Remembering Dr. Bala Mohammad
The mammoth and violent crowd, like a swamp of locusts in search of crops for destruction, dispersed and launched into different locations of Kano City, ensuring that the targets of attacks were not spared physical devastations.
Rolling out their locally assorted weapons, the anarchists marched for an aggressive campaign tagged rampage. Out of sheer brutality and sadism, they exploded with maximum force looting, destroying and eventually killing at will. Already, their selected targets included government properties as well as a prominent figure i.e. Dr. Bala Mohammed.
That was Friday July 10,1981 when a total breakdown of law and order pervaded Kano and sacked peace and tranquility for a while. During the dark period, Kano was taken as a hostage under the Draconian regime of the rioters who were avenging the query served to the late Emir Ado Bayero by the late Governor Abubakar Rimi. The political ‘earthquakes culminated into the gruesome murder of Dr. Bala Mohammed, a young academician, leftist, nationalist. His lofty visions, dreams, hopes and aspirations for a just and egalitarian society also perished in the political inferno. He was 35 years old and until his assassination served as the political adviser to the late Governor Abubakar Rimi of Kano State for nine months.
Dr. Bala’s tragic demise was the handiwork of the reactionary forces who were uncomfortable with the progressive ideas for which he lived, struggled and ultimately paid the exorbitant price. Speaking on the ill-fated event, Dr. Haroun Al-Rashid Adamu lamented: ”People will understand first that late Dr. Bala’s death is the handiwork of those people, these reactionaries and secondly that the unknown about the phenomenon of death is not whether it is inevitable and will strike at every one of us but how it will come”
The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of Bala’s assassination are very significant in remembering him with a view to drawing vital lessons. On the ‘how’ phenomenon and based on an authentic evidence of his corpse, he was brutally subjected to killing by fire. As he was busy working in his office, the ungodly assailants set it ablaze in such a manner that he was liable to be destroyed like all the other material things within the office. Poor Bala! He sighted death coming even before his final breath due to abrupt emergence of vulnerability that engulfed him in a building surrounded by ravaging fire.
On the other hand, the ‘why’ of Dr. Bala’s murder generated different assumptions and explanations. For instance, a popular insinuation was held that the agents of Bala’s death released their wrath against him because of their stubborn belief that he was the architect of the query which, according to them, dented the image of the traditional establishment of the Kano Emirate. Perhaps, that accusation was too cumbersome and obnoxious for Bala himself also had his root in the same established order in Bauchi.
When Rimi was at the helm of affairs, he radically violated norms and conventions to allow progressive ideas reign supreme. Thus, he employed the services of some non-indigenes seen as radicals to broaden the spectrum of the progressive movement.
Was Dr.Bala from Bauchi not one of them? Was Dr. Haroun Al-Rashid Adamu from Zaria not made the pioneer Managing Director of the Triumph Publishing Company Kano? Was the late Rufai Ibrahim of Nassarawa State not crowned as the editor of the Kano based Sunday Triumph? Clearly, Rimi’s normative system of inclusiveness did not go down well with the emissaries of doom who apparently contested that by virtue of statism, Bala was politically unfit to partake in the politics of Kano. Hence, a golden chance was laid bare to eliminate him.
Meanwhile, the late Abubakar Rimi provided a more profound psychological insight as to the basic ‘why’ of Bala’s killing. Hear him:”The events of Friday July 10 are as unfortunate as they are sad. But they are events that should be expected in any struggle between progressive forces and reactionary forces in this country and everywhere else.”
Indeed, the progressive and reactionary forces are always at loggerheads. By progressive estimation, Bala dwelt in the progressive school discussing issues that were fundamentally viable for human development. He was a peace broker, innocent and championed the cause of social justice. His mind was so rare and great that it produced a prolific book titled: Africa and Non-Alignment- a study in the Foreign Relations of New Nations. In it, he accuses the imperialists of not subjecting Africa to technical education as a result of which the continent relies on the transfer of technology. The book also contains his sharp criticism on newly emerging Africa’s leaders. The vital portion has it that, “New leaders have emerged as the influential who get the most of what there is to get as indicated by Harold Lasswell in his book, Politics: Who gets what, when and how.”
Thirty five years after passing away to the great beyond, I still remember Dr. Asipko Essien Ibok describing Dr. Bala Mohammed as, “The most brilliant, most versatile, most electrifying intellectual Nigerian I have ever met.”I also hear the echoing words of Professor Wole Soyinka depicting him as “a rare and committed mind.”Rest in peace Dr.Mohammed!
Abdu Abdullahi, State Educational Inspectorate and Monitoring Unit (SE I MU) Du t se, Jig aw a State, firstname.lastname@example.org