By Ali M Ali
‘The joy of a dying father is the presence of a worthy successor’…late Dan Masanin Kano, Yusuf Maitama Sule
HISTORY was made last Friday, December 15th, 2017 in Katagum emirate of Bauchi State in particular. The 12th emir was appointed. It was classic. History beckoned, Governor M. A Abubakar, the advocate and respecter of popular will, hearkened and Emir Baba Umar Farouq, the kingmakers’ choice, was appointed.
Stripped bare, history is no more than yesterday’s events related today. The past is more or less, the action or inaction of men and women of power who defined or shaped the occurrences of that era. Still, history is no more than ordinary mortals doing extraordinary feats, of individuals who rocked the boat for good or bad, and often changed the course of history. Examples abound.
Webster dictionary defines history thus “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.’’
The present is the net result of yesterday’s incidences. And so it was with the selection and eventual appointment of Alhaji Baba Umar Katagum. He was a prince, actually the Crowned Prince, destined for the throne of his forebears.
Years before the passage of the patriarch and titan that was the 11th emir, the late Alhaji Muhammad Kabir Umar on December 9th, 2017,it was manifest that Baba Umar Farouq’s majestic WALK to the throne was unstoppable. He had an edge over the others. First, he was the eldest of all the siblings. He was also the district head of Shira. In the traditions of Katagum Emirate, the occupant of the throne of Shira is more or less, the “king in waiting.” Once on that throne, he assumes the status of the “heir-apparent.” Unless due to some unforeseen circumstances, he is destined for the royal plum when a vacuum is created. It ceases to be an “if” and becomes a “when.’’
As district head of Shira, one is being groomed to eventually succeed his forebear. For years, the late emir, the colossus that was Alhaji Muhammad Umar Kabir who breathed his last on Saturday, was personally mentoring Farouq, the new emir.
The late emir was indeed, a goliath; a rare breed; an icon of statecraft. An old school that schooled the new school. He was actually a bridge between the two schools. An oasis in a desert. Sojourners questing for knowledge of the here and the hereafter naturally berthed at this oasis to drink from the fountain.
He walked side by side, with the venerated Ahmadu Bello, the first and only Premier of Northern Region.
An embodiment of humility, his life trajectory at once engenders awe and respect.
WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia, details his earthly sojourn as follows: he was born in 1934 and received his education at the Bauchi Middle School between 1948 and 1949 after which he went to the then Clerical Training College now Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria where he studied local government administration between 1950 and 1951. He later proceeded to the UK for another course in local government administration.
He also attended many courses and seminars within and outside Nigeria all in local government administration. Before his selection as the Emir, he had held various offices as Native Authority scribe at the Central Office in Azare in 1949. He was then appointed as the District Head of Sakwa between 1952 and 1957 and he became the District head of Katagum in 1955. In 1966, he was the NA Councillor for Natural Resources and from there, he was moved to Shira as the District Head. He was also Minister of State, Premier’s Office, Kaduna (1957-1960); Minister of Internal Affairs, Northern Nigeria (1960-1966); he had earlier been elected into the Northern House of Assembly (1952-1966) during which he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Land and Survey in 1957. Between 1976 and 1978, he was the Chairman of Bauchi State Housing Corporation. In the same year, he was appointed Chairman of Bauchi State Development Board, Chairman, Board of the Governing Council of College of Islamic Legal Studies, Misau (1986- 2001). He was also at different times, the Pro-Chancellor, Provisional Council of Federal University of Technology, Yola; Chancellor, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and Chancellor, University of Calabar.
As with all history makers, his death at the ripe age of 89, caused shock waves beyond Katagum Emirate. Tears flowed in torrents. It created a vacuum difficult to fill. This is more against the backdrop of the 37 years he spent on the throne. But not to worry. A worthy successor was at hand – Alhaji Baba Umar Farouq, the district head of Shira.
Even before he was appointed officially, the social media was awash with the news of his ascension. I was inundated with calls. Each sought to confirm if the rumour was true. Some of the mongers spoke with authority. They cited tradition to back up their argument. The late emir ascended the throne nearly 40 years ago after being district head of Shira. The eventual successor too, is eminently qualified and prepared for the job at hand. He is the oldest male of the children of the departed monarch. He is a retired federal permanent secretary. He is the choice of the kingmakers. Except for two contenders, all his siblings rooted for him.
The kingmakers presented three names to the government as required by law. History beckoned. Governor Abubakar did the needful. He lived up to his reputation of doing the right thing at the right time. He hearkened to history and affirmed the choice of the kingmakers. And their Baba Umar Farouq was announced as 12th emir. History again, has been made!