Sir Kashim Ibrahim was a teacher, politician, founding father, and national icon in the colonial days of Nigeria. He was the first and last indigenous Governor of the Northern Region. As governor, he encouraged Western education together with the already established Islamic education in the North.
Born on the 10th of June 1910 in Gargar Ward of Yerwa, Maiduguri, Ibrahim had an early Islamic education before attending Borno Provincial School in 1922. He was admitted to the Katsina Training College from 1926 and 1929, and later at the Borno Middle School by 1933. He later became an education officer for Borno Province from 1947 to 1949.
He was conferred with the title of Shettima of Borno in 1935 and later became known as Shettima Kashim.
As one of the founders of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), he did not go into partisan politics until 1951. Standing on the platform of NPC, Alhaji Ibrahim was elected into the Northern Regional Assembly as a nominee from the North.
Thereafter, he was appointed the Federal Minister for Social Services, Cooperatives and Surveys, and later Education. Serving in these positions, he was elected into the Federal House of Representatives.
In 1956, the Shehu of Borno appointed him as the Waziri (Prime Minister) of Borno. Upon assuming this office, he relocated to Borno, where he carried out important reforms in the traditional local government administration.
Alhaji Ibrahim was an ardent believer in Western education. So, he encouraged the people to embrace it as much as they embraced Islamic education.
He also carried out some educational works, including the considerable expansion of schools in Borno, the establishment of the Maiduguri Teachers College, the writing of primary school textbooks in Kanuri, as well as in the English language. He held this position until 1962 when he became Governor of the Northern Region.
Though as Governor, he did not do much because of the overriding influence of the then Prime Minister; he, was, however, loyal to the Prime Minister and saw to the implementation of the Federal Government policies in his region.
He was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1960 and in 1962, was appointed the Governor of the Northern Region. The Queen of England made him a knight in the same year. He held the position of the Governor of the Northern Region until the 1966 coup that overthrew the government.
While in government, he was known to be transparent and acquired no material wealth for himself. He had only one house in Maiduguri and donated a large part of this house for the building of schools. It is also on record that he had to sue the Federal Government for his pension, as the former Governor of the Northern Region.
Sir Ibrahim served as Chancellors of the University of Ibadan (1966 to 1977) and the University of Lagos (1977 to 1984). He was also the pioneer Chairman of the Provisional Council of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Death and Legacies of Sir Kashim Ibrahim
Sir Shettima Kashim Ibrahim died on the 25th of July 1990 and was buried in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The Kaduna state government House (Sir Kashim Ibrahim House) which also serves as the official residence of the Governor of the state is named after him.
In addition, the great Ahmadu Bello University, regarded as one of the largest universities in Sub-Saharan Africa has its library; also regarded as the largest University library in Nigeria and one of the largest in West Africa is named after the great Icon.
The library is called the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Library or KIL. In addition to that, Sir Kashim Ibrahim has several major roads and streets named after him in different parts of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.