had no problem in making Gowon a Christian to be the Head of state because he was the most senior. As I said this Northern bond continued for some time.
It’s unfortunate the story changed for some strange reasons. Today the polity has been dangerously polluted with ethnic and religious bigotry and the worse is nepotism.
Because of lack of justice, the North has become a jungle where people kill each other based on religious and ethnic differences. It has become a theatre of war with the attendant backwardness, while the South West continue their policy of Omo Oduduwa, catering for the descendants of Oduduwa. They are not bothered whether you a Christian or a Muslim. The key qualification is you are a Yoruba. This is why they are the most peaceful and prosperous region. Igbos are definitely not politically sagacious, but they make up with their astute economic prowess.
While the South South embark on looting the treasury with the available derivation money and engage in merry making without the requisite investment and living their masses in abject poverty, ours is to use our access to power to fight each other on the basis of religion and ethnicity.
Oh our fellow Northerners are we fair to Sir Ahmadu Bello legacy with our discriminatory policies and our propensity to accumulate wealth primitively and use it for only our families and sometimes for our ethnic or religious groups and use the rest to purchase arms to kill each other.
The legacy of Sardauna has been turned upside down.
May the Lord deliver us from the anti Sardauna spirit and embrace the late sage’s inclusiveness, modesty, humility and thoughtfulness.