Pondering on the life of Sir Ahmadu Bello




Okikiola  Qasim

Queen Elizabeth School was founded in 1956; the school was the only Government School, while others were missionary at that time. The initiator of the school Sir Ahmadu Bello founded the school with the vision of breeding future leaders who will be proficient in all fields of endeavour and most importantly mothers who will give birth to many successful Nigerians and future leaders.

Undoubtedly, the school since inception has been able to achieve the objectives of its founding fathers given the high calibre of women it has produced. They are found to be movers and shakers of the Nigerian society either in government or business. This is a reputation which the school has often flaunted with the slogan, “We Are Always First”. Among the first as listed on the School’s Notice Board hung in its reception is the  Former First Lady of Nigeria, the Hon. Justice Fati Lami Abubakar who is the current Chief Justice of Niger State;

First Female Presidential Aspirant, Mrs. Sarah Jubril; First Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Dr. Gambo Laraba Abdullahi; First Female Engineer in the North – Engr. Yelwa Tella; First Female Veterinary Doctor in West Africa – Dr. (Mrs) Fabunmi; First Executive Secretary, National Women Commission – Dr. Eyantu Ifene; First Executive Secretary, National Mass Literacy Agency – Hajia Iyami Amina Kere Ahmed; First Female Solicitor-General and Director-General, Ministry of Justice, Kwara State – Mrs. Nima Salman Mann, First Executive Secretary, Kwara State Women Commission, Mrs. H. S. O. Alayoku; First Provost, College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi – Dr. Mrs. Comfort  Adu; First Generation of Female Commissioners and Directors General in Northern Nigeria including Salamatu Audu, Hajia Aduke Kuranga; business executives such as Chief (Mrs.) Ruth Otitoju, Hajia Airat Rasaq, Hajia Muinat Bola Shagaya, Mrs. Mariam Pam, Mrs. Eniola Olubobokun, Hajia Amosa Adewusi, and most importantly Hajia Aishatu Ojuolape ZulQarnayn Gambari,  CEO Princess Grace Foundation.

Indeed God used the Sardauna to initiate such a wonderful institution with many ‘firsts’ more than 60years his exit from mother earth, his vision and passion was informed by the believe that women must be educated as ordained by Allah and practised by the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (SAW). The Queen Elizabeth School just like other old Secondary schools in Nigeria has had a history of excellent academic performance by its Students. These students as shown by their calibre did not only leave the School already made, they also graduated from universities and other higher institutions of learning in Nigeria with distinctions in their respective disciplines.
At the occasion to mark the 60th Anniversary of the School, under the initiatives and sponsorship of Hajia Aishatu Ojuolape Zulqarnayn Gambari, Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari OCORT, CFR, the former UN under Secretary and former Nigeria Minister foreign Affairs delivered the Keynote Address. In his submission, he said we are here celebrating two National institutions;

the first was the Founder, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello as a national institution, a charismatic leader, uncompromising believer in the unity of this great country, and the second institution being the Queen Elizabeth School, Ilorin at 60. Despite the difficulties of travelling at that time, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello would travel once every month to visit his school, Provincial Secondary School, Ilorin. He said we are always happy to see him because he would give us 30 pounce and a cow. Apart from the gift he would always encourage us to study hard and be ready to serve our fatherland in all capacities. The record has it that he extended the same gesture to all the school in the north.

He wondered if there is any leader who can step in the shoes of the late Sadauna in terms of checks and balances. He said another amazing feature of the Sardauna was the fact that he was indeed from the royal family, but he never allowed that to dictate his relationship with anybody. Man of many people as the Sultan of Sokoto then usually referred to him, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello was the Sardauna of Sokoto and leader of Nigeria’s Northern Region during the last years of British rule and early independence.  He was brutally murdered at his home during a 1966 coup d’état, one in a series of events characterizing Nigeria’s political instability.
Sir Ahmadu Bello was born in the North Western Nigerian city of Sokoto in 1910 into the family of a leading Islamic reformer.

After schooling and at the age of 23, Bello began his political career by seeking the post of the Sultan of Sokoto. Later he became the political leader of Rabah District in Northern Nigeria. During the 1940s Bello helped establish the Jammiyyar Mutanen Arewa, which later became the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) in 1951. He soon became President General of the NPC and Minister of Local Government, Works and Community Development. Bello was appointed the First Premier of Northern Nigeria in 1954.
Unlike other Nigerian political leaders who envisioned a single, united nation after independence from the British, Bello saw his primary mission as protecting the interests of the people of Northern Nigeria.  He soon found himself in opposition with Nigerian Nationalists from the Southern Region.  Bello, however, never sought leadership over all of Nigeria.

He found fulfillment in his position as leader of the Northern Region and President General of the NPC, which at the time was the largest political party in Nigeria. Bello was made a Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1959.
The importance of Bello in Nigeria’s political history can be seen in his leadership in the NPC.  He understood the concerns of the Northerners about domination by Southern Nigerian and worked to promote education and development in the North.  He also recognized its inevitability and worked to ensure that the predominately Muslim North would not be excluded from various government development projects by the central government.  He established Bank of the North, the Northern Nigerian Development Company and Ahmadu Bello University.

Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello was killed in 1966 which is 50 years ago, ten years after he founded the Queen Elizabeth School, Ilorin and the school is also on the verge of celebrating the 60th Anniversary of its existence. Today we all remember him for his conviction about the girl child education and wonderful love for the unity of this great nation.
Chairman of the occasion Barrister Sanni, in his opening remarks thanked the initiator and the sponsor of this great initiative Hajia Ayisha Zulqurnayn Gambari for her bravery and efforts in remembering the source from where she rode from, to the higher ladder of success in life.

The chairman expressed the wonderful experience he had with the late Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello during his several visits to Nupeland. Most especially at every Islamic gathering, the picture of Sardauna will be found there, and to his surprise Sardauna was not from Nupe but he was popular more than some Nupe Leaders. Secondly, every year Sardauna will visit Nupeland and every community will be happy to receive him and in any Islamic prayers or supplications, the prayers for Sardauna must be done before that of any other person.
Then I kept wondering on the achievements of our great Sardauna and I concluded that it is not how long we live in this world but how well, if not for the love and efforts of Sardauna in the North, what would have be the situation of women education in the North and that was why I said that this man must be a great man who has done greatly to earn the respect of all.

The lesson here is that when we do good whether as rich or poor, we will be remembered. Today’s occasion is to remind us to continuously pray individually and collectively for the repose of our late legend, Sir Ahmadu Bello. May Almighty Allah admit him into Paradise.
He said, today’s occasion became more unique with the presence of a renowned scholar who delivered the keynote address and been an Ambassador of highest repute that served this country at the world level, is also one who had benefited from the quality leadership of the late Sardauna of  Sokoto. He urged Nigerians to always remember the contributions of all of our past leaders and continuously remember them in prayers. This way, we will not only be blessed by God but our own children will emulate such gestures and celebrate good leadership.

The National Deputy Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Sheikh Ahmad Onilewura in his Second Keynote Address, said Nigeria has lost a legend and a pillar who believed in the unity of our nation, the golden voice of Africa as he was also been referred to by the British. He said the establishment of the Queen Elizabeth School Ilorin on May 21st, 1956 by the then Northern Region Government under the leadership of the late Premier of the Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello was a response to the clamour for a special college that would provide sound education for girls in the region to improve girl-child education. He said no doubt this was in conformity with the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (SAW).

He said one the uniqueness of late Sir Ahmadu Bello was that he earned the appellation SIR from the British which means he was a member of the British Empire (MBE). He prayed Allah (SWT) to admit him into Paradise. He urged all Muslim leaders to emulate the exemplary leadership of Sir Ahmadu Bello. Hajiya Aishatu Ojuolape Zulqarnayni, in her appreciation to the guests, said one of the objectives of this occasion was to pray for the repose of the late Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello and others that were killed unfairly. She said, she nursed the pains of their killing since she was a child. She wondered why good people like this should be eliminated unjustly. She prays God would forgive us all. NASFAT members and the Deputy Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque led the special prayers.

The side attraction at the event was brief comments from past students of the school, which was humorous and reflective.  Hajiya Iyami Amina Kere Ahmed’s speech at the occasion was also full of appreciation with historical background on the founding of the School by Sardauna and the benefits which they derived since then. She read out the messages of good will from the Former First Lady’s and of others that sent theirs through her.
The occasion was one of the best of its kind; it was well attended and well organized.

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