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Dikko: The life of Danfodio’s grandson, the BBC broadcaster and a mathematician

By Luka Binniyat, Kaduna

The late vocal politician, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, was the great grandson of Sultan Aliyu Babba, the consolidator of the Caliphate who summoned the first conference for four empires. They are that of Ghana, Songhai and Fulani, his family claimed.

”Alhaji Umaru Dikko, therefore, is the sixth direct descendant of the Islamic scholar and reformer, Shehu Usman Danfodio, the founder of the Usumaniya Dynasty, or the Sokoto Caliphate”, the bio data of Dikko, released by his family, said.

He was, therefore, honoured with revered Zazzau title of Turaki Babba, in accordance with his feudal, Islamic aristocratic root.
But Dikko could have been a celebrated academic had he taken that path going by his precocious nature as a school pupil.

One year after enrolling into Kaduna Elementary School in 1946, little Dikko was promoted doubly to spend only two years instead of the usual four.
He arrived Zaria Middle School in 1948, to complete another three years of schooling to qualify him for secondary school entrance.

But he was so outstanding that after spending only 11 months, he sat for the entrance examination and passed. He enrolled into Barewa College, one of the premier post-primary schools of the North at that time. After six years in Barewa College, Dikko came out with Grade 1 in his   Cambridge School Certificate Examination. An all round science student, he entered the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology. Zaria, with the aim of becoming an engineer but abruptly changed his mind and became a broadcaster with the BBC.

Again he sat for arts subjects, alien from his science background and passed his GCE Advanced Level, with distinctions in two subjects while working with the BBC
In apparent conflict with himself, he dumped broadcasting after five years and enrolled to read mathematics at the Birkbeck College University of London in 1962, graduating in 1965 as the best graduating student of his faculty.

Upon his return to Nigeria that year, he was appointed into a senior cadre position in the Northern Nigeria government. When the military terminated the first civilian governments of Nigeria in 1966, Dikko was appointed the Commissioner of Finance, Economic Planning, Trade and Industry, North Central State, now Kaduna and Katsina States.

That marked Dikko’s steady rise in the public sector, holding plum positions, until 1977, when he was elected into the National Constituent Assembly to represent Kaduna and Birnin Gwari.


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