Ahmadu Bello

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Sir
Ahmadu Bello
KBE
Ahmadu Bello.png
Premier of Northern Nigeria
In office
1954–1966
Succeeded by Hassan Katsina
Personal details
Born June 12, 1910
Rabbah, Sokoto State, Northern Nigeria.
Died January 15, 1966
Political party Northern People's Congress
Religion Islam

Sir Ahmadu Bello KBE (June 12, 1910 – January 15, 1966) was a Nigerian politician, and was the first premier of the Northern Nigeria region from 1954-1966. He was the Sardauna of Sokoto and one of the prominent leaders in Northern Nigeria alongside Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, both of whom were prominent in negotiations about the region's place in an independent Nigeria. As leader of the Northern People's Congress, he dominated Nigerian politics throughout the early Nigerian Federation and the First Nigerian Republic.

Nigerian politics[edit]

After returning from Britain, he was nominated to represent the province of Sokoto in the regional House of Assembly. As a member of the assembly, he was a notable voice for northern interest and embraced a style of consultation and consensus with the major representatives of the northern emirates: Kano, Bornu and Sokoto. In the first elections held in Northern Nigeria in 1952, Sir Ahmadu Bello won a seat in the Northern House of Assembly, and became a member of the regional executive council as minister of works. Bello was successively minister of Works, of Local Government, and of Community Development in the Northern Region of Nigeria.

In 1954, Bello became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria. In the 1959 independence elections, Bello led the NPC to win a plurality of the parliamentary seats. Bello's NPC forged an alliance with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe's NCNC (National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons) to form Nigeria's first indigenous federal government which led to independence from Britain. In forming the 1960 independence federal government of the Nigeria, Bello as president of the NPC, chose to remain Premier of Northern Nigeria and devolved the position of Prime Minister of the Federation to the deputy president of the NPC, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

Legacy[edit]

Bello's greatest legacy was the modernization and unification of the diverse people of Northern Nigeria. He was assassinated on 15 January 1966 in a coup which toppled Nigeria's post-independence government. He was still serving as premier of Northern Nigeria at the time.

Ahmadu Bello was often criticized for not seeing a unified Nigeria as a whole but rather a unified north as he viewed the Igbos as "The Jews of Nigeria" as they had a sense of dominating where ever they went and often publicly stated he would rather have a non-Nigerian do a job than have a non-Northerner.

The Ahmadu Bello University is named after him. His portrait adorns Nigeria's 200 naira note, and he is survived by three daughters, one of whom died in 2008.

Career and Later Life[edit]

By 1934, he was made the District Head of Rabah under the colonial setting and in 1938, he got a promotion as the Divisional Head of Gusau (now in present-day Zamfara State). In 1938, at the age of just 28, he made attempts to become the Sultan of Sokoto but was not successful, losing to Sir Siddiq Abubakar III who reigned for 50 years until his death in 1988. The new Sultan immediately made Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna (Warlord) of Sokoto, a honorary title and promoted him to the Sokoto Native Authority Council, these titles automatically made him the Chief Political Adviser to the Sultan. Later, he was put in charge of the Sokoto Province to oversee 47 districts and by 1944, he was back at the Sultan's Palace to work as the Chief Secretary of the State Native Administration.

In the 1940s, he established the Jamiyya Mutanen Arewa which would later become the NPC in 1951. In 1948, he got a government scholarship and was off to England to study Local Government Administration which broadened his understanding and knowledge of governance. As 'successor-in-waiting' to the throne of the Sultan, he wore the turban. In 1943, a drama played out when he was thrown before the Sultan's court for misappropriating jangali (cattle) tax for the Gusau region where he was the Councillor.

He was sentenced to one year in prison. Do not forget the fact that there was a rivalry simmering below the robes between him and the new Sultan. But with the aid of the other 'Barewa guys' like Shehu Shagari, Aminu Kano and Ibrahim Dasuki, he filed for an acquittal after he had already spent three months in jail. But that would only boost him popularity and many felt he was just a victim of unfair political tussle.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • 200 Naira note
  • Ahmadu Bello; My Life, Cambridge University Press, 1962.