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Adamu Ciroma: Yet Another Tribute

Actually, this Columnist didn’t know Mallam Adamu Ciroma that closely – perhaps being too young to so do. But he knows many who knew the departed great man. As a matter of fact, many commentators are amazed, even awed, at the quantity and quality of encomiums and tributes pouring out of many a mouth – and a pen – on the loss; even from very unlikely quarters. Tributes were seen from very some people many believe do not seem to care much about anything or anyone. Yet these people seem to also be in mourning, and have something good to say about the late technocrat. One hopes all these emotions were earlier translated into visits to the grand old man while he was still alive – to check on his wellbeing, to show care, to show gratitude. 

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But someone I trust to have genuine care and empathy for the late Mallam Adamu Ciroma is Dr. Gausu Ahmad (ibrahimgausu@gmail.com), an Associate Professor at the Department of Mass Communication of Bayero University, Kano, where I also teach. Gausu, a veteran of many newspapers such as the Kaduna-based Democrat and the Abuja-based Nation (actually THE First Nation) and other newspapers ‘dead’ and ‘alive’, is a person who always has good and kind words for everyone – not least the late Mallam Adamu Ciroma. So, when Gausu said he was writing a tribute to the departed Fika Emirate Traditional Title Holder, I had no hesitation in inviting him to use this space today. Gausu’s contribution is titled “Adamu Ciroma: Humility and Confidence”:

Humility and Confidence are two human attributes that do not seem to always reside in a person at the same time, even though they are not necessarily opposites of one another. However, the two words’ common source is ‘true knowledge’. While confidence is a feeling of consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances, humility, on the other hand, is the quality or state of being humble. Nothing better defines the character of the late Mallam Adamu Ciroma as these two qualities. 

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A man of many feathers, he was Madakin Fika, former CBN Governor, several times federal minister and, most relevant to me as a journalist and media teacher, former Editor and Managing Director of the New Nigerian newspaper. Anyone who has any close or even distant association with the New Nigerian newspaper must have been influenced in one way or the other by Mallam Adamu Ciroma. 

Many who may have met the late Madakin Fika for the first time might have ended up with the impression of an arrogant person. Yet, behind the surface was a man of profound character of humility and confidence. Mallam Adamu was a very intelligent person, and knew that he was, yet he was always humble enough to defray it, as he was wont to often say about his successor: “Mamman Daura was better than me in many respects.” I had heard and read this statement from the late politician many times in my encounters with him. Yet Mallam Mamman Daura, on the other hand, returned the compliment by describing the late Mallam Adamu as “Master of all Managerial Trades and Jack of None.” (Daily Trust 10th July, 2018)

I first came close to Mallam Adamu many years ago during my Masters’ research work, which was on the New Nigerian newspaper. During our days at the Democrat newspapers, Kaduna, our then Managing Director Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua formally introduced me to Mallam Adamu. From then on, Mallam Abba Kyari, current Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari and I became frequent visitors to the late Mallam Adamu, often for consultations on journalistic and other professional issues. 

Thus it was that the Mallam was, in a way, part of the resuscitation efforts of the Democrat newspapers where I then worked under the leadership of Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua. Mallam Adamu was invited to provide advice and counselling. Once, at an orientation lecture for the newly recruited staff of the (then new) Democrat newspaper, Mallam taught us two memorable lessons; the first one was about the economics of establishing a newspaper where he told the directors of the rehabilitated publication that, for the paper to succeed, they needed to sink at least 16 million Naira (at pre-SAP exchange value) over the following four years, and to consider that amount as if thrown into the ocean; after that, Mallam concluded, the directors could perhaps achieve a break-even point.

The other story he told us was how, in his days at the New Nigerian, they were able to effectively monitor the public pulse and that of their owners, the Federal Government, about the newspapers’ performance. Mallam Adamu said whenever they heard that government officials were showering praises on the paper, they knew that they were getting too close to government and away from the public. They would then have to adjust; that is to move closer to the people and a little away from government. 

On the other hand, whenever they heard government critics praising the newspaper, they knew that it was an indication of their being too critical of government. Thus, the newspaper was able to tell government and its audience the truth, no matter how unpalatable. No wonder then that the New Nigerian of those days became a symbol of authority and credibility among Nigerian newspapers of its era, and it was that kind of ‘Ciromian Ingenuity’ that made the New Nigerian stand out among its contemporaries. 

Mallam Adamu Ciroma was erudite, confident and highly conscientious. His independent mindedness and fearlessness was demonstrated by his encounter with the then Head of State General Gowon, when the then Editor, Mallam Mamman Daura, was arrested by the army over a comment that the government thought was too critical against the military. His foresight was evident in those famous editorials and other comments of the paper he edited and managed. Many of his recommendations later became national policies while many of his predictions had since come to pass. 

Ironically, but also as further indication of his foresight, Mallam chaired the committee that recommended for the Federal Government’s take-over of the New Nigerian and the Lagos-based Daily Times newspapers. Mallam had a rather pessimistic view about privatisation of public assets, as he argued that most of the privatised public enterprises have not succeeded, while many of them simply collapsed.

Within the New Nigerian itself as an organisation, Mallam Adamu introduced what he termed as ‘management by succession’. It was a management strategy aimed at securing and guaranteeing the stability of the paper, as well as achieving a smooth transition in the leadership and loyalty of the staff. The policy produced such great editors and journalists as Mallam Mamman Daura, Adamu’s immediate successor, the late Malam Turi Muhammadu, and many others. 

I had hoped that the late statesman had recorded his life experiences in some form of autobiography or biography for the benefit of the upcoming generations. However, when I read from his friend, Mallam Mamman Daura, that Mallam said he did not want to be remembered (Daily Trust, July 10, 2018), I concluded that Mallam has no ‘right to be forgotten’, calculating all the good things he has done for this country. Meaning, historians have a lot of work to do to reconstruct the life of this great man, Mallam Adamu Ciroma.

Allah Ya gafarta masa, Ya kyautata namu karshen.


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