Who is Professor Isah Hashim: The late Jarman Kano?

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Death has been announced of the Jarman Kano, Professor Isah Hashim who died in the early hours of today Sunday at the age of 86 after a brief illness according to palace sources.

Who is Professor Isah Hashim (Jarman Kano)?

Professor Isah Hashim (Jarman kano) was a distinguished Abusite, a traditional Icon, an A-list civil servant, and an academic. The respected Professor of Political Science was a former permanent Secretary, deputy rector of the Kaduna Polytechnic, and a former lecturer at UNN, ABU, and BUK.

Professor Isah Hashim
Professor Isah Hashim

During his civil service career, He attended the Institute of Administration, Zaria (1956). And several courses at the Staff Development Centre, Kaduna, and some other institutions in the country from 1958-1967.

He acquired a postgraduate diploma in Development Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, USA (1969); MPA Economic Development from the University of Pittsburgh, USA (1971); MPA Political Science from the University of Southern California, USA (1974); PhD in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, USA (1976); and an LLB from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria (1991).

In one of his last detailed interviews about his life granted to the Daily Trust, the learned professor of political science talks about his life, upbringing, career, education, and family. READ BELOW

The journey of life

Faced challenges in life in the early years of his life when he lost his mother in 1945. He was only 11 years old. The responsibility of his upbringing rested squarely on his father and grandparents.

Although his father was a disciplinarian, he was very fond of Isa and made sure he lacked nothing, especially his school needs. He considered Isa a child of destiny, considering the fact that he lost some children before him and treated him like a prince.

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In fact, the young boy was named Isa because of the belief that Prophet Isa (A.S) is alive, and if a child is named after him, he would survive. Moreover, his father also saw how he miraculously survived a severe measles attack.

Life is full of ups and downs, but I can say Alhamdu Lillahi with all honesty, that life has treated me kindly. It was the will of the Almighty Allah that I lost my mother in the early years of my life, so we have to give thanks to him. With the help of the Almighty Allah, I was able to overcome the challenges; and the experience I gained affirmed my belief in fate and destiny.

By the special grace of Allah, my father lived for 87 years. He died in 1978 after seeing his grand and great grandchildren. Above all, he was a devoted father.

Over the years, life has taught me to always trust and have faith in God, believe in myself, as well as depend on no one but God. I believe he is the only one that will never disappoint me.

How he coped under colonial masters.

In 1948 I was employed as a temporary ungraded clerk on a salary of £1.10 (1Pound :10 Shillings) and sent to the Kano Native Authority Survey Training School (Gidan Mopi), Dan Agundi. That was after I completed a four-year programme in Shahuchi Judicial School, from 1944-1948.

After a three-year training in the Native Authority Survey Department, I was employed as a storekeeper in 1951. Two years after that, I was posted to the Kano Native Authority Treasury as a voucher-checking clerk. It was a punishment that turned out to be a blessing for me after few months.

The offence I committed was talking to a visiting European officer directly in English. I didn’t know the protocol of answering questions from a district officer. It was to be in Hausa, and the chief surveyor would repeat the answer to the hearing of the deputy chief surveyor in Hausa while the deputy would explain the answer to the district officer in English.

So because I did not follow that protocol and I was sending papers of my correspondence course to the Rapid Result College, London, and they were sending some papers to me, I was regarded as a suspect.

They said they did not know what I was sending to the Europeans in their country and they were replying. Another charge against me was that I always came to my office with newspapers (Jaridu) and books. The punishment turned out to be a blessing for me because the person who took over the stores from me was found guilty of embezzlement.

The head of survey department wrote a fine memo to the native treasurer, praising my conduct and stating that I was their staff loaned to the treasury department, and should, therefore, be sent back to them. The lesson I learnt from this was that the leaders of those years were so honest that when they made a wrong judgement they would admit it and seek a way to correct it.

Although I was working under the Kano Native Authority between 1951 and1958, I was also enrolled as a “special student,’’ together with other junior and intermediate members of staff who were serving as teachers, clerks, and court scribes, to study English/Arabic Literature in order to prepare for admission into the School for Oriental Studies, London, or the Cairo University, Egypt.

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It was during this training that I passed my tuition courses in 1955/56, in both elementary and intermediate certificates of Pitmans English for Foreigners.

His favorite government

In each of the three governments, I served for 10 years. In those years, what we were doing was service to our community and the government. Also, there were plans to develop the workers to achieve whatever they intended to achieve. You could better ask what I benefited.

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I spent about half of my 30 years of service in schools, colleges and universities. When I joined the service in 1948 as a temporary ungraded clerk on a salary of £1.10 a month with a qualification equivalent to primary six, I was sent to a school in the Native Authority Survey Department for three years.

In 1951, I started work as a permanent and pensionable officer on a salary of £3.10. Between 1951 and 1954, I attended a few courses, and in 1955 I was sent for a clerical course to the Institute of Administration, Zaria. After successful completion of the course, I was promoted to the position of chief clerk in 1957.

So there was human development, growth and progress from 1948 to the top of the ladder in the clerical office in 1957, through reading and writing examinations.

Fortunately, I didn’t give up this struggle because I believed in the principle of the symbol of one of the colleges in Nigeria: “Man Jadda wa Jada,” he who strives will succeed. So I kept on struggling and striving until I reached the level of permanent secretary in 1976; and the struggle continued.

Joining public service

I joined the public service at the age of 15. I always express gratitude to the Almighty God for the way he showered his favours upon me. He guided, protected and enabled me to study at home and abroad while working as a civil servant until I acquired a PhD in 1976.

Some people wonder how it happened, and sometimes they ask me. It’s the favour of God, and I thank him immensely for that. When I look into these degrees and diplomas, I always see the practical meaning of verse 3 of Surat Aala, where the Almighty God says he has ordained laws and decrees by which we can develop ourselves and fit into his scheme of evolution for all his creation so that we may reach the destiny of man.

In 15 out of my 30 years of civil service, I acquired a certificate with credits from the Institute of Administration, Zaria (1956). I attended several courses at the Staff Development Centre, Kaduna and some other institutions in the country from 1958-1967 when states were created in Nigeria.

I acquired a postgraduate diploma in Development Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, USA (1969); MPA Economic Development from the University of Pittsburgh, USA (1971); MPA Political Science from the University of Southern California, USA (1974); PhD in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, USA (1976); LLB from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria (1991).

The LLB was acquired after I retired from the service and while serving as a deputy rector of the Kaduna Polytechnic. I joined a part-time program at ABU in 1986 and completed it successfully in 1991. Sometimes I say to my friends that I am retired but not tired, and the struggle continues.

Why he didn’t join the Nigerian Army

In the 1960s, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, who was the minister of defence, used to come to Kaduna with a team of army officers to recruit government staff on transfer from civil service to military service. Many of my colleagues transferred their services to the Nigerian Army.

In one of the visits during which our names were listed, the minister said it was for the police force and only those wishing to join were needed to attend the interview session; hence some of us withdrew their names from the list. At that time I was “a professor in the making.” The Almighty God had destined me to read and acquired a PhD and continue to read, write, and teach.

How he further his studies as a civil servant

In the 1940s, the government and its agencies were institutions of change and development. To achieve their objectives they had to develop manpower; therefore, facilitating further education for their employees was imperative. As I said, the moment I was employed in 1948 I was sent for training.

I had the opportunity to continue with my correspondence courses in the Rapid Result College, London. Only two of us in the Kano Native Authority were known to have taken such courses – Isa Hashim (Jarman Kano) and Mutari Danbatta (Sarkin Ban Kano).

I registered in the Rapid Result College, London on the advice of my Judicial School headmaster, Dr. Aliyu Abubakar (Malam Ali Jos) and some helpful friends such as Alhaji Umar Ibrahim, Alkalin Kaduna, Dr. Hassan Gwarzo, Grand Qadi and Alhaji Bappa Yola, Wakilin Biya. The advice and guidance of these gentlemen paid off. I pray that the Almighty Allah would rain his blessings upon them and their families.

I must mention that the foundation of my education was the study of the Holy Quran and Arabic Literature. My mother was a Quran teacher in the 1930s. That is why I usually tell my friends that I could not explain how I learnt the Arabic alphabets. I only saw myself reading my slate.

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At the age of seven, in 1940/41, my mother decided to stop teaching me, perhaps because of the Fulani culture that a mother should not talk to her first child in public. She suggested that I should be sent to a Quranic school of Malam Balare Kabara to continue my Quranic education.

That was done, and in 1943, at the age of nine I completed the 60 Hizibs of the Holy Quran. When I was taken before Emir Bayero he was amazed to see that a boy of nine had completed the 60 Hizibs of the Quran. He enquired from Malam Dan Amu (Limamin Kano) how it happened.

Malam Dan Amu explained that my mother was a Quran teacher in the area of Mandawari, Magashi, and Kabara. Emir Abdullahi Bero expressed delight and granted a bull, three gowns, and some money as ‘Sadaka.’ He prayed the Almighty Allah to bless, guide, and protect the family.

At this stage, this question is very relevant because it will enable readers to recall various stages narrated in this interview. The way I struggled to rise from elementary four to acquire a PhD and from the position of temporary ungraded clerk to become a permanent secretary was only possible through the guidance of the Almighty Allah.

How he coped with the new environment

Home coming is always pleasing. As a special duty officer I was always in and out of the Kano provincial office and the Kano City Hospital (now Murtala Muhammad Hospital). It was number one on my schedule, so I started transferring its staff to the Northern Nigeria Ministry of Health.

Katsina came second on my schedule, followed by Sokoto, then Maiduguri and other parts of the North. Kano was not a new environment to me as I worked there for 10 years before transferring my services to Kaduna. It was the province where I started my special duty in 1963. So it was a pleasure to come to Kano.

Joining the academia

I retired from the civil service as a permanent secretary in 1979 and joined the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in the Department of Political Science for few months. Later, I withdrew and joined the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where I worked till 1983.

Myself and other permanent secretaries in-charge of ministries for local governments in northern states met and decided that we would join the services of the three zonal universities when we retired. Nigeria was divided into three zones for the local government reform.

Zone one was ABU, which was in-charge of the northern region, excluding Benue, which was merged with Nsukka. We decided to join the services of these universities so that we could nurse our babies – we regarded the local government reform as our babies.

Fortunately or unfortunately, only two of us were able to retire and join the academic line. I joined the ABU and worked in the local government division, Department of Local Government of the Institute of Administration as a chief administrative consultant. I remained there until 1983 when I came back to Kano because the late Sabo Bakin Zuwo won the election despite all odds.

The incumbent thought the election would be a walkover, but it wasn’t. I campaigned hard for the late Sabo, so when he won the election I came back to Kano and was appointed adviser on economy and director of budget. I was there until the Buhari-Idiabon coup took place.

After the storm, the Dasuki Commission on Local Government Reform was set up and I was appointed a member. We organised all the reforms in Nigeria and how it should work; and the then administration accepted our recommendations.

It was one of our recommendations that local governments should be given autonomy. We discovered that in one of the local government councils, a chairman offered contracts to his baby. I think the baby was either 11 or 13 months old, but his name was there as a contractor.

We also discovered that there was a local government which did not pay its teachers their salaries for about nine months, but they filled three classrooms with chalk boxes because there were kickbacks in the contract.

So people should understand that what is happening now is not new. It was after the reform that I decided to go back to academia. I joined the Kaduna Polytechnic in 1987 and became head of department, director of CABS and deputy rector, administration. I remained there until 1992.

I joined the Bayero University, Kano in 1992 as an associate professor (reader in Political Science). I was promoted to a full professor in March 1999. I disengaged in 2004 after five years as a professor. I concentrated on writing my latest book, Essays from Dala, published by the Hashim Foundation International and presented to the public in 2011.

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His views on local government autonomy.

We are capable and mature for local government autonomy. But will the people honestly administer the autonomy? Our minds are not on serving the people, but rather on serving our pockets. That is the problem with Nigeria. There is nothing wrong with autonomy, the constitution or local government laws. They are perfect documents as obtained in other countries, but wrong in our minds.

His books and publications.

In the academia, the golden rule is, “publish or perish.’’ But to be honest with you, it will be difficult for me to recall how many books I have written. Recall that before one becomes a professor one must have a number of publications (books and articles) in international journals. I had them in 1999 when I became a professor. And from that time till date, I am still publishing.

Books, poems, plays are like children; they are dear to the father. So I don’t want to offend my kids by singling out any one of them as my favourite. They are all dear to me.

Reviewing other people’s works is my joy. It keeps me busy and learning always. We have to remember a golden rule in life: “We live to learn and learn to live.’’

Since my promotion to the professorial rank, the Aligarh Muslim University in India appointed me an external examiner of their PhD students.

How he spent his day

The day starts when the other day ends, that is after Salatul-Isha. That is the time I reflect on what I achieved during the day, according to my itinerary as recorded in my diary and plan on what to do and where to go the following day. Events are sometimes organised in the diary, which I keep for a number of years. I found myself keeping diaries for more than 50 years. Maybe I got it from reading history of some people who recorded some events in diaries.

However, my day starts with Salatul Subhi (morning prayer) and ends with Salatul-Isha and listening to readings from the Quran recorded on my cassettes. My breakfast is mostly made up of fruits or cornflake and dates (dabino).

This is followed by going to the palace, after which I return to my research centre in Malam Jamo House to read papers and books, as well as receive reports from managers of our businesses. This ends when I return to my residence for Salatul Magrib and Salatul-Isha.

After dinner I exercise by walking in front of my residence for few minutes because culture prevents me from going to the swimming pool, which I love most. The final thing is reading and listening to the Quran to sleep.

Unforgettable moments

My joyful moments were when I was serving as leader or member in the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE); University of Nigeria, Nsukka Council; National Directorate (Politburo) of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Sports Festivals; State Census Board; Local Government Election Commission; National Shipping Line; Jama’atu Nasril Islam Executive Council; Northern States Marketing Board; Usmanu Danfodiyo.

I recall that during crises, tensions and controversies especially in census, sports and elections, the Almighty Allah prevented me from developing any of life-threatening disease. I enjoy recalling this favour showered on me by my creator. I am thankful to him.

My unforgettable moments are many. They include the time I won the Memento for Elegiac Poem for the death of Emir Abdullahi Bayero in 1953. I won the second position out of 27 contestants. I will never forget my friends such as Alhaji Sani Gule, who urged and encouraged me to contest. May his soul rest in perfect peace!

The judges at that contest were Captain Makama Waziri Gidado, Alhaji Sani Kontagora and Alhaji Muazu Hadejia. The other moments were when I won a swimming champion cup, University of Pittsburgh students in 1971 and the Senior Snooker Champion cup, University of Southern California in 1975.

The other unforgettable moments were when I was given the following the honorary citizenship of Nebraska State, USA in 1982 for having a clean record of more than 30 years of public service, Golden Key and Honorary Citizenship of the city of Omaha, Nebraska, USA in 1982 for contributing to the development of local government and county administration at national and international levels.

His schoolmates and peers

I am in touch with the surviving ones among them, such as Alhaji Ado Kurawa, Dangoruban Kano (Judicial School, 1944) and Alhaji Magaji Muazu, Uban Doman Gombe (AED Induction Course, 1958). The memory of Alhaji Habibu Yahaya and Alkali Ali Abubakar is always fresh in my mind, especially the way and manner we used to go and ascend Dala Hill for (Muzakara) review of our Judicial School lessons.


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