Tribute to servant-extraordinaire @70: My imaginary self - by Abubakar H. Muhammad



Every ambitious folk has a certain goal and dream, struggling and hoping to actualize, and in most cases, he/she pictured the image of that ambition in someone, who in most cases we generate inspiration from and referred to as role models.

By just admiring or attaching oneself to idolize your role model has continued be far from enough to reach his/her milestone, but rather what does is taking a bold step to pursue the process, without recourse as to how many hills and valleys, mud, sand and seas one may cross to reach the destination is.

Among many successful Borno citizens that wrote their names in gold on the pages of success in serving the people at all stages of their life and career, one man stands out, an elite among elites, he is not just a name but a brand. He has succeeded in branding his name such that it becomes inevitable to not ignore him whenever we talk about greatness in public service, regardless of our loyalty’s affiliation.

He rose through the ranks in civil authority and service to the people like the famous story of Late Gen. Sani Abatcha who served in the Nigerian Army from grass to grace.

As a best ‘A’ level awardee student in English language at higher secondary school, his prowess in the Anglophones’ official language, courageous diplomatic confidence and multi-dimensional skills in administration is not by accident as he has witnessed and tasted a first-hand experience in two conflicting and dynamic eras in Nigeria’s history, the colonial and post-colonial era.

Born in pre-independent Nigeria and educated in the British established western education system as well as the Nigerian-managed system after independence, he is equipped with the experience of transition process in education, economic, political and social engineering of Nigeria.

Unlike typical Borno people who enjoy little comfort staying away from home, the technocrat moved out to take the bull by the horn at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to earn a B.Sc in political science.

At University of Manchester in UK, he acquired post-graduate advanced diploma in Administration and master’s degree in Development Economics, making him a full-fledged, all-round and center, ready-to-deliver civil entrepreneur.

Characterized by such qualities, he was perhaps an irresistible force among his equals during that period and the government of that day cannot not recognize such an asset and offered him an appointment as administrative officer vii, after which he rose through several ranks to the peak of civil service, the Permanent Secretary; appointed three times also as SSG to Borno State Government.

Before he voluntarily resigned from civil service, the extraordinary public expert has served as a director and other roles in different federal ministries, committees, advisory roles, including presidency and other things, making him a force to reckon with in the administrative industry of the nation.

As a politician also, he served as chairman of the then Manguno/Marte local government area of Borno and was PDP’s candidate for gubernatorial election in 1999.

Unlike most typical Nigerian politicians, whose political ideologies and actions are set by greed, recklessness and corruption scandals, the ‘do anything to get everything’ among other things, it is difficult to attach any to the veteran servant of the people as he succeeded in keeping a spotless integrity sheet.

The ‘’the end justifies the means’’ syndrome has skipped his turn while injecting its venom on Nigerian politicians.

The septuagenarian has not only served the people behind the screen, empowered with constitutional powers, but also as an ordinary free folk, the last voice of the common man, influencing who said what, when, where, how and why. He started journalism during his NYSC at the then popular newspaper, New Nigerian.

He later, during his administrative career, became General Manager of Borno, Radio and Television Authority, BRTV, Maiduguri.

From a student union leader to a father and grandfather figure to the people of Borno, the Northeast, Northern Nigeria and the whole nation, he has also extended his tentacle to foreign lands to become Nigeria’s Ambassador to Republic of Burkina Faso, and currently of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Amb. Baba Ahmad Jidda, our very Henry Kissinger, has clocked 70 and celebrated his 7th decades birthday on October 1, 2021.

Why he is my imaginary self

While he is a role model and mentor to many Nigerians, particular in Borno and environs for some reason, I couldn’t help but to be recruited into the party of his mentees, if for nothing, his profile tells just what I ought and aspire to be and it fits perfectly into my wildest ambition and perhaps now accidental careers.

As a political scientist, a journalist and an international awardee by China, I feel so attached to his personality, for he is an accomplice of all these virtues among other things.

Accidentally or not, formally or otherwise, I wish to one day be in his presence to tap from his experience first-hand—of course a realworld engagement with my imaginary self and ask him; how did you do it?

Abubakar H. Muhammad, journalist, writes from Maiduguri

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