By Umar Jibrilu Gwandu
In Gwandu town, May 1st 2019 was not only a workers’ day, but a day of monumental mourning. Terribly traumatized, the town was put to a standstill.
Thousands of sympathizers trooped from far and near to converge at the historic Abdullahi Fodio Gwandu Jumua’t Mosque in Gwandu to pay the last respect to the District Head of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Haruna Rasheed who died yesterday (Tuesday night 30th April, 2019).
Alhaji Muhammad Bello Haruna Rasheed would ever remained an indelible figure in the history of the ancient town of Gwandu nay the entire Gwandu Emirate and Kebbi State in general.
The deceased spent 43 years as the District Head of the most the precious districts in the Gwandu Emirate, Gwandu town, the Headquarters of the western part of the Sokoto Caliphate under Malam Abdullahi Fodio from 1812.
Described as the heart of Kebbi State, Gwandu was the town where Sheikh Usman Danfodio distributed flags to (northern Nigerian) Emirs of the Caliphate for the further propagation of the Islamic faith.
The late District Head of Gwandu the Sarkin Gabas Gwandu Alhaji Muhammad Bello the son of Haruna Rasheed the son of Muhammad Bashar the son Haliru the son of Abdulkadir the son of Hassan the son of Abdullahi Fodio Gwandu was born on May 3rd, 1943 and died two days to his 76th birthday.
Alhaji Muhamadu Bello Haruna Rasheed was the first son of the 18th Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Haruna Rasheed. The late Sarkin Gabs was nine year older than his brother the19th Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Haruna Jokolo who was born on January 6th 1952.
The Late Sarkin Gabas had his early Qur’anic and Islamic Education in Kalgo (a town near Birnin-Kebbi) at the time his father was the Sarkin Gobir there. He attended Birnin-Kebbi Middle School. He studied Acclimatization and Language Studies at Ilfracombe, South Devenonshire, United Kingdom.
Muhammadu Bello was at Manchester Openshow Technical College where he was taught French and Sciences and was later moved to Exeter Technical College and Tottenham College as well as West Ham College in London. He did his Diploma course in Public Social Administration for Overseas Students at what is presently known as South Devon University.
The late Sarkin Gabas Gwandu was an administrator per excellence. He was the Executive Officer, Ministry of Health, Northern Province, Kaduna, and was moved to Birnin-Kebbi as a Counselor in Gwandu Emirate and subsequently turbaned as the first Chiroma of Gwandu.
Muhammadu Bello was later to become Executive Officer, Internal Affairs Division, in the Military Governor’s Office of the North Western State, Sokoto. He rose to become Higher Executive Office and eventually became the fifth district head of Gwandu in 1976 when he was just 33 years.
With the transfer of the headquarters of the Gwandu Emirate from Gwandu to Ambursa and later to Birnin-Kebbi, the position of the District Head of Gwandu became eminent. The title of the district witnessed a number of transformations and changes from Dangaladima to Sarkin Yamma and later to the present title Sarkin Gabas.
The first District Head of Gwandu was Dangaladima Muhammadu Bashar who was to become the Emir of Gwandu, he was followed Dangaladima Haliru and later Sarkin Yamma Bello then Sarkin Gabas Shehu and the late Sarkin Gabas Muhammadu Bello Haruan Rasheed.
Muhammadu Bello Haruna Rasheed will be remembered not only for being the fifth District Head of Gwandu nor for spending almost five decade on the throne but as a leader that can be approached by his subjects at all times and in all circumstances.
I found him readily available to attend to all matters of progress and development in the area. He never shunned his subject during prayers, wedding and development oriented programmes in his locality.
To me, one of the things that kept him unique was his love for inculcating harmony and preaching peaceful stay with members of different understanding of Islamic faith.
He was instrumental to a combined preaching sessions by members of hitherto divided groups of Muslim preachers some 15 years ago. His palace used to be an intra-faith preaching and mediation centre.
The late Sarkin Gabas Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammadu Bello Haruna Rasheed respected and drew near him people he found with potentials and that could move the District forward. He loved doing the right things and doing things right.
He was passionate for the development of his domain and was contented with what he had.
When his domain was sub-divided into numerous districts of Kambaza, Masama and Dalijan, Muhamamdu Bello was reported to have said that he would never be pained as to the number of districts that were curved out or taken from his territory in as much as the main Gwandu town (that housed the tomb of Abdullahi Fodio) was under his care.
Now that the Sarkin Gabas is no more, I am sure that the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhamadu Ilyasu Bashar’s grief is tripartite; for losing a cousin, an in-law (an elder brother to his wife) and a very important member in the Emirate.
I pray may Allah forgive him and grant him Jannat.
Umar Jibrilu Gwandu
Department of Mass Communication
Bayero University, Kano
1st May, 2019