Reminiscences with Muhammad Jibo
to reintroduce their former ways. And they did. Because the new person had insisted on taking over after one month, I handed over and enjoyed myself for two months. A railway staff could board train to anywhere for free. Therefore, I enjoyed myself for two months, travelling to different parts of the country.
After the two months of relaxation, what happened?
I was posted to Zaria as a telegraphist. I was responsible for sending messages. At the end of 1955, I received a verbal instruction that I should report to the Institute of Administration, now Ahmadu Bello University’s Institute of Administration, for training. I was surprised because I didn’t have anything to do with the government.
I refused to move until when the pressure was too much. I was then earning 9 pounds per month, but when I reported to the institute I was placed on a monthly stipend of 1 pound with some shillings. At that time I had a wife and she gave birth to my first child, a month earlier. So you can imagine the challenge, especially the decline in income. I left my wife and child at home and bought two bicycles, which I gave out for hire. The income gotten from the bicycles was given to my wife to take care of herself and the child.
Because of that posting I had to resign from the railway. At the institute, I was given a uniform and a single room. The training was for a Diploma in Accounting.
Another problem came up. About 28 of us were enrolled in the programme, but at the end of the course, all of us failed. The reason was simple. At that time, Sardauna was implementing his northernisation agenda. So, if we were allowed to graduate, it would mean that he would have a crop of northerners to complement the agenda. Europeans were then managing everywhere.
After they said we had failed, two of us were asked to go back and teach the next set of students who were admitted the next year. Remember, we were not given any certificate. We taught. After that, we were appointed into the civil service.
The next thing I am going to say would make you laugh, but it was a serious issue. Having successfully taught the intakes that came after us, in 1956, the two of us were made to sit for the same examination as our students. The students passed, but the two of us failed. However, a gazette was issued giving us the same rights as those that passed.
After that I was posted to the same institute. Later, I was posted to the juicy side of the institute, that is, the finance section. Later, I was asked to engage in training the finance staff of the whole North. I hardly spent 10 days in my house.
In 1967, there was fraud in the institute and they wrote to the Ministry of Local Government to send somebody to investigate. The ministry asked the institute to appoint somebody to conduct the investigation. I was on tour when they recalled me to do the job.
When I came, I gave them my terms. Prominent among my terms was that no one should interfere with my job. They accepted. Within a week, I did everything, but sent the report after two weeks. The ministry found the report exciting and therefore, said that the person who did the report should be allowed to implement it. I was, therefore, appointed as the supervisory bursar to implement my report. After implementing the report, the bursar was asked to leave and I was made the new bursar.
I was the bursar of the Institute of Administration amidst many challenges. Before this appointment, when the Ahmadu Bello University was established, all the members of staff in the Ministry of Local Government, except me, were given an option to move to the university or remain with the ministry. That was because the institute was under the ministry. I was told that I was for the university. When I moved to the university; they couldn’t place me on any scale because I was not qualified. Remember, I don’t have any paper qualification except my school certificate.
Again, the whole staff members of the bursary department were from eastern Nigeria and the bursar was European. Remember, Sardauna was fully engaged in northernisation. When I went there, the bursar saw me as being posted to take over his position. I was too young to bother myself with what was happening.
On the other hand, I was the first northern person to work with those people from eastern Nigeria. A committee had to be set up to provide a special scale for me below those in the university. I was appointed as Administrative Officer, Account, whereas my colleagues were senior accountants and accountants.
However, by 1964 I overshadowed everybody. I was considered for the rank of senior accountant. But the bursar refused to allow me take over that position. After another year, the then Vice Chancellor Ishaya (Audu) had to come in and set up a panel and I was found worthy of being a senior accountant.
The bursar called me and said he would not write my promotion letter. I called his name and said, ‘Even if you are on death bed you would sign my promotion letter.’ He was ordered to do that and drafted the promotion letter. He signed the letter and resigned as bursar.
Again, I jumped out from hot to boiling water. Somebody who was appointed the bursar hated me. At the ABU, I repeated the same thing I did in Kafanchan. Because the new bursar didn’t want to see my face, he posted me out. I set up the bursary department in Bayero University, Kano and the Dan Fodio University, Sokoto. Because of that, I was sent to Maiduguri to start the bursary department there. That was between 1967 and 1972.
The workload in Maiduguri was not much, so I enjoyed myself there. A report came to Zaria that I was adding weight because of enjoyment and I was called back. But I was later sent back to Maiduguri.
Remember that in all the job I had done, up to the time I became the bursar of ABU, I was not sent on any course. All I had was my secondary school certificate. When I was made the acting bursar, I was not even aware because I was on my way to Zaria from Maiduguri. I was only asked to report back to Zaria.
When I arrived Zaria, I went to the bursar’s office. He knew that I was the new bursar but I didn’t. He kept me in the office and left. After closing hours, I went to my house. It was the registrar who followed me to my house and told me the new development.
The following morning I went to meet the bursar in the office. I challenged him on why he left me in the office. I told him that I was not even aware that I was the new bursar. I told him that whether he liked it or not he must work with me. He said he would not work with me. I, therefore, told him that he would lose his job.
The day I entered the bursar’s office, all the staff members of the department, including the bursar’s secretary, were laughing at me, saying that Jibo was not qualified to be the bursar? But within six months, from the vice chancellor to the lowest staff knew that I was the bursar.
What was popularity?
responsible for your
Skills and principles; and these earned me many nicknames, one of which was “the man who only listens to himself.’’ That was because the University Council could decide on something, but if it was not in line with the rules and regulations of the university, I would not obey the decision.
I imbibed that culture of transparency because of an incident that happened when we were in the middle school. A colleague of ours defrauded the Native Authority and he was marched to the football field, with all students gathered. His offence was revealed and he was subsequently jailed. The fraud was only on seven shillings. I, therefore, told myself that I would not do anything that would compromise my integrity. Up till date, I can’t remember when I collected money unofficially from anybody.
What was your relationship with the vice chancellor?
Let me tell you an episode that would help you to understand the nature of the relationship. When I was going through bursary documents, I found a letter sent by the Federal Government on the entitlements of Ishaya (Audu) who was a onetime vice chancellor. But up to the time I took over as bursar, nothing was done about it.
I took the file and went to the vice chancellor, but he asked me to forget about that. I came back to my office and made up my mind that I must pay him his entitlements. Up till today, as far as I am concerned, there has not been a better vice chancellor in ABU than Ishaya. He believed, worked and delivered for the North. So I sat down and worked out all his entitlements and took the file to the Central Bank in Lagos and got authorisation to pay him. The vice chancellor just heard of it because it was my right to pay.
Unfortunately, when it was the turn of the vice chancellor to leave, they forgot what they did to Ishaya. In addition to his entitlements, they wanted more to be added. But I said no, he would get his full entitlements and no more.
A dinner was organised for the principal officers of the university in honour of the outgoing vice chancellor. I didn’t know that one of the reasons for the dinner was to trick me. I did not take anything because I was used to taking tuwo in the night; I had already eaten. I was going out when the chairman of the Council called me and said, “We want to use this gathering to settle the issue of the vice chancellor’s entitlements.’’ I told him what he was entitled to. He said that as the chairman of the Council he wanted me to do something else. I said that as bursar I could not do that. He, therefore, told me that the Council would sit and decide and I must do it. I told him that somebody else could do it but not me.
Two days later, the Council met and decided that the vice chancellor should be given those things he was not entitled to. The chairman asked if I heard the decision of the Council. I said yes and added that the Council would regret the decision. I couldn’t wait to get to my office, so I collected a sheet of paper on the way, wrote my resignation and gave it to the chairman.
The Council did not know what to do. They started asking me to come back. In fact, when a send-forth dinner was organised for me, the Council chairman, who sat next to me, asked what I would do after leaving the university. I told him that my take home pay as bursar was about N500 and after leaving, I would be receiving N850 as pension every month. He did not utter a word again. This
Remember that in all the job I had done, up to the time I became the bursar of ABU, I was not sent on any course. All I had was my secondary school certificate. When I was made the acting bursar, I was not even aware because I was on my way to Zaria from Maiduguri. I was only asked to report back to Zaria
“When I moved to the university, they couldn’t place me on any scale because I was not qualified”