The ancient city of Katsina is today filled to the brim as dignitaries from within and outside the country gather to witness the turbaning of Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, CFR, Director-General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), as the new Sardaunan Katsina. Ambassador Rufai Abubakar, CFR, was formally conferred with the title in an appointment letter dated June 14, 2022 and personally signed by the Emir, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abdulmumin Kabir Usman, CFR.
The Emir’s Letter of Appointment noted that the conferment of the title followed a nomination, by the Emirate Council in full consensus, and in recognition of Rufai’s “selfless service and contributions to the development of Katsina State and the country in general.” He thanked Allah SWT for guiding him in making the appointment. The Emir described the new Sardauna as a humble and dedicated person who is highly committed to the discharge of his responsibilities and in service to humanity. He called on the people of the Emirate to give the new Sardauna all necessary support and cooperation to discharge his responsibilities.
The traditional title of Sardauna in Katsina Emirate was borrowed from Sokoto Sultanate, where it was held by the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory. In Katsina, the title is given to persons who strive to emulate and follow the footpath of Sardaunan Sokoto, as Statesmen and their contributions to the development of the emirate, the state and the nation in general.
It was in recognition of these qualities that the title was bestowed on late Ibrahim Coomasie, former Inspector General of Police (IGP). After the demise of Coomasie, the title was given to Senator Ibrahim Ida.
On 26th June 2022 when a delegation comprising top Government and business functionaries, family and friends visited His Royal Highness, the Emir, to thank him for the honour done to their brother and colleague, Amb. Ahmed Rufa’i Abubaiar, the Emir noted that in Katsina, the title is bestowed unsolicited. He commended the Council for choosing a personality worthy of the title, while applauding the quality of friends and associates that Sardauna has maintained throughout his life.
The delegation was led by elder statesman Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, GCON and included Justice Sadiq Abdullahi Mahuta Galadiman Katsina; Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika, Dr Tukur Bello Ingawa, Magajin Rafin Katsina, mni OON; Alhaji Kabir Mashi, Kaigaman Katsina; Ambassador Sani Saulawa Bala, Wamban Katsina; Alhaji Murtala Safana, Barde Kerarriyan Katsina; Engr Bala Almu Banye, Zarman Katsina; Sen Abba Ali, Turakin Katsina and former DGNIA, Ambassador Ezekiel Oladeji, among others. Addressing the Emir, Ambassador Kingibe, who spoke on behalf of members of the delegation, noted that the ancient city of Katsina had consistently produced qualitative and prominent persons that have served Nigeria with patriotism and also made their contributions at the global arena.
Kingibe explained that Abubakar, the newly appointed Sardauna, is highly admired for his scholarly disposition and deft administrative skills as well as philanthropy efforts in societal development, particularly through the empowerment of youth, women and the less-privileged.
Senator Hadi Sirika, recalled the promptings of the new Sardauna at several fora, for all indigenes of Katsina State to do whatever it took to upscale the development efforts of the Emirate. He added that Sardauna used the same vigour in proffering solutions and working towards national development efforts.
Also speaking at the occasion, a patron of the new Sardauna’s family, Alhaji Aliyu Musa Kofar Durbi, thanked the Emir for appointing Abubakar as Sardaunan Katsina and assured him that their clan will remain grateful to the Emir for the gesture. Similarly, a former classmate, Limamin Kona, Dr. Bello, narrated how Rufai received several awards at the speech and prize giving day at ATC Katsina in 1977, where Sir Usman Nagogo, the late Emir was the Special Guest of Honour. He recalled that the Emir had asked the then Magajin Garin Katsina, Alhaji Kabir Usman, to take good care of the young Rufai Abubakar.
Born on February 11, 1953, in Katsina State, Ambassador Abubakar is a descendant of Muhammad Maude, a warrior of repute, who established Unguwar Maude in Katsina State. Late Maude had 16 children; eight girls and eight boys including a set of twins, Hassan and Hussaini, the grandfather of the new Sardaunan Katsina.
Records have it that what is today known as Unguwar Maude was Muhammad Maude’s fortress, farmland and household. Abubakar, the father of Sardaunan Katsina was born in this area.
Because of his outstanding prowess on warfronts, Maude was famously called, Dan Marusa, Mai Wuta. He was closely associated with the palace and title holders in the Katsina Emirate. The twin brother of the grandfather of Rufai, Hassan, served in the Katsina Palace as Sarkin Dogarai.
Abubakar was brought up by his uncle, Hassan, Sarkin Dogarai, the head of palace guards. To learn Quran and acquire knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, he was taken to an Islamic scholar, Mallam Amadu in the Kofar Durbi quarters of Katsina city. In appreciation of his character and learning, the teacher gave Abubakar, his daughter, Ramatu, the mother of Rufai, in marriage.
Following the migration of his father to Fort-Lamy Chad, now called Ndjamena, Rufai had his formal basic education, first in Arabic Primary School and thereafter a French primary school, in addition to the education he received at home from his father and three different Quranic teachers and two other teachers of Fiqh (jurisprudence).
In 1972, he returned to Katsina and lived under the guardianship of his maternal cousin, Alhaji Ali K/D in Kofar Durbi, his mother’s quarters. By this time, he could speak, read and write in French and Arabic languages in addition to Hausa.
To advance his education, in 1974, Rufai enrolled into Arabic Teachers College (ATC), after briefly working as a billing clerk in the Katsina District Office of Water Board.
In 1984, Rufai graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in French from the Bayero University Kano (BUK). He did his National Service at the same institution and on completion in 1985, was employed as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of English and European Languages, where he rose to the position of Assistant Lecturer in 1987.
A year after the creation of Katsina State, Rufai joined the state civil service in 1988, where he spent six years as head of the political department of the Governor’s Office.
In 1993, Rufai was recruited into the security arm of the Nigerian Foreign Service, where, once again, he distinguished himself. In November 2015, Rufai was appointed Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSAP) on International Relations and Foreign Affairs.
Satisfied with his performance as SSAP, three years later, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The Sardaunan Katsina is married and blessed with seven children.
Indeed, the people of Katsina are very happy with the appointment of Ambassador Rufai as Sardaunan Katsina, recalling his numerous efforts to bring development not only to the ancient city but the state in general. They are confident that the new and important role will further galvanise him into assisting the state to solve its numerous challenges especially in the area of security and desertification. They earnestly believe that His Royal Highness the Emir of Katsina has made the right choice of a Sardauna who will be a good ambassador to the city both within and outside the country.
The reception by the family, friends and well-wishers of this honour done to the new Sardaunan could be seen in the activities held even before the Turbaning:
a Golf tournament in Abuja;
a Polo Competition; and
a two-day Conference in Katsina.
Each of the activities drew participants from far and wide. At the Conference were high-level participants from Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Niger Republic and Nigeria. The stage is well set for a memorable Turbaning Ceremony on Saturday 31st December, 2022