By Emmanuel Archibong
To the people of the Bafarawa ruling house in Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State, October 4, 1954 did not hold out much of significance than the birth of a child later named Attahiru that was born to the family of Dalhatu Bafarawa.
Unknown to the ruling house, the young Attahiru would later leave footprints of great political and economic influence on not only his community, but also the state in general.
His parents ensured that he had his primary, secondary and his Qur’anic education at Shinkafi. He was later trained as a teacher at the Haliru Abdu Teachers College at Birnin Kebbi in 1975. From this point, the young teacher would later expand his horizon from business to politics in a bid to realize his ambition of serving his people.
Discovering the relevance of economic empowerment as a foundation of leadership, in 1979, with just N1, 000 Bafarawa commenced a business career where he built chain of companies having interest in various fields. Some of the companies are Bafarawa Nigeria Ltd; Bafarawa Petroleum, Bafarawa Flour Mills, Bafarawa Agro Farms, among several others. Realising that he had built a solid business career, he ventured into active politics.
He was first elected as councilor in Isa Local Government Area and in same year emerged as the vice chairman of the council. He was state chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the old Sokoto State from 1991 to 1993. He was a founding member of the All Peoples Party (APP) and later picked the ticket of the party for the 1999 polls.
Emerging from the long period of military dictatorship spanning over 15 years, the newly elected governor resolved to chart a new course committed to ensuring peace and development. At the centre of his development initiatives was the need for transparency and humanism.
Realising that development cannot be achieved without putting people at the centre of focus, the accomplished businessman who ventured into politics to serve the people; rallied the electorate to work towards uplifting the standards of living for the people. Having created an enabling atmosphere for peace, Bafarawa became the beacon of hope and development for a state that had seen little development throughout the years of military regimes.
Leadership, according to Bafarawa, is only worth supporting within a democratic framework that has the people at the centre of development. From road to water works; from construction of additional school blocks to recruitment of health workers to deliver on his mandate on improved heath for the people, among others, Sokoto State became a theater of how democracy works. Unlike some states where the executive and the legislature arm of government were engaged in a cat-and-mouse relationship, Bafarawa ensured that both arms worked in harmony for the development of the state.
In demonstration of his absolute faith on Bafarawa as a democrat, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Sokoto over seven times to commission numerous projects that left indelible marks on the populace.
As governor of Sokoto State, the passionate politician knew the relevance of reaching out and building bridges of understanding among stakeholders. It was under his government that non-indigenes were appointed as executive members of the Sokoto State Executive Council.
A detribalised Nigerian to the core who saw beyond the present and hinged his faith on the greatness of Nigeria on its human capital and natural endowments in all spheres of human endeavors, Bafarawa was to blaze the trail in development initiatives.
Some of the highlights of his achievements during his first term in office included construction of the Deputy Governor’s office; modernisation of road networks in Sokoto metropolis and other council headquarters; recruitment of teachers and health workers, promotion of technical and science education through purchase of equipment for schools; construction of housing units for public sector workers, among several others.
In astute recognition of his sterling qualities as a humanist and political leader who was always in touch with the grassroots, the electorate unanimously elected him for yet another term of four years in the 2003 polls. In doing so, it became a clear endorsement of his humanist disposition in the governance of the state.
Despite the enormous resources deployed by the then ruling party at the centre, the man who has proven a true political leader emerged victorious. Bafarawa combines the qualities of humility and human milk of kindness in the service of people. He easily identifies with the masses and not carried away by the display of temporal power that seems to be the ultimate goal of the ordinary Nigerian politician.
In exercising such powers, he readily reminds himself of the feelings of the poor and tries to strike a balance in order to meet the exigency of the moments. Bafarawa, who was conferred with the prestigious title of Garkuwan Sokoto (Shield of the Caliphate) by the late Sultan Muhammadu Maccido Abubakar III, is a politician whose word is his bond and always willing to stand by the constitution in defence of the general good. Such belief was demonstrated throughout his eight years as governor of Sokoto State through the provision of transparent leadership and confidence on the sovereignty of the constitution.
To demonstrate his sense of probity and accountability that is synonymous to his eight years of governance, Bafarawa left behind the sum of no less than N8 billion in the coffers of the state government when he handed power to his successor in 2007. It is on record that he left neither liability nor an unpaid loan for the man who took over from him.
After his eight years as governor, the Garkuwan Sokoto attempted to test his political prowess on a national platform when he contested for the 2007 presidential 2007 polls on the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). Though he could not upstage the political stage but his entrance in the race proved that he was someone who believes in democracy.
Throughout his presidential campaigns, he proved himself a level-headed candidate who was interested in the service of humanity and not selfish aggrandisement. As a believer in the greatness of the Nigerian people, his interest in politics did not wane even after the 2007 polls as he was always engaged with other political forces to change the course of events and cast positive influence on the polity.
As Bafarawa marks 63 years of his earthly life on October 4, 2017, most of which have been dedicated to the service of the fatherland, as a witness to this apostle of goodwill and lover of mankind and the Nigerian nation, may the bright sunshine of divine powers in the affairs of men once again shine on Garkuwa whose performance profile in governance is still unprecedented in the history of Sokoto State.
Archibong is an Abuja-based writer and can be reached on 07034900546