By Zaharadeen Muhammad
Some weeks ago, His Royal Highness, The District Head of Funtua, Sambo Idris Sambo, announced the confirmation of chieftaincy titles on some few outstanding sons of Funtua in recognition of their contributions to the town and the country as a whole. One of them is an unsung luminary in academia, and the health sector whose take off to educational journey began as Newton’s apple. But was it not William Shakespeare who likens the world to a theatre role with entrance – often by fluke, stage performance and exit? This time, Dr Umar Aminu’s entrance and performance will be profiled, and it will be quite the zinger.
Almost half a century ago, a religious scholar left Funtua for Katsina on a mission to supervise Islamic schools and carried his much younger brother with him. On a particular day, the curious lad wandered off to explore the new surrounding, and as fate would have it, he chanced upon a primary school in the neighbourhood. He surreptitiously tucked himself behind the door panel as he peeped into a class through the apertures relishing the nectar of the lesson.
He was to frequent the school many more times afterwards. Unknown to the school teachers and his brother, till the momentous day that his inert nature got the very best of him, he ventured an answer from his hideout to a puzzling question that appeared to elude the students sitting inside. Having gotten over his shock, the startled teacher identified where the voice emerged from, walked stealthily but tactfully toward the doorway and seized the kid. “he has to be enrolled,” thought the teacher. The brilliant boy in this tale was Dr Umar Aminu, and the elder brother was sheikh Aminu Liman of blessed memory. The anecdote was a watershed.
His academic sojourns would take him to Zamfara, Bauchi, Zaria culminating in him bagging a PhD in Public Health from Texila American University, USA. He gathered the mountain of knowledge and wealth of experience over the years working in public and private organizations and international agencies such as UNICEF, WHO, USAID, and FRIM. He brings to bear in solving various societal issues in Katsina state and beyond. To paraphrase sir Winston Churchill, what is the use of living if it is not to make this muddled world a better place for our posterity long after our departure.
His first landmark contribution was to the health sector way back in 1999 when a glaring shortage of health personnel in the state was a cause of deep concern. Then, as a key member of the MSSN, he broached the idea at one of its meetings for establishing a centre for training health technicians who can, in the long run, make up for the inadequacy. The program began with only a handful of students and has metamorphosed into the world-class Muslim Community College Of Health Science and Technology, Funtua. Today, the school runs a wide range of health-related courses at ND and HND levels and draws a motley of students from every nook and corner of Nigeria.
His curiosity and a natural aversion to passivity and mediocrity made him the first to be on the ball whenever things appear to go south. That is why when there was statewide successive massive failures in SSCE between 1999 and 2003, a big blow to the quintessential reputation of the state in that regard, instead of joining the wagon by stepping on the pedestal of lamentation, he met with stakeholders in the ministry to find out ways of ironing out the problem. He was one of the brains behind creating the refresher program, which, under the able stewardship of Malam Ilyasu Umar, has hatched hundreds of students who became medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers, mathematicians, etc. Thus, leaving another indelible footprint in the sand of time.
His empathy and compassion dispose him to pursue numerous charitable causes, especially in education, where he has facilitated and personally offered many scholarships and grants to the less privileged. Moreover, his being a versatile and cynosure in education and business informed our decision to invite him to speak at our first (NIPES) public lecture themed ‘Our Economic Mindset’ held on February 2021. The advocate of functional education, self-development and entrepreneurship eloquently demystified our present unemployment crises that became ubiquitous clog and articulated sundry out of the box ways of putting a dent in the issue.
Dr Umar Aminu, The Danmasanin Funtua possesses most attributes our people recognize in the words of Anthony Kirk-Green as ‘Mutumin Kirki” in the book of the same title. These are truthfulness, trustworthiness, generosity, patience, good sense, bashfulness, courtesy, self-esteem, wisdom and scrupulous behaviour.
“When a mother-cow is chewing grass,” said Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart, “its young watch its mouths” We, the youngsters, have been watching from afar and up close and have drawn so much inspiration from his noble deeds. For these reasons and more, we join the joyous multitudes celebrating this well-deserved title. Allah shi tayaka riko, amin.
Zaharadeen Muhammad wrote from Abdullahi Aminci Road, Funtua, Katsina State via Zaharadeen2020@gmail.com.
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