By Our Correspondent
There is a general consensus that the late General Hassan Usman Katsina (Ciroman Katsina) lived a life that redefined and personified the rare virtues of honesty, and integrity at their highest. And when it comes to the love for the nation and its teeming populace, General Hassan’s sense of patriotism was second to none.
Though he was a nationalist, he also balanced it with being a foremost pillar of the North. He abhorred corruption stiffly. As Governor, he ruled the entire Northern Region, which geographically is still more than 72% of the total landmass of the country called Nigeria, but died ion 24 July, 1995 relatively poor, though with the highest acclaim.
He left only three houses despite holding some of the nation’s highest posts. Two of the houses were located on Rock Road, Unguwan Sarki Kaduna. Of the three houses, one of them was built and donated to him by the then head of state, President Ibrahim Babangida when the government realized that he had no befitting house in his home state of Katsina.
The late General Hassan Usman Katsina did not leave mansion houses or estate or foreign account to his children but bequeathed to them the biggest asset a man could posses: integrity.
He did not share money to people, because he had none to share, but openly assisted not only the children of thousands of poor people to secure jobs as well as both high profile civil servants and captains of industry.
A very humble and simple to the core even as a Prince and a former governor but he never mind to wash a plates. Once General Hassan recommended you for any appointment or employment you would get the it automatically.
I could remember a former head of state telling me there was a time, more than twenty years after their retirement, General Hassan was invited to chair a big event in London, organized by the Prince of Wales, but when he found out that General Yakubu Gowon was also in London, he declined the invitation and rather directed them to pass it to his superior officer.
Today, more than twenty seven years (27) after, the vacuum left by General Hassan is yet to be filled. 24th July of every year marks the death of this great patriot, the former military Governor of the defunct Northern Region, now consisting of 19 states. His legacy of incorruptibility is even felt the more when viewed against the backdrop of what a single Governor in today’s Nigeria typically amasses. May Allah have mercy on him.
General Hassan Usman Katsina was born on July 24th of 1933. He attended Kankiya Elementary School and Katsina Middle School. After finishing middle school, he went to Barewa College, Zaria and the Nigerian School of Arts, Sciences and Technology also in Zaria. He joined the Nigerian army in 1956. He was the First Military Governor of the defunct Northern Region. During the Nigerian civil war, he was the Chief of Staff, Army and later became the deputy Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters under the administration of General Yakubu Gowon.
During his life time whenever you went to him for assistance you don’t need any introduction or connection. The gates to his modest residence were always open. He was a father to the fatherless; to downtrodden Nigerians of all shades and colors. People flocked to him for assistance from every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
One striking thing about him was that he would never ask you of your background, when people went to him for assistance.
The General was reported to have once jokingly told someone who said that he wanted to join the Nigerian Customs that was it because he wanted to “steal” from the public coffers that he wanted the job?
That was in those days when customs officials were perceived as being very corrupt.
He despised corruption and indiscipline to the core. General Hassan fought for the stoppage of the menace of street begging which was (and still is) very common in some parts of the North. He had tried to collaborate with other Northerners in his quest to provide a lasting solution to the menace, but to no avail. He considered all his employees as well as their children as his own children.
Whenever, any of his employees has a new baby born you could be rest assured that, General Hassan would shoulder the financial responsibilities not from the employees’ salaries, but from his pocket. Whenever any of his employees fell sick he paid all the bills free of charge. Before his death out of the 34 domestic staff he had, virtually all of them bought their personal houses either assisted directly by him or through his influence.
He was very generous to his workers. Being a highly respectful General he got enough gifts every Ramadan from his rich friends and relatives. More so, unlike what many people do, he would not keep it for his personal use alone. He shared it with his employees and the general public.
Even Sallah rams and food, Ciroma would share with the masses. He created time to listen to people problems from morning to evening every day. Ciroma’s house was a centre of attraction for both the movers and shakers of the society, as well the masses during his life time.
He related very well with traditional rulers and religious leaders. General Hassan Usman, Katsina is a descendent of Emir Muhammadu Dikko the first Emir of the Sulubawa ruling House and the ninth Fulani ruler of Katsina and the son of Emir Usman Nagogo the 10th Fulani ruler of Katsina and the second ruler of the Sulubawa Dynasty 1944-1981.
General Hassan died and left ten (10) children: (1) Alh. Mustapha, (2) Hajia Jummai Tijjani Ramalan,(3) Hajia (Dr) Amina,(4) Alh. Babangida Hassan,(5) Alh. Yusuf, (6) Hajia Aisha, (7) Alh. Hamnruna, (8) Hajia Hafsa, ( 9) Alh. Dikko, and 10) Hajia Hauwa Hassan Usman Katsina. May Allah forgive the Ciroman Katsina and grant him Jannatul Firdausi.
While the other countries in the world are moving to next levels as well as our colleagues in the southern part of the countries but here in the north since his exit to date the north was no longer the same with all his efforts and several warning against tribalism, almajirism and laziness. The North is completely backward fighting on many fronts.
Burji is the author of the Late General Hassan Usman Katsina biographic book and MD/CEO First Class Group of Companies.