Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi, the Maradin Katsina and District Head of Kurfi, who just clocked 89 said he is grateful to God for the age and the outpour of messages right from President Muhammadu Buhari to other well wishers.
Born in 1931, Kurfi began his public service career with the Katsina Native Authority as a classroom teacher in 1951, joined the regional government in 1958, were he rose to become and retired as Federal Permanent Secretary, Manpower Development Department in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation in 1986.
He was the Executive Secretary of Federal Electoral Commission, (FEDECO) and also served at the National Population Commission.
The octogenarian, who has authored several books and was appointed district head of kurfi in 1992, told our reporter yesterday on phone that he is still in good health.
“I’m still hearing, talking, seeing and relatively moving with my feet, even though most of the times I’m in Kurfi town,” he said.
Despite that, he said he hardly travels these days with his trips limited to seeing his doctor in Katsina or at the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital in Zaria every three months for medical check-up.
He said he always abides by his doctors’ advice and sticks only to drugs prescribed for him by his physicians.
“I don’t do meeting, seminars even the emirate council meetings, I have been excused by the emir who asked me to just send representatives,” he said.
In an interview with Daily Trust Sunday four years ago sometimes in July 2016, kurfi, 85 then, said “When I remember that in 1947, 50 of us joined Kaduna College and out of this number, only five of us are today alive. And out of the five only two of us can move about, three are bed ridden so we thank God”.
He recalled some of his some his school mates to include Late Aminu Mashi, Faruk Ingawa, Nuhu Yashe , Audu zango, Audu Na Malamai, who were the five that were alive at the time of the interview.
“We still keep contact, talk to each other on phone, even those class mates in Kaduna from Ilorin like Adeniyi, in fact at one time, we used to meet in Abuja every year, before the year somebody’s dies. When we started, we were about ten or so but now even the convener has died in a plane crash.”
Also during that interview, the retired public servant spoke of the difference between the service then and now.
“In those days you are proud for doing something for your country not yourself. Corruption with few exceptions, we don’t know it at all. Even the few exception were in the lower cadre, when you reach the position of an administrative officer, ADO or DO, but now, people are looking after themselves and this things started during Obasanjo, Murtala regime, when Gowon was ousted, many civil servants were dismissed for no just cause because those below them wanted their positions, and the new rulers had mates within the service then, so experience people were removed with no due process.”
On how he ventured into writing, Kurfi said it came about after he had served as the Executive Secretary of FEDECO.
“At the end of the election, I took a sabbatical leave to rest and the new government of Shagari wanted me to continue and I said no,” he said. “So went to Columbia University, in US not to learn anything but to learn what I see. One day one professor in charge of African Studies invited me to present a lecture on elections in Nigeria. After the lecture, he invited me to his office where he said why not write something about elections in Nigeria? I thought over it as a good idea and started drafting from there, they had a very rich library, were I was comparing elections of every part of the world.”
Kurfi was also the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence during the 1966 coup and recounted how he narrowly escaped death.
“My minister and permanent secretary then went overseas, I was in charge when the coup occurred. That night, the acting inspector general of police, Mr Kamsalem, late Hamman Maiduguri was the commissioner of police in Lagos. They came to my house about 2-3 am, woke me up, and told me that they heard that the Prime Minister had been kidnapped, Minister of Defence is not here, since they said it was soldiers that did it, you are the only some that can do something about it,” he said.
“So I really do know it was strange then to see soldiers behaving that way, so I told them I have school mates who are in the army. There was one then who was in charge of the southern brigade, the country has two brigade then, the first in Kaduna and the second in Lagos, it was Maimalari , he was one year ahead of me, there was Kuru Mohammed, Yakubu Pam, some of them were in Ikoyi, I said okay , let us go see what is happening,.
“We took off in separate cars, because it dawned on us that there is danger, we went to Maimalari’s house, the day before the coup, there was a party he gave over his new bride. By the time we got there, there was no light, in the front of the house there was no sentry, which was unlike in the military setting, no guards, I noticed something like a dead body in the house, and it completely dawned on me that there is something wrong.
“After seeing this in those days, I should have gone into hiding but I didn’t, so we moved Yakubu Pam, a Berom from Plateau, from same class with Gen Hassan Usman, they are one year behind us. It was quite also, as I was leaving his wife spotted me and called me back weeping telling me some soldiers that normally come weekends for pepper soup have come and taken away my husband. I stayed a while consoling her she told me that when the soldiers came she telephoned Ironsi, who when he got this information, ran away too.
“I could remember Abogo Largema, a classmate also, was in charge of a battalion in Ibadan, he also was there at the party, they thought all of us will be at the party so that they can come and kill all of us, including myself. I knew he was at Ikoyi Hotel, so I went there. At the reception, by that time I had called, it Col. Samson Siasia who said if I wanted Abogo I should go to the police. I sensed trouble there also, as I was driving away there was a classmate of mine, not a soldier, he was staying upstairs in Ikoyi, he called me back, asking me what is happening saying some soldiers came, killed that man Abogo and put his body in a truck, and drove away. I missed this by five minutes. If I had not stopped at Yakubu Pam’s house, they would have finished me because they were looking for me also for my suggestion that there should be quota system in recruitment.”
On the occasion of his 89th birthday, some district heads and members of the Katsina Emirate Council said praised the character of Maradin Katsina.
The Fagachin Katsina, District Head of Matazu, Alhaji Iro Mai Kano said, “Maradin Katsina is a complete elder statesman in all ramifications, courageous, an author, administrator per excellence. He always portrays good characters anywhere anytime.”
Also the District Head of Ketare in Kankara Local Government, Alhaji Usman Bello Kankara said. “His stay as secretary of FEDECO, he midwifed the democracy that brought President Shehu Shagari to office. He is excellent and served the nations at various capacities from permanent secretaries in various ministries.”
“Even at the Emirate Council, his experiences and advises carry a lot of weight at any time during siting the emir will like to seek his views on issues publicly knowing his past experiences in public service,” he said