What this means is that the Sardauna succeeded in creating a united entity
out of diverse tribes and this was strengthened by the general
use of the Hausa language in the region?
How was he able to achieve this remarkable legacy? How did he create a
common identity for such a diverse people, who lost their
individual identity for the word North?
Let me answer with a few examples. There was a young secondary school
graduate from what is today Plateau State who passed out with flying
colours. The Sardauna came across his name when he was going through the
results of college examinations as he formed the habit of doing
so. He was so impressed with the results of that particular student that he
ordered that he be brought to Kaduna.
When those ordered to do so arrived their house, his father became
apprehensive, wondering aloud what offence his son might have
committed that he was to be taken to the Sardauna. As the messengers had no
idea, he became more worried and pleaded that he should be
allowed to accompany him.
This was granted. They arrived Kaduna in the
evening and straight to the Sardauna's residence where they met
him having his dinner. The Sardauna was informed of their arrival and
invited them to join him for dinner. Both father and son were afraid
until he the Sardauna, stood up and held the father's hand and sat him down
to have dinner. The son was asked to join. The two were
still not themselves.
After dinner, he told them why he wanted to see
the boy. The father was relieved and more so when the Sardauna showered
them with gifts.
He was said to have told them that " your son has done the North proud in
his examination so we are sending him for further studies
The lesson here is that the Sardauna was concerned in the matters of
individuals in his domain and this very much endeared him to the
people. The young boy was not a Muslim, a Hausa or Fulani. He was a
Christian from one of the minority tribes in Plateau. Yet his
achievements were recognized by a Fulani Muslim leader which consquently
made it possible for the young man to graduate from a
British university with a degree in mining engineering. It was exceptional
that a leader would concern himself of going through
school reports after each academic year and rewarded individuals purely on
merit. The Sardauna saw every one as a human being and not
as Birom, Kanuri, Hausa or Higgi.
General Jemibewon, then from Kabba Division, now in Kogi State, once
narrated how he got admission into the military school. There were
several of them he said from different parts of the North. It so happened
that the three of them that came from that Division came
tops. Inspite of their non Hausa-Fulani and Muslim status, they were the
ones recommended by the Northern Nigerian Government and they
were admitted. Jemibewon is a Northern Yoruba.
A friend of mine once told me that he had an occasion to visit a family in
Mangu Plateau State. In the house of his host, a Christian
stood a life-size portrait of the Sardauna. On enquiry, he was told that his
education was personally sponsored by late Northern leader
and he was the only Christian among his six other brothers. The rest are
Muslims. Yet he was the closet to the Sardauna spending his
holidays in Kaduna with him.
Another told me that a son of late R. B. Dikko, the first Northern medical
doctor, and the first president of the NPC, once narrated to
him that when they were young, the Sardauna was always visiting them on
Sundays. During one of such visits he found them playing and
wondered why they didn't go to the Church. On explanation, that their father
was still in bed, he drove them personally to the Church.
Chief Sunday Awoniyi, The Sardauna "kekere" and one of the highly principled
and respected Northerners ever, has never failed to tell
any one who bothers to listen that his first Bible was purchased for him by
the Sardauna. He has also been saying that each time he,
Gamji, was in Illorin on an official visit he stayed in the house of a
friend who was a Christian. And this brings us to what we may call
the Sardauna men. There were people like Micheal Audu Buba, from Plateau,
Edward Maminso from Adamawa, Jolly Tanko Yusuf from Taraba,
Mr. Achimugu from Kogi and several other notable Christian ministers who had
very close political relationship with him. His deputy the
Makaman Bida was not a Hausa/Fulani but Nupe.
Unlike what we have today where opposition is seen as enmity, Mallam Aminu
Kano, the late leader of the NEPU was one of the best friends
of the Sardauna who he highly respected. The late NEPU leader never had to
book an appointment before seeing him both privately and
officially. It was the same with the late Tarka, the leader of the UMBC.
Even when he was leading the Tiv uprising, they were always on
speaking terms with the Sardauna.
Thus, Gamji never saw political opponents as enemies but as friends in
different camps dedicated also to the Northern cause. Underlying
all this was the singular objective to ensure Northern unity inspite of
diversity. His quest for THIS was not only limited to the North.
He was reported to have told Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo
something to this effect " Don't envy the unity of the North
but worry about the division in the South so that we can have a united South
and a united North in a united Nigeria". It was upon
this that he once advised Dr. Nmamdi Azikwe that for us to achieve unity in
Nigeria we need to appreciate our differences so that we can
live of them. This is what we are lacking today. If only we can recognize
our differences and allow each to live according to them,
we would go a long way in building structures for unity.
During a debate in the House of Representatives in 1953, Chief Enahoro
called for self-government for the various regions by 1956.
The Sardauna responded that the North would never oppose such a move for any
region but that the North hadn't the needed manpower to stand
on its own. This infuriated Southern leaders and so started the lucrative
business of insulting Northerners by them and their media.
It is this democratic position they always cite that the North was opposed
to independence. What they failed to appreciate was the
working of federalism. In any case, the North became self-governing in 1957.
There was a strong opposition to the establishment of ABU on
grounds that the North hadn't the needed students for admission. The
Sardauna's response was that it will be good for students from the
South to come over so that they will understand our culture and this will
thereby promote national unity. He then added: in the next ten
years, we will be needing more universities to accommodate students from the
region. How right he was. Today, in addition to Federal
Universities, we have State Universities in Benue, Kogi, Kano, Nasarawa and
Adamawa. These do not include other tertiary
institutions such as Polytechnics, Colleges of Education's and others.
I have given these examples to demonstrate how the Sardauna tried to build
bridges of unity across the country by taking even the interest
of individuals, into account not to talk of those of groups.
Let me cite a specific example of what honesty could be. A one time military
governor, in one of the Northern States, once related to a
group of few Northerners that when the military took over power in 1966,
they discovered huge amount of money in the accounts of the NPC
whose president was the Sardauna. In Addition, they found the expenditure
profile of the party. According to him, after
consultations with the defunct Interim Common Services Agency, the body
established to oversee the distribution of Northern assets after
the creation of more states in 1967, it was decided that the sum be shared
to those institutions left behind by the Sardauna such as the
New Nigerian, FRCN, Kaduna Polytechnic, ABU Zaria and others. It was with
its own share that the ABU started its School of Basic Studies.
FRCN Kaduna used its own to acquire several powerful transmitters which are
still in use to this day, built an additional office
complex and a housing estate in Malali and other parts of Kaduna. The New
Nigerian applied its own for the same purpose. Thus, those who
passed through the ABU School of Basic Studies should bear in mind that they
are beneficiaries of the living evidence of Sardauna's
honesty and prudent management of public funds.
But this wasn't all according to the officer. What surprised them most was
that the Sardauna, in his capacity as the President of the
party, issued a query to a minister, who was a party officer, for failure to
account for 50 kobo! Imagine only 50 kobo! Compare this to
what is happening today where there are claims that a governor stole about
N2 billion and nobody can query him.
This is why I keep on saying that the nemesis of what happened in 1966 would
remain to hunt Nigerians. We murdered innocent people on
the false accusation of corruption only for us now to discover that they
were the angels of the time. The Sardauna left no house behind
except, I understand, the traditional mud house in Sokoto. Same with Tafawa
Balewa who was yet to finish paying the balance of his car
loan of N30 before his murder. Since their death Nigeria has never known
peace to this day. It is Allah punishing us for the sins we
have committed against them until we repent and seek forgiveness. Consider
the various calamities we have been experiencing since 1966
when they were murdered. Allah is punishing us for killing innocent people.
The Sardauna was in power between 1952 to 1966. He had no
house, no car, and no savings! A councilor was in power for just three
years. Today he is a millionaire! Why would Allah not be angry
with us for murdering them on account of allegation of corruption while
history has now demonstrated that this was merely a frame up
Any wonder that the legacy of unity left behind by the Sardauna has been
shattered such that the North can no longer speak with one voice
even when there is the need to do so. Any wonder also that a Sardauna is yet
to emerge from among us almost 36 years after his murder.
Look at the situation today; the suffering of the people under this Obasanjo
Government. Yet some Northern Leaders, in collaboration with
others, sold out for peanuts; because of money without bothering that this
administration has brought unprecedented hardship to ALL
Nigerians. How can any leader in his conscience seek the return of this
Government when even its Governors admitted openly that they can
not market Obasanjo any longer? Yet, the same people went ahead to endorse
him on the promise that he would cover up their misdeeds.
What happened after he made this promise and got what he wanted? Soon after,
they requested for the names of their Governors under probe by
ICPC and now there is no place to hide for some of them. We now know that 9
of them are under probe. Obasanjo quickly broke his promise to
them that if anointed PDP flag bearer, ICPC would drop all investigations
against them. What is the situation today?
The Governors of the Niger Delta, who equally sold out, were promised that
the Offshore/Onshore Bill would immediately be signed into law.
So far nothing is happening. Promises are not vows with our politicians
today. Nemesis is catching up with those PDP governors
who sold out their people to this poor performing administration. Allah
Talking of Northern unity brings us to the now cordial relationship between
General Buhari and General Babangida brokered by His Highness
the Sultan of Sokoto and President Shagari. This is a worthy legacy to their
credit in the spirit of Sardauna's philosophy of one North
one People one Destiny irrespective of differences.
Our leaders of today must build on this legacy by taking deliberate steps to
bring our people together, as did the Sardauna. The building
of unity is the best we can honour the Sardauna.
Students have also a role in this. Through their various organizations they
can bring together our quarreling leaders. I
hereby therefore charge the Gamji club of the Dan Fodio University Sokoto to
spear-head this by bringing together our leaders to
dialogue among themselves as Nigerian students did in 1944 which eventually
led to the formation of the NCNC. This party was
established by the Nigerian students of the time as their contributions
towards uniting the people against the British colonial
administration. You should therefore link up with your other colleagues,
tour the North on a mission of peace, unity and
reconciliation, preaching always against violence, religious and tribal
differences and working for the unity of our people in
friendship and brotherhood.
Today, we are a fragmented people, easily manipulated by all, killing
ourselves after a divide and rule tactics has been applied against
us. The forth-coming election is a test case for our unity and brotherhood,
based on our past experiences. Let our leaders be united
and maintain contacts with others across the country, with clear promise and
understanding and let us live up to our promise. We have
a golden opportunity to salvage this nation and our region from the maladies
of the past and I pray that Allah will guide us rightly.
My parting words is for you as students to be united irrespective of
differences, to preach against violence, intolerance, on the basis of
differences because you have a role to play in the well being of this
country. Nigeria belongs to you and so you must not allow some few
individuals to break it up. A fragmented Nigeria is not in your interest.
Stand up and unite the people of Nigeria in honour of the
Sardauna who died fighting this cause. May Allah guide and help you in doing
so and may Allah rest his soul in perfect peace. Amin.