A few misconceptions about Ibrahim Tahir I must address before agonising over his loss. Most prominent is that he was sponsored to Cambridge in London by The Northern Regional Government and in truth he never was. He was etched off of the Government sponsored list and his older brother Mukhtar Tahir, friend to late Gen. Murtala Mohammed, who was instrumental alongside Amb. Balarabe Tafawa Balewa, in the creation of Bauchi State, sponsored Talba to study abroad. Mukhtar Tahir was a civil servant then, who rose to become a Deputy Director in the Federal Civil Service. Mukhtar Tahir, who was also Talba, saved for a scholarship fund every month from his salary, to get his very gifted brother to study abroad. Arewa did Talba in but as providence would have it, his brother Mukhtar, paid for his schooling abroad. Another wrongly diseminated thing is about Ibrahim Tahir’s literary works. His only documented literary work is The novel Last Imam. While he was away in London in 1989, IBB advised Ibrahim Tahir to write a book for posterity’s sake. He admonished him not to let his brain waste away without at least putting a book together. Ibrahim Tahir did not write ‘Qur’an and Hadith, questions and answers’ as erroneously put together by a well scripted and presented video by one of the local TV/ Online media. Thirdly, Talban Bauchi, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir was never NPN Secretary. He was a founding member of the NPN and did all the ‘Jaki’ paperwork that brought it to life. As usual his brain was ‘harvested’ but he was never officially recognised for the hard work. He was schemed out of being Secretary and schemed out of being their Presidential flagbearer. He was later compensated as NNDC Chairman and Nigerian Railway Corporation Chair. He later became NITEL Chairman. In Shagari’s 2nd tenure, Ibrahim Tahir became Internal Affairs Minister in 1983.
In these tributes, I usually give Babatalba, an account of what has been going on around his name, legacies, and burning issues. Issues surrounding governance, over which he would have chipped in with his fine takes and analysis, while proffering germane solutions to the workings of government and their policies, as they affect the common man; and lastly us, his family, especially me, his successor, the new happy-go-lucky Talba, saddled with the burden of being his torch bearer. In my first interview as Talba, I told the world that his shoes were too big for me, so they’d cut me some slack and I’d buy space and time for myself. Little did they know that all I aspire to be in life is you. Exactly you and not one bit different. Nuhu Gidado, your Baban Habuja, quickly sensed that and had on numerous occasions cautioned me on being in a hurry to become a ‘Babatalba’. I have since learned that I need time. However, I know I may not be doing too badly afterall I started a lot younger. As support, Babatalba I have your good friend IBB, who gives me a lot of ‘cover’ and support and has done well in inspiring me and buiding up a lot of confidence in me. He introduced me to a particular State Governor, and the Governor asked me, ‘so what do you do’? I was jobless at the time, aside my weekly columns in 2 national dailies and i was dumbfounded what to say i did for a living. IBB quickly came to my defense and retorted, ‘He is The Talba of Bauchi mana. He is The Chief Adviser to Bauchi Emir. Talba is his work’! I smiled in content and praise to the good Lord. Being Talba is actually a profession of its own wallahi! (Tirkashi).
Babatalba, Baba Buhari has been President for 8 years. I remember you were one of his campaign spokespersons back in 2003 and 2007. I remember he was your very close friend. I remember all the cooking Anti Yelwa does when he comes to Bauchi. I also remember him coming to tell you that when you were detained after the military coup of 83, you were never indicted or found guilty of any wrongdoing. I vividly recall how much you toiled for his success. It didnt come in your lifetime but it did in mine. I carried on with your commitment and ‘toiling’, along with other Buharists. He won at last. I had hoped or thought that some day, within those 8 years, Anti and the rest of the family would be accorded a courtesy visit to the Villa or to Daura, even if it is for pleasantries. In your honor, I have been supportive of PMB and almost every week, I’m out there in his defense, promoting his government’s policies & projects in my weekly columns on the two national dailies I write for. The courtesy visit has not come and his tenure has almost ended. This expectation never saw the light of day, but it has perhaps been compensated, as you were given a National Honor, as Officer of The Order of The Federal Republic, OFR. I took the award on your behalf and I had the much coveted Presidential handshake. That was my 3rd anyway, as I got one from IBB at Dodan Barracks as a 9 year old when you took me visiting during Ramadhaan in 1988. The other was with Umaru Musa Yar’adua, when the then SGF, Yayale Ahmed, invited you to the Villa and I tagged along. I was shocked when as President, Yar’adua knelt down and greeted you at The Presidential living room infront of everyone present. Gov. Saminu Turaki was one of the President’s guests at the time. I was like, Babatalba ‘duniya ne’!
All the things you were castigated for, are the same things you are celebrated and cherished for. Your intellect and contributions to national discourse are now missed dearly as against you being overly indulging when Nigeria or Arewa were in focus. Your charitable nature and generosity that was frowned at as wasteful and uneconomical, is now legendary and has achieved folklore status. Your proclamations and lectures are now deemed prophetic and instructive. Today, you are an institution and Arewa lacks your ilk and the region is deemed ‘orphaned’ from missing out on statesmen like you; who would fight for the cause of emancipating the common man and protecting him from draconian government policies and regulations. You have written your name in Gold and that has ensured that I conduct myself in the most honorable manner everywhere I go. I miss you more everyday and the more the years pass by, the more people talk about you and cherish all you’ve done for them and what you have represented, as an evangelist for the betterment of the lives of the masses. I remain consoled and thankful that even though you’re gone, you are everywhere around us in spirit. I am further consoled that I have a father in your blossom friend, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who usually rescues me from the clasps of the world’s eventualities, just the way you would if you were here. There is plenty gist Baba but space and time would always limit me. Your ‘Antin duk duniya’ trudges on just the way you’ve always known her, indefatigable! She is the greatest gift you’ve ever gifted us. She makes missing you a lot less difficult. Your choice was indeed golden, just the way you have written your name in gold, with your philanthropy and genius, hugging us so dearly and warmly. Lest I forget, I met your old friend Mamman Daura and he prayed so hard for the repose of your soul. He misses you so so much. He welcomed me with open arms and instructed everyone in his house to welcome me anyday anytime. May Allah answer all the people’s prayers on your behalf. May all the good deeds we do, be blessings for you in the hereafter. May Allah, most high most gracious, eternally besought of all, grant you Firdaus, The best of heaven and Earth.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.