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Reminiscences of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Bamba during my days as a young undergrad

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Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Bamba

Professor Salisu Shehu

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ أَبِي أُوَيْسٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ، عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ  ” إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ انْتِزَاعًا، يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنَ الْعِبَادِ، وَلَكِنْ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ بِقَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ، حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يُبْقِ عَالِمًا، اتَّخَذَ النَّاسُ رُءُوسًا جُهَّالاً فَسُئِلُوا، فَأَفْتَوْا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ، فَضَلُّوا وَأَضَلُّوا “‏. قَالَ الْفِرَبْرِيُّ حَدَّثَنَا عَبَّاسٌ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ عَنْ هِشَامٍ نَحْوَهُ.

    

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As:

“I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.”

My first sight of Dr. Ahmad Bamba was 37 years ago in 1984 in the UMMAH MOSQUE at the Old Campus, Bayero University, Kano where I just got registered as a pre-degree student and had begun to familiarize and acalamitize with the people, routines, events and the environment in the University. Although the Central Mosque in Bayero University, Kano would always be the first sight of any visitor or newly arriving student to the University, having been strategically located near the Main Gate, the Ummah Mosque may be the first place of worship for the new resident (on campus) student because, in its own case, it is sandwiched between the hostels and the two major and oldest Faculties of the University- The Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies ( FAIS) and the Faculty of Education. Because of its lively nature and vibrancy-series of nasihas, ta’alims, Qur’anic study circles and Tajweed, Arabic classes and even sometimes, very hot intra-faith dialogues and debates that may sometimes prolong from Isha to Fajr Prayer time, the Ummah Mosque therefore, would always easily capture every newly arriving young Muslim student who might have arrived the University full of curiosity as well as,  enthusiasm and zeal to learn. We, therefore, easily got hooked up to the Ummah Mosque. We would only be seen at the Central Mosque, most surely on Fridays for the Jumu’ah prayer.

It was quite rare to see non-students’ faces at the Ummah Mosque except during Zuhr and Asr prayers when some visitors and some lecturers might be around to join the congregation. There was however, a non student face that was very familiar in the Ummah Mosque most especially, during Zuhr prayer and seldom during Maghrib. That was Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Bamba. He would certainly be the first lecturer students that used to regularly attend congregational prayer in the Ummah Mosque would be familiar with because of his regular presence. Of course, another very regular face was Professor M. D.Sulaiman of History Department. As it were, and as earlier stated, the Mosque was very close to the Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies where Dr. Ahmad belonged. He would easily come down to join the students’ prayer congregation and there was never an instance that he made any attempt or overtures to lead the prayer or say a word. The nasihas, the ta’alims, and sometimes the debates would be taking place in his presence and to his hearing but he would not utter a word. The situation in the Mosque could actually sometimes be rancorous but it would never stop him from coming. He would, certainly however, observe his nawafil, and would make his way out. I had a feeling, but was unable to ask him, that perhaps his regularity in the Ummah Mosque was not just for the purpose of observing the regular prayer but also to keep close contact and relationship with the students for the purposes of Tarbiyyah h. It was later, when I became an Imam in the mosque that I realized that  he used to invite or approach imams/leaders in the Mosque to make corrections politely or offer some advice/suggestions, as the case may be.

My first countenance of Dr. Ahmad in the Ummah Mosque reminded me of my first IRK Teacher in the Teachers’ College -Sheikh Yahya Abdul’Azeez, a fully bearded Pakistani Sheikh who was to teach me again -Kitab al -Tauheed, Bulugh al-Maram and Al-Nahwu al-Wadhih in Gwallaga Mosque in Bauchi in 1984, after he transferred his services to Bauchi College of Arts and Science (BACAS). That was shortly before I got admission into Bayero University, Kano. The two were the two fully bearded Sheikhs I first met in life. On my first sights of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad in the Ummah Mosque the memories of Sheikh Yahya Abdul’Azeez suddenly came back to my mind. At that time, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad was certainly in his late 40s while I was just beginning the third decade (early twenties) of my life as a young undergrad. More strikingly however, the sights of the two gentlemen presents to the heart a mien of piety that sometimes made you think of the countenances of the Sahaba, or so we used to think as young people that still had some elements of naivety in our thoughts.

Our admiration of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad was ceaseless whenever he came and prayed with us in the Ummah Mosque and left. But our interaction with him was no more than the Salam and typically, he would wave at you and made his way out or extend his hand for a shake when you happened to be very close to him. The first time I ever had a conversation with him or heard him spoke to me was when I was appointed as an Imam in the Mosque, which was later to become my class where I taught Tajweed for about three years up to graduation in 1988. I was certainly the youngest of the Imams, a second deputy after Sheikh Sani from Zaria. With the benefit of early background in Qur’anic learning from home, one’s mastery, so to say,  of reading the Qur’an could easily be discovered. So, right from my first year I got appointed as one of the deputy Imams. The substantive Imam then, was the late  Malam Usman Muhammad, the Chief Imam of Laranto, Jos, who was undergoing the Diploma in Arabic, Hausa and Islamic Studies.

Still with the vestiges of adolescent exuberance and obsession for fashionable and smart appearance, my wardrobe had more of the fashionable shirts and trousers of the time (TOBI shirts/jeans and HARA trousers) than kaftans. Invariably therefore, the Imam in me would most of the time lead prayers in the said kinds of fashionable shirts and trousers in the Ummah Mosque. I led the Maghrib prayer one day. After the prayer, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bamba called me and held my hand to the outside of the Mosque. In his typical  gentle manner and way he said, “Liman, yaya kokari”. I replied, “Alhamdulillah” , with a mix exciting  and nervous mien. He then said to me, “Toh liman ga karatu mai kyau, amma kuma kullum ana mana sallah kai babu hula?”. With a sigh of relief, I said, ” Nagode Mallam, in sha Allah, za a gyara.”. It was both an awesome and joyful moment for me. But what was most instructive was the fact that that simple and gentle counsel not only made me appreciate that I was no longer just an ordinary student on campus but I was treading the path of spiritual leaders, it also changed my life in terms of personal dispositions and appearance on campus and beyond.

A second experience with Sheikh  Dr. Ahmad Bamba made me a witness to his magnanimity. It was in the case of attending his Hadith class for students offering  Islamic Studies as Special Honours. I was not one, so I could not register for that course. I offered Islamic Studies as a subsidiary course , but I was interested in attending his Special or rather advanced Hadith class. All my friends and classmates- Professor Salihu Lawal Malumfashi (present Dean of the School of Continuing Education and one of the Darul Hadith Imams), Alhaji Bashir Sheshe (now a Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja), Dr. Ahmad Maigari Dutisin -ma (Department of Islamic Studies, Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto), Professor Usman Sani Abbas (Department of Islamic Studies, BUK) to mention just a few were all encouraging me to just enter the class and that they were sure Malam would not send me out. On the second or third lecture day, I joined some of these mates while being very scary. I  sat in the class with some bit of nervousness. Sheikh entered the class, conducted his lesson and alhamdulillah , he did not send me out. He definitely saw me, and he definitely knew that I was not duly registered for that course because it was a small class of less than 15 students. Later, I want to believe that one of those classmates of mine approached him and spoke to him about me, and Malam graciously permitted. By virtue of my Imamship in Ummah Mosque, I was already a familiar face to him. With a deep sense of appreciation, I must say that, that opportunity was my first experience with not only some of the basic and essential rudiments of Ilm al-Hadith but was also the greatest inspiration for deeper and more advanced study of the field.

After graduation in 1988 and having left for the national youth service scheme to far away Bendel State (now Edo and Delta) I did not only cease to benefit from the Special Hadith class of Sheijh Dr. Ahmad but also lost sight of him for about a couple of years. I got intellectually and personally reconnected with him when I returned to Bayero University, Kano in 1991. I came back to pursue Masters in Educational Psychology. Graciously, that presented yet another opportunity for, in a way, to continue to drink from the fountain of the knowledge of Hadith that Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bamba personified. That was the year Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bamba started his very awesome, weekly/weekend Hadith Ta’alim Sessions, beginning with Sahih al-Bukhari in the BUK Central Mosque, a teaching cum admonishment exercise that he continued to conduct uninterruptedly with a great sense of passion, vigour, consistency and rare faith and commitment for THIRTY (30) SOLID YEARS up to the end of his life. Although I was not opportune to be present at the first and second sessions, I would want to remember that I was there in the third session.

In the Hadith Ta’alim Sessions, we did not only learn the texts of the Hadiths and elements of Mastalahul Hadith but we also learnt to be much more committed to Sunnah in terms of faith and practice. Quite instructively also, we learnt lots and lots and lots of the Aqwal ( wise or sayings) of the salafs, many aspects of Usul al-Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) , Qaw’id al-Fiqh (Jurisprudential principles and maxims) and many Islamic  religious and Jahiliyyah poetries (Qasa’id and Shu’ara’ al-Jahiliyyah). I would not therefore, end this paragraph without recalling one stanza of a poem that Sheikh Dr. Bamba used to quote very frequently, in his constant admonishment on the obligation to hold and cling tenaciously to the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) . That is: “دعوا كل قول عند قول محمد فما ءامن في دينه كمغامر

It would be pertinent to mention here, perhaps also to inform those who might not know that Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bamba did not only contribute to the knowledge of Hadith through the Ta’alim Sessions. He also  contributed to it through authorship. Within the first three years after the commencement  of the Sahih al Bukhari lessons one of his very scholarly Hadith works was released. That was his Takhreej and Tahqeeq work on Imam al-Bukhari’s “Juz al-Qira’ah Khalf al-Imam. It was a book that I unhesitatingly bought a personal copy and ‘voraciously’ read cover to cover within a couple of days.

For Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bamba, it was a life well spent. Thirty solid years of uninterrupted teaching the Hadiths of the Prophet (s.a.w) was not just a monumental intellectual and scholarly contribution but was an evidence of true love of and for our Beloved Prophet Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم. This reminds me of the saying of one of the Hadith scholars, quoted by the late Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddeen al-Albani in his Sifat Salat al-Nabiyy that: اهل الحديث هم اهل الرسول وان: لم يصحبوا نفسه أنفاسه صحبوا.

The death of our most honourable Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Bamba is certainly a tragic loss to the world of knowledge and Da’awah as rightly and as clearly alluded to in the Hadith above, with which we opened this tribute. Our closing words would only be fervent and sincere and hearty prayers for him.

إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

 إنَّ للهِ ما أخذ وله ما أعطى وكلُّ شيءٍ عنده بأجلٍ مسمًّى.

اللهم اغفر لدكتور احمد، وارفع درجتَه في المهديين، واخلفه في عقبه في الغابرين، واغفر لنا وله يا ربّ العالمين، وافسح له في قبره، ونوّر له فيه

وآخر دعوانا ان الحمد لله رب العالمين

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May His Peace and Blessings be upon our Beloved Prophet Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم.

Sunday: 6 Jimada Thaaniyah, 1443 ( 9 January, 2022): 5.07 am

Professor Salisu Shehu
Vice Chancellor,
Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano State
08069693033
08091420505 (WhatsApp)

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Opinion

Hajiya Rakiya: The Predicament of ICT Guru at CBN

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By Yushau A. Shuaib

Upon completing the routine security check, we ascended to the impressive Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complex in Abuja. Led to a spacious yet modest hall where an event was unfolding, we found seats beside a woman modestly dressed in a Muslim Hijab. She greeted us warmly and invited us to sit beside her. Her humility and warmth immediately put us at ease.

We initially assumed she was a guest or another participant at the briefing. However, as we discussed the media industry, she listened intently, nodding in agreement. When she finally spoke, her insightful comments on disruptive technologies and their impact on the communication industry left us in awe. Her deep knowledge spanned online streaming services, virtual events, and redefining audience engagement through innovation, leaving us with a profound respect for her expertise.

She elaborated on how blockchain, 5G networks, and artificial intelligence facilitate secure, faster connectivity and interactive experiences with enhanced royalty management. Beyond aiding in content generation and personalisation, she noted media production is becoming increasingly democratised. Moreover, she ‘schooled’ us on the latest technological tools for fact-checking, cybersecurity, and digital journalism—all without a trace of arrogance or pomposity.

As the event concluded, we offered our printed business cards. In response, she shared her digital business card. Scanning the QR code revealed her identity: Hajia Rakiya Shuaibu Mohammed, the Director of Information Technology at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This position speaks volumes about her expertise and influence in the field.

Curiosity drove me to search for her profile upon leaving. What I uncovered was astounding. Despite not being a celebrity tech expert paraded on social media or television, she is an extraordinary IT specialist. Former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele described her as such, having promoted her from Head of Information Security Management after a rigorous selection process.

In his remarks at the eNaira Hackathon Grand Finale in Abuja in 2022, Emefiele, the then CBN Governor, credited the success of Africa’s first central bank digital currency partly to Hajiya Rakiya. He admitted to underestimating her suitability for the Director of Information Technology position, initially preferring a male candidate. He said, “I must single her out. When she was considered for the director role, I initially doubted. I was thinking.. I’m Sorry, ladies, please forgive me. I said a lady IT Director. I went back and began to read her CV. She is a First-Class computer science graduate, a brilliant erudite lady from Northern Nigeria, and a chartered accountant. I said you could not have a better person as head of IT for Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Her academic and professional accolades are extensive. Rakiya was the Head Girl of the Federal Government Girl College, Bakori, and the Best Graduating Student in 1982. She obtained a First-Class degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in 1987, followed by a Master’s degree in Information Systems Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1994. She has also attended executive education programs at Harvard University and Oxford University.

Rakiya’s professional journey spans over 25 years across the financial, telecommunications, and technology sectors. Before her promotion to IT Director at the CBN, where she spearheaded and implemented the Industry Security Operation Centre (NFICERT) and Africa’s first Digital Currency, Rakiya had headed the System Services and Information Security Management (CISO) Division of the bank, where she modernised the IT infrastructure and introduced innovative solutions like video conferencing. She had developed and implemented robust information security strategies, maintaining ISO 27001 certification and ensuring zero major security incidents.
Previously, she was Head of Strategy and IT at Galaxy Backbone Plc (2009-2011), CIO at Premium Pension Limited (2005-2008), Deputy General Manager (IT) and CIO of NITEL (2003-2005), and Head of Branch Banking Systems in the Northern Region of Continental Merchant Bank (1988-1995).

She holds numerous certifications, including Lean Process Practitioner, Certified IT Business Manager, Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), Certified Enterprise and Solution Architect, Certified IT Governance Professional (COBIT, CGEIT), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Chartered Accountant (ICAN) and Honorary member of the Certified Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

On May 16, 2024, she made an outstanding presentation to the CBN board on maximising the utility of current IT facilities. However, a week later, despite her impressive background, certifications, and contributions to the bank, Rakiya has become one of the victims of an inexplicable spate of officers retrenched by the current CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso.

Here is a woman who has contributed immensely by ensuring increased revenue, reduced costs, and improved security in various organisations she had worked for and could just be retired due to political exigency.

It is perplexing to understand the rationale behind retrenching such highly qualified and integral personnel among several others in that bank, especially considering the ongoing appointments of external consultants. If retaining and promoting the best within the service is not prioritised, what justifies these replacements with outsiders?

Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of “Award Winning Crisis Communication Strategies.” yashuaib@yashuaib.com

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Opinion

Prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship: Why Nigerians must shift from white collar jobs

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Yusha’u Hamza Kafinchiri

 

As Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and economic stagnation, it is imperative that citizens shift their focus towards a proven model of success – skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
China’s remarkable economic transformation serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through a concerted effort to develop vocational skills and encourage entrepreneurial spirit. With a population of over 200 million Nigeria is a thriving market to accommodate it’s talent’s productivity.

For too long, Nigeria has been plagued by a culture of white-collar job seekers, relying on government employment and certificates rather than skills and innovation. This mindset has perpetuated laziness, mediocrity and a lack of innovation. It is time for an active paradigm shift. Governments at all levels must work truthfully on this model leveraging on the power of education and training in producing producers of good and services.

By prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, Nigerians can:

-Develop practical skills in various trades, such as technology, manufacturing, and services to remain independent
-Create jobs and stimulate economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship
-Reduce reliance on government employment and break free from the shackles of white-collar mentality currently wrecking havoc on government efforts to hold to it’s services.
-Increase productivity and competitiveness, driving economic progress at all levels of learning.

Let Nigerians learn from China’s example and strive to build on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, as the drivers of their own destiny and the architects of a prosperous Nigeria.
Let the mindset of Nigerians change for good.

 

Kafinchiri,  is a Director monitoring and evaluation, Ministry of Education, Kano State. 

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Opinion

Emirs are not Kings!

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Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

 

The drama surrounding the restoration of a single Kano Emirate, which has hitherto been balkanised, and the reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as its emir is still unfolding. Yet, as always, there are many issues of interest that may need to be discussed even before the events fold up completely. One such issue is the question of chronology, that is whether the reinstated emir will now be referred to as the 14th, 16th or even 59th emir of Kano, the last mentioned counting from Bagauda, the first of the kings of the Kano Kingdom.

I have little or no problem with MSII being referred to as the 14th or even the 16th emir. It will just be an additional confusion upon the existing one. It is, nonetheless, a matter for historians to decide though the semantics is clear that reinstatement is a carry-over from the past, not a fresh beginning. In other words, when a person is reinstated to the position he once occupied but for whatever reason got removed therefrom, the interregnum is considered as an aberration. Moreover, it is the individual ruler that counted, not the period he occupied as it is the ruler that defines the era not vice-versa. This is perhaps encapsulated in the well-known Hausa saying of Sarki goma, zamani goma. And the extant sources we have, as far as I know, never assign a new chronology to a reinstated ruler obviously due to the contradiction that will cause when a headcount is taken.

There is a problem, however, to reckon the reinstated emir as the 59th King of Kano for the simple reason that the Kano Kingdom ceased to exist in 1807 when the last King of Kano, Muhammadu Alwali, was overthrown by the Fulani. A kingdom is independent and the king is sovereign. An emir, however, is subordinate to a higher authority to which he owes allegiance and must remain loyal for him to retain his post. He is no more than a Military Administrator under a military junta.

The Fulani turned Kano into an emirate, as they did to other Hausa States, thereby making it an appendage of Sokoto with the emir being in his post at the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler in Sokoto. Late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman did well in bringing out these distinctions between emirates and kingdoms in his seminal doctoral research published as The Transformation of Katsina (1400 – 1883): The Emergence and Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of Emirate.

Late Bala identified at least five distinct epochs in the case of Katsina, which is very much the same as the rest of the Hausa States. The epochs as identified are the period of the autonomous garuruwa and birane, with no overall head, only the occupational heads or guild chiefs with the Sarkin Noma as the primus inter pares. The second period saw the emergence of the Sarauta System. Then the third period, which he called the Jama’a Period, by which he meant the period immediately after the Fulani Uprising. The fourth period is the emirate period in which the authority is centred around the emir as a lieutenant of the Caliph in Sokoto. The fifth is the Native Authority System ushered in by the British Colonialists.

The impropriety of adding a Fulani emir to the list of the Hausa Kings becomes more manifest when we call to mind that the successor Hausa States of Gobir in Tsibiri, of Katsina in Maradi and of Zazzau in Zuba/Abuja (now Suleja) continue with their king-lists as it is not seat of a kingdom that defines that kingdom but the historicity and historical consciousness of the people involved. Duk inda Shehu ya ke nan ne Borno.

If we take Zazzau Suleja as an example, the current king is the 68th on the list, a list in which all the Fulani Emirs of Zazzau from Mallam Musa to Amb. Ahmad Bamalli cannot justifiably be placed. The Fulani are therefore free to make up their own “emirlist” so as to ensure historical coherence.

The problem with Kano is that unlike its sister states or kingdoms, the overthrown Hausa ma su sarauta did not establish a successor state anywhere. Why that happened is borne out by a number of factors which will be a topic for another day. Nonetheless, the sanctity of history has to safeguarded and respected. The Sarakunan Hausa were absolute monarchs. They did not have to curry the favour of some other ruler for them to remain on the throne or to secure the position for their offspring in the event of their passing. Moreover, the Hausa Kings were the fountain of the law and justice. They did not need a court order to maintain them on the throne or ward off their contenders.

Sadiq writes from Kano. He is the President of the Hausa Historical Society. He can be reached via hausahistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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