Restoring The Glory Of Northern Nigeria (3)

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Sir Kashim Ibrahim

Nigerian statesman and educationist, also a prominent traditional office holder in one of the oldest kingdoms in Africa, Borno. He was born at Yerwa, the old quarter of Maiduguri,  became capital of Borno state,Yerwa was and remains the seat of the king or Shehu of Borno.Born into the aristocracy of that famous kingdom, Kashim Ibrahim attended Koranic school, necessary for the traditional office of Shettima  for which he was groomed by his father. He was to take this office (overseer of traditional judicial officers) in 1935.

At an early age, however, he embarked on Western education to fit him for the new order installed by the British. By deliberate British policy few Muslim northerners were allowed to receive Western education in his times, although some young Hausa-Fulani or {in Borno} Kanuri aristocrats were trained in British government schools. Kashim Ibrahim went first to Borno provincial school and then, from 1925 to 1929, to the famous Katsina Teacher Training college, where almost all the prominent Western-educated men of the first generation in northern Nigeria went. He qualified as a teacher there and then taught at Borno Provincial school. He became a visiting Teacher from 1938 to 1947 and Education officer from 1947 to 1949. During this teaching career he married his first and second wives, Halina and Khadina by   them and a third wife, Zainaba, he had seven daughters and seven sons.

His educational work included considerable expansion of schools in Borno, the creation of the Maiduguri Teachers college in 1952, and the writing of primary school textbooks in Kanuri and English. He was a great believer in Western education, which all his children received.

Shettima Kashim, as he was always known then, naturally became one of the more prominent Northern Region politicians. Among the founders of the Northern People’s Congress {N.P.C.}, he was elected to the Northern Region House of Assembly in 1951 and from there to the Federal House of Representatives, where he served from 1952 t0 1955 later he was in the Federal Senate. He was Federal Minister of social services in 1952-3 and Federal minister of Education from 1953 to 1955. In 1955 he joined Sir Ahmadu Bello’s {q.v.} Northern region Government in Kaduna as minister of Social welfare, cooperatives ,and surveys.

In 1956,however, he returned to Maiduguri to assume the traditional office of Waziri{Prime-minister} under the Shehu. He carried out very necessary reforms in the traditional local government. He was chairman of the provisional council of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for the two years before the new university opened in 1962.

In 1962 he was appointed the first Nigerian governor of the Northern Region. He was Knighted by the Queen of England in the same year. Though greatly respected, he had no real power in that post in the last years of Sir Ahmadu Bello’s rule over the Northern Region. When that rule was ended with the killing of the Premier in the first coup of 1966, Sir, Kashim was briefly arrested. On his release he was appointed Adviser to the Military Governor of the region which however was soon afterwards abolished with the creation of states in 1967-8.

Sir,Kashim Ibrahim served as Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 1966 to 1977, and then as chancellor of the University of Lagos from 1977 to 1984. He did not return to politics. He acquired little material wealth and had to sue for his pension as former governor of the Northern Region. When he died on 25 July,1990 his repuatation was shown by the great gathering at his Funeral in Maiduguri, and by the appointment of his son, an architect educationist who in spite of his strong traditional upbringing clearly perceived and promoted the values and virtues of modern education.

Source: Makers of Modern Africa

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