A tribute to Sir Kashim Ibrahim (A Governor of all the present day 19 Northern States)

Sir Shettima Kashim Ibrahim (10 June 1910 – 25 July 1990) was a Kanuri politician who was head of the Native Administration in Borno and was a minister for Social Services in the 1950s. He held the traditional title of Waziri of the Emirate of Borno after two previous Waziris had been forced to resign as a result of scandals in the Borno local administration.

He was a close associate of Sir Ahmadu Bello,late Alhaji Mai Deribe and late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim (Waziri minister/uncle Waziri).In view of their strong ties Alhaji Mai Deribe named one of his Son (Gwamna or Kashim) after him and he later married off one of his daughters to his Son while late Waziri Ibrahim married one of the daughters of Sir Kashim Ibrahim in a record breaking Kanuri traditional marriage ceremony where Sir Kashim gave 1000 (One thousand) pieces of Kanuri traditional Gowns (set of cloths) referred to as the Kuluwu or Baban-riga (Malum-malum) in the Hausa language. At his death late Waziri Ibrahim received visitors coming across Nigeria and beyond that paid condolence visits to his family.

Ibrahim was born in Gargar Ward, behind the now Premier Cenima in Yerwa (Maiduguri) to the family of Ibrahim Lakanmi. He started his education learning Arabic and Quran before attending Borno Provincial School in 1922. In 1925, he was admitted into the Katsina Training College and finished his studies with a teacher’s certificate in 1929. He started working as a teacher in 1929 at the Borno Middle School and by 1933, he had become a Provincial Visiting Teacher. He was later promoted to a Senior Visiting Teacher and education officer for the province of Borno. He was conferred with the title of Shettima of Borno in 1935 and for a while he was known as Shettima Kashim. He joined politics in 1951-52, when he was elected into the Northern Regional Assembly, he was nominated from the North as a cabinet nominee. Thereafter, he was appointed the Federal minister for Social Services and later that of Education.

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He also served as the Governor of the Northern region of Nigeria, making him a Governor of all the present day 19 states of Northern Nigeria.

In 1956, he was appointed as the Waziri of Borno by the Shehu.Kashim Ibrahim, became the Governor of the Northern region in 1962, holding office until the military coup of 16 January 1966 that brought Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power. He was appointed a CBE in 1960 and knighted KCMG in 1962.

He became a visiting Teacher from 1938 to 1947 and Education officer from 1947 to 1949. His educational work included considerable expansion of schools in Borno, the creation of the Maiduguri Teachers college in 1952, and the writing of primary school textbooks in Kanuri and the English languages. He was a great believer in Western education, which all his children received. Shettima Kashim, as he was always known then, naturally became one of the more prominent Northern Region politicians. Among the founders of the Northern People’s Congress {N.P.C.}, he was elected to the Northern Region House of Assembly in 1951 and from there to the Federal House of Representatives, where he served from 1952 to 1955 later he was in the Federal Senate. He was Federal Minister of social services in 1952-3 and Federal minister of Education from 1953 to 1955. In 1955 he joined Sir Ahmadu Bello’s Northern region Government in Kaduna as minister of Social welfare, cooperatives and surveys. In 1956, however, he returned to Maiduguri to assume the traditional office of Waziri (Prime-Minister) under His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno. He carried out very necessary reforms in the traditional local government. He was pioneer chairman of the provisional council of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for the two years before the new university opened in 1962. Supported by Sir Ahmadu Bello, he laid solid foundation for the University in Zaria. In 1962 he was appointed the first Nigerian Governor of the Northern Region. He was knighted by the Queen of England in the same year. That rule was ended with the unfortunate killing of the Premier in the first coup of 1966. Sir Kashim was arrested later released. He remained indoors in Maiduguri thereafter without attending any public functions. Sir,Kashim Ibrahim served as Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 1966 to 1977, and then as chancellor of the University of Lagos from 1977 to 1984. He did not return to politics. He acquired little material wealth and had only one house in Maiduguri. He donated a large part of this house for the building of schools. He had to sue the Government for his pension as former Governor of the Northern Region. When he died on 25 July,1990 the high respect he commanded was shown by the great gathering of prominent Nigerians and ordinary people at his Funeral in Maiduguri including Alhaji Shehu Shagari,General Sani Abacha , General Ibrahim Babangida and many others.

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This article was written by Ali Alhaji

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