Re­mem­ber­ing Dr. Bala Mo­ham­mad

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Abdu Ab­dul­lahi

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, aaringim68@ya­hoo.com

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