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Muhammad Sani Bello: Silent philanthropist who built homes in hearts

I felt a strong strike in my heart when a call came to apprise me of the death of Alhaji Muhammad Bello Sani on January…

I felt a strong strike in my heart when a call came to apprise me of the death of Alhaji Muhammad Bello Sani on January 10. An unassumed figure, his benevolence precipitated like rainfall to all that were far and near to him in Kaduna and Zaria, his place of birth. Kullu Nafsin Zaikatul Maut, as a believer, in his books, noted that Allah has told us in various parts of the Qur’an that, “Every soul will taste death.”

Your death is one that turns a whole community into a town crier ferrying the news of your demise; a lofty soul that gives with his right hand without his left knowing.

May Allah accept the scholarships you gave, those you sent to hajj and the mosques you built in different communities. I believe they are Sadaqah Jariyah.

Writing this tribute is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever done in recent years as no word in my faculty can describe how you made families and communities smile with the rizq Allah bestowed you with.

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Muhammad Sani Bello: Silent philanthropist who built homes in hearts

Not even a search on the internet churned out information on your accomplishments as the first qualified chemical engineer from the North, having graduated from the University of London in 1966. What one could glean from the search was just a news report of President Muhammadu Buhari condoling your family on your demise.

But your resume as a former Group Managing Director of the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who started his working career at the Nigeria Tobacco Company in Ibadan and Zaria plants and later joined the management team that set up the Federal Superphosphate Fertiliser Company in Kaduna  and became its first Nigerian managing director speaks volume.

He was later appointed the first general manager of Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company in 1980 after the completion of the project by CHIYODA of Japan. He later became the first sector coordinator of Refineries and Petrochemical Sector, Group Executive Director, Refinery and Petrochemical and Group Managing Director of the NNPC before retiring in the mid-nineties.

For a man of such achievement to be little known indicates the austere life you chose despite the affluence you had. Your home became a Mecca of sorts for all who had one thing or another to cater for, which Allah in his infinite mercy made you a giver to solve, thereby making your philanthropy to know no bound. With this attribute of yours, you built homes in the heart of many in Kaduna. And through you, Allah made many families to be uplifted from the shackles of poverty.

As a beneficiary to one of your scholarships in my days in Kaduna Polytechnic, you left an indelible mark on what a lifting hand can do to change the fortunes of many. Your death, despite the pains it struck to our heart, gave us solace with the life you lived as one of the prophetic sayings states – this world is prison to a believer. Indeed, you made your impact in serving the country, your community, as well as families who are connected and not connected to you.

Your family also speaks well of you. When I contacted your eldest son, Muhammad Sani Bello, on his memories of you, he said, “My dad is a good and caring man. He gave us too many memories to cherish. I remember vividly when we were in primary school and he always went through our school work. He would come home late but still insisted on checking our school work.

“Another instance was when I was in secondary school. Being the first general manager of Kaduna Refinery, he was always in Japan. Chiyoda Japan constructed the Kaduna Refinery, so he was frequenting Japan, but he would still call in the night and ask how I was faring.”

“He was actually instrumental to my reading Chemical Engineering as he emphasized I must work hard in sciences. So, I concentrated on Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics.

“Alhamdulilah, today I am a chemical engineer. And he always told me that he was proud of me. My father was highly religious, so he ensured that we never missed the five daily prayers. In fact, besides asking our mum how we fared in school whenever he was out of the country, he would also ask how we prayed or went to Islamiyah.

“We lost a dad who cared so much about us. He trained us to be responsible and kindhearted to our fellow human beings. He was also a great philanthropist. A lot of testimonials were made when he died, and his children never knew of many of those good things he always did for people,” he said.

The presidential mention of your death and number of mourners that went for your Janazah at the Sultan Bello Mosque speaks volume of a life well spent.

May Allah accept all your ibadah and shower his mercies on you. May he comfort us and the family you left behind and enable us to fill the void you left in our community and grant you Aljannatul Firdaus, Aameen!

Mohammed wrote from Badiko, Kaduna State

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