By Aisha Ahamd Jalingo
I barely have many memories of him beyond his signature, white clothes and red cap because I was a child when he passed away, but my husband insisted that I write a tribute for him today, being 11 years since his demise. All I know is Baba was an inspirational personality which means different things to different people. A father with a great sense of humour, a mentor that gave his all irrespective of differences in ideology or creed, and a unionist who fought to protect all till his last breath.
Everyone who knows him at Bayero University will always say how he jokes around with everyone. Whether you were his students, who I heard would rush to M block for his lectures because of how educative and entertaining his classes were, or his colleagues who always ran to him to seek support, morally or otherwise. He treated everyone equally with respect.
During his lecture, he would have the theatre filled with some students not because they registered for the course but only to listen to him speak. Baba Jalingo was very religious. It is his norm to go to the BUK Central mosque for Magrib prayer and wait till after Ishaa before returning home. A pillar in the mosque is called ‘fillar Jalingo,’ meaning Jalino’s pillar. He would sit there from Magrib till Ishaa. I once saw someone write on Twitter that no one even dares sit in that spot, as when he arrives, he jokingly asks the person to get up.
His kindness knows no bounds. One memory of his that keeps coming to mind is that whenever we travel home to Jalingo, we normally stop at Gombe to stretch our legs, pray, and eat at a particular filling station. Baba would sit with the people there and chat. He would buy what they are selling, most of which we don’t need. I heard an incident when Baba and our Mom were returning to Kano. Unfortunately, they had a flat tire in a village, Durbunde, just after Gwaram. He met a man who helped them fix the tire. Since then, he always stops at the village to see him, till date that man still visits our family. He named his son after Baba Jalingo when he passed away, named his daughter after mother and recently named another daughter after me.
The same thing happens around Dakatsalle just before Kano. When returning from Kaduna or Abuja, Baba would stop and sit with all those selling chickens, vegetables, fish and whatnot. He usually tells them, “kaima kawo abin da kake sayarwa” (“you too bring what you sell”). He will come home with so many things.
When it comes to supporting family, I have never seen anyone who supports his family like Baba Jalingo. I know he helped my mother up to the rank of Professor, which she earned shortly after his death. I heard he often travelled with her to Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, when pursuing her PhD. He was her biggest cheerleader through it all.
I can remember the last incident when she was the HOD of the Economics Department, Bayero University, Kano. A conference was organised in the department, and he was then the vice-chancellor of Taraba state University. I remember him coming to Kano to attend the conference, and he was among the first to arrive, sitting in front with his signature white clothes and red cap.
He often travelled back from Taraba State for the termly visits to our school. Baba never got tired. I remember his last visit passionately during our Qur’anic graduation ceremony. In the picture, I can never forget smiling when he was called to give a speech all over the place. I could not remember what the speech was all about. All I know was he talked for a while, returned to his seat at the front row, walked back on the stage, and took a group picture with all of us when we were called for our recitation.
It was after his death we realised how much he had been sponsoring and taking care of other families without the knowledge of anyone. That is the kind of man Baba was. He made all of my siblings, and I feel special, that every one of us considers ourselves to be his favourite, though I firmly believe it is me because he calls me “kingin Baba.”
Late Prof. Ahmadu Usman Jalingo, fondly called “Baba Jalingo” by everyone close to him, was a UK-trained political scientist, a veteran, a renowned scholar, a great man who played it all around. A veteran unionist and academic per excellence who raised through the rank and became one of the earliest political science professors in Northern Nigeria. Baba was the secretary to the State Government old Gongola and Vice-Chancellor of Taraba State University, a position he held until his death.
Baba was very close to Malam Aminu Kano. He was, precisely, Malam’s personal secretary. I can remember loads of Malam Aminu Kano’s personal diaries we found in his estate when he passed, which my Mom officially wrote and handed them over to the centre for Democratic Research, Mambayya house. In the tribute written by one of his students, Onoja, I read that Baba Jalingo confided in him that the one thing Malam Aminu Kano had in excess was socks. He says he never wore the same socks twice.
He was among the 49 men committee under the able leadership of Chief Rotimi Williams, Alhaji Idris Gidado, secretary, established in September 1975. This committee was the brains behind the creations of ‘CLUB NINETEEN MOVEMENT’ and the ‘NATIONAL MOVEMENT’. Malam Aminu Kano and many northern representatives created the ‘’National movement in Lagos. They later changed its face to become a political party named the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The National Movement launched recently was originated from the work of this committee.
Baba Jalingo was a man of the people, loved and respected by all. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 1, 2011. March 1, 2022, marked 11 years since his death, but his memories are still very much fresh in our hearts. We will forever live in his image and will in sha Allah continue with his legacy.
Rest on Baba, till we meet in Jannah….where we will be reunited forever in sha Allah
Aisha Ahamd Jalingo (Mrs) sent this article via firstname.lastname@example.org.