Rem­i­nis­cences with 104-Year-Old Muhammed Badisha

Sunday Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Kabiru R. An­war,Yola

Muhammed Badisha is 104 years old. At this age he can still an­swer phone calls and read text mes­sages from his mo­bile phone with­out the aid of eye glasses. When our cor­re­spon­dent called to sched­ule an in­ter­view with him, it was ex­pected that ei­ther an aide or a fam­ily mem­ber would an­swer, but Badisha picked up the phone and in­tro­duced him­self as the cen­te­nar­ian we were look­ing for. And he gave a vivid de­scrip­tion of his house.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view in his home, lo­cated at Muham­mad Mustapha Way, Jimeta, Yola North, al­though he found it dif­fi­cult to re­mem­ber the ex­act dates some of the events he re­counted took place, his nar­ra­tion was co­her­ent. He kept his phone close, check­ing at short in­ter­vals to read in­com­ing text mes­sages.

He spoke about his early days while work­ing for the Bri­tish colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tion and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies. He also spoke about his re­la­tion­ship with the Sar­dauna of Sokoto, Sir Ah­madu Bello, the late Lamido Adamawa, Al­haji Aliyu Mustapha, among other peo­ple who be­long to the first gen­er­a­tion of Nige­rian elites.

Go­ing down 100 years of mem­ory lane, the re­tired man­ager re­called events and re­mem­bered names of peo­ple who played im­por­tant roles in his pri­vate and work life, as well as towns he came across since child­hood. How­ever, he of­ten paused and strug­gled to re­mem­ber dates. His 80-year-old sec­ond wife, 60-year-old third wife and two of his sons who were with him dur­ing part of his ac­tive days helped to fill in some of the gaps.

As a child, he learned the Qur’an and sev­eral Is­lamic sub­jects from lo­cal schol­ars be­fore his fa­ther en­rolled him into an el­e­men­tary school in Yola. In­ter­est­ingly, at that time, par­ents were op­posed to western education and hid their chil­dren to avoid en­roll­ment. Badisha could not for­get the moral and ma­te­rial sup­port he en­joyed from his fa­ther dur­ing his school­days.

His fa­ther, Saad, a skilled ar­ti­san in the colo­nial era who worked in the United Africa Com­pany (UAC) in Yola, had re­alised the im­por­tance of education in hu­man de­vel­op­ment. He, there­fore, did his best to raise an ed­u­cated child in an era when western education was not a pri­or­ity. It was con­sid­ered alien to the peo­ple’s cul­ture and val­ues, es­pe­cially in north­ern Nige­ria.

Hav­ing passed his el­e­men­tary school ex­am­i­na­tion with high grades, he gained ad­mis­sion into the mid­dle school in Yola, where he spent four years. His best sub­jects were Math­e­mat­ics and English.

Af­ter mid­dle school, he was em­ployed by the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties as a cler­i­cal of­fi­cer in Yola.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, he helped in re­cruit­ing soldiers. A re­search con­ducted by our re­porter showed that from 1940 on­wards, Bri­tain con­scripted more than 200,000 soldiers and labour­ers from West African colonies and fer­ried them to serve in the mil­i­tary in East and North Africa, as well as Asia. By July 1945, a to­tal num­ber of West Africans on the oper­a­tion was put at 164.850, out of which the ma­jor­ity, 92,000, were from Nige­ria, 47,000 from the Gold Coast, 21,000 from Serra Leone and 4,500 from The Gam­bia.

Af­ter work­ing for the Bri­tish ad­min­is­tra­tion in Yola and Gombe, the young Muhammed was em­ployed by the UAC in Gusau and Maiduguri. At that time, a ri­val com­pany, John Holt, dis­cov­ered his man­age­rial skills and tried to snatch him, promis­ing higher pay and bet­ter con­di­tion of ser­vice. But to keep him, his em­ploy­ers in­stantly in­creased his pay to match the huge of­fer from John Holt and moved him to Kon­tagora. Fi­nally, how­ever, John Holt suc­ceeded in get­ting his ser­vices and sent him to Maiduguri be­fore tak­ing him to Kano, then Gusau.

When the com­pany moved him to Kano, an Arab mer­chant, Al­haji Hashim, be­came his friend and the two be­came close con­fi­dants. In Kano, he met and mar­ried his first wife, a rel­a­tive of the present Emir of Paki. He later mar­ried a sec­ond wife from Gusau.

From Kano, he was trans­ferred to Maiduguri, Jos, Sokoto, Kon­tagora and Kaduna re­spec­tively.

While he was the head of a UAC branch in Sokoto, his su­pe­ri­ors in Lon­don sent au­di­tors to in­ves­ti­gate an al­leged fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety af­ter his col­league ac­cused him of an unau­tho­rised sup­ply of goods to a group of Ara­bian mer­chants.

Badisha pro­vided his sales records and stayed away from of­fice for sev­eral days to al­low the in­ves­ti­ga­tors do their job. When the au­di­tors found noth­ing in­crim­i­nat­ing and cleared him of the al­le­ga­tion, he re­signed. His su­pe­ri­ors in La­gos and Lon­don were sur­prised at his ac­tion and pleaded with him to re­scind his de­ci­sion, but he re­fused.

Many prom­i­nent per­sons, in­clud­ing Sir Ah­madu Bello, Sar­dauna of Sokoto, who be­came the premier of North­ern Nige­ria, were his friends. The Sar­dauna trusted him and the two re­mained close un­til the for­mer was a

as­sas­si­nated in the 1966 coup.

He said that Sar­dauna en­rolled his first son, Ah­mad, into the Ma­ga­jin Rafi Pri­mary School in Sokoto.

Badisha was in Kaduna dur­ing the reign of his friend, Sar­dauna, as the premier of North­ern Nige­ria. The premier asked him to join a com­pany, Amal­ga­mated Tin Mines of Nige­ria (ATMN) in Bukur as a se­nior in­dus­trial re­la­tions man­ager in 1965 to serve as his eyes there. He was in Bukur be­tween 1965 and 1969 when he vol­un­tar­ily re­signed and took up a new ap­point­ment in an­other com­pany. He re­tired from ser­vice in 1973 and re­turned to Yola.

While in re­tire­ment, a trading com­pany in Yola, Mai Damisa Trading Com­pany sought for his ser­vices as an ad­min­is­tra­tive man­ager. He worked in the com­pany un­til 1983 when he re­signed.

Badisha lost his first wife, Hadiza Yari but now has three wives: 80year-old Jum­mai, Ladi and Marka. He gave birth to a to­tal of 25 chil­dren, out of whom 20 are alive. They in­clude Ahmed Muhammed Badisha; Ab­du­laziz Muhammed Badisha, Di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Code of Con­duct Bureau, Abuja; Ibrahim

Muhammed Badisha, an As­sis­tant Comp­trol­ler of Cus­toms; Colonel Yusuf Muhammed Badisha, who works at the army head­quar­ters and Aliyu Muhammed Badisha, a staff of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Works, Power and Hous­ing in Bauchi. He has 80 grand­chil­dren.

Badisha also spoke about an ex­cep­tional re­la­tion­ship with his child­hood friend, the late Lamido Adamawa, Aliyu Mustapha, who oc­ca­sion­ally left his palace to visit him on the other side of the state cap­i­tal. He said the monarch would leave his royal en­tourage out­side his house and spend many hours dis­cussing with him.

The cen­te­nar­ian de­scribed the late Lamido as a de­pend­able friend who sacri­ficed a lot for his sub­jects at a time when lead­ers ex­uded ar­ro­gance, greed and dis­re­gard for old friends.

“Lamido Aliyu used to visit and spend hours with me in this house. Mem­bers of his en­tourage would stay out­side wait­ing for him while we dis­cussed per­sonal is­sues and ad­vised each other. The late Lamido was a good man; he was not ar­ro­gant at all, that’s why his sub­jects loved him. He lis­tened to his friend,” Badisha re­counted. He called his sec­ond wife to tes­tify to Lamido’s hu­mil­ity and gen­eros­ity when he vis­ited the fam­ily.

“When­ever he vis­ited this house, he brought gifts to my fam­ily. He gave her a big house worth mil­lions of naira. The house is still there. We were child­hood friends,” he added.

He also nar­rated how Sir Ah­madu Bello spent a night in his house at Kwanan Dan­gora when he trav­elled along Kano-Kaduna road. In the morn­ing, he asked about the owner of the house and was sur­prised when he learnt that it be­longed to his friend, Muhammed Badisha. The premier quickly sent for him and it was a

meet­ing of old friends. Af­ter a long dis­cus­sion, the premier of­fered to in­tro­duce him to the head of the Mar­ket­ing Board in Kano to take up a job there, but Badisha felt he could not work with the man, so he re­jected the of­fer. The premier then in­tro­duced him to the white man in charge of Amal­ga­mated Tin Min­ers of Nige­ria (ATMN) in Bukur.

Apart from the Sar­dauna, he be­friended other prom­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties like the late Al­haji Su­laiman Gurin, a for­mer se­nior district of­fi­cer; the late Wazirin Sokoto, Sheikh Ju­naidu; Al­haji Hashim, a mer­chant in Kano and fa­ther to the late Ab­dal­lah Hashim, for­mer per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Pe­tro­leum Re­sources dur­ing the regime of Gen­eral Sani Abacha.

He was also close to a Sec­ond Repub­lic politi­cian and busi­ness mogul, the late Waziri Ibrahim, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the de­funct Great Nige­ria Peo­ple’s Party (GNPP) who was his col­league at UAC and John Holt. His as­so­ci­ates also in­cluded Pa­trick Pam from Plateau State and Mr Dotri.

Badisha men­tored many prom­i­nent Nige­ri­ans, in­clud­ing Al­haji Gambo Jimeta, the for­mer In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice and the late Al­haji Ab­dal­lah Hashim, for­mer per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, Fed­eral Min­istry of Pe­tro­leum. He played a crit­i­cal role in set­tling dis­putes in his com­mu­nity and con­trib­uted to the de­vel­op­ment of his state.

He has two sib­lings: a 93-year-old im­me­di­ate younger sis­ter, Ha­jiya Ladi Jimeta and his younger brother, Al­haji Umaru Said, who is 89 years old. He speaks Hausa, Ful­fulde, Ara­bic and English lan­guages flu­ently. Those who know him de­scribed him as hon­est, in­tel­li­gent and prin­ci­pled.

Al­haji Badisha re­ceiv­ing a copy of Qur’an and other prizes from a com­mu­nity leader

Al­haji Muhammed Badisha

Al­haji Badisha, his two wives, his sons, Ahmed (with cap) born in 1954, Ab­du­laziz and oth­ers

Al­haji Badisha on bike then as a man­ager with the UAC in Maiduguri around 1963

Al­haji Badisha in his of­fice at John Holt in Sokoto in 1954

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.