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The inimitable Musa Jam-Jam

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By Gambo Dori

YESTERDAY, 13th of June, marked one year of the loss of Barrister Musa Ibrahim – Jam-jam to all that knew him. I knew him from that era of the 1960s when there was a great deal of mobility in the quest for education. Children from various parts of the country came to be in close proximity in the few colleges available then. Jam-jam came into Government College, Keffi, in 1968 as a fresher when I was already in form 2. He was an immediate hit in the college. He had the height, the build and a voice to match. He couldn’t be missed in any gathering. He was truly inimitable.

Again, I was a step ahead of him in School of Basic Studies on the main campus, ABU Zaria and subsequently in Kongo Campus where his Dept of Law and mine of Bus Admin were only bifurcated by the road leading to the main gate. It was in Kongo that he truly blossomed becoming prominent in every campus activity and even winning election as Secretary-General of the Student Union Government in 1975. His classmate and long-time associate, Arc. Bashir O. Usman sent in this eloquent piece to commemorate the one year anniversary of Jam-jam’s death. Please read on:

He was better known as Jam-Jam, his actual name being Musa Usman Ibrahim. Among friends and colleagues we often hailed him as ‘Pata Kasa’ because of his well-known penchant for harmless mischief. Not for him a dull moment in any setting he found himself. He would, in the company of friends often play the ‘devil’s advocate’, initiate and instigate harmless mischief, throw jibes that would leave everyone in high spirits and quietly withdraw and try to maintain a detached and innocent mien.

And so it was that on the fateful morning hours of 13th June, 2017, I woke up to answer the call of nature and out of habit glanced at my phone. Among the messages that came in was a particular one that jolted me out of my state of drowsiness. Instinctively, I sensed that our dear friend, Jam-Jam, may have finally answered the ultimate call, having been on admission at ABUTH, Shika for just over one week. My fears were confirmed as I read through the text. Thereafter, sleep eluded me for the rest of the night.

Yesterday, 13th June, 2018, marked one year since our dear friend, brother and colleague passed on. Yet, in the hearts of us all his memory remains as fresh as ever. This is because his various exploits, cheer, rare and endearing acts of kindness, humaneness, humility, camaraderie, unconditional love, in unalloyed loyalty and support, keep cropping up in our daily interactions   and conversations. So much so, that some of us, including the younger ones with whom he bonded so well from childhood through to adolescence, have, to date, found it extremely difficult to delete his telephone number from their contact list, out of love, and in deference to the fact that his memory will continue to live deep down in their hearts.

Our first meeting with Jam-Jam was in January 1968, as first year students of Government College, Keffi. I recall that he came in a bit older and more mature than most of us. We often joked that our principal. Mr. E.C. Patient, on account of his age, seriously considered sending him to the Teachers’ Training College as a more befitting institution for his age group.

Any product of the college would easily attest to the very strict code of conduct, discipline and strong emphasis on excellence as hallmarks of the years we spent at the College. For those who later served the Nation in various capacities, the Keffi discipline of their formative years reflected in their display of those rare attributes that have almost completely disappeared in our public life; integrity, honesty, dedication and very strict adherence to principles, processes and procedures without compromise. Examples abound in old students like Tanko, Kuta, Abdu Abubakar, Yaya Abubakar,  Sunday Adewusi, Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye, Victor Pam (Gbong Gwon Jos), Gen. Gibson Jallo, Prof. (Dr.) Shima Gyoh, Abdullahi Ibrahim, (SAN), Sylvester Onu (JSC) James Ogebe (JSC), Prof. AD Yahaya, Inuwa Jibrin, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Ibrahim Talba, Dr. Haruna Sanusi, Justice Nasir Ajanah, and a host of others too numerous to mention here. Among our mates were Maina Ma’aji Lawan, M.B Lawan, Prof. Abdullahi Abba, Abbas Tafida (Emir of Muri), Late Gen. Suraj Abdurrahman, Abdurrahman Abdallah, Prof. Mustapha Mohammed, Gambo Ahmed, Engr. Kayode Adeyemi, Frederick Durlong, Bala Musa Sakaba, Prof. Bashir Adamu Yakassai, Rev (Dr.) Irimiya Gado, Dr. Ogbole  Igbede. For each and every one of us, the formative years at G.C. Keffi provided the foundation for our disposition as well as attainments in the various professions and careers, both in public service and the private sector.

Barrister M.U Ibrahim served at various times as Chairman of Kaduna State Rent Tribunal, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser to the defunct Nigeria National Shipping Line, NNSL, and Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Katsina State.

He took time off his private practice (M.U. Ibrahim & Co) at various times to render public service whenever he was called upon. As a Bar activist, he was elevated to Body of Benchers, a capacity in which he served for several years, after which he became a Life Bencher, a rare honour and privilege accorded only very few in the Legal Profession.

Behind his carefree facade and self-effacing disposition, is one who was always fiercely loyal and dedicated to any cause he believed in. Jam-Jam was a study in humility and spartan living. I recall an occasion, when he was the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Katsina state. The then Governor, Saidu Barda, required his attention for an urgent matter. As there was a shortage of vehicles in the Ministry, having earlier directed his driver to use his official car to drop off some officials of the Ministry at the premises of the State High Court, the Hon. Commissioner hopped on an ‘Okada’ to Government House. As he was being dropped off, His Excellency, who was seeing off some visitors, was amazed to see his commissioner dropping from ‘Okada’.

There is an adage which admonishes us to teach our children the value of relationships, so that they would grow up to appreciate the value of people and discount material things. His belief in this adage was both deep and profound for he placed his relationships above all else and always seized every opportunity to strengthen bonds of kinship and friendship across all divides, thus adding value to every group to which he belonged. On 5th January 2018, our class of 1968 was looking forward to marking our 50th anniversary. The consensus was that all preparations and arrangements would have attained a high gear were Jam-Jam still around to make it happen. It is an event we still look forward to celebrating before the end of the year. One other group that would also sorely miss his contributions is the Basico ‘73 forum, where he was ever so active, always at hand to play the ’devil’s advocate’ until his indisposition and ultimate demise.

And having showed up at critical moments in our lives, we can only give thanks to Allah (swt) for the lessons gleaned from our time together. We thank all those who played roles at critical moments during the period of his indisposition, particularly Lai Mohammed, Prof. A Abba, Kabiru Aminu Saleh, Gen. T O Umar, M B Lawan, Bashir El-Rufa’i, and Arc. M. A. Dewu. May Allah (swt) forgive his transgressions, reward his numerous good deeds and grant him Jannatul Firdausi. Amin.

Arc Bashir O. Usman (fnia)




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