By AMBASSADOR SULE BUBA
On a date like this, 24 November 1940, Allah blessed the family of Mallam Garba Tafida and Malama Badariyyatu Tafida with a male child who was named Dalhatu on the seventh day, according to Islamic and Hausa tradition. That child has turned 80 today. He is no other person than Sen Dalhatu Sarki Tafida.
In celebrating his eightieth birthday, we have to recourse to the trajectory of his life that traversed so many fields of human endeavour.
As it was/is the practice in Hausa/Islamic culture, Tafida enrolled into Qur’anic School at a tender age. The Mallam under whose guidance he studied Qur’an attested to his brilliance. He also enrolled into
town school at age 7 (1947) and completed it in 1951. One may wonder how it was seamless for him to enroll into a school for secular education judging from the abhorrence with which the system was viewed by the society, then.
The simple reason was that Tafida came from a literati family that accorded primacy to both secular and Islamic scholarship. In fact, his father, Mallam Garba was one of the early civil servants that served in the colonial native authority (NA) administration.
He served as a District Scribe. This nomenclature could be equivalent to the present day Permanent Secretary. It is against this backdrop that the coast was clear for Tafida to pursue his insatiable quest for knowledge.
After middle school, he secured admission into Barewa College and later Government College, Keffi from 1954-1959 and 1960-1961 for his WASCE and HSC respectively.
At tertiary level, he is a product of University of Lagos College of Medicine, having graduated with MBBS (1962-1971).
In furtherance of his academic pursuit, Tafida attended University of Liverpool England and Johns Hopkins University USA among others, acquiring a roaster of degrees in medical sciences.
With his stellar academic prowess, he was absorbed into the Kaduna State Ministry of Health as a Senior Registrar. He served in many capacities and he crowned his Civil Service career as a Permanent Secretary.
His accomplishments in the Civil Service endeared him to President Shehu Shagari who, in 1980 appointed him his Personal Physician.
With the military incursion in 1983 that truncated President Shagari’s regime, Tafida was again beckoned to serve in the Military Government of Kaduna State under Governor Umar Dangiwa. He leveraged on his Civil
Service bureaucratic background to blend into military bureaucracy. He was one of the engine rooms of the administration that saw him serving as a commissioner of three different ministries: Health, Agriculture
and Education at different times(1984-1987).
When General Abacha made Tafida Minister of Health, which was his familiar terrain, he left an indelible mark.
He was credited with many reforms that took place in the health sector
during his tenure – 1993-1995.
Being untiring and unrelenting, he also served as the Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
It was least expected that Tafida could be compatible with the political dynamics characterized by deception, treachery and lack of principles. He did not only prove the doubting Thomases wrong, but he
co-habited with politicians of all hues with his integrity intact.
As a man with strong moral compass, he joined politics to the consternation of his friends and associates in 1991. He joined National Republican Convention (NRC) and contested for governorship
primaries but was outmaneuvered by the powers that be. The bitter experience of losing election did not deter him from further involvement in politics.
In fact, that experience became an impetus for him to soldier on politically. He easily blended into mainstream politics without losing his virtuous traits.
The return to party politics in 1998 afforded another opportunity for Tafida to prove his mettle once again. As a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he contested for Kaduna North Senatorial seat
and won in 1999.
Judging from his excellent performance, he got another chance by his constituents in 2003, thus spending 8 years, crowning his representation as a Senate Leader.
His last port of call was his stint as a diplomat, having served meritoriously as Nigeria High Commissioner to the Untied Kingdom for 8 years. It was in recognition of his outstanding performance that the
High Commissioner named a hall after him. It is worthy of note that
Tafida is a role model and left a legacy of integrity and selfless
service wherever he served. He played his politics with sanity that
politicians confer on him the sobriquet of “Adade Anayi Sai Gaskiya” literally meaning, “Truth is Constant”.
Happy birthday, Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida – Adade Anayi Sai Gaskiya.
Buba writes from Kaduna