The Life And Career Of Sir, Kashim Ibrahim


(Governor General Of Northern Nigeria 1962-66 , Minister for Education 1953–55, Regional Minister for Survey 1955–56, Minister for social services 1953-53 & Wazirin Borno 1956–1990)

Early Life and Education..

Sir Kashim Ibrahim was a Kanuri Man from Borno state, born on the 10th of June 1910 at Yerwa, the old quarter of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, Yerwa was and remains the seat of the Shehu of Borno till today. A Kanuri man, born into the aristocracy of the famous Kingdom of Borno, Kashim Ibrahim attended Koranic school, necessary for the traditional office of Shettima for which he was groomed by his father.

He was to take this office (overseer of traditional judicial officers) in 1935. At an early age, however, he embarked on Western education to fit him for the new order installed by the British colonialists.

By deliberate British policy few Muslim northerners were allowed to receive Western education in his time, although some young Hausa-Fulani or (in Borno) Kanuri aristocrats were trained in British government schools.
Kashim Ibrahim went first to Borno provincial school and then, from 1925 to 1929, to the famous Katsina Teacher Training college, where almost all the prominent Western-educated men of the first generation in northern Nigeria went. He qualified as a teacher there and then taught at Borno Provincial School.

He became a visiting Teacher from 1938 to 1947 and Education officer from 1947 to 1949. His educational work included considerable expansion of schools in Borno, the creation of the Maiduguri Teachers college in 1952, and the writing of primary school textbooks in Kanuri and the English languages.

He was a great believer in Western education, which all his children received.
Political Career
Shettima Kashim, as he was always known then, joined politics in 1951-52 and was among the founders of the Northern People’s Congress (N.P.C).

He was elected to the Northern Region House of Assembly in 1951 and from there to the Federal House of Representatives, where he served from 1952 to 1955 later he was in the Federal Senate.

He was Federal Minister of social services in 1952 to 1953 and Federal minister of Education from 1953 to 1955. In 1955 he joined Sir Ahmadu Bello’s Northern region Government in Kaduna as minister of Social welfare, cooperatives and surveys.

In 1956, however, he returned to Maiduguri to assume the traditional office of Waziri(Prime-Minister) under His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno. He carried out very necessary reforms in the traditional local government.

He was pioneer chairman of the provisional council of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for the two years before the new university opened in 1962. Supported by Sir Ahmadu Bello, he laid solid foundation for the University in Zaria.

Also in 1962, on the departure of the British colonial administrator and then Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Gawain Westray Bell (1909-1995), many people in the North and beyond including Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, late Emir of Kano and grandfather of the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano, felt that the Sardauna of Sokoto (1938-1966) and Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello (1909-1966) might follow the example of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987), appointing the then Ooni of Ife, Oba (Sir) Adesoji Aderemi (1889-1980), as Governor of Western Region, by recommending an emir to be Governor of the North.

As the Shehu of Bornu, Alhaji (Sir) Umar Ibn Mohammed el-Kanemi (1873-1968), was well advanced in age, the lot would easily have fallen either on the Sultan of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar, or the Emir of Kano, His Eminence Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi. Either of them would have filled the position with dignity.
But Ahmadu Bello had different plans. Instead, he chose his best friend, Sir Kashim Ibrahim (1910-1990) who, a few weeks later, received a congratulatory letter from the then Governor-General of the federation, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996) and a formal announcement which was made in London on 1st June, 1962 by Buckingham Palace.

He was Knighted by the Queen of England in the same year. That rule was ended with the unfortunate killing of the Premier in the first coup of 1966. Sir Kashim was arrested later released.

He remained indoors in Maiduguri thereafter without attending any public functions.
Sir Kashim Ibrahim served as Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 1966 to 1977, and then as chancellor of the University of Lagos from 1977 to 1984. He did not return to politics.

He acquired little material wealth and had only one house in Maiduguri. He donated a large part of this house for the building of schools. He had to sue the Government for his pension as former Governor of the Northern Region.


When he died on 25 July, 1990 the high respect he commanded was shown by the great gathering of prominent Nigerians and ordinary people at his Funeral in Maiduguri. Hundreds of his admirers named their children after him, even after his death.

may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace


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