Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun. Brig Gen Aminu-Kano is no more. He died in Abuja on Friday 8 Nov 2019, when he finally succumbed to the debilitating illness that had ravaged him and kept him out of circulation for about 18 months as he battled for his life, in Dubai. Allahu Akbar. Kullu Nafsin Zaikatul Maut. “Every soul shall taste death.” And so it was with Aminu, whose inevitable time and turn it was.
Aminu-Kano was not a silverspoon brat. He was from a very humble family background of norminal means in Kano, and was indeed a self made man that practically pulled himself up by the bootstraps, so to speak.
As a young child, Aminu was first enrolled in the customary local Islamiya Quranic madrasat, with all his siblings, like all other local neighbourhood children. Young Aminu often accompanied his father on business journeys outside their domain, especially to Zaria where young Aminu got attracted and influenced into formal Western education, to which he requested and insistently demanded to be enrolled. Thus young Aminu became a foster child in the home and care of Alhaji Maude of Zaria, a close friend and senior business partner of his dad, solely for the purpose of getting into formal Western school, like the children of his foster dad were.
After his primary education in Tudun Wada Zaria, Aminu got admitted into the famous NMS Zaria with the Jan 1972 set, where he gradually became noticeable for his diminutive statue, personal discipline and a rather stubborn disposition. He was the quintessential model student for his discipline, neat turn out, and committed studies and scholarship.
Aminu was a delight for the authorities, for he was never found wanting or unserious in either his studies or military duties as a Boy Soldier. He took everything rather seriously. He also always wore his demeanour on his face, something that often became his trademark. He was never found on the trauncy side of the student character. Indeed he wasn’t the “standard disciplinary customer of Babè”.
In NMS, Aminu developed a rather stand-alone actively quiet personality, in a class and world of his own, more interested and engrossed in his studies, and with very few intimacies. It was probably easier to find Aminu in the school library than elsewhere. It was therefore only logical that he rose to become a Boy Staff Sergeant and the school’s Chief Librarian, in addition to being a member of the school’s military band.
With time Aminu developed a very formal personality with rather strong convictions on, and passion for, nearly everything he fancied.
When he graduated from NMS in 1976, Aminu chose the option of going onto the SBS of ABU, inspite of his NDA admission, where he later read for the BSc degree in Accountancy, and was later commissioned into the Army Finance Corps.
In the Finance Corps, young Lieutenant M. Aminu-Kano was among the set of other newly commissioned NMS Ex-Boys into the Corps who formed the critical mass that tranformed the Corps into a standard modern accountancy-driven finance department, as against the older disposition.
Here again Aminu stood out in his stand-alone single-mindedness, moreso in his very privileged position at the CFO, even as a very young subaltern. This exposed him to a very wide network of contacts, both within the service and without, and a situation and assignment which he handled with his characteristic straight face boldness and firmness, fairness and admirable competence, to the satisfaction of his commanders. And Aminu did not fail to understand and appreciate the strategic opportunities and advantages inherent therein.
Of course not everyone within the Corps or even without, would be comfortable with the “oversized” position nor the influence he weilded, moreso with his rather stubborn seeming strictness and ethical standard and style. Thus along the line he seemed to have also been apparently accumulating ill-feelings from others, as he was obviously doing with the goodwills from others, in the various Finance units and formations he served all over the country, and the several National Taskforces he also served in. Thus whenever he got into some trouble, the goodwills often tended to get him out in rather privileged interventions.
But this got to a head in the obvious power play in the Corps where Aminu thought he had an entitled advantage for leadership that was “unfairly” denied him, but was instead edged out into the headship of the Finance School. Other issues seemed to have further fueled the controversy which culminated in the Court Martial trial and conviction of Aminu, which both the Appeal and Supreme Courts subsequently set aside in Aminu’s favour. This forced the Army to reinstate him into the Army and restore him to his rank of Brig Gen.
This landmark case, *BrigGen Aminun-Kano vs Nigerian Army,* has become a reference in the Nigerian Law Reports.
Nearly everybody dissuaded him from the legal battle, but Aminu’s stubborn doggedness in the face of apparent injustice eventually proved him right.
All through his military career and in all the units and formations he was deployed, Aminu was never found wanting, as he always discharged his duty with the seriousness and dedication it deserved, even if often with some seeming inflexibility that tended to put him at odds, even when he was right, as he often was. Even when his approach may seem rather tactlessly blunt, Aminu still had the modest humility of often bowing to superior viewpoints and positions, probably because it was indeed in his nature to promptly engage on issues and actions without checking on his flanks and rear, as it were. A naivity that was indeed part of him.
But behind this rather controversial personality was a discreetly kind, helpful and very deeply generous spirit, that has touched the hearts and minds and lives of very many of his beneficiaries in very fundamental ways. This is evident in the Finance Corps where he had mentored a generation of the younger ones that came across him, and in whom he still enjoys the arguable reverence of a legend. It was perhaps the same effect he had outside the military. For, the massive crowd at his funeral was enough testimonial in this regard. Perhaps also because Aminu stubbornly chose to live in the fringe neighbourhood among the people, as it were, instead of the standard convention of the GRA, for his class status.
His statue, his often rather leftist opinions, and his branded name, collectively gave him the aura and myth of aristocracy, which he perfectly understood and beneficially grew into.
And his childhood love and quest for education extended throughout his lifetime. Not long after his deployment into the Finance Corps, he had enrolled for, and obtained the MSc degree in Accounting and Finance from ABU, which he further down the line capped with a PhD in the same field and institution. This obvious strategic academic investment became very handy in retirement for him, as he seamlessly transited himself into academia as a Senior Lecturer in Accounting in NDA, ABU and KASU. He was also a Director in Keystone Bank Transition Management team and a member of the Presidential Arms Probe Committee, etc.
In Aminu we have lost a great mind in his own right, and I also lost in him an unconditional friend and indeed a brother. We will miss him for a long time to come. May Allah have mercy on him and forgive his sins and shortcomings. May Allah generously reward his good deeds, and grant him abode in aljanna firdausi. May Allah continue to strengthen his entire family with the fortitude to continue to bear this obviously painful loss. May Allahu bless each one of them, unify them, guide them aright, and protect and provide for them in the difficult times ahead. It is also incumbent on his three wives and the fifteen children he left behind to jealously keep his legacy intact. And when it is our time and turn, may Allahu bless our respective exits with the reward of aljanna firdausi, ameen.
– Dan-Asabe sent in this tribute from Abuja
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