‘Why I did my PhD on Mamman Shata’

Dr. Zainab Ahmad

Dr. Zainab Ahmad Tanko is the first female Secretary to the Nasarawa State Government (SSG). She talked to Daily Trust Saturday on why she conducted a PhD thesis on the late legendary Hausa musician, Alhaji Mamman Shata Katsina, who died two decades ago.



Dr. Zainab Ahmad Tanko started her primary school education at Nasarawa Central Primary School in Nasarawa Local Government and completed at the Township Primary School, Jos.

While in Jos, some pupils were selected for a two-week program to study French at Saint Louis College in Jos, and while there, she fell in love with the school and the way the students dressed and so became interested in attending a boarding school.

Her father enrolled her at the Catholic Girls Secondary School, Jos after she wrote and passed the common entrance examination in 1975. It was a Christian Catholic school and she was a Muslim, at the time girls’ education was at its lowest level. She proceeded to the School of Preliminary Studies, Keffi before she gained admission to the University of Jos.

Dr. Zainab said, “I applied to lecture at the Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, my home town, and I was employed from 1987 as an Assistant Lecturer. While there, I gained admission in University of Jos for a Masters Degree program on sponsorship by my employers. After the program, I was saddled with the establishment of Interim Joint Matriculation Board Examination (IJMBE) which I ran for two years before I was appointed a Director in 2005. I was there till 2013 when I was elevated to the post of Secretary to the State Government (SSG) after which I retired in 2015.”

She said while she was at the Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, she’d enrolled for a PhD at the University of Maiduguri, she finished the course work and started the thesis, but with her new appointment as Permanent Secretary, she became too busy to travel from Nasarawa to Maiduguri for lectures or academic engagement.

On what influenced her decision to write a PhD thesis on the message of the music of Dr Mamman Shata Katsina, Dr Zainab Ahmad said, “When we were through with the course work, and were to pick some areas of interest, my supervisor asked me, ‘why don’t you write on Mamman Shata, he was a very popular artist, people all over the world know and love his song. If you check bibliography, his music is so rich; he added to language acquisition in Hausaland, and enriched the Hausa Language.

According to her, this was a challenge because she read English Education for her first and second degrees at the University of Jos. She then ventured into oral literature and it is very difficult to listen to the music attentively, transcribe and translate before making any analysis.

She said the legendary Mamman Shata’s music contains messages on social mobilization, nationalism and lots more.

“Shata sang a lot on the unity of the country after the Civil War crisis and on many government policies and developmental programs in Nigeria.”

She said the delay in the completion of her PhD program was due to the insecurity that enveloped Maiduguri, as it was a long journey from Lafia through Jos, Bauchi, Yobe, to Maiduguri. “I wanted to abandon the program, I don’t need a PhD in Administration to perform, but two of my children – Muhammad Jamil and Abdurrashid, kept insisting that I continued. The assistance of my supervisor and his wife, Professor Idris Amali now of the Federal University Lafia and his wife, Dr HadizaI Amali, contributed a lot in my completing the program. Whenever, I was in Maiduguri, I stayed in their house.

On why she went as far as Borno for her PhD instead of other universities close by, she said, “The system at the University of Maiduguri is similar to that of Jos and my supervisor was an alumni of Unijos.”


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