The Rimi of Kano:Life and Times of Alhaji Abubakar Rimi

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

By Taiwo Olawale


Rimi is the name of a small village in Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano state. But if that name is mentioned in Nigeria, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, it is Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi that comes to mind. Abubakar Rimi is the real Rimi that everybody knew. Without him, the small village where he was born would probably have remained a mere blot on the country’s political map.

But Abubakar Rimi did not just make his village popular; he would be remembered as one of the best governors Kano state has had to date. He was the Rimi of Kano. Whatever one makes of his political career in later years, his achievements as the first civilian governor of the old Kano state remain subjects of folklore in the state, close to 30 years after he stepped down as governor.

He was elected governor on the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in 1978. He was a hothead who brought charisma and panache to his job. This made an instant hit with the people. His sharp intellect and electrifying sense of humour also worked well in his favour.

But these were not the only reasons Rimi became very popular as a governor. His tenure truly witnessed fundamental changes and achievements that have remained firsts and unparalleled. For example, it is an undisputed fact that he spread social amenities and introduced new progressive measures for the betterment of the people. He abolished the notorious poll and cattle taxes and made education the focal point of his administration.

His decision to make education one of the focal points of his administration was not unconnected with his firm believe that the people were being exploited because they were ignorant. So, he went on to effect what was to become a major revolution in the education sector. In the less than four years that he was in charge, educational institutions at all levels tripled. Most of the schools he established remain the bastions of education in Kano and Jigawa states today.

He even introduced an adult education programme that was to later inspire replicas in other northern states. Established in April 1980 under a department known as Agency for Mass Education, the programme gave adults who could not go through formal education, the opportunity to study up to secondary and university levels. The programme was so successful that it was recognised in 1983, as one of the best adult education programmes on the African continent by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Rimi also opened up inaccessible and neglected rural areas of the old Kano state by undertaking massive road projects, rural electrification projects and extensive rural water programmes. Many of the roads and projects remain solid and functional many years after. In fact, there are rural communities which have not seen any other government project since Rimi stepped down as governor in May, 1983! He was also the one that established the Kano state television station known as CTV and the Triumph Publishing Company.

One other area where Rimi made a huge difference as governor was in the promotion of gender equality. This is even more significant when one considers the fact that he worked in a part of the country that remains intensely conservative about women’s participation in public activities. He did not only establish schools for girls, he made sure parents enrolled their female children in the schools. And, politically, women benefited considerably from his administration. He appointed the first female commissioner in the history of the state in 1979. By the time he stepped down in 1983, three women had served as commissioners in the state.

In the less than four years that he was governor, he made so much impact that his footprints remain indelible on the sands of present day Kano and Jigawa states. Many people believe that if only he had the opportunity of ruling Kano state for eight years, the state would probably have been the most developed in the country. He was truly a ‘people’s governor’ and a proper progressive and all his political adventures and misadventures after his stint as Kano state government were effectively overshadowed by his achievements as the governor of old Kano state.

This explains why he remained very popular in spite of his miscalculations and gaffes in later years. It also explains why he grew bigger than his small village in Sumaila local government and became the Rimi of Kano. It is why, even in death, Kano would always be proud of him and he would remain the Rimi of Kano no matter what anybody thinks about his politics.


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