TRIBUTE TO ABBA SAYYADI RUMA
By Isyaku Dikko
Dr. Abba Sayyadi Ruma was Minister of Agriculture during the tenure of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. I first met Abba in 1986 when I was serving as a youth corp member at College of Education Sokoto and he was a final year student at University of Sokoto which is now called Usman Danfodio University. I met him through our mutual friends in the university.
Some years later we met in Kaduna when I was working with Media Trust and he was running a computer training centre (RASCOM) he established at Benue Plaza, Muhammadu Buhari Way. I used to frequent the centre which was not far from our office.
Abba joined politics and was made Secretary to the Katsina State Government. I became Registrar of Katsina State College of Education
Dutsin-ma when he was in government but he had no hand in my appointment.
One Friday I was in my office in the morning when somebody came
from the information unit of the local government to tell me that they received radio message (before the GSM) to convey a directive that I was
wanted at the governor’s office by 10am that day and that I should meet the Permanent Secretary.When I met the Permanent Secretary, he told me that the governor
(Umaru Yar’adua) wanted to strengthen the research capacity of the office and somebody suggested my name to him for the job. “You are therefore transferred to this office with immediate effect. General posting will be out on Monday and you are to report on Tuesday. It is only fair to inform you but as an employee of the state government you are aware that you can be posted any where your services are needed”, he told me.
On Tuesday I reported as directed and I was posted to work directly under Abba as Secretary to the State Government. I believe that he was responsible for my posting but he never discussed the issue with me and I never asked him. He must have done it in good faith but I would have rejected the posting if I was consulted because I was never excited by the routine work in the Civil Service. I am excited by two jobs only; teaching and journalism.
The situation was worsened by the fact that my monthly package was less than half of what I was collecting as Registrar; a post which was the third in the hierarchy of management staff in the college. Also, the salary of higher institutions was higher than what was obtained in the Civil Service in the state. In fact, I submitted my application for leave of service from the college so that I could go back after few months but
Abba returned it to me untreated and said sarcastically: “you don’t need any leave of absence. You are free to go back any time you want. Nobody is forcing you to stay”. I enjoyed my work at the collage because In addition to administrative duties I also taught IJMB students Government.
However, I am now glad that I served in the governor’s office for eleven years (3 years as Director and 8 years as Permanent Secretary). The experience made me a better student of Political Science beyond the theoretical arguments of Plato and Aristotle. Now I can talk about real power, not just Political theory. In fact, Political Scientists need to be in government. Wani ma ya yi rawa bare dan makadi (if other people can dance what makes the son of a musician less qualified to do so). Katsina State is lucky to have three brilliant Political Scientists as Head of Service in succession (Lawal Aliyu, Garba Sanda and Idris Tune)I learnt a lot from Abba. He was hard working, intelligent and interested in critical thinking and modernisation. Two personal materials which are neither sensitive nor official documents may throw some light on the mindset of Abba as a technocrat. They are about the turbaning of Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari as Dallatun Katsina and the hosting of International Students Summit which Masari hosted in Katsina when he was Speaker, House of Representatives. The state government, under Governor Yar’adua, was involved in the events and Abba co-ordinated them as Secretary to the State Government. Thus, my involvement as a staff working under him.The materials are provided in the next pages. On the invitation card with my name and designation, Abba wrote: “please note corrections / observations on the last page”. I drafted the invitation card. He also made lengthy comment on the attached piece of paper. I will reproduce the contents for easy reading. Please note that I reproduced the letters he abbreviated in full for the convenience of the reader.“I have gone through the program brochure for the turbaning and the International Students Summit.
2. Please note observations contained therein (see last page of program) and remain guided.
3. You have done a very good job, but you need to observe serious protocol and tradition in fact these things are now conventions.They must be observed. Look for bills for the International Summit.
It is very important please.” (emphasis original) Although we had disagreements but we maintained mutual respect and the credit goes to him because he was the boss as such had the option to be bossy. For example, some months ago his younger brother died and I called him to extend my condolence. “Ina kwana Malam”, (good morning Malam), he said, and I assumed he was referring to somebody else so I attempted to correct him; “Sorry yallabai, Isyaku Dikko ne”. He laughed and said, “ba ka ji na ce Malam ba” (didn’t you hear that I addressed you as Malam) May the soul of Abba rest in peace. Allah ya gafarta masa.