Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu Biu, a Tribute
Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu Biu,a Tribute
By Mai Moustapha Muhammad (Mai Musty)
It has been forty days since we lost our quintessential royal father, Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu Biu.
Death comes but once. It is inevitable and inescapable. It is a reality that evokes sympathy even if the dead was not a friend. However, when the dead is not only your leader for decades but also a pleasant and compassionate with whom one shared some of the most cherished moments in life, no one but you can explain the emptiness caused by such death and the pain of putting pen on paper while writing a tribute for such a loved.
The only solace is that while feeling the pain for the loss of such a very distinguished personality, who had used experience, tact and extraordinary diplomacy and intelligence to rule over a people so significant in the Nigerian State, the eulogies that have continued to trail his passage and legacies he bequeathed, are soul lifting and heartwarming, culminating into a force that propels me to remember our Emir, a father, a unifier and most importantly a bridge that connected and fortified the bond which had glued and kept the entire people of Biu Emirate together.
With a strong faith in Almighty Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful, and believing in the fact that every mortal must have a taste of death, I remember a Royal Father, our Emir who until a couple of weeks ago, ruled over a people with love and compassion, a people whose history transcends centuries but have continued to live in peace and harmony.
Even in death, a good person still lives. One could shed tears that he’s gone or one can smile that he has lived. For the late Emir of Biu in Borno State, Alhaji Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu (1940-2020), it’s still a mixed feeling to many.Very few mortals were so mourned in the history of the Emirate where he ruled for many years. An Emirate that grew in leaps and bounds due to the leadership style of a highly revered royal father whose death left a people in large communities where some are still in a numbing sense of the irreparable loss.
For a very long while, the people of Biu Emirate in Borno State, Nigeria, had not seen the kind of growth and development that was witnessed during the reign of the late emir. Despite the threats by insurgents and their negative exploits across neighboring communities, Biu, with help of Allah, had remained safe and enjoyed a conducive atmosphere in which the people have a flourishing business climate and peaceful learning environment.
The late emir’s reign will remain in History as an epoch which saw Biu becoming host to a university where students, researchers and other academic greats from across the country, converged for higher academic pursuits.
Therefore, to reiterate that the late emir had lived an exemplary and dignified life, would not be out of place. He lived a life worthy of emulation, a life spent in the service of Almighty Allah, for his people, for the entire Borno State and Nigeria.
Alhaji Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu who died was blessed with a large family. He had four wives, over 70 children and 200 grandchildren, which showed that leadership and maintaining an equitable equilibrium in his daily affairs, were deeply entrenched right from his immediate milieu.
The great monarch died at age 80 on Monday, the 14th of September, 2020 at the Federal Medical Center in Gombe after a brief illness. He was born on 9th November, 1940 in Biu and attended Kwaya Kusar Junior Primary School between 1947 and 1949 and Biu Central Primary School from 1950 to 1953. Later, he attended Hausari Primary School in Maiduguri between 1953 and 1955.The late Emir had contributed to the development of Borno State as he had worked as a Veterinary attendant (1958), Member representing Biu Emirate at the Borno State Council of Arts and Culture, and was District Head of Biu town from 1975 to 1989 when the Royal stool became vacant and he ascended the throne. He had been Emir of Biu since then, until his death last September.
Conscious of the fact that nature abhors a vacuum, king makers in Biu appointed a new Emir, Midala Mustapha Umar, the eldest son of the late Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu. The kingmakers were unanimous in nominating Midala who has already given the promise of a good future for the Emirate.
With less bickering or acrimony, the mourning of the Emir and the appointment of his successor took place in two weeks.This was because all concerned approached issues maturely and prayed for peace, prosperity and development under the reign of the new Emir as they also prayed for his well being.
Young, dynamic and experienced, His Royal Highness Mai Mustapha II, who was born on June 20, 1970, is poised to take after his father in the onerous task of building the Emirate.
He therefore needs our support, the kind of support accorded his predecessor from within and outside the Emirate so as to take the Emirate to a much higher pedestal.
Although every heir to the throne would’ve loved to be the Emir, in such contest for a successor, there must be a winner and losers.
Now is the time to let the new emir enjoy the sweetness of home support, have faith that only the Almighty Allah gives power to whoever He wants.
The people of Biu Emirate are historically known for their entrepreneurship, scholarship and have constituted a force in the public service which over the years, found a place for themselves in the good books of history. Hardly would one not find a son or daughter of the Emirate in every Ministry, Governmental Department or Agency. So is the situation in the Military, Para Military and the Diplomatic Corps. Biu sons and daughters are also an integral part Nigerians in the diaspora. Collectively, we can support the new Emir to succeed in the onerous tasks that await him in the palace.
With four Local Government Areas in the Emirate,the new Emir needs support, the kind accorded his predecessor, from all and sundry.
Historically, it is on record that the rulers of Biu are numbered from Abdullahi, later known as Yamta-ra-Wala or Yamta the Great, who established his rule about 1535. Around 1670, in the reign of Mari Watila Tampta, it became known as a kingdom.The main ethnic group is the Babur/Bura people.The founder was said to have come from elsewhere, captured the main town in the area, then founded a new capital in Dlimbur, which is now an archaeological site. His descendants formed two rival dynasties, one at Kogu and the other in nearby Mandaragirau.
King Mari Watirwa (r. 1793–1838) of Kogu defeated Fulani invaders from the Gombe Emirate to the west. In 1878 Mari Biya, became the first king to rule from Biu. The Emir’s Palace is now situated in the town. With British rule, Biu Division was created in 1918. Mai Ari Dogo was acknowledged as the first Emir of Biu in 1920. The area became known as the Biu Federation after 1957, when the districts of Shani and Askira were added to the emirate.
The Biu Emirate includes the Biu, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar and Bayo Local Government Areas.The Biu Emirate has by convention always produced the Deputy Governor of Borno State, representing the south of the state. Until recently, the Biu Emirate was one of three in Borno State; the others being the Borno Emirate and the Dikwa Emirate.
For the elite amongst the people of Biu, they will definitely miss the wise counsel and advices of Mai Umar Mustapha. His other people are already missing his generosity. A father has gone. May Almighty Allah forgive him and continue to bless his progeny and the Emirate.
Mai Moustapha, Executive Director, FCMB PENSIONS and former Chairman of Biu Forum, writes from Abuja.