Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Alh Musa Gwadabe: The exit of quintessential and generous statesman- Kabiru Abdulsalam

By Dr. Kabiru Abdusalam

It was about 9:30 am on Wednesday, 26th April, 2023, on my way to Damaturu, the Yobe state Capital for an important official engagement; While traversing the eerily town of Damagun, I received my first call of the day. It came from one of my cousins, Alh Aminu Musa Dambatta. He broke the sad news that we have lost Alh Musa Gwadabe to the cold hands of death a few hours earlier.

 We all fondly called him Baba Musa Gwadabe. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun. Verily we came from the Almighty Allah and to him that we shall indeed return. May the Almighty Allah continue to shower mercy on his gentle soul.

I must admit that my knowledge of Baba Musa Gwadabe is very scanty. Most of what I will narrate here were information I obtained directly from my personal interactions with him, interviews with some of his children and relatives as well as close aides that were always with him during his lifetime.

He was to me more like a father and grandfather figure as his eldest daughter, Hajiya Marwanatu was my late mother’s age mate. We only heard of him when he came to visit his aged mother in the 1980s. We were in primary school then.

Baba Musa was my Maternal uncle, He was born in Dambatta town between 1935-1936 to the Family of Alh Waziri Gwadabe and Hajiya Dije (Hajiyar Daurawa). He attended basic Qur’anic lessons at home and from schools in their neighbourhoods from proficient and pious Mallams.

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Baba was subsequently enrolled into the Dambatta Elementary School which is now called the Dambatta Model Primary School. At the school, he excelled and passed out with flying colours as a result of which he was later engaged as a pupils’ teacher to assist the more senior and experienced teachers to be able to handle the increasing number of student pupils at that time. 

He was later admitted to the prestigious Kano Middle School which is now referred to as Rumfa College.

Baba’s talent for management was discovered immediately after graduating from Rumfa College when he was engaged by the Kano Native Authority as a Finance clerk.

He was deployed to Dambatta where he worked with the District Head, Alh Muhammadu Adnan of blessed memory. Dambatta district was never found wanting with the reconciliation of account figures for taxation, cattle tax other forms of revenues by the Kano Native authority.

In the quest to quench his thirst for further education, develop his talent and capacity as well as expand his network, the then-young Baba Musa Gwadabe, applied and was subsequently admitted into the Zaria Cooperative Training Centre, where he obtained a basic certificate in cooperative affairs.

He later acquired training in advanced cooperative management from the Federal Cooperative Training School in Kaduna, then capital of the Northern Region.

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Baba Musa Gwadabe also attended the prestigious New York Business School where he obtained the highly coveted MBA. He was also briefly at Fort Lauderdale University for further training in management.

Baba Musa Gwadabe’s occupational history spans several decades in both the public and the organised private sector. In the Ministry of Social and Cooperative Affairs, he worked briefly as an inspector.

He was also the depot supervisor with Northern Nigeria Marketing Board. In this capacity, he visited virtually all the major towns and cities in Northern Nigeria and interacted with all the influential figures in the region.

Baba Musa Gwadabe later transferred his services to the Kano State Investment and Properties, KSIP where he served as an estate manager and investment executive. It is worth noting that it was during this period that Kano state got the first modern housing estate built along Zaria Road and Zoo Road, all in the Metropolis.  

He also served the Kano state government as Secretary to the State Government during the regime of Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo of blessed memory.

Baba also held several key positions during the military regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. These include the Chairman of Nigerian Coal Cooperation, National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND,  as well as members of the board of several state and Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDA.


He attained the Zenith of his career in the public sector when he was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Minister of Labour and Productivity in 1999.

He handled this very sensitive position with great tact, decorum, civility and maturity displayed only by trained, humble and seasoned statesmen.

Baba Musa was a towering colossus, a National icon and a Statesman per excellence. He was a moving encyclopedia of history, culture, international affairs, local and National politics; and entrepreneurship. Baba could spend several hours discussing reasons why small-scale businesses hardly thrive in our societies for lack of discipline, original ideas and superstitions.

One of the sterling qualities of Baba Musa was his ability to maintain contact with virtually all his relatives especially those that are not so fortunate in life. He knew all of them by heart.

I knew that for more than 40 years, in all days preceding major festivities, Baba would dictate the name of all his close and distant relatives, list the various items to be taken to them including but not limited to wrappers, brocades, cash, assorted foodstuffs et cetra.

He has done that consistently up till a few days to his death. Baba was actually generous to a near fault; He always carried a small handbag that was very popular and unique to individuals from his generation.

Wherever he was sighted by party stalwarts, the weak, the poor and down downtrodden of the society. They will always surround him offering prayers and praises. Baba will always find something for each and every one of them. This continued up to his last days on the planet Earth.

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During my short interactions with Baba Musa Gwadabe, I have learnt several things that are worth emulating. One of the habits that I greatly admired was his ability to manage phone calls in an extraordinary and unusual way. Baba has never switched off his mobile phone, he always answered his calls, text and WhatsApp messages even if he didn’t know the person at the other end.

He will always call back and promptly reply to messages. He usually said that whoever called you or sent a message to you must have known you, interacted with you, mean well for you and may need some form of assistance that may be within your purview or the limits of your resources.

I also greatly revere the way Baba maintained seamless contact with all his relatives, friends and associates. I could vividly recall that in 2020 and 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I actually expressed serious reservations at the number of visitors that he received on a daily basis.

He will just smile and say Dr all these things will come and pass and that we must all return to the almighty Allah at our appointed time. On several occasions, immediately after arriving at the house, he will request one of his aides to fetch some food flasks containing Moringa, boiled cassava and fried salted ground nuts. He will just called the driver and just directed that we should go to his brother’s house, Alh Abba Gwadabe. Alh Abba greatly values such unscheduled visits by his younger brother.

Unfortunately, Alh Abba Gwadabe also passed away exactly 2 years before Baba Musa Gwadabe. I pray to almighty Allah to forgive their shortcomings and grant them Aljannatul Firdaus.  

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While we will continue for the repose of the soul of Baba Musa Gwadabe and indeed all our departed loved ones, we take solace in the fact that he lived a happy and fulfilled life.

The influence of his work transcends boundaries, his life on this heavenly earth touched the rural and urban dwellers, the rich, middle class and the poor, it has also positively affected relatives and kinsmen; He will be greatly missed by the ruler and the ruled; the poor, middle class and the affluent.

Baba will however be greatly missed by his wives, twelve children and numerous grand and great-grandchildren, Yaya Marwa, Yaya Lami, Alh Nazifi, Alh Nura, Haj Ummi, Haj Urwatu and indeed all his relatives and political associates. Please accept my condolences, Allah ya Ji kan Baba Musa Gwadabe, ya yafe kurakuren sa, Allah ya kyauta karshen mu.

Abdulsalam, a medical doctor, writes from Kano, north-west Nigeria.

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