Aminu Bello Masari’s early life was built on diligence, industry and honesty. Even as governor, he has stayed through to his tenets. Charles Ajunwa writes
When Aminu Bello Masari received his first School Leaving Certificate in 1963, at the age of 13, he probably knew little about what the future held for him, that he had been destined to become one of the most relevant men of his time. These sorts of grand thoughts, in any way, mattered little to the young Masari. He could not read the mind of God, but he knew, deep within, that with hard work, honesty and the will of God, no height was too high to reach, nothing too big to accomplish. With this simple but powerful approach to life, he resolved to take on the vicissitudes of life.
Between 1964 and 1968, the young Masari attended Government Secondary School, Funtua, where he received an extensive training and passed out with a General Certificate of Education. The next year, Masari began his Civil Service career at the North Central State Water Board as Technical Assistant.
The job was not a plum assignment. But Masari was not in a hurry to achieve greatness. He dug in and did his work dutifully while ensuring he continued to educate himself. After attending the necessary training programmes, in 1972, he was promoted to Assistant Works Supreteindent. His work yielded dividends. By 1987, he had rose to the rank of Chief Procurement Officer at the then Kaduna State Water Board. The state government, noting his industry, sponsored him to attend Middlesex Polytechnic in the United Kingdom where he obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in 1987. Masari’s star was beginning to shine.
That same year – 1987 – Katsina State was created and Masari was transferred to the Katsina State Water Board, where he was appointed as the state’s District Manager of its Water Board. While there, he continued to distinguish himself and, in 1991, he was promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager of Operations at Board.
Naturally, Masari’s diligence at the Water Board had not gone unnoticed and when, in 1992, political activities were reintroduced by the then Babangida Military Administration, Masari was appointed as the Honourable Commissioner of Works, Housing and Transport by then Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Saidu Barda.
In 1993, Masari threw himself into the arena of partisan politics and put himself up for election as the representative of the people of Malumfashi, Kafur and Danja Local Governments at the Constitutional Conference. He won. In 1999, again, he contested and won elections under the Peoples Democratic Party as Honourable Member representing Malumfashi/Kafur Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives. He was re-elected to the same position in 2003 and subsequently became the Rt. Honourable Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.
In recognition of the services rendered to the country, Masari has received the National Award of honour as the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2005 by the then President and Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Back home in Katsina State, the Late Emir of Katsina Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammadu Kabir Usman, found Masari a worthy son of the soil who contributed immensely to the development of, not only the Katsina Emirate, but the State in general and bestowed on him the prestigious title of Dallatun Katsina. On his part, the Emir of Daura, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar bestowed on Masari the title of Matawallen Hausa. From faraway Potiskum, Yobe State, came the chieftaincy tittle of Shetima Alama of Potiskum conferred on Masari by the Mai of Potiskum, Umaru Ibn Wuriwa Bauya 1.
The academic community has not been left behind in finding Masari worthy of accolades: Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Letters (Honoris Causa) have been awarded to him by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State; University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Houdegbe University of Benin Republic. Masari has also received the United States Congressional Commendation Award by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. He was also inducted into the Africa Leadership Hall of Fame by the African Leadership Magazine.
On May 29, 2015, Masari was sworn-in as the Executive Governor of Katsina State under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress, a job on which he has brought with him his mark of excellence. From a state struggling to balance its books, Masari has transformed Katsina into one of the most equitable and prosperous states in the federation with special focus on developing road infrastructure, building a quality education and health sector, all while ensuring that the welfare of workers are duly looked after. Katsina is among the elite states in the country that do not owe its workers their salaries.
Masari’s work as governor has not gone unnoticed. The Sun Newspaper, by a decision of its Editorial Board found him as the most suitable for Courage in Leadership Award in 2016.
Earlier this year, at the Zik Prize Award, which is organised by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre, Masari was honoured with the 2017 Zik Leadership Prize on Good Governance. There, the Governor was described by the organisers as a “dogged fighter” and a seasoned administrator who focused on people-oriented reforms and massive grassroots and infrastructural development projects across his state.
On May 29, Masari is set to celebrate his birthday and third year in office as governor, and it is only expected that a man of his caliber deserves more accolades. This is a man who rises at midnight and drives himself around to inspect state projects, a man whose personal integrity continues to stand him out in the comity of state administrators, a man whose vision for his state is as clear as daylight.
“In Katsina State, we are really very glad and lucky that we have Aminu Bello Masari,” one of Masari’s senior media aides, Abdu Labaran, has said. “The truth is that if it was anybody else, we will not be able to do most of the things we are doing today. Before he left office, the former governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, hinted publicly that whoever gets elected will not be able to pay more than the first three months of state salaries. But, today, Katsina State is among the only four states, along with Lagos, Rivers and Kano, that pay their workers as at when due, without waiting for federal allocation. And you have to understand what the other three states generate internally per month is twice what Katsina gets from Abuja. What Apapa, a local government in Lagos State, generates in a month is more than the entire budget of Katsina State. Believe me, Katsina has never had it this good in terms of development projects across the state.”
During his inaugural speech in 2015, Masari’s promise to the people of Katsina was to reverse the “negative trend” the state had been on. So far, he has not disappointed.