My Dad, My Hero! Tribute to Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko Kuta OON.

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By Amina Tanko Kuta

Innalillahi wa inna ilaiheer raji’un!

Life, they say, is uncertain. In the journey of life, there is the time to be born and time to die, time to laugh and time to cry, time to strive and time to rest, time to worship and time for rewards, but in- between those times is the glory to live and to live according to the rules.

The holy Qur’an says: (Bismillaheer Rahmaneer Raheem) “Kullu nafseen za’eekatul maut). Indeed, verily, every single living soul shall taste death. But the irony is that no one knows when, where or how this moment will come or the manner in which it will present itself.

Tribute to Late Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko kuta OON, (Makaman Minna)
Late Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko Kuta (Makaman Minna)

Today, with a heavy heart of a lonely daughter and on behalf of my humble family, I write this piece in honor of our late dad, Late Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko Kuta (Makaman Minna) who toiled with us in love and shared in our joyous/sorrowful moments but had to drop off somewhere in the train of life, to allow us move on until it is time for every one of us to say goodbye. May the souls of all our loved ones, who were so dear to us rest in perfect peace, Ameen!

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There’s a saying that when the wall falls, your secrets are laid bare for all to see, and also that when the mirror cracks, you lose your own reflection. That is the reality of the death of our family hero – our dad. He was so loving, gentle, reserved, amazing, generous, humble and a man of high integrity.

Through him, I learnt the virtue of giving, the spirit of accommodating and always being there for the less privileged ones around me.

Nothing worries him more than keeping everyone’s needs in constant check and balance. It was an amazing experience for me to live and learn from such an enigma. He was my first institution and reference in life when it comes to dealing with people and life itself, aside from the Almighty God and my loving Prophet Muhammad (SAW), whom I proudly and obediently follow his footsteps as a guide in life.

Born on March 27, 1933, in the small town of Kuta in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, he was named Abdullahi (the servant of God) but popularly referred to as ‘Tanko Kuta’ apparently due to a northern tradition where a boy is born in the midst of female siblings.

As a young and vibrant child, Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko Kuta was enrolled into the Native Authority Elementary School (Central Primary School) Minna, which later became IBB Primary School. After his fourth year, he was transferred to Bida Provincial Middle School, in 1946, which later became Bida Secondary School.

He later gained admission to Keffi Government College Kaduna, and barely a month to the completion of his primary school, he lost his dad and was unable to attend his burial (which took place according to Islamic rites) due to his final exams.

He was the first student to be admitted to Keffi Secondary School Kaduna and also the first head boy of the school.

As the school’s best graduating student in 1954, young Tanko Kuta proceeded to the Institute of Administration (ABU) Zaria between 1955 and 1959 where he obtained a diploma in Native Treasury Accounting.

He thereafter went to the Oxford University for an Overseas Services Course between 1960 and 1961 and also the Royal Institute of Public Administration, London in 1964.

As a career civil servant, he rose to become the acting Secretary to the Military Government, North-Western State and provincial Secretary, Sokoto State. He was also Permanent Secretary, Ministries of Finance and Economic Development, Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Trade and Industry North-Western/Sokoto State.

Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko kuta (Makaman Minna) served as member of various Statutory Corporations, including the NNDC Limited, Northern States Marketing Board, member Ministry of Health, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

After his stint as a civil servant, Alhaji Tanko Kuta established and became the Executive Director of Bells Holding Limited (BHL) which is involved in management and finance services, construction, real estate, manufacturing and commerce. He also established the Chanchage Industries Limited, a trading outfit.

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He was a Chairman of Swiss General Contractors Ltd; Chairman Chanchage Industries Ltd; Member Economic and Social Council, Niger State; Director Bishi- Iwai Nigeria Ltd Lagos; Director Bells Management and Finance Services Ltd Kaduna; Director Taylor Woodrow Construction Company Ltd; Director Barclays Bank Ltd.

He was also Director Magnum Trust Bank Ltd; Director Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd; Chairman Niger River Basin Development Authority;  Board Member Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State; Chairman Niger State Trust Fund Board; Chairman Minna Emirate Education Fund (MEFO); Chairman, Niger State Supply Company, and Member National Constitutional Conference Abuja (1995).

Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko kuta was bestowed with the national honour of ‘Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 1993 by the government of President Ibrahim Babangida, and was also turbaned as Makaman Minna in 1986 by the late Emir of Minna, HRH Umar Amadu Bahago.

Among his friends and contemporaries were Malam Musa Bello – his ride or die, and Alhaji Aminu Dantata. These two gentlemen saw him through till his last moments in his journey of life.

Others include the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, the late Justice Bashir Sambo, the late Prof Shehu Bida, the late Daniel Makaman Nupe, the late Abubakar Koko, the late Halilu Bida, the late Alhaji Bawa Rijau, the late Alh. Bawa Bwari, the late Adamu Ciroma, Mr. Kpaki, AB Umar, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu (Chairman Urban Shelter), and His Royal Highness, Alhaji Awwal Ibrahim, former governor of Niger State & current Emir of Suleja.

These are some of the few I can remember who created some of the amazing memories our dad ever had, and which we will forever cherish.

Despite his fame in the public domain, behind the closed doors of his home, Alhaji Abdullahi Tanko Kuta was the most outstanding father every family yearns to have. He’d never say no when it comes to giving. He was so humane and down to earth that I wonder if he ever had an enemy.

He was one personality I understudied on the principles of living within ones means and limit. A man of little words, contentment, a genuinely pure heart and feelings for all, he had a soft spot for orphans. He was never power drunk and always on point.

Time is a necessity in life, and so it is in death. Before we knew it, you were done and off you went, leaving behind only sweet memories for us to share, in tears and in laughter. Even the little ones have dozens of memories to remember about you Babon Niger! How sweet to remember all those moments before the sickness that confined you to the comfort of your room and loving family.

Only you understood my kind of personality and only you protected me as it should be. The connection we shared I cannot explain, but only you can take a bullet for me.

Now you are gone and the world seems empty and bleak, nothing of interest can make it fun or much safer again. We are thrown in the middle of an ocean where everyone is gasping to survive without your angelic shield.

You left a name, a legacy, and most of all you gave us the most beautiful gift of pride and honour to enter and dwell anywhere, anytime with our heads held high up, not thinking twice or wondering what people might say.

Baba, we will all live to jealously guide and promote your name: So, on behalf of everyone at home, I say thank you so much for being an awesome dad and amazing husband. You indeed lived your life like a candle in the wind!

Finally, it is our humble wish and prayers that Almighty Allah forgive your short comings as a humble servant that has been used by God for the good of mankind, rest your gentle soul in his kingdom and grant you the highest rewards of Jannatul Firdaus, Amin! Until I write you again or come by, i say:

SO LONG BABON NIGER! ADIEU MAKAMAN MINNA BABBA! REST ON DEAREST FATHER!

By Amina Tanko Kuta credit to dailytrust.com.ng


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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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