By: Prince Idris Abdulmalik Afegbua
Today, a military officer, an erudite diplomat and fine gentleman, Colonel Sani Bello turns 78 in style. The journey of his exceptional life started on 27th November, 1942. By the popular saying, that there is no life without its ups and downs, Sani Bello’s life could be described as one, although he was born with a silver spoon.
Realising the benefits in a solid educational background, Col Bello was enrolled at the Central Primary School, Kotangora, Niger State in the year 1950 to1957. He furthered his yearning for western education as he secured admission to Government College Bida all in Niger State. Nature justly cultivated greatness on his paths early in life, he was classmate of two former Heads of State and ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He schooled along former military President, Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abdulsalam Abubakar.
He was also a classmate of Generals Mohammed Magoro who was minister of Internal Affairs under the military regime of Muhammadu Buhari in 1984, Garba Duba,Gado Nasko, Mohammed Sani Sami and the late Major-General Mamman Vatsa.
A gallant Sani Bello was enlisted into the Nigerian Army in December, 1962 at the Nigerian Military Training College now Nigerian Defence Academy NDA, Kaduna and was commissioned 2nd lieutenant after further training at the Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom.
Upon his return to Nigeria, he was posted to 1st Battalion, Enugu as platoon Commander. In the service to fatherland, Col. Bello was assigned an Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Aguyi Ironsi, the first Nigerian Military head of state.
He also served as a training officer at 6th Battalion, Ikeja, Lagos State before the military authority posted him to Bonny as Sector Commander. Col. Sani Bello’s exploits in the Nigerian Army were felt as Commander, Oshodi Resettlement Center, General Staff Officer and Assistant Quartermaster General of the 3rd Division respectively.
From year 1971 to 1974, he was Deputy Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army before becoming the commanding officer of 81 Battalion, Kaduna, the position he held before the military coup that toppled General Yakubu Gowon’s administration in the year 1975 and usher in late General Murtala Mohammed.
After the coup, Col Bello was appointed military governor of old Kano State. The then military government tasked the Sani Bello’s administration in Kano to implement reform of local government and universal primary education across board. He created additional 20 local government areas in Kano as a response to the task and established many tertiary institutions. His administration in Kano focused on commerce, rural roads, electrification and secondary education. Colonel Sani Bello, after colourful sojourn, retired from the military in 1979.
After retirement, he held various part-time appointments among which were, chairman of Niger State Green Revolution, Niger State NYSC chairman, chairman Niger State Polytechnic and chairman Niger State Science and Technical Schools. He served as Nigeria High Commissioner to Zimbabwe from 1984 to 1986.
He is presently the chairman of Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company Limited and Mainstream Energy Solution Limited. Col. Bello is also the proprietor of Mustapha Comprehensive School, Kotangora, Niger State. He enjoys his free time with table tennis and chess.
As this veteran bureaucrat celebrates his 78th birthday, it’s my prayer that the Almighty Allah grants him more wisdom and good health to continue his contribution to the greatness of our dear country, Nigeria.
Happy birthday our dear father, and mentor.
Prince Idris Abdulmalik Afegbua sent in this piece from the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, FCT, Abuja.