THROWBACK THURSDAY: ALHAJI AHMADU BELLO

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Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Nigerian Region with jazz singer Louis Armstrong (Kaduna, Nigeria, 1960).
Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Nigerian Region with jazz singer Louis Armstrong (Kaduna, Nigeria, 1960).
This statue represents images of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr.Nnamdi Azikwe. They are foremost nationalists that fought for the independence of Nigeria. This commemorative statue is located at the beautiful Freedom park, broad street, Lagos, Nigeria.
This statue represents images of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr.Nnamdi Azikwe. They are foremost nationalists that fought for the independence of Nigeria. This commemorative statue is located at the beautiful Freedom park, broad street, Lagos, Nigeria.
Sir Ahmadu Bello with Her Majesty The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II.
Sir Ahmadu Bello with Her Majesty The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Al-Haji Sir Ahmadu Bello (June 12, 1910 – January 15, 1966) was a great Nigerian politician. He was an heir to the Sokoto Emirate. His great-grandfather was Sultan Bello, son of the great Usman Dan Fodio, who found the Fulani Empire, the largest empire in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ahmadu Bello received his early education at the feet of Muslim masters, studying the Quran, the hadith, and Shariah, then at Sokoto Middle School, the only modern school at the time in the Sokoto province (1917-1926).

He first became politically active in 1945, when he helped to form a Youth Social Circle, which later (1948) affiliated with the NPC (Northern Peoples Congress) of which he became President-General in 1954. In 1948, he was offered a scholarship to study local government administration in England. After returning from England, he was elected 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 the representatives of the northern emirates of Kano, Bornu, and Sokoto.
In 1954, Bello became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria. In the 1959 independence elections, 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. Bello as president of the NPC, although arguably one of the most influential politicians in Nigeria, chose to remain Premier of Northern Nigeria and instead, devolved the position of Prime Minister of Nigeria to the deputy president of the NPC, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. He apparently did not want to live in Lagos and preferred the political climate of the North to that of the South.

Ahmadu Bello was a devout practicing Muslim. In 1955, he performed the Hajj, becoming Alhaji Ahmadu Bello. From then until his death, he visited Mecca annually to perform the Umrah. He walked every day to his local Mosque for prayer. Bello established a reputation for religious toleration. On Christmas Day 1959 he stated, in a broadcast:

“Here in the Northern Nigeria we have People of many different races, tribes and religious who are knit together to common history, common interest and common ideas, the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. I always remind people of our firmly rooted policy of religious tolerance. We have no intention of favoring one religion at the expense of another. Subject to the overriding need to preserve law and order, it is our determination that everyone should have absolute liberty to practice his belief according to the dictates of his conscience…”

Speaking about the vision of Ahmad Bello University, he stated:
“The cardinal principle upon which our University is founded is to impart knowledge and learning to men and women of all races without any distinction on the grounds of race, religious, or political beliefs.”

Bello’s greatest legacy was the modernization and unification of the diverse people of Northern Nigeria. He was assassinated during a January 15, 1966, military coup which toppled Nigeria’s post-independence government. He was still serving as premier of Northern Nigeria at the time. In addition to Knight of the British Empire (KBE), he was awarded several honorary doctorates, including the Doctor of Law from UNN (University of Nigeria Nsukka) in December 1961.

He founded the Ahmadu Bello University (1962) in Zaria, the second largest University in Africa, which is named after him. He was the University’s first Chancellor. Nigeria’s 200 naira carries his portrait. Bello’s many political accomplishments include establishing the Northern Regional Development Corporation (NRDC) subsequently the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), the Bank of the North, the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) and the Nigeria Citizen Newspapers.

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