Prof. Jibrin Aminu clocked 80 years yesterday, Aug. 25. And although he is no longer being heard of recently in the political circle, most probably because of old age, many people spoken to yesterday, including those who worked with him, the people on whose lives he impacted to be what they are today; and those who met him briefly in the course of national assignment, did not mince words in describing the Professor of Medicine, who is a native of Adamawa State, as an all-rounder and peace builder who has Nigeria at heart.
In his submission, Prof. Emeritus Munzali Jibril described Prof. Aminu as “a super brain, with exceptional social and emotional intelligence, uncommon competence and deep erudition.” Prof. Munzali who is also a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, told Daily Trust, yesterday, that Prof. Aminu’s contributions to education were enormous. “He was the pioneer Executive Secretary of NUC from 1974 to 1979. He thus laid the foundation for the regulation and orderly development of university education in Nigeria,” he said. “As Minister of Education between 1985 and 1989, he consolidated this achievement by helping to equip the commission with adequate legal instruments to enable it to discharge its enormous responsibilities. These included the Minimum Academic Standards Decree of 1986,” Prof. Munzali recalled. He added that Prof. Aminu also facilitated the establishment of several new education parastatals, such as the National Commission for Colleges of Education, and the National Commission for Nomadic Education. “When he moved to the petroleum sector at the end of 1989, he also carried out an overhaul of the sector to improve transparency and increase revenue for the nation,” he said. Prof. Munzali recalled that it was in recognition of Prof. Aminu’s achievements that the management of NUC under his leadership proposed that the staff housing estate built in Karu, in the year 2000, be named after Prof. Aminu, and the government of the day graciously agreed.
Prof. Umaru Pate, the Kaigama Adamawa, is the Dean of School of Post Graduate Studies, Bayero University Kano and one of the pioneer students of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri. Prof. Pate, who had produced many PhD graduates in Maiduguri, has over the years uses every forum to showcase his affinity with Prof. Aminu, proudly saying whatever he becomes in life, the credit goes to the octogenarian because of the role he played in his life. “How time flies,” Prof. Pate told the Daily Trust in a tribute yesterday. “Gradually and gracefully, one of Nigeria’s elder statesmen, a man that has worked limitlessly for the growth and development of education in modern Nigeria, Professor Jibril Aminu, was eighty years old on August 25, 2019. “This is one Nigerian that the Almighty God has generously blessed with bountiful gifts in life. From a humble beginning in Song, Adamawa State in 1939, he rose to be Consultant Cardiologist, educational administrator, politician, diplomat and many more. Each level of his life is marked with distinction and excellent service. As a young man, he symbolized promise; as a physician, he served and gave hope to his patients; as a scholar, he demonstrated intellectual prowess; in administration, he was fair, visionary and accountable and; in partisan politics, he delivered on the basis of equity and justice,” Prof. Pate said. “At all places, his performance was crowned with success and everlasting legacies. In whatever he did, he puts in his whole soul, blood and sweat; devoting extra energy, undivided faith and enthusiastic passion. For Aminu, no assignment was too small and for every duty, he took it up with the Olympian spirit of endurance and mettle of being ‘Citius, Altius and Fortius’- Faster, Higher and Stronger. “Described as intelligent by his teachers, forthright by his subordinates, upright by his superiors and an achiever by society, Prof. Aminu has everything to thank God for. He has attained the apex of his profession as a Professor of Medicine and chancellor of a university; held important national and international positions, some of which are: Senior Lecturer/Consultant in Medicine and Sub Dean (Clinical) at the University of Ibadan; Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); Vice Chancellor, University of Maiduguri; Minister of Education, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); Member, Nigeria National Constitutional Conference; Member, Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States of America (USA) and a Senator of the Federal Republic. Without doubt, his credentials are truly intimidating as well as admirably uplifting. “Aminu’s high profile exposure in public life started early after he qualified as a Consultant Physician crowned with a PhD in Medicine from the University of London in 1971. He took up appointment in the Ministry of Health in Maiduguri with posting to the General Hospital and the Nursing Home. That was also when he conceived, planned and supervised the take-off of the Maiduguri Specialist Hospital which later transformed into the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. He supervised the project to its conclusion and set the record of being the physician to have admitted the first patient of the hospital on February 18, 1982. “In 1973, he resigned from the state government to return to his beloved University of Ibadan as a lecturer and Consultant Cardiologist in the Medical School under his respected teachers like Professors Akinkugbe, Osuntokun and Nwokolo. He was excited to have returned to Ibadan and particularly to re-join the distinguished Faculty at the University College Hospital. “Shortly after, he was promoted to the rank of a Senior Lecturer and appointed the Sub Dean (Clinical) under Professor Osuntokun. Among his students in Ibadan were fellows like late Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Dr Doyin Okupe and Senator Dr Mamora,” Prof. Pate said. In a telephone interview, Dr. Kabiru Chafe, a former minister of State for Petroleum, said he saw many virtues in Prof. Aminu. “I know him fairly closely during the National Constitutional Conference; he was a member and I was also a member. This was between 1994 and 1995,” he said. According to Dr Chafe, “To say Prof. Aminu is intelligent is an understatement; even his enemies know that he is intelligent; there is no doubt about it. He is in a class of his own in his own discipline. “But, I think, if I want to figure out one of his major contributions to the development of Nigeria it is more in the field of education. He has this idea of mass education; he came out with the idea of nomadic education even though some people are still trivializing the initiative because he, too, is a Fulani.
“Prof. Aminu has a deep-rooted idea on educational outreach; possibly the way he grew up must have conditioned him. You know, he said some of them just became educated by chance – Prof. Aminu and people like Prof. Iya Abubakar; Iya Abubakar was virtually a nomad; he was just going through class and that was how he became educated. “Prof. Aminu is also outspoken, he tells you his mind. You can disagree with him, but the man is rational. You can disagree with him politically, but you must accede to the rationality of his argument, there is no doubt about it. “He is a sound and educated person. When I say he is outspoken, I mean he bares his mind. He is not emotional and largely, I think this is because of his scientific mind. His arguments are always logical and cogent. You may choose to disagree with him, but you cannot doubt the logicality of his submissions,” he said. Idris Bawa is an architect who now works at the Presidency. As a Fulani, he met Prof. Aminu during his formative stages. “To me, Prof. Jibril Aminu is more of a father, a mentor. He is someone who has personally impacted my life and that of my kinsmen so much that we will appreciate him forever. “As young boys of nomadic pastoralists background, at the early stage of our undergraduate programme at the University of Jos, Prof gave us hope, supported us morally and financially and really made us proud (myself and my late friend, Dr Bature of blessed memory). “As a hon. minister then, he used to invite us to his residence in Ikoyi, Lagos to spend holidays with him. He would pay for our air tickets and give us pocket money to ensure we were comfortable. In appreciation of all these, I named my first son after him. “Due to his support and few others, today, by the grace of Almighty Allah, I am an architect working for the Federal Government of Nigeria. “In fact, President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Jibril Aminu and Prof. Chimah Ezeomah gave myself and my late friend Dr Bature all the support we needed as undergraduates to excel in life. I remain grateful to them all,” he said. On his part, a former minister of Health, Dr Aliyu Idi Hong, said he owed his success in politics and public life to Prof. Aminu. In a chat with Daily Trust, Dr Hong who also served as minister of state for Foreign Affairs, said since his graduation as a medical doctor, he enjoyed the support of Aminu to rise from director general of Aminu’s campaign for Senate seat to secretary of the PDP in Adamawa State and to the exalted position of a minister. Hong said when he assumed office as minister, he realized that Aminu had taught him almost everything he needed to know about public service, saying he regarded his relationship with Aminu as internship which is still on going. “He is a father, teacher and mentor,” he said. Dr. Hong noted that as NUC chief, Prof. Aminu convinced President Yakubu Gowon and subsequently General Obasanjo to create seven additional universities and as education minister, he was the originator of the 6-3-3-4 system and several other good policies. He added that as petroleum minister, Prof Aminu showed vision by embarking on massive expansion of petroleum products pipeline networks and creation of additional depots as part of national contingency plans. “He created the Abuja-Minna- Kaduna and Port Harcourt- Yola-Maiduguri networks,” he said. Related 2019: Screening Panel to decide Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal, others’ fate Mafiana holds forth at NUC NIM elects Prof. Munzali president