Nigeria: Dr Ibrahim Tahir - 10 Years Remembrance

9 December 2019

Mallam Mamman Daura, nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari, on the 22nd December 2009, wrote on Daily Trust: "Dr Ibrahim Tahir who died in Cairo on Dec. 8th 2009, was a versatile man of affairs. A scholar, a politician, a teacher, a traditional leader and a student: he was always willing to learn even in his advanced years. In his younger days, Ibrahim Tahir was an exceptional student. He passed all his exams with such ease and felicity that suggested nothing was beyond him. As a broadcaster with BBC he excelled and delighted millions of Hausa listeners all around the African continent".

Mallam Abba Kyari the present Chief Of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, on 23rd December 2009, in his article titled, A Personal Loss, in The Guardian, also wrote: "We first met in 1971 and through him some other members of the intellectual elite of his generation. A group, in saner societies, that would have been the nucleus of the best and the brightest. They embodied the value of public service as a call to duty. They were the younger elements of the Premier's office crowd. I have maintained an enduring, affectionate and honourable association with some of them.

Mallam Abba Kyari also wrote: "After my secondary education at St. Paul's College, Wusasa, Zaria, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir and Mallam Mamman Daura, advised that I consider joining the army. That effort took three years and was taking a political dimension. When I decided to continue with my formal education, it was already September 1974. I applied to the then Cambridge Tech for my A levels, just as the session was about to begin. It was of course Mallam Mamman that advised that I inform Dr. Tahir, who was back in Cambridge, writing his doctoral thesis. I did, and within a couple of days, Dr. Tahir had obtained my admission. That opened the door to my intellectual development and I went on to obtain a Bachelors degree in Sociology and Economic History in Warwick and Master's degree in Cambridge. Today, I am happily married to Kulu, my adorable wife with four beautiful children. Who is my wife? Dr. Tahir's sister-in-law. I met her in his house and it was through him and because of him that I married Kulu." With his loss, the intellectual world has lost a formidable mind - He was genius personified, Kyari said, in the same article. He said his mind is distinguished by the amplitude of his grasp!

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Ebenezer Babatope, in his article titled, Ibrahim Tahir and Stanley Macebuh - R.I.P (I), on the 15th of March 2010, on The Nigerian Tribune wrote: Professor Wole Soyinka aka 'Bros Kongi' had stated in the book (The Man Died), how he (Soyinka) had met with a young intellectual from the Northern states immediately after the April 1966 massacre of innocent Nigerians from the East - in the course of Prof. Wole Soyinka's search for peaceful solutions to the then Nigerian crisis over the unification decree of the regime of late General John Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi Ironsi. Prof. Soyinka had described in that book, The Man Died, that it was from his discovery of the restlessness of the young Northern intellectual that he was able to know and determine the seriousness of the situation created in the Northern states of Nigeria over the Ironsi unification decree that had attempted to abolish the three regions of Nigeria. I still believe in my mind that the positive description given by my friend, Professor Odekunle, who remains today as one of the few experts of criminology in Nigeria and indeed Africa, about the late Dr. Ibrahim Tahir agreed so much with the unnamed character from the North painted by Bros Kongi, in his book. Let me equally state here the fact that Dr. Ibrahim Tahir was one of the politicians from the North that our leader and political mentor, Papa Obafemi Awolowo (now of blessed memory), had spoken to in the 70s, with the view to getting them to work with him (Awo) in his attempt to build a powerful and highly political team to take over the reins of power from the military in Nigeria.

Ebenezer Babatope continues: "The last time I had met Dr. Ibrahim Tahir was at the National Political Reform Conference organised by the President Olusegun Obasanjo regime in 2005. Anytime Dr. Ibrahim Tahir spoke at the conference, none could ever forget the firmness of tone that Ibrahim had used to hammer to the points he was canvassing. He was a man with an imposing personality. Dr. Ibrahim Tahir was a tall and huge person and he was a gifted orator. One may quarrel with his style of politics, but no one can fault his fervor and devotion to the cause of a united Nigeria."

Mallam Adamu Adamu, current Minister of Education, in his article of 10th December, 2009, on Daily Trust, also wrote: "The country has lost one of its greatest intellectual giants and for those who knew him, the loss was also that of a philantrophist -yes, a philantrophist of legendary proportions. If Sardauna was Namiji Uban 'Yan Boko (father of scholars), Tahir must have been without doubt, The Emir of 'Yan Boko (the emir of scholars). He was an eloquent and tireless defender of traditional values and institutions. He was a scholar imbued with that elusive quality C. Wright Mills calls sociological imagination. He usually argued his antagonists to an intellectual full stop, back in his days of battling Marxism, at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He once advised me not to end up as another jewel on the dust heap, which was a regrettable resignation of his own predicament".

The Weekly Trust of 10th September 2007, published in an interview with late Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, Talban Bauchi, when they traced him to his sick bed at the National Hospital, Abuja: that Dr. Tahir was hovering at the gates of death, but for the quick intervention of two of his friends - former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and retired Gen. Aliyu Gusau. Dr. Tahir had said that "IBB had insisted on preserving my life foremost of all other considerations". Hmm ... Talba Ibrahim dan gata! (Talba the blessed). A whole IBB was passionate about preserving his life! Dr. Tahir died after a protracted illness. He died on the 8th of Dec. 2009.

I remember when Yayale, the then SGF invited Dr. Tahir (I accompanied him) to visit President Yar'adua in the Villa. Pres. Umaru Yar'adua was moving to stoop and greet Dr. Tahir! In one of the villa's private sitting rooms. Dr. Tahir held him and wouldn't allow him go down. My jaws recovered from that drop not too many years ago! Dr. Tahir was friends with the former President's late brother, Shehu Yar'adua, hence the respect. My uncle, Nuhu Gidado, former Deputy Governor of Bauchi state usually cautions me: Yaya, you are in too much hurry to be a Baba Talba!. I confessed ab-initio when I was given his title in 2011, that his shoes were too big for me. I try my bit to practice what I've learnt from him. My inspiration for writing was drawn from two people. Adamu Adamu for his skill, Mohammed Haruna for his facts and figures. I will wait a little more, just like 'Nuhu' cautions, before I give a try on public speaking. The only few times I feel like a Talba is when older people like Gen. Ibrahim Babangida or Yayale, or the Emir of Bauchi and the Emir of Kano, call me Talba... ah! My head swells and my morale is instantaneously boosted. They call me Talba as if they were addressing their old friend. It is ten years since you've been gone Baba Talba. Everywhere I go, all the places I've been to, all I hear are prayers for you. In that I am most content Alhamdulillahi!

Tahir Tahir (talbanbauchi@yahoo.com)

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