By Abdullahi Yusuf Tela
Between 1949 to 1960, the reign of Sir Ahmadu Bello as the Premier, the Northern Nigeria environment has seen tremendous development. By October 1960, because of his super influence, Ahmadu Bello has become a mighty figure within and outside the borders of northern Nigeria.
As described by Paden in Ahmadu Bello: Sardauna of Sokoto, the main concern of the Sardauna was “northernization”. His practical approach towards developing northern Nigeria was quite exceptional. Paden further states that “the north is his family, and he must get his family on the right track so that it can play its proper role within the federation and the world at large.”
Sardauna’s love for the growth and development of the North made him pursue a series of northernization policies, all in an attempt for a balanced growth amongst the regions despite warnings from other competing regions as to the consequences of his this ideology.
Sardauna had once replied, “No…. Over my grave!” This was in response to Dr Ibiam, who urged Sardauna to abandon the northernization policy.
During one of his visits to the North, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe opined that the north under Ahmadu Bello’s reign was working consistently to catch up with the South in the race for progress. He added that its local government set up guarantees a stable government; its people respect and revere their emirs as a symbol of constituted authority while respecting elective representation in their local councils.
His leadership style and dexterity made the former “Northern Cameroon” become “Sardauna Province”. Although the area called “Northern Cameroon” was part of Cameroon, Sir Ahmadu Bello lured them with a promise that if they joined Nigeria, he would grant them a separate province with lots of benefits as the Northern Nigerians. The Northern Cameroon province eventually voted to be part of the northern region through a referendum.
Ahmadu Bello, through his unreserved love for the youths, had fixed several of them in the civil service. It was found out that in 1961, out of the 41,000 employees in the federal civil service, only 400 were northerners. Due to this low turn-out of the northern people in the civil service, Sardauna developed the habit of making an appointment then sending the person on leave for a crash course at home or abroad. This created a lot of opportunities and positions for young northerners.
Abdullahi Yusuf Tela wrote via email@example.com.
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