Just begin

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A very inspiring tale to encourage you.

Just after I received my fee structure from Moi University for my PhD, totalling N850,000 in 2012, I met my dad, Alhaji Abubakar at Cooperative bank in Kaduna.

I explained to him that I had the admission letter and he smiled.

I told him however, “Baba, there is a problem. They need N850,000.”

He held my hands, then slowly but reassuringly, said, “Just begin, my son.”

To ensure his point went home, he got into his account and gave me N14,000 in an account that had N20,000.

I was touched.

I added N16000 and paid N30,000 into the account, and my journey to PhD began.

Today, having reached the dream, I remember the words of my father.

In everything you do, always remember, JUST BEGIN.

Just begin, no matter how difficult it seems to be.

It appeared to be difficult, but as time lapsed, I realised dad was right.

At some point after my defence, I gave up.

I still had a solid N300,000 to pay and they wouldn’t give me a chance for my final defence.

Then came a very unlikely help.

I had supported a gentleman to undertake a project evaluation two times in the year.

I received his call cautiously asking me to meet him.

He was carrying a brown envelop in his hand.

He began, “Aliyu, you will forgive me if you find my action inappropriate. For two consecutive times you have given me a job without asking for a Cent. This is very unusual with many people. I did not know how to approach you, but I am deep with gratitude. Please accept my small gift.”

I quickly peered into the envelope and saw they were two bundles, likely in hundreds.

He confirmed that it was N200,000.

I told him, “I have helped so many people, many known to me, some were my school mates who never returned a Cent. God bless you. Please don’t give it to me. Pay it straight into the university account.”

I couldn’t believe it.

The words of my father, “My son, just begin” came to mind.

Don’t worry how it will end.

Just begin.

If you are building a house, just begin.

If you are planning to buy land, just begin.

If you want to continue with your education, just begin.

If you want to pay dowry, just begin.

Nothing is more powerful than that advice.

We just need to begin.

And I have revised this philosophy.

Whenever someone is doing something, I always encourage them to just keep trying.

When things get thick, I always say, keep walking.

When things are intimidating, ignore.

Let’s keep trying.

Don’t give up on life just because your challenges appear to be insurmountable.

Do not be defeated before you begin.

Whatever looks like a mountain will soon become an anthill…but only if you begin.

Not long ago, someone asked me, “Aliyu, are we going to manage to build the office we want?”

My answer, “Let’s just begin.”

I believe in the power of starting.

No one loses a race until they respond to the sound of the gun and begin.

The secret lies in beginning.

Overtime, God has seen me through a number of projects because of this philosophy.

I have parcels of land that I acquired by simply paying N50,000…and, overtime, these have multiplied.

I persuade you this day never to allow yourself to be threatened by the size of your problem.

Begin in a small way to do something about it.

If it is lack of money do something small to get something for yourself.

If it is a marital issue, look for a way to solve it.

In whatever you face, just begin.

Even those with big debts can do something about it.

Just begin and it will shrink each day.

I was not a millionaire, but sometime ago, I wanted to have a feeling of being one.

I drew a plan of how to hold a million in my account, at least for a few days.

After some months of beginning, I discovered it was possible.

Three years and half of savings later, I got my first ever million.

Even though I used it later on investments and expenses, it felt so good.

Let’s all begin.

Let’s ignore naysayers and prophets of doom that believe we can’t do it.

JUST BEGIN!

St. George’s: Old grand Church that will not be killed.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

St. George’s: Some Historical Perspectives and Fundamental Issues
The recent furore over a reported notice for the demolition of a 111 year old Church building in Sabongari, Zaria is not only a direct consequence of the residential segregation that started during the colonial era but part of the collateral damage caused by the religionalization of politics in contemporary Nigeria. A Sabongari is defined as “strangers quarters” or literally new town in an emirate. It is normally a designed layout populated by persons not indigenous to the host community and predominantly from the Southern Protectorate and other West African colonies whether Christian or Muslim. Sabongaris blossomed with railway development. That of Zaria is no different. It fitted into the master plan of segregation to maintain inter communal harmony by the British.
What eventually became St. George’s Church started in 1907 at the private residence of Mr. CA Kasumu an employee of Loco (Railways) located at 22 Yoruba Street. He was a tally clerk in the construction of the Baro-Kano and Bauchi light railway lines. Services were conducted in English and led by Mr. J Mcla Slove and Mr. CH Crabb, a Sierra Leonian and Ghanaian (then Gold Coast) respectively. The growing congregation moved to its present site in 1908 but it was not until 1912 that an ordained priest Revd Victor Johnson from Sierra Leone was sent over to take charge. By then Igbo and Yoruba services were included. The Igbo however relocated to what is today known as St. Michael’s also in Sabongari in 1946. But before then a primary school was built by the Church in its vicinity in 1930. It is now known as Ja’afaru Primary School owned by the Kaduna State govt. That school was expanded in 1949 to become the Northern Nigerian Archdeaconry Teachers Training Center with an initial intake of 23 students. It was renamed St. Peter’s Teachers College and moved to Samaru. It eventually formed the nucleus of the Nigeria College which is now ABU, Zaria. St. Peter’s relocated to Kaduna and St. Faith’s for girls opened near. Both institutions are now owned by the Kaduna state located in Kawo behind the WAEC Secretariat
St. George’s Church is an integral part of the Church of Nigeria. From 1932 to 1980 it was the District Church Council seat of what is now known as Kaduna Province of the Anglican Communion covering the 7 states of the North West geopolitical zone current headed by an Archbishop Most Revd Dr. Ali Buba Lamido from Wusasa also in Zaria.

The Mission hospital in Wusasa was the first Teaching Hospital of ABU at inception.
The religionization of politics in the North started in 1953. This was when the first four Lagos ministers and the three in Kaduna were appointed. They were all Muslims. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa vehemently resisted entreaties by the North’s Governor, Sir Bryan Sharwood Smith for a more balanced and equitable representation (See ‘But Always As Friends’ page 237) Eventually an agreement was reached and Mr. Peter Achimugu, Mr. Micheal Audu Buba and Mr. George Ohikere became Parliamentary Secretaries. It was not until 1955 the first Christian minister was appointed in person of Pastor David Lot. He was however in office without a portfolio. By 1950 there were only 3 colleges in the entire North. Government College Zaria (Barewa) Government College Keffi and St. John’s College Kaduna (now Rimi College) There were however 12 Middle Schools owned by government. The Missionaries owned the rest such that by 1962 there were a total of 8995 learners in these schools. Only 3227 were in government schools. As far as teacher training was concerned as at 1956 there were a total of 540 teachers of Northern origin: 224 in govt and 316 employed by the Missionaries.

What is the way forward? Permit me to quote from Sir Ahmadu Bello’s assurances given when he became Premier of the North in 1957 – “I want to emphasize one thing our Government is a government of Northerners, both Muslims and Christians…..I am pleased to know too, that the relationships between Government and the Missions have been cordial, cooperative and friendly. We cannot deny that there have been differences from time to time, but such differences in our religions need be no bar to our continuing to work together for the good of our people”
Next Governor Nasir el Rufai must live up to his own words. One expects with his quest for national assignment in view he should have outgrown “body bags” grandstanding by showing the kind of maturity commensurate with being called His Excellency.

At 12.40 pm the Kaduna Governor’s official Twitter on Thursday, 11th April 2019 declared “In Kaduna State, the Indigene/Settler dichotomy has been abolished. Every person resident in Kaduna State would be accorded all rights as citizens and indigenes of the state”
Then all Missionary Schools seized without compensation under the Public Education Act of 1971 must be returned to their rightful owners. Under such circumstances the issue of demolition of St. George’s Church would be moot. All states in the South have returned such schools. None have been so far returned in the North. Worthy of mention are those returned by then Muslim governors of Lagos and Ogun states, Bola Tinubu and Ibikunle Amosun respectively. The objectives of the takeover was to not only standardize but accelerate educational developed against the backdrop of an Oil Boom. The exercise woefully failed as it enabled moral degeneration giving rise to widespread exam malpractices and scandalous spike in diverse immoralities. The rest is now living history.

The Perfect Story for Kaduna

With the recent crisis in Kaduna State, Northern Nigerian, which broke out on Thursday 18th October, 2018, the almost immediate spill over on Sunday 21st October, 2018, and then the Friday 26th October, 2019; this latest one following this breaking news:

“KIDNAPPED AGOM ADARA MURDERED

The king of Adara, Kachia LGA, Southern Kaduna, His Highness, Dr Maiwada Galadima, Agom Adara, who was kidnapped on the Oct 19, on his way back from a meeting with Gov El-Rufai has been murdered after the payment ₦5 million ransom.”

The criticism has been centered on this being a political killing….

Some want it to be known that the State Government under the leadership of Mal. El- Rufai has shown it’s clear disdain for southern sections of the State because of the incessant problem in these areas.

The Fulani herdsmen tagged conflict in these southern most part of the state has not fully abated & a majority of these sections had voted against the ruling party in previous elections, regardless of the official results announced after the last LG elections.

Governor El-Rufai’s utterances & actions, since assuming office has been said by some critics to have breeded the current crisis and killings going on in Kaduna state. To these persons El-Rufia’s utterances have always been laddened with hate for these particular section of the state.

Watch this video https://t.co/oyxtG897V5

video of elrufai

But though El-Rufai is not known for moderation & tact in his blunt utterances, but he is not entirely wrong.

It is true that the narrative on BOTH sides has been lace with more exclusive undertones than unconditional peaceful overtures.

The Story of Kaduna’s reoccurring ethnic-religious crisis is that of endless reprisals.

I read the perfect most story recently that all the people in Kaduna must read.

A delightful cousin of mine had put it up on whassap.

“At the time of Obatala The King in Yoruba land,
Three people came to him dragging a young man with them and said to him:
Kabiyesi!!! (Your highness) This man has murdered our father.

Obatala: Why did you kill their father?

Young man: I’m a goatherd. My goat ate from their father’s farm, and he threw a stone at my goat and it died; so I also took the stone and threw it at their father and he also died.

Obatala: Because of this, I pass judgment on your charge of murder by sentencing you to death.

The Young man said:
I ask for 3 days before you execute the judgment. My late father left me some wealth and I have a sister to take care of. If you kill me now, the wealth and my sister will have no guardian.

Obatala: Who will stand for your bail?

Young man: Looking into the crowd, he pointed at Lamurudu.

Obatala asked: Do you agree to stand for him, Lamurudu?

Lamurudu answered, Beeni (yes).

Obatala enquired further: You agree to stand for someone you don’t know, and if he doesn’t return you’ll receive his penalty.

Lamurudu answered: I accept.

The young man left but after two days, and into the third day there was still no sign of him.

Everyone was very afraid for Lamurudu who had accepted to receive the penalty of death if the man failed to return.

Just before it was time for dinner, the Goat Herdsman appeared looking very exhausted and he stood before Obatala.

The Young man spoke up: I have handed the wealth and the welfare of my sister to my uncle and I am back to receive the penalty.

You may execute the penalty now.

In great shock and surprise, Obatala said: And why did you return after having a chance to escape the death penalty?

Young man:

I was afraid, it will appear that humanity has lost integrity and the ability to fulfill promises kept”.

Obatala turned and looked at Lamurudu and asked him: And why did you stand for him?

Lamurudu responded:

I was afraid, it might appear that humanity have lost the will to do good to others.”

These words and events moved the brothers who had wanted justice for their father’s death very deeply and they decided to forgive the young goat herdsman.

In furious anger, Obatala asked “Why?!!!”

They said:

We are afraid, it will appear as though forgiveness has lost place in the heart of humanity.

I have also share this beautiful message and passed it on with the hope that it might be a reminder of how forgiveness is an integral aspect of peace. Such that doing good may not be ever lost to us.

I encourage all the sides in Kaduna to embrace peace, forgive & forget all the ills supposedly done to them in the past or present. Let it pass on, or else I fear that…. Our humanity is slowly being lost.

Be safe & God bless you always.

Kashin Dankali

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

This is a metaphor of what the Talakawa refer to as ‘Kashin Dankali’ used in Hausa to exemplify societal oppression of smaller potatoes beneath that always bear the brunt of the bigger ones above. It was an analogy made popular by Malam Aminu Kano after the Sawaba Declaration of NEPU in the 1950s.

So ‘Kashin Dankali’ signifies how elites subjugate the downtrodden in the North irrespective of religion or ethnicity. Back then the political differences in the North were ideological. Today they are religious. The implication is that instead of making progress the North has backslidden. ‘Kashin Dankali’ almost 70 years later begs the question of why the Buhari administration discontinued the Almajiri school projects started by Jonathan. The answer is very simple and straight forward – the political North is so narrow minded and conceited that holding power in the interim is more preferable to it than planning for the future of its younger generation.

Simply put as far as the Northern intelligentsia is concerned dominating defense and security portfolios including headship of NNPC, NPA, FCT ministry among many others is more expedient than completing the 400 Almajiri schools earmarked across the North. Apparently to the ruling APC in the North an Almajiri child voter is more equal to an educated Talakawa leader of tomorrow. A more equitable Arewa is therefore not on its agenda. That is ironically among the root causes of the Boko Haram insurgency which now has become a political weapon in the dubious hands of the same mischievous Northern elite.

The first private university to be licensed in Nigeria was located in Rigacukum along the Kaduna- Zaria expressway as far back as 25 years ago. To date it has never admitted a single student nor built any lecture hall. In fact it is now a secondary school under Turkish management. Contrast that with the number of private universities springing up along and off the Lagos – Ibadan expressway within the last 10 years. Jonathan thought he was doing the North a favor when he located 9 of the 12 Federal Universities he established in the North. Not only that the former president elevated FCE Kano and Zaria to the status of Universities of Education. Both gestures were set aside when Buhari became president. With Alvan Ikoku at Owerri and Adeyemi in Oyo ambushed in the cross fire.

The newly established Nigerian Army University by the current Buhari administration would have brighter prospects because it is located in the more cosmopolitan Southern Borno. The high inter-communal harmony and level tolerance of that part of the NE are the reasons why the BH has repeatedly been unable to make any major foothold there. But what does not add up in the North is fact that our elites are mostly of humble background that were educated at public expense while their children and wards are so cut off from their grassroots and so expensively educated in private schools. Gone are the days when the son of a messenger will share the same class with that of a Perm Sec. That marked the beginning of the end of education in the North.

The man formerly known as Lamido Sanusi Lamido described it as a misplaced “12th century mentality” based on religious ignorance. I totally agree with him. Currently the Hon Minister of Education is a Northerner so are most of the heads of the ‘juicy” agencies under him. Yet the North still wears the dishonorable badge of educational backwardness under the current dispensation.

Will Atiku be any different if he becomes president? I humbly stand to be corrected but between Buhari and Atiku all their children were tertiary educated abroad. That is why both of them don’t have any comprehensive agenda on Education in Nigeria. Both candidates are fundamentally the same in ideological perspective.Truth is the differences between the North’s political elite are only in their bank balance, personal character and level of socialization but as far as ‘Kashin Dankali’ is concerned they are the same kind of oppressors Aminu Kano had always warned the Talakawa about.

2019 is therefore a Hobson’s Choice. A precarious situation where all the major options are just not good enough for Nigeria.

A FATHER TODAY

What future is there?

On this very sad Father`s day in my home city of Kaduna Nigeria, where three seperate bomb blasts had killed a number of innocent worshippers inside their respective churches during morning service, starting off a spade of angry vengeful violence, I suddenly recall an old conversation I had with my late father about two decades ago.

He had wanted to know what I thought our country would be like in a decade. That was in 1993 and I thought I was being clever when I said; Our country will be a land our founding fathers would be very proud of in ten years time.

I was so wrong and in a strange sort of way, I am so glad my father did not live long enough to see how wrong I was. It would have killed yet again to see the mess Nigeria has become. This land he had taught me to love and cherish like he did, is today the very opposite of what our founding fathers wanted it to be.

FATHER

Baba, mutuwa na da wuya?
Mun amince duniyar ka da wuya.

Father, is it hard to die?
We acknowledge the hassles of your world.
With life’s wards always roams a lie;
We all are reproductions of its mould.

Choking in the presence of its grip,
The inscrutable crux not familiarized.
Do we sit out the stages of its trip,
Like your peaceful love that wasn’t recognized?

From the weep the baby wails
To the whip’s lashes life hails,
These tastes we own and inherit.
Say oh father, is there better to merit?