Just about a week ago, I wrote an article on the 26th of December 2021 titled, ‘Tetfund at 10: The giant strides of the Apostle of Research and Development’, celebrating Tetfund as it marked its 10 years of remarkable service in the nation’s tertiary education sector. I harped on the leadership qualities of its Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, FAS, FNIAS, FNSAP; who has turned the tide of the impact of Tetfund, from infrastructure based, to an institution with a renewed emphasis on research and development. Professor had built the National Research Fund from a mere 3 billion to a whopping 9 billion naira annually. He has also midwifed the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation, and an executive bill, drafted under the leadership of the Honorable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; is being presented at the National Assembly — hence Professor’s tag as the Apostle of Research and Development, as well as the appellation, SAR (senior advocate of research). Prof. has indeed achieved global acclaim among stakeholders of education as the most pushful advocate for research in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. Prof. is an international citizen and a philosophical king.
Just a few days after my afore-mentioned article, the people of Zaar Development association sought to honor Baba Gonto, the late sage and elder of the Sayawa community. It was only natural to seek the support and encouragement of Prof. Bogoro, whose maternal roots are from the Gung Gida family, which Baba Gonto hails from. Gung Yake, Gung Gida’s brother had six children, one of which is Prof’s own mother. The author of the book on Baba Gonto, Prof. Saleh Dauda who happens to be my lecturer, and a contemporary of Prof. Bogoro, also sought Prof. Bogoro’s participation in his book presentation, at the memorial anniversary of Baba Gonto. Celebrating Baba Gonto, a leader for the emancipation of the sayawa, who is known to be very peaceful and tender hearted, was a very noble initiative, embraced by all. Baba Gonto is known to have stepped down for Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister, in the 1959 Federal House elections. A singular act that earned Baba Gonto the respect of the late Prime Minister, and that of the people of Bauchi.
The Nigerian Prize for leadership, built to promote excellence and trust in leadership, as well as inspire Nigerian leaders to lead a life larger than self for the community, nation and humanity — picked Prof. Bogoro as a recipient of this year’s prize for leadership, in recognition of his leadership values. The award has a prize money of 25 million naira. During his speech at the 21st memorial anniversary of Baba Gonto, Prof. Bogoro announced the dedication of his award and prize money, to the Baba Gonto Foundation, to honor him and preserve his legacies. This initiative was hailed by all in the event, including the members of the Baba Gonto family, who thanked the Prof. profusely, for his very generous arm of brotherhood.
Sadly, just after the event had winded up, some youths in the area started a campaign of violence. All kinds of rumors were peddled around, that Prof. Bogoro was positioning himself as the chief of the sayawa kingdom or emirate, as the state was working on a new sayawa chiefdom. Guests to the event from the different emirates of Bauchi state were prevented from reaching the event ground. Some say certain traditional leaders in the community felt threatened by the presence of Prof. Bogoro. Others implied that it was a political tussle turned violent. What is certain, is that the unfortunate events that trailed the memorial anniversary of a very peaceful and kind legend of the sayawa community, is the result of unfounded and unfortunate rumors that didn’t have a ring of truth to them.
The truth of the matter is that Prof. Bogoro does not have political or traditional leadership inclinations or endeavors whatsoever. He has virtually reached the pinnacle of his career in the pursuit of academic excellence, which he has crowned with the initiative of promoting and funding research activities. This he firmly believes is vital, in the creation of a knowledge based economy, which is on a world wide spin. Prof is a celebrated son of Bauchi who has been a catalyst in the development of education in Bauchi, of immeasurable proportions. Prof is the Chairman, board of trustees, for the Society of Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) — a body focused on synergic relationships for peace and development in Africa. How then can such a person, who strongly espouses peace, be linked to violence and upheaval? I make bold to say, that Prof. is not a politician, and neither is he a traditionalist, but the revered academician, whom we have all known him to be.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.