Death came in the early hours of Saturday, 5th January to take away Ibrahim Katune in his Kaduna home, on his bed. He died peacefully in his sleep after complaining over the weekend of headaches and dizziness.
M. Ibrahim would be remembered as a man of the people, a friend to nearly everyone, an enemy to no one. He harboured no ill-will to anybody. Members of his family and his friends would readily attest to this most endearing of qualities.
The late M. Ibrahim was born and spent his first years in Dogondaji, Tambuwal Local Government of Sokoto State. His education started in Dogondadji Primary School. After a spat with an expatriate when he was 18 and left his job he was brought up and educated by Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki who also hailed from Dogondaji. Under the Sultan's tutelage he imbibed some first principles: hard-work, orderliness and punctuality: attributes which he retained all his life.
After Secondary School, Ibrahim undertook professional courses including, in mid-career an intensive Senior Management course at the famous Harvard University in the United States.
The bulk of his working career (1959 - 1977) was in the NNDC. Under the Chairmanship of the late M. Ahmed Talib and leadership of M. Musa Bello, NNDC was a power-house of economic activities affecting the Northern States. M. Ibrahim was among the best executives of this famous organizations.
He excelled in all the assignments given to him and became General Manager of one of NNDC star subsidiaries: Arewa Hotels. Under M. Ibrahim, the hotel units were well kept, well-managed and profitable! Such were his qualities that the Military Governor of Sokoto State, the late Col. Muhammad, a close friend, invited him to become Commissioner for Education in the second largest state of the federation. At the Ministry of Education, he put all his managerial experience to over-hauling and revitalizing the Ministry. He visited every single school in his short 18-month stay as Commissioner.
He had an ambitious but workable programme for rapid educational expansion in Sokoto State. With the death of Col. Muhammad in an air crash, M. Ibrahim's plans for the Ministry abruptly slowed as he did not enjoy the same rapport with the Governor's successors. He returned to NNDC as Managing Director of the Arewa Hotels from whence he retired voluntarily in 1980 and established his own business of Real Estate development.
Being free from government meant scores of invitations to join Corporate Boards and to subscribe in new commercial ventures. He was very careful about what to touch and what to leave alone. He was a good corporate member. In committees he was lucid and to the point and discharged his assignments on or before deadlines.
A Director and shareholder of Siemens Nigeria he was outraged by the recent corruption scandal. He immediately gave notice to the parent German Company of his retirement from the Board and withdrawal from the Company. It turned out that the Germans dealt with Nigerian government officials without informing Nigerian Directors. His action ultimately led all Nigerian shareholders to leave the Company.
But what was he like as a man? Friends and acquaintances found him likeable, trustful, polite, loyal and generous to a fault. His extended family will feel his loss hardest because of his utter devotion and generosity to relatives. He helped to build schools, mosques, boreholes and wells in his hometown of Dogondaji. In Kaduna, he was involved in the development of several mosques and Islamic Schools.
One of the leading Imams in his prayer-tribute said the late M. Ibrahim's outstanding quality was truthfulness. Whatever he said he spoke the truth. No greater compliment can be made to any man. When assessing M. Ibrahim, one would risk exhausting all the superlatives: such was his goodness of character. To members of his staff he extended his customary benevolence. To neighbours in Kaduna he cleaned and put road-signs on adjoining streets! He gave to every charity within his means without the slightest hesitation.
Over the years M. Ibrahim attracted a wide circle of friends from around Nigeria and the U.K. Being free from religious or racial bias he courted hundreds of Christian friends: Edward Alieydino, David Sadauki, Danladi Nyam, Gabriel Aduku were among his closest friends. Alas, Edward, David and Danladi are no longer with us. During the mourning period, Gabriel Aduku shed profuse tears and went away inconsolable.
His main business, Real Estate, requires, in Nigeria, perhaps more than anywhere else, extreme tact and management skills. He brought all his business experience to bear and ran a successful enterprise. He never forcibly ejected any recalcitrant tenant and always gave them leeway and extended payment deadlines. From the proceeds of his real estate business and his investments he extended considerable charity to Islamic organizations as well as to all and sundry.
Residents in Kaduna will attest to the fact that his house and offices and cars are the cleanest and neatest in all the metropolis. Personally he was well turned out, sartorially elegant but never excessively showy or flamboyant. Until the end he retained his humour, optimism and a zest for life and for living. He leaves a widow, the dutiful and estimable Hajiya Kakale and 5 well-educated, brought up children, a boy and four girls. All his friends wish the family fortitude in the wake of his absence.