Amadu Bello

Ahmadu Bello was born in 1909 in Rabah village in Sokoto Emirate to the family of Mallam Ibrahim Bello. Ahmadu’s father held the title of Sarkin Rabah. He was a progeny to Uthman dan Fodio who was the begetter of the Sokoto Caliphate, and a great-grandson of Sultan Muhammad Bello and a grandson of Sultan Atiku na Raba. He had Islamic education at home, where he learnt the Qur’an, versed in Islamic jurisprudence and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. He later attended the defunct Sokoto Provincial School and the Katsina Training College (presently Barewa College), now a college in Zaria, Kaduna State, northern Nigeria. Founded in 1921 by British Governor-General Hugh Clifford. During his school days, he was known as Ahmadu Rabah. He finished school in 1931 and afterwards became the English teacher in Sokoto Middle School.

In 1934, young Ahmadu Bello, just at the age of twenty-five was made the District Head of Rabah by Sultan Hassan dan Mu’azu, succeeding his brother. In 1938, he was promoted to the position of Divisional Head of Gusau (in present-day Zamfara State) and became a member of the Sultan’s council. In 1938, at the age of 28, he made attempts to become the Sultan of Sokoto but was not successful, losing to Sir Siddiq Abubakar III who reigned for 50 years until his death in 1988.

The new Sultan then immediately made Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna (Crown Prince) of Sokoto, a chieftaincy title, and promoted him to the Sokoto Native Authority Council. These titles automatically made him the Chief Political Adviser to the Sultan. Later, he was put in charge of the Sokoto Province to oversee 47 districts and by 1944, he was back at the Sultan’s Palace to work as the Chief Secretary of the State Native Administration.

Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, KBE (12 June 1910 – 15 January 1966), knighted as Sir Ahmadu Bello, was a conservative Nigerian statesman who masterminded Northern Nigeria through the independence of Nigeria in 1960 and served as its first and only premier from 1954 until his assassination in 1966, in which capacity he dominated national affairs for over a decade.

He became the leader of Northern People’s Congress NPC by default as a co-founder of the socio-cultural organization, Jamiy Yar Mutanen Arewa, of which Dr R.A.B Dikko was also a founding member. Jamiyar Mutanen Arewa, a Northern Nigeria cultural organization that later formed the nucleus of the Northern People’s Congress. Dr Russel Aliyu Barau Dikko, the first northern physician, was a civil servant and could not take part in politics. As the organization metamorphosed into NPC, Mallam Aminu Kano was considered for the leadership of the party but he broke away to form the Northern Element Progressive Union NEPU.

Ahmadu Bello vehemently opposed Enahoro’s motion for independence and he was quoted to say that “the mistake of 1914 has now come to the fore”. He called for the reversal of the amalgamation. In another case, he made the point; “I will deep my sword into the Atlantic Ocean”. Regarded as a way of explaining his dream of Nigeria as an Islamic country.

He was assassinated in the bloody coup of 15 January 1966 as the First Republic collapsed and a military dictatorship was established. The respect he commanded in the north was only surpassed by the influence of Uthman Dan Fodio, founder of the caliphate.

Yusuff Ibrahim

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