ETSU USMAN SARKI EARLY LIFE
(Alhaji Usman Sarki, MP,CFR, Etsu Nupe) Alhaji Usman Sarki was born in Bida in 1920 to the Masaba Dynasty. He was born to Etsu Saidu who was the 8th Etsu Nupe from 1926 to 1935. So, Alhaji Usman Sarki was born some five years before his father became the Etsu Nupe.
ETSU USMAN SARKI EDUCATION
Alhaji Usman Sarki attended Bida Elementary School from 1933 to 1937. In those days Bida Elementary Primary School was the only primary school in the whole of Bida and its environs.
After completing his primary school in 1943 Usman Sarki then went to Bida Provincial Middle School from 1937 to 1943. He then proceeded to Kaduna College which he attended from 1943 to 1944. In those days the Kaduna College was a very famous and one of the only colleges in the whole of Northern Nigeria. It was more or less like an elitist college and only the best and most qualified students were admitted into the Kaduna College in those days. The young Usman Sarki was an exceptionally bright and brilliant student and that was one reason why he got admitted into theprestigious Kaduna College.
After graduating from the Kaduna College in 1944 Usman Sarki immediately proceeded to the PWD Engineering school where he studied from 1944 to 1948. It was ever since then that he qualified as an engineer. Working Career After his engineering course at PWD Engineering School he immediately began his working career at the Bida Native Authority. In those days it was customary and prestigious for educated princes and the royalty to work at the Bida Native Authority as part of their service to their motherland.
Alhaji Usman Sarki started work in Bida Native Authority as Engineering Assistant in 1948. He immediately proved himself an agile, industrious and resourceful worker and was as a result promoted, two years later, to the position of the Supervisor of Works. From 1950 to 1955 Alhaji Usman Sarki was the Native Authority Supervisor of works at the Bida Native Authority. In 1955 Alhaji Usman Sarki went back to school to further his education. He was at the University College Ibadan, in 1955, studying extramural course in Economic Development of Nigeria.
Politics After his one-year educational course at the University of Ibadan Alhaji Usman Sarki came back to Bida. By that time he was one of the most administratively and academically qualified prince in Bida. Few people could measure up to the administrative and academic credentials of Prince Usman Sarki in those days. With his outmatching working experience and administrative and academic qualifications in those days Prince Usman Sarki went into politics and readily won the Federal House of Representative elections on the platform of the NPC or Northern Peoples’ Congress of those days.
At the Federal House of Representatives Prince Usman Sarki immediately proved to be an excellent personality and a resourceful workaholic again. He was, accordingly, immediately elevated to the position of the Secretary to the Federal Ministry of Works and Surveys that very year 1955. He remained in that position from 1955 to 1960.
Minister When the Tafawa Belewa Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was formed after Independence in 1960 Prince Usman Sarki was seen as one of the best and qualified national leaders from the North and was immediately appointed by the Tafawa Balewa Government as the Federal Minister of Internal Affairs in January 1960.
As the Minister of Internal Affairs Alhaji Usman Sarki again became one of the most hardworking, and a most brilliant members of the Tafawa Balewa cabinet. He was recognized by all and sundry as an outstanding personality and a gifted leader. But then, and suddenly, the then Etsu Nupe, Etsu Alhaji Muhammadu Ndayako popularly known as Etsu Bakudu, died on the 29th of October 1962.
The Debate and the Crisis
The moment Etsu Bakudu died a serious debate broke out in KinNupe as to whether Etsu Nupes should be appointed on merit of qualification or on the basis of the traditional rotational system of selection among the three royal houses of the Bida Emirate. This is a debate that has been on for a while, and was particularly promoted by the Colonial White men administrators, but the debate became acute upon the death of Etsu Bakudu.
In those days Alhaji Usman Sarki was the most high ranking Nupe man and one of the most administratively and academically qualified Nupe princess in the Bida Emirate. As a matter of fact there was no Nupe prince by that time who could measure up to the combined official and educational qualifications of Alhaji Usman Sarki. With all these, many proponents of the Etsuship by merit and the teaming supporters of Alhaji Usman Sarki asked him to come and be the next Etsu Nupe after the death of Etsu Bakudu. But many others opposed Alhaji Usman Sarki’s becoming the next Etsu Nupe because they insisted that the traditional method of the rotational Etsuship should b maintained.
There was a serious faceoff between the two parties and there were even demonstrations on the streets of Bida.
10th Etsu Nupe
Because of this crisis it took almost five months before the traditional kingmakers could eventually appoint a new Etsu Nupe. In the end the kingmakers took the modernist and revolutionary option of appointing a new Etsu Nupe due to the merit of his personal qualifications as a prince and not on the basis of the Rotational Etsuship between the three royal families of Bida.
The kingmakers nominated Alhaji Usman Sarki as the new Etsu Nupe and this was ratified and approved by the Federal Government. Alhaji Usman Sarki voluntarily resigned from his ministerial office and became the new Etsu Nupe on the 3rd of March 1963. He was the 10th Etsu Nupe in the history of the Bida Emirate. The moment he ascended the throne Etsu Usman Sarki’s brilliant and exemplary leadership became glaring and evident to all and sundry again. He approached the Etsuship throne with a visionary and revolutionary vigour. He started by immediately instilling discipline and due process in all the affairs and activities of the emirate. He assiduously stemmed the tide of maladministration among the various tiers of the Emirate government and royalties.
Etsu Usman Sarki sanitized, remade and rebranded the Bida Emirate into a brand new and enviable entity admired and respected within and outside Nigeria. He was able to do this because of his extensive experience as a career civil servant, politician and a highly sophisticated and educated Nupe man. In the whole of the Northern Nigeria there was not a traditional ruler or emir who was as well informed and exposed as Etsu Usman Sarki. This, of course, made him the de facto leader and the inevitable voice of the traditional rulers and emirs of Northern Nigeria.
Dethronement But Etsu Usman Sarki’s excellent and exceptional leadership qualities gained him bitter enemies both at within KinNupe and in the rest of Nigeria. Within KinNupe there was bitter opposition to his rulership by those who still insist that the Rotational Etsuship system should be maintained and that Etsu Usman Sarki was a usurper. Outside KinNupe many traditional rulers secretly envied his remarkable leadership qualities. Both of these opposition factors eventually coalesced to scheme Etsu Usman Sarki out of office. While street riots broke out again in Bida against the Etsuship of Etsu Usman Sarki, many regional and federal powerbrokers who envied Etsu Usman Sarki wrote all manners of petitions and libelous criticisms against him.
They accused him of maladministration but a federal committee set up to investigate the accusations found the accusation of maladministration against him as malicious and misplaced because by that very time Etsu Usman Sarki was the very vanguard against maladministration in the Bida Emirate. In any case the Federal Government was forced to dethrone Etsu Usman Sarki in 1969 when the riots and petitions orchestrated against him by his malicious and mischievous enemies became too much.
Etsu Usman Sarki was subsequently exiled to Bakura then in Sokoto but now in Zamfara State. And thus came to an end one of the most momentous and eventful, reigns in the annals of the Bida Emirate. Latter Days Etsu Usman Sarki’s dethronement did not deter him from normal contribution to nation-building as he took everything in good faith believing, as a devout Muslim, that it is the way Allah wanted it.
He simply went back to his usual life and worked assiduously for the progress of the Nupe people and Nigeria in general. It was on this note that he was honoured with the National Award CFR in 1980 by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Alhaji Usman Sarki died on the 19th of September 1984. Etsu Usman Sarki is obviously one of the greatest Etsu Nupes of modern times. There is no way the history of the modern Nupe Nation can be written without due attention being paid to the direct and indirect contributions of Etsu Usman Sarki to the development and progress of the Nupe Nation. Many people have referred to Etsu Usman Sarki as the ‘Etsu Masaba the Great of the twentieth century’.