Basic 77/78: A Nostalgia, By Issa Aremu

Last Saturday July 29th, General Assembly Hall ABU Samaru, Zaria!  It  was a warm gathering of the old girls and boys of the School of Basic Studies 77/78 and 36th year graduation from Ahmadu Bello University in 1981. I guess it was warmer later in the evening as grown and overgrown Jambites/boys and girls of the late 70s reminisced with old tunes (hopefully of the 70s!) at a gala nite of great reunion 40 years after. I missed the nite but spent an hour plus for the eventful programme at noon before returning to Kaduna. A worthy nostalgia and homecoming for yours comradely indeed! I ever remain a proud Basico 77/78 product who among other some final year students fell victims of  Ango Abdullahi repressive Vice Chancellorship in 1981. It was not surprising that 5 years after, the King-Kong VC was ignominiously removed following serial students protest against his legendary high-handedness, first ABU VC to be so “honored”. Happily I graduated from University of Port Harcourt reading same Economics for which I had matriculated in 1978. Having long done with my Master Degree in the Netherlands in the 90s, the weekend reunion is a subtle reminder for me to invent time and do my phd program in ABU to qualify as a full Alumnus of ABU the first university of choice of my parents. The reunion raises the nostalgia of worthy late mates like Abdulsalam Black, President Students Union, 1981 and my dear intellectual late Dr Jibrin Bala Mohammed also summarily expelled same year by Ango but went to University of Lagos for both first degree and Masters Degree and commendably returned to his University of choice; ABU for his Phd in political science!.

Many thanks to the Northern regional government under late Ahmadu Bello for initiating the setting up of ABU on October 4, 1962.  The School of Basic Studies was established 1968–69 “to provide advanced pre-degree” scholarship on campus under the vice chancellorship of late  Dr. Ishaya Shuaibu Audu, a pediatrician. There was once a country (with apology to Chinua Achebe!) with regular railway services from Lagos to Kano! Five of us from Ilorin Grammar School got admission to the then prestigious ABU School of Basic Studies 77/78. Our parents thought Zaria was too far for the young teenagers, until they were persuaded with Radio Kwara  announcement that special coaches were reserved for old and new students of ABU from Lagos through Ilorin to Zaria. A bus awaited us at Zaria railway station which in turn conveyed us for registration and commencement of one year of intensive preliminary studies that laid the foundation for subsequent knowledge accumulation.  The rest is now history. 49 years later graduates of Basico 77/78 and Class of 1981, 36th graduation from Ahmadu Bello University ,are  now “running the country.”. The list is a remarkable mix; professors, bankers, ministers, Emirs, ambassadors, permanent secretaries etc. Today I devote my reflection to the abridged great speech of our President, Yahaya Ali Amfani at the great reunion for those who could not make it to Zaria:

“I am extremely delighted and privileged to welcome you all two years the 40th year anniversary celebration of graduation from the late School of Basic Studies 77/78 and 36th year graduation from Ahmadu Bello University in 1981. Let me say that the joy of this occasion goes beyond the issue of graduation for the single reason that both graduates of School of Basic Studies of 77/78 and Graduating Class of 1981, ABU have formed an Association seven years ago and incorporated a foundation with Corporate Affairs Commission two years ago. As part of the event for the anniversary celebration, the foundation flagged off its activities by making a presentation at some orphanages in Zaria. This is just the beginning of the good things to come from the group. 

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members, it may interest you to know that the membership strength of this Association is about one thousand, five hundred (1500) of which 660 are from School of Basic Studies of 77/78 with the majority as graduates of 1981. Permit me to state briefly that the Association came on board in 2009 of which an Interim Leadership Team was constituted with me as President. As at the inception of the Association, it commenced with only thirty-eight active members. As I speak now the number of the active members has increased to over 250. You will all agree with me that we are still far from bringing all our colleagues on board. However, given the power of the social media and taking into cognizance today’s event and coupled with the enthusiasm generated by the presence of members, I do not have iota of doubt that we shall succeed.

Consequent upon the mandate given to me by our mates to lead the group, the few active members then made the donation of the sum of N5,340,000.00 as at December 18, 2010. Following the incorporation of our Foundation with CAC, the sum of N553, 000.00 donations was added to the purse of the Association. For 40th year Basico 77/78 Anniversary and 36th year of graduation celebration from ABU Zaria, the sum of N5 million has so far been donated and I am certainly sure that there will be inflow of funds even after the event. The Association shall henceforth endeavour as a matter of priority give support and assistance to needy members, undertake viable project in ABU, acquire and equip the secretariat and celebrate the success of our members. We shall show care to one another in sadness and in Joy. I am really happy to state that in the last seven years, the Association has demonstrated sufficient prove of its concerns for the members in that direction. The presentation done by the Foundation of the group in some selected locations in Zaria another landmark in achieving our collective resolve. At the end of this session, as part of the activities marking the celebration, members shall undertake a tour of main and Kongo campuses to see things for themselves. When this happens, we shall have a good assessment of needs that need to be filled.”

Issa Aremu mni

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