By Abdul Ahmad Burra
I am relatively apathetic to royalism and monarchy perhaps because there is no royal blood in me and the fact that traditional institutions in Nigeria are weakened by our constitutional democracy by not assigning any role to them.
However, I am always attracted to traditional rulers and monarchs who despite the lack of constitutional role assigned to them, have excelled in making lives of their subjects comfortable through philanthropic services and facilitation of development in all ramifications to their domain. Recently, His Royal Highness the Emir Gombe is believed to be one of such monarchs by many social commentators, especially on the social media because of his many philanthropic services.
The suspension of the District Head of Burra or more correctly put, Sarkin Burra, Alhaji Ya’u Shehu Abubakar in September last year and the reminiscence and nostalgia that greeted the aftermath of the suspension and his exit from Burra, put many patriotic sons of the area and many public commentators into a state of deep thought and reflection about his reign.
After studying the nostalgic comments and euphoria of the decade reign of Alhaji Ya’u Shehu Abubakar as Sarkin Burra and rememberance of what he has done to the community, I come to the conclusion that he is an exceptional monarch, unsung hero and probably the best traditional ruler in Nigeria in term for his positive impact and philanthropy in his domain.
To promote education in his domain, which is the cornerstone of the development of any society, he built three schools and donated them to various Islamic sects for both Islamic and western education. He donated a 13-classroom school with offices to JIBWIS Jos Headquarters. The School is now serving as Izala’s private schools; ASAS Nursery and Primary School, Higher Islamic College and Islamiyya School. Other schools were donated to other religious sects. One is serving as Tahfizul Qur’an School, Islamiyya School for women and children and temporary site for Burra Academy, a private school established some years ago. The third school is also serving as Islamic School.
This is apart from his many interventions and donations to various primary and secondary schools and individuals in the area as well as enrollment and truancy drives. I can recalled when we were leaders of Burra Students Association, we conceived an idea of constructing a multipurpose Secretariat that would comprise a computer centre, offices, conference hall and town hall. When we met him for contribution, Sarki immediately purchased a piece of land for us at a desirable location and facilitated the coming of the then senator representing Bauchi Central Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi to lay the foundation for the construction of the Secretariat. Also, we conceived another idea to pursue the establishment of a girls secondary school in Burra because the only senior secondary school in the town was reconverted to boarding and didn’t accept day students, as a result many girls lose access to senior secondary education. We felt this is great setback to our community because we are so much lacking in girl-child education. Sarki supported our idea. We wrote a letter to Ministry of Education requesting for the establishment of the girl school and he called many influential personalities and notified them of our effort and asked them to follow up the matter. That was how the first ever girls day senior secondary school in Bauchi State was established in Burra. And to encourage enrollment he summoned all village heads and ward heads and asked them to enlighten their subjects on the need to enroll their daughters to the school. In collaboration with our association, he also identified less privileged girls, pay off their registration fees and sow uniforms and provided other school materials for them. Sarki also promised scholarship for any girl that wants to study nursing or widwiferey and will work in Burra. I can also recalled when he called us and told us that he has done a lot for GSS Burra and now they are requesting him to renovate a hall they would convert to computer centre, he therefore asked us to use our money to do the renovation. We immediately renovated the hall with the money we generated during our magazine launch.
Sarkin Burra YS Abubakar was also instrumental in the construction of all the three Juma’ah mosques in Burra town and many other mosques in the District. Apart from being at the centre of the construction of Burra Central mosque at Kofar Fada, when became the District Head he renovated the mosque and built two towers to further beautify the mosque. He was the highest donor when JIBWIS Jos Headquarters constructed new Juma’ah mosque and he recently donated N500,000 to them to renovate the mosque. When other Izala Group with headquarters in Kaduna wanted to build new Juma’ah mosque, they had an issue with plot of land they planned to use, he donated a plot a land he was about to develop for other purpose. He also dashed them all the materials he mobilized to the site. Whenever there is a religious activity or luncheon by any sect, Sarkin Burra would be the highest donor. One good thing about him is that he don’t discriminate against any religious sect, he gives them fair treatment.
On security, Sarkin Burra has done spectacularly well. He provided good atmosphere for all security agencies posted to Burra. He provided one of his houses for accommodation to any DPO or DCO posted to Burra Divisional Police Station. He did same for the head of the military mini depot fighting kidnappers and bandits. He gave out the community Library and town hall he built when he was working in the Port Authority to the Mobile Police Squad posted to Burra which is now serving as their mini barrack. He donated his Hilux van for all the joint security operations by police, military and vigilante. He fuels vehicles of the security agencies for their various operations. Sometimes Sarki would accompany the security agencies to forests for their operations to boost their morale. He has never run or left Burra for the fear of being attacked or kidnapped even during the period of kidnapping and bandits attack in the area. In fact Sarki has received many commendation letters for the headquarters of our security agencies for his uncommon contributions.
There was only an area court in Burra when he became Sarki but he facilitated the establishment of Upper Shari’a Court in Burra. In order to fastrack the commencement of the operations of the court, he didn’t wait for the government. He built the court complex and built a house for the judge. Again last year he facilitated the establishment of Magistrate Court in Burra. He provided one of his houses as accommodation for the magistrate judge and purchased plot of land for the construction of the court. He was about to commence work at the site, his suspension came which forced him to leave the town. The Magistrate Court is now temporarily operating in the Upper Shari’a Court he built.
To boost the economy of the area, Sarki provided non-interest soft loans for any interested businessman or farmer. He gives from five hundred thousand up to two million naira and more to each farmer or businessman that asked for the loan. Some people would refuse to pay back but he didn’t stop giving out. That’s how many people become economically strong. He was instrumental in the constructing a new market in Burra by the local government council despite the challenges that the idea came with. He is currently building a big plaza in the new market in addition to the plaza he built along Kano road.
He built a befitting guest house with a royal garden that serve as comfort zones for important guests visiting Burra. He built many chalets in the guest house and named them after the kingmakers of Burra; Sama Chalet, Bashe Chalet, Kurmi Chalet, Kyata Chalet and Liman Chalet. There is also presidential chalet.
Because he donated the town hall and community Library to the Mopol, he built another town hall near his plaza along Kano road because according to him, town like Burra needs many town Halls. His guests houses in Burra and Ningi are always the places where VIPs in are accommodated.
On healthcare, he at several times renovated some wards in the General Hospital Burra including repair and purchase of some equipments for the hospital. When the present administration gave contract for the construction of a primary health centre in Burra last year, he provided a plot of land for the project at a befitting place, though the contractor had rejected the offer.
To fight drug abuse in Burra District, Sarki Alhaji YS Abubakar collaborated with NDLEA Ningi office for a rehabilitation initiative. He provided start-up capital for anybody who promise to quit smoking and drugs abuse. Whoever agrees to quit, will sign an agreement and will undergo rehabilitation course by the NDLEA, thereafter would collect a start-up capital to start a business from Sarki. The initiative has taken many people out of smoking and drugs abuse, though some of them didn’t keep to promise as they reverted.
As estate developer with investments in Nigeria and Europe, Sarki gives out alms (zakkat) annually. He gives parts of the zakkat to his domain while give other parts to places where his businesses are domiciled. Two months before his suspension he distributed part of his zakkat amounting to almost ten million naira in Burra.
Sarkin Burra detests deforestation and any illegal activities in our forests. In fact he made fighting deforestation his calling. He fought deforestation to the core. He became nightmare for loggers and all deforestation cartels which comprised politicians and government officials. The problem the deforestation cartels had was that they can’t bribe him because he is richer than them and their masters. This is what set him against them and they were looking for any opportunity to remove him, until one comes recently.
In fact for him being former Executive Director of Nigeria Port Authority who later became an estate developer with estates in many parts of the country and Europe and many other businesses, to have accepted to take up the throne of Sarkin Burra and returned to Burra and live religiously in the town, it’s clear indication of his uncommon patriotism and love for his community. Seriously, this is one of the wonders of the present time and it’s very strange.
Sarki’s efforts to stop the recent illegal sale of Lame-Burra Game Reserve and Burra-Tamba Grazing Reserve as well as his open political participation in the 2019 general election are believed to be the factors that led to his suspension. At several times I have said that the greatest shortcomings of Sarkin Burra are his approach to politics and unity of the royal family which may be used against him one-day. The day has come!
One will wonder why politicians or institution that can’t provide a quarter of what this traditional ruler has been providing for his people, instead of mending fences with him and tap from his strong disposition in his domain, would resort to this huge embarrassment to him and greatest disservice to to his community.
Many people didn’t even realize the contribution he has been giving untill his suspension. They have seen the huge gap and setback his absence has brought to the community. In fact his love is flourishing on daily basis and everybody is wishing and praying for his return. Even his enemies have now become his lovers.
Whether on the throne, suspended or dethroned, Sarkin Burra Alhaji Ya’u Shehu Abubakar has become an institution and phenomenon to the people of Burra. And any politician or institution that did this embarrassment and disservice to him and the community, has done it at their own peril.
Based on these uncommon philanthropy and contributions to the development of our community, I choose Sarkin Burra, Alhaji Ya’u Shehu Abubakar (suspended) as my man of the year!