By Musa Diso
I t was on Sunday, April 4, 2010 that the people of Kano woke up to the sad news of the demise of the Second Republic governor of the state and one of the nation’s best known politicians, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Rimi.
The death of the first civilian governor of the state, Alhaji Rimi, has drawn the curtain on a glorious era.
Thus the immortal quote of the legendary Williams Shakespeare perfectly fits in for the late governor when Walter Smith said: “When beggar dies, there is no comment seen, but heaven blazes for the death of princess.”
Smith corroborated Shakespeare when he said: “No great man ever lives in vain because the biography of the world is full of the works of great men.” Rimi was governor of old Kano State from 1979 to 1983.
Aminu Musa Diso, while describing the former governor as one of the nation`s best, said his demise has robbed the country of a refined gentleman, a focused leader and a man of integrity.
“Our late elder statesman, His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, was a man of unique conviction, who combined high level of competence, brevity, integrity and overwhelming passion for leadership development all of which have earned him rightful position of pride in the league of Nigeria very best 38 years after he left office as visionary governor of Kano State.
“His Excellency Muhammad Abubakar Rimi`s footprints have remained golden and effectual benefit to generation of citizens.
“He was a legend of purity in public service for which and whom the good people of Kano State will forever be grateful indeed one of the Nigeria`s best politician is gone.”
Sani Kwalli described Muhammad Abubakar Rimi as a politician par excellence. He said the former governor’s commitment and dedication to the development of the then Kano State remain a reference point for many.
Kwalli stressed further that as a pioneer governor in the state, the foundation for good governance by late Alhaji Rimi and his strong democratic culture keep resonating.
Former chairman of Kumbotso Local Government Area of the state, Alhaji Kabiru Ado, described Rimi as virtues of dedication, honesty and sacrifices, saying that the effort he made in the development of the state could not be overemphasized.
According to him, it was Rimi who laid the foundation for the growth and development of the state.
He recalled with nostalgia that as a pioneer civilian governor of the state, late Rimi stood for good governance and prepared the ground for present modern Kano State.
Rimi’s tenure was a huge success, a consummate politician, grass roots mobilizer, his life of simplicity was a source of inspiration to younger generation of politicians.
The list of late Rimi’s legendary projects from 1979 to 1983 include; establishment of Kano Television (CTV), which later metamorphosed to Abubakar Rimi Television (ARTV); creation of new Emirates of Gaya, Dutse, Rano, Auyo and Karaye; construction and commissioning of Bichi General Hospital; establishment of various secondary schools across the state; construction of road network and market in all nook and cranny in the state; sponsoring of Nigerian students abroad; and creation of Truimph Publishing Company Limited.
His legacies also include cancellation of Jangali and tax in the state; creation of Agency for Mass Education; construction of investment house Kofar Nassarawa and creation of KNARDA and KASCO among others.
The late former governor must also be remembered for being the first person ever in Nigeria to declare in Kano in 1980, the Worker’s Day on May 1, as a public holiday before the Federal Government of late president, Alhaji Shehu Usmanu Shagari copied it for the whole nation. Alhaji Rimi was born in 1940 in Rimi, a village in today`s Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano State.
In the early 1960s, he attended an Instructor`s Course at the Institute of Administration, Zaria. He obtained a General Certificate of Education from the University of London.
In 1972, he completed a Diploma in International Affairs at the London Institute of World Affairs, and later obtained a Master’s Degree in International Relations. In January 2006, his wife, Sa`adatu was killed at his home in Kano.
One of his sons was among the suspects charged in connection with the murder, but was later released. The mystery behind her murder is yet to be resolved by the security agencies.
At 24, Abubakar Rimi joined the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) led by the late Mallam Aminu Kano in 1964, which later metamorphosed into the People`s Redemption Party (PRP) and in1977, he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly to review what became the 1979 constitution.
In December 1978, he was elected the PRP`s deputy National Secretary at the party`s first national convention in Lagos. He was a PRP candidate in the 1979 general election.
Handsome and charming, Rimi was elected to the governorship of the old Kano State as candidate for the PRP in the Second Republic, a post he occupied from October 1979 to May 1983.
At the time of re-election, Rimi along with others revolted against Aminu Kano and factionalised the PRP. Rimi decamped to the NPP and lost a reelection bid.
The Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s regime in 1993 appointed Rimi the chairman of Nigeria Agricultural and Cooperative Bank (NACB).
He was later appointed Minister of Communication by the late General Sani Abacha’s regime. He was also a one-time chairman of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC). Rimi was one of the foundation fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He was the chairman of the Finance Committee of the party at its inception and also one of its presidential candidates. He later moved to the Action Congress (AC), but in 2007, Rimi returned to the PDP.
In December 2008, he called on the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, to resign from office, citing irregularities in the previous presidential election.
Rimi was also one of the founders of the People Salvation Party (PSP) which later joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
During the 1993 presidential election, Rimi was Chief M.K.O Abiola’s co-ordinator in Kano State. Indeed, Rimi was part of the G-34 group that wrote against Abacha`s transformation plan.
He criticized PDP`s power shift concept and even contested the PDP`s presidential ticket which had been zoned to the South.
He later supported Chief Olusegun Obasanjo`s emergence as the PDP flag bearer in 1999. Diso freelances for The Triumph.
Our late elder statesman, His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, was a man of unique conviction, who combined high level of competence, brevity, integrity and overwhelming passion for leadership development all of which have earned him rightful position of pride in the league of Nigeria very best 38 years after he left office as visionary governor of Kano State