Abba Kabir Yusuf @ 58: My personal encounter with an active listener


By Haroun Muhammed

It was on the sunny afternoon I received a surprised call: “Are you around? Come to the campaign office, Excellency wants to see you.”

That was a paralyzed call, you know. Before you say Jack Robinson, I got dressed up, fixed my shoes and headed to Ahmadu Bello Way. That was immediately after Abba Kabir became a Governorship flag-bearer from Kwankwasiyya camp.

Abba Kabir is a quintessential leader – strong in every sense of words, silent, and courageously self-contained. He is a strategy wonk who understands and has been engaged in structuring the delicate drapery of the public and private sectors, for the past two or more decades, in Kano and Nigeria at large.

Although very peaceful in appearance, he is unarguably reputed to be the mastermind behind the awe-inspiring flyovers we have today in Kano. Obviously, his trademark red cap and white gown hard-earned him the name “Abban Kwankwasiyya” – a name he so much love and wears like a badge of honor.

Though, he can be frail-looking sometimes, he is effortlessly approachable – and hence, his easy-going look belies his captivating gentility just like the cloistered academic world books – where kingdom of silence reigns.

My personal encounter with the famous Abba Gida Gida was memorable, however, enriching experience. It was an encounter of a “baby engineer” and a well-experienced engineer; an encounter of a leader and a follower; that of a curious admirer and his master.

It was an encounter that provided me with a rare opportunity to sit closer with the next governor of Kano state. I felt, then, I was sitting under the reclusive calm of a shade tree.

Talk to me Mallam Haruna, he said. I remember everything about that day; literally everything. I started by re-introducing myself; told him everything from beginning to the end. I remember the faces of in the room; that of Ibrahim Adam and Kabiru Garba. I can recall Salisu Yahaya Hotoro snapping us a picture while I was in the middle of the conversation and even after our talks.

I can remember how I was offered a lunch and I humbly rejected it. I remember praying in the mosque downstairs. I remember how Excellency asked me to collect his spokesperson’s number after our conversation and contact the spokesperson if I need any support from him (Abba). I remember absolutely everything!

I also remember halfway our conversation, his running mate entered the room, but what utterly shocked me was how this active listener kept on his eyes on me uninterruptedly. It was after our conversation that he introduced me to Comrade Aminu Abdussalam, and Comrade jokingly said since you are going to Port Harcourt, we are going to send you our people to find work for them.

In Kwankwasiyya, we value human development; that is our greatest weapon. Forget your social status, in Kwankwasiyya, we always capitalize on human development which defines our ideology – and that what makes our fan-based hugely indispensible. Comrade reaffirmed that by telling me when you relocate over there we will send you our people.

By every measure, Abba is an active listener. His outsize ambition and unconventional strategies won him a darling spot in the minds of Kwankwasiyya movement followers. He commands the art of active listening and when he talks; your mind will be resonated with a dodged hope and become overwhelmed by his excellent ideas.

He is such a man who has always been body-guarded by adoring crowd. To go onstage after Abba Kabir is a losing proposition — we all have witnessed that during Election debates and his campaigns.

Today, you might contemplate me as a fanatic, because you read the stats, not with your eyes, but with your prejudices.

But whenever you feel like giving the truth a befitting hearing, the naysayers will agree and further write in the clear blue, above them all, the name of a policy wonk, a compassionate leader, a friendly boss, and a humble person, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf!

Happy 58th birthday Sir!

By your mandate we shall stand; come rain, come shine!!

Kwankwasiyya, amana!!!

Harun Muhammed writes from Greater Noida. He can be reached @HarounMuhammed on Twitter

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