By Kabiru Muhammed Gwangwazo
Mamoon Baba-Ahmed who died at slightly over 70 years of age, last Friday (February 9, 2018) was a great broadcaster, a courageous one who did his job with uncommon passion, not minding whose ox was gored, so long as he was sure of what he was about.
Principled Mamoon was driven by ideological convictions in all his interventions as a journalist; principles not many of us today are able to stick to. During the tempestuous Second Republic, he gave Late Malam Aminu Kano and PRP a platform to ventilate the views of their faction. He was FRCN Kaduna correspondent in Kano.
Despite the charged Kano political atmosphere between 1979 and ’83, Mamoon would voice commentaries on issues many a lesser journalist won’t dare touch with the longest of poles. It was such dangerous times that had the Maitatsine lunacy and the July 10th 1981 Kano rampage torching government property and roasting Rimi’s Political Adviser, Dr. Bala Muhammad alive. Yet, Mamoon was the public voice of opposition to late Abubakar Rimi’s PRP government. He was an avowed PRP believer serving the NPN FG’s FRCN Kaduna.
His interviews posed the toughest questions for the high and mighty. Heated verbal political exchanges of the type pioneered by Mamoon on radio led to dousing of violent physical fisticuffs. Mamoon and his “ALKAWARI K’AYA NE” programme anchor, Halilu Ahmad Getso promoted the alternative view for Kano’s avid Radio Kaduna listeners. Radio Kano on the other hand had its own lead political programme, “ZAMANI RIGA” anchored by Umaru Muhammed and late Sule BK Zaria.
These radio vents paved the way for today’s teeming radio warriors, most not born in 1979 or even 1983. Yet they are no doubt principal beneficiaries of the courageous journalism of Mamoon and his co-pioneers.
In the Kano of PRP/NPN, of Rimi and Aminu Kano PRP you could earn the beating of your life for simply saying your mind. Whether what you said was true or not didn’t matter. Mamoon did get beaten up many times, especially from Rimi’s PRP fanatics, whose party and government were at the receiving end of his peppery reports. Of note was Mamoon’s report of Rimi’s return from Hajj in a chartered jet and salacious tales of contraband he claimed was imported on the plane by the governor.
By 1981, I was with Radio Kano. Mamoon Baba-Ahmed had then been in the industry for a decade, first as a continuity announcer at Radio Kaduna in 1971. He was a respected senior colleague, an inspiration to us on the state broadcast stations.
In the build up to the 1983 general elections, I was co-anchor of the first political programme of CTV, “LALE KATI,” produced by Ishaq Hadejia, now MD of Jigawa TV. Halliru Adamu Gwangwazo was LALE KATI lead anchor.
Incidentally Halliru is still a regular voice on Radio Kano, reading the Hausa news. Since last month, he’d hosted Radio Kano’s breakfast programme, “SABAHUL KHAIR” introduced by new MD, Umar Sa’idu Tudun-Wada, himself a veteran of CTV and founding top executive of Freedom Radio.
From 2011 to 2012 as MD/Editor-in-Chief of The Triumph newspapers, I invited Mamoon to write a regular column which he happily did for free. He took up issues of relevance to the North and Muslims with his down-to-earth fiery prose.
He was also published on The Triumph’s Hausa newspaper, “ALBISHIR”. At the same time we also had the good fortune of running the flowery prose of his younger brother, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed on our pages as we worked to revive The Triumph, an effort that had started yielding fruits before its inexcusable shutdown. Thankfully, that decision has now been reversed. I visited the two Baba-Ahmed brothers in Kaduna to thank them for their contributions and to firm up our commitment to this family of journalistic giants.
During the visit, I told Mamoon how in late 1982, November, I was saved a beating at the hands of PRP Aminu Kano “Tab’o” fanatics. I was at the Kano Airport reception for Late Malam Aminu Kano on return from his last medical trip to the UK. Some of PRP’s agitated fanatics who wouldn’t have anything to do with Radio Kano or the CTV I reported for, luckily mistook me for Mamoon. On account of assuming I was “Mahmoud Baba-Ahmed” they gave me protective cover. Though not nearly as fair complexioned as late Mamoon, I was then of a similar physique, with his lean and Fulani/Arab looks.
Learning from Mamoon and other trail-blazers, I had always insisted on extending CTV coverage to all political parties and factions. That was a time many of my colleagues were not disposed to doing so. That earned me and CTV many friends from amongst the political class of the Second Republic. Many of these contacts have since grown into lifelong friends, brothers, mentors and really reliable political associates and important news sources.
Mamoon was a pioneer of ALHERI Radio on retiring from the public service. After ALHER’Is founding CEO, Khalifah Baba-Ahmad died, he took up management of the media group to stabilise it.
He was a delight to watch on political programmes. His sharp queries on political and good governance issues always kept the viewer glued to his programmes. That was Mamoon on ALHERI Radio and on LIBERTY TV, another Kaduna-based private broacaster that he latterly headed.
Mamoon is a veteran worthy of emulation by younger journalists. He was so versatile. First known as a broadcaster he drifted into print journalism, running a Hausa newspaper from Kaduna for most of his later life as a journalist. He wrote regularly for such newspapers as our Triumph set up by his cherished Aminu Kano PRP Government. He maintained regular contact with readers on AMINIYA of the TRUST newspapers stable.
In 1983 he headed Kano State Radio for three months after Rimi’s PRP/NPP had lost out and PRP’s Sabo Barkin Zuwo had become Governor. That was a fitting recompense for his consistent support of the PRP he believed in. He was later to head Kaduna State Broadcasting Corporation (KSBC).
I pray Allah, arRahman, shower His Mercies on Mamoon and care for those he left behind. May Allah forgive him and reward him for all the good he did for us as a people. He was a worthy heir and ambassador of the renowned media practice of the Baba-Ahmed family of media faces and giants of note in the Kaduna media axis.