By Salisu D. Umar
Today, August 25, 2014, marked the 75th birthday of Professor Jibril Aminu, a father, Doctor, a University don, a teacher, administrator, an Ambassador, a Politician and a Professor of repute, as well as a fellow of the Academy of Science for so many decades. Jibril Aminu, indeed, qualified as an elder statesman with the passion for Nigeria to be a great united nation. God made it possible for me to meet the renowned Professor from afar, in 1986, as an undergraduate, attending the convocation ceremony of my alma mater, Bayero University, Kano. Professor Aminu was in attendance as the then Minister of Education and the representative of the Visitor to the University, who usually is, the Head of State or President, as the case may be. Alongside my fellow undergraduates, we were all thrilled watching the ever intelligent and gifted prominent Professor of cardiology, one who exceptionally stands out amongst his peers.
In 2000, during my first visit to the US, from the National Assembly, alongside other Officials, on a USAID sponsored capacity enhancement programme for legislative staff (in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislatures); we were treated to a reception and a sumptuous working lunch at the Nigerian Embassy on 1333, 16th Street, NW Washington, by our ambassador, Senator Jibril Aminu.
Similarly, in 2001, when I was the Clerk of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, and, during a visit of the Committee to the US, with its counterpart from the House of Reps, led by the Vice Chairman, Senator Femi Okurounmu, our Ambassador, Jibril Aminu, treated us to another sumptuous meal during discussions on our visit. This time around, it was a dinner, in his official residence. The team was on a visit to the World Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, to have an overview of the independence or otherwise of monetary policies across the globe, under a democratic dispensation. The ambassador facilitated our stay on both occasions and made all of us during the two different visits to feel at home. The discussions during the working meals were quite incisive and interactive. That is how educative and encouraging he can be. This is a practice that all our envoys should emulate while at post.
Destiny brought me closer to this consequential gentleman, when in 2007; I was posted to serve as the Clerk of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, under his leadership as the Chairman, an honour that I live to cherish. He gave me a warm reception on assumption and I worked with him from that time until 2011 when his tenure expired in the Senate.
Working with him was by no means an easy task to handle. His thoroughness and dedication to duty was unrivalled. For the four years I worked closely with him, at the start, it was tough and at a point had to ask that I be redeployed to another Committee owing to hurdles he put before me, and, were too much for me to bear. He treated me with iron hands and never gave me a breathing space until he made sure that my skills have risen to an acceptable competitive standard. I now know better.
I consider myself amongst the few privileged ones that underwent tutelage under his strict but fatherly guidance. What I learnt from working with him, at this stage of my life, cannot be quantified and could not have been available in any institution of learning, anywhere in the world. He gave me a gift of two books, a Quran – Tafsir Al-Jalalayn and an English grammar book, amongst so many other things.
He has paid his dues in so many ramifications. I recalled, as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, he midwife the passage of the NAHCON Act, which has brought tremendous successes in the administration of Hajj in Nigeria. Besides, he successfully sponsored so many motions and chaired so many Senate Joint-Committees. He sponsored a novel Bill, the Presidential Inauguration Bill which was passed by the Senate in May, 2011, as a private member Bill.
I urge that this success story be celebrated, today and we should pay glory to God for bestowing us with such a wonderful mentor and father. I wish you Sir, a happy birthday and many pleasant returns.
Salisu D. Umar via email@example.com