By Eric Teniola
The selection of Senator Kashim Shettima Mustapha (56), a Kanuri, as the All Progressives Congress, APC’s, presidential running mate has put spotlight on the Kanuris again. We know the Kanuris as dogged fighters.
In the First Republic, six prominent Kanuris were identified as flag bearers. They are Sir Kashim Ibrahim (1910-1990), Alhaji Zaana Bukar Suloma Dipcharima (1917-1969), Alhaji Waziri Kolo Ibrahim (February 26, 1926 – 1992), Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno (1926- July 8, 2016) and Alhaji Ibrahim Imam(1916-April 1980).
Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim rose to become the governor of Northern Region in 1962. Although he was not as powerful as the late Minister of Defence, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu (1910-1965) or Alhaji Aliyu Makama Bida (1905-1980) or even Alhaji Isa Keita (1912-1994), but he was loyal to the end to the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello (June 12, 1910- January 15, 1966), the Sardauna of Sokoto.
Shettima Kashim, as he was always known then, naturally became one of the most prominent Northern Region politicians. Among the founders of the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC, he was elected to the Northern Region House of Assembly in 1951 and from there to the Federal House of Representatives, where he served from 1952 to 1955; later he was in the Federal Senate. He was Federal Minister of Social Services in 1952-1953, and Federal Minister of Education from 1953-1955. In 1955 he joined Sir Ahmadu Bello’s Northern Region Government in Kaduna as Minister of Social Welfare, Cooperatives, and Surveys.
In 1956, however, he returned to Maiduguri to assume the traditional office of Waziri (prime minister) under the Shehu. He carried out very necessary reforms in the traditional local government. He was chairman of the Provisional Council of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for the two years before the new university opened in 1962.
In 1962, he was appointed the first Governor of the Northern Region. He was knighted by the Queen of England the same year. Though greatly respected, he had no real power in that post in the last years of Sir Ahmadu Bello’s rule over the Northern Region. When that rule was ended with the killing of the Premier in the first coup of January 15, 1966, Sir Kashim was briefly arrested. On his release he was appointed Adviser to the Military Governor of the Region, Lt-Colonel Hassan Usman Katsina (31 March 1933-24 July 1995) which however was soon afterwards abolished with the creation of states in 1967-1968.
Sir Kashim Ibrahim served as Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 1966 to 1977, and then as Chancellor of the University of Lagos from 1977 to 1984. He did not return to politics. He acquired little material wealth and had to sue for his pension as former Governor of the Northern Region. When he died on July 25, 1990 his reputation was shown by the great gathering at his funeral in Maiduguri, and by the appointment of his son, an architect, as Shettima of Borno soon afterwards. He is remembered as an ardent educationist who in spite of his strong traditional upbringing clearly perceived and promoted the values and virtues of modern education.
Alhaji Ibrahim Imam was the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress and later became a patron of the Borno Youth Movement. He was elected into the Northern House of Assembly in 1961, representing a Tiv district. Prior to his election in 1961, he had represented his district of Yerwa in 1951 after supporting a strike of Native Administration workers. He was born in 1916 into an aristocratic family and his half-brother was the district head of Yerwa. He attended Katsina College and after completing his studies joined the Borno Native Administration as an assistant and later became the supervisor of works in 1950.
While working as an engineering assistant for the Borno Native Authority, he entered the political arena as the founder of the Borno Youth Improvement Association in 1949. In 1951, he contested and won a seat to the House of Assembly, defeating Waziri Mohammed. A year later at the inception of the Northern People’s Congress, which later became the dominant party in the region, he was nominated as the party’s secretary-general; he joined a large number of his colleagues from the regional house who enlisted on the political platform of the new NPC. As the general secretary of NPC, he became one of the party’s prominent campaigners and was involved in political tours, traveling for thousands of miles while providing support for the extension of the party through the establishment of branches in various towns and cities in the region.
After leaving the Native Authority, he became a building contractor to supplement his income as an honourable member of the House.
In 1954, however, Imam resigned his position from NPC and left the party, citing the lack of a revolutionary platform for political reform of the local government in the North and also NPC’s movement towards a reactionary and imperialistic political union. A year later, he joined Aminu Kano’s Northern Elements Progressive Union and in 1956; he became the patron of the Borno Youth Movement, a young organisation that had grown out of its member’s disappointment with the native authority in Borno and the scandal of Waziri Mohammed.
In 1956, he encouraged a fruitful alliance of the movement with NEPU, particularly in Borno where the alliance later won two regional seats. But in a few years, Imam an ambitious politician was in need of resources to organize the alliance in Bornu and in the Northern region left the merger due to the inability of NEPU to contribute enough resources to strengthen the party in the region. He left NEPU and established an alliance with the Action Group of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909- May 9, 1987) and later became the leader of opposition in the regional House of Assembly.
in 1959, education secretary and councilor for education, works and social welfare Borno, Local Government, 1959-65; Federal Minister for Air Force and internal affairs, 1965-66; Federal Commissioner for Trade and Industries;1967-71 Minister Mines and Power, Petroleum and Energy, 1972-75.
Ali Monguno was also President, OPEC, 1972/1973 and a presidential candidate during the Option A4 elections in the early 1990s in Nigeria.
In politics, Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri was initially a member of NEPU; he organised the Damaturu branch of the association in 1950 and was the branch chairman in 1951. However, towards the end of the 1950s, Waziri joined NPC and was appointed the Federal Minister of Health in 1958.
To be continued…