By Abdu Abdullahi
It is a matter of fact that forever, I will never cease recapping that memorable encounter with you that piloted my vast interest in you at the zenith of the ill-fated Second Republic.
I was in Jos then and watched your participation in a political programme aired by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Jos. I
t was also then that for the first time, I got to know Dr. Junaid Mohammed, the other participant. Both of you were special guests on the television programme.
Throughout your laudable presentation, I diligently deciphered how your intimidating and sonorous voice was manipulated by you to produce the most desired communication effects.
Deploying a sense of humour and compelling assertiveness, you proved to be an uncommonly Northern intellectual whose power of influencing public opinion was unrivalled. With the easy flow of arranged and refined ideas to stir the feelings, thoughts and emotions, I came to acknowledge and register your intellectual capacity and proficiency.
You were indeed intellectual amongst intellectuals. While the talk lasted and I wished it would have elapsed longer, your speech mastery enchanted my growing intellectualism and deepened my enthusiasm on you. Till your last moment, I remained faithful and loyal to your consummate intelligence.
As the years passed on, I kept and sustained my keen interest in you, reading more about you in the print media, listening to your heavy talks especially on foreign radio stations, discussing with people who also reserved tremendous respect for you and were eager for the right opportunity to narrate your outstanding qualities.
It was during that sober process that I came through your indefatigable character, which publicly shunned those materialistic idiosyncrasies and self complacency which many contemporary Northern intellectuals display to boost their self serving ego and depart from the aspiring cause of humbleness and humility.
Even if no one saw it, Allah was a witness that you converted your huge and productive knowledge in building humanity with unbridled passion and support.
Your deep knowledge was encompassing that it blended itself to meet the socio-cultural and economic needs of the time. In other words, you gallantly contested and canvassed for the sustenance of your society’s high valued culture via the instrumentality of education.
That marriage of the two variables significantly uplifted your personality to greater heights.
That also could have been the motivating factor that in the aftermath of the collapse of the First Republic, you advocated for Northern Nigeria core value of respect for constituted authority with progressive values of an open society. It was also for the same rationality that you led the formation of the Gamji Club in honour of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello.
I have every reason to believe and defend you that during your prolific years in the service of humanity, you belonged to no one and belonged to everyone. That culture of mass inclusiveness elevated you in the minds of those who were insatiable for a culturally-oriented world.
It was in this regard that many people and I comprehended why your big and accommodating heart was able to touch and soften the lives of people drawn from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
This was the compassionate culture that derived its root from your Islamic faith and beliefs. At one time, you were with the powers that be tapping your colossal resourcefulness to build the nation.
But that did not mislead you to lose contact with the common touch. Your charitable door was never locked to deny the poor and the needy to benefit from your economic resources.
To learn essential humility from the product of the Cambridge University, you could spend your last Kobo to add substantial value and meaning to the human soul.
Undoubtedly then, many had concluded rightly that you did not live for yourself like most contemporary intellectuals, but you rather lived for others and made their living worthwhile. And only the sky was your limit in that struggle for human fulfillment.
In you therefore, I instantly vouched for a Northerner equipped with proportional resourcefulness for peace, love and human development.
Thus, your innovative and flourishing ideas were not adulterating to the mind that you never advocated for academic chaos and anarchy to enhance your intellectual and political career.
The reason for this was not farfetched, for you chose to mix viable culture with sound knowledge. What would you expect from such a protruding, mutual and convenient integration? At last, you won for yourself exalted esteem which further enhanced your cultural potency.
Indeed, culture possesses universal meaning which you defiantly deployed to purge unnecessary and harmful social virus that were detrimental to the development of a healthy personality.
Interestingly, your vast, prolific and culturally-induced knowledge was not designed for self indulgence but marshaled it to ensure socio-economic stability and cultural establishment that could never be agonised by the crisis of illegitimacy.
The evidence for this was your firm and self determination to develop discipline within your hard-earned and fruitful knowledge.
It was knowledge that was promoted from abstractions to concretization level. It was living knowledge and not the type that was dormant and could not work to pioneer the progress of society.
In absolute reality, the best experience to talk about your prudent knowledge was your selfless services at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where you taught and groomed large minds in the Sociology Department.
During that memorable epoch, you exhibited knowledge at work and construction. You demonstrated the functions of knowledge to the real life platform, thereby becoming the envy of those who held back those functions. In the philosophy of Ibn Tayymiyya, “The disease that knowledge brings is arrogance.”
Truly, most educated people in the Western style are afflicted by this chronic disease of arrogance. Even if they had accused you of arrogance, they had no valid evidence for that.
All we knew was that the Talban Bauchi was never an intellectual who would see knowledge as a license for socio-cultural corruption, abuse and individual isolation. Fortunately, you never allowed that intellectual bankruptcy to severe your strong tie with your brainstorming exercise.
You remained faithful to knowledge in both its abstract and pragmatic dimensions.
Those whom you taught at the university knew that you never competed to be a false intellectual, as your focal point was to dispense knowledge at its fullest substance to enlighten the intellect and strengthen the will.
At this juncture, I must redirect this piece to an alarming theme that is making the life of your people reckless and bloody.
Not long after your demise to the great beyond, the Northern Nigeria was not the same you knew and understood. It started to set itself on the verge of self destruction.
It was just like a tragic dream that we woke to see us engulfed by multifaceted tragedies. For more than a decade, gunmen have been ruling the region. They have been spilling the blood of the innocent people without any reliable cause.
Under our watch, Arewa is gradually becoming inhabitable. It is assuming the kingdom of wilderness and human disasters. It is passing through the period of great dehumanization where human values and essence are no longer recognized.
It is a great pity and very agonising that I have to mention this because it is now part of our character and civilisation. In the face of these regional embarrassments, it will dishearten you to know that there has not been any formidable movement in the North to counter these evils.
The best we could do is to continuously condemn the pathetic situation without putting our heads together to fashion out befitting ideas to secure our failing region.
If you were alive today, you could have written a book on the sociology of the pervading insecurity afflicting the North. You could have enlightened our intellect with deeply sociological insights as to the menace of the Boko Haram and proffered positive way forward.
I had immense trust in your dynamic intellect that you would have ushered in a series of intellectual contributions to dismantle the forces of our woes.
It was the ordained will of Allah that you were destined to be born at Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi State and breathed your last in far away Cairo, Egypt on December 8, 2009 as a result of complications from diabetes.
Since your departure, life has not been the same in the Northern intellectualism.
Many Northern intellectuals are not willing to rise to our regional predicament. Your intellectual substitution is therefore still a herculean task as well as a great deal to undertake and accomplish.
May your soul rest in peace!
Abdullahi wrote in from Galadanci Quarters,
Ringim, Jigawa State and can be contacted through: email@example.com or 07036207998