Abdulrahman Bida receiving a gift at his sendforth in Bauchi General Hospital (1947-1948)

Family Background and Early Life

Alhaji Abdulrahman Bida was born in Bida in the family of Mallam Mustapha the son of Mallam Abdullahi. Mallam Abdullahi was a follower of Mallam Muhammad Dendo (popularly known as Manko) in Bida. Alhaji Abdulrahman Mustapha Bida (1908-1989) was popularly known as “Baba Dispenser” or “Baba Asibiti”. He was one of the first Northerner to study Pharmacy as a profession when education in the Northern Nigeria was still in its infancy; and also a northern Nigerian Politician. Abdulrahman Bida was the first President of the Northern Element Progressive Association (NEPA). The NEPA was the first political party from Northern Nigeria and was established in Kano on the 1st December 1946. The Emergence of NEPA ignited some panic in the colonialists and, subsequently, they admitted that the movement “attained a degree of success in arousing political consciousness among the northern peoples” across ethno-religious lines (NEPU – Security No.349). The association and its leaders as Abdulrahman Bida, Habib Raji Abdallah and Abubakar Zukogi, among others, had been active participants in NCNC, NPC and the leftist Zikist Movement. This movement shocked the British which made the British moved swiftly to disband NEPA by dismissing those of its leaders and members who were government workers; it was the experience they acquired from the NCNC that they marshaled to create the NEPA.

Consequently, most of the NEPA leadership moved to Lagos and joined the ranks of the Zikist movement where they intensified their nationalist activities. It was in this context that the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) emerged and was launched in Kano, on Tuesday, 8th August 1950. The party took off as a Northern-based political party, with a deeply Nigerian nationalist outlook. It was rooted in the peasantry, the working class, and in such other suppressed strata as craftsmen, nomads, tradesmen and other petty producers
Educational Career and Work Experience. Under the tutelage of his father, Abdulrahman Bida started his formal Islamic education at a tender age. Abdulrahman attended Sabon Gida Elementary School Bida (1918-1922), he then proceeded to Sabon Gida Middle School Bida (1922-1925). In 1925-1927, “Dispenser” attended Katsina Teachers College Katsina. In 1927-1929, he progressed to the Katsina College8 (popularly known as the present Barewa College Zaria) and finally advanced to the School of Pharmacy Zaria and Lagos in 1929-1933.

Read also MEET Founder George Burton memorial College ilesa

In 1932, “Baba asibiti” got his first appointment into the service of the then Federal Ministry of Health posted to the Kano General Hospital as a Pharmacist (MPSN) in 1933- 1946. He was later transferred to Hadeja General Hospital in 1946-1947; Bauchi General Hospital (1947-1948); Ibadan General Hospital (1948-1953); Agege General Hospital (1953-1954); Makurdi General Hospital (1954-1954) and Wukari General Hospital (1954-1955) all as Pharmacist. In 1953-1959, Abdulrahman Bida worked at Minna General Hospital as Chief Pharmacist and later transferred to Bida General Hospital in 1959-1967. On the 1st April 1967, he retired from service as Chief Pharmacist.

Political Beginnings                                                                                                         On December 1st, 1946, Abdulrahman Bida was made the pioneered president of the Jamiyyar Alummar Nigeriya ta Arewa also known as the Northern Element Progressive Association (NEPA) in Kano. NEPA promised to be an embryonic pan-Northern Nigerian Political party whose motto was Man Lam Yakfil Laha Yakhafu Kulla Shaiin: Man Yakhaful Laha Kullu Shaiin Yakhafuhu meaning whoever does not fear God will be afraid of everything: whoever fears God, everything will be afraid of him5. The nuclei of NEPA were Abdulrahman Bida1,2, Habib Raji Abdallah1,2 and Abubakar Zokogi1,2. Others were Saadu Zungur5, Abba Maikwaru1, Alhaji Adamu Dikko3, Mallam P. O. Ishaku4 and Mallam Aminu Kano5. These people are known to be the Northern Educated Elites of their time.The president, Abdulrahman Bida delivered his first public lecture organized by the Zikist Movement on the subject Nigerian Unity at Zaria Intelligence (Summary No. C. 15/1947/28 of 15 August 1947. N. P. File No. 42295).

He made a clarion call for people to shake off their pervasive fear of those in authority and to come all out to challenge local bureaucratic intemperance and British exploitation. The president attempted to establish branches all over Northern Nigeria. Its activists; notably Zukogi travelled extensively within the North to mobilize support 5,7.Abdulrahman Bida along with Saadu Zungur, Raji Abdallah, Abubakar Sadiq Zukogi were invited to the NCNC convention and assembly at Kaduna in 1948 as representatives of Jamiyyar Alummar Nigeriya ta Arewa (known as NEPA). A large number of delegates arrived for the convention in which the majority of the participants are from the Southern Nigeria representing branches of the NCNC as well as a wide array of affiliated ethnic, socio-cultural and developmental organizations.
In 1983, the former Nigerian President, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari visited Bida for his manifesto, bidding for the position of the Presidency. 9At the course of his presentation, he tag Abdulrahman Bida as the the best in politics in Northern Nigeria of their time.


Chief Pharmacist                                                                                               Abdulrahman’s leadership characteristic was a blend of religious, modern and traditional values. He has a balanced personality and the example he set was one of noble. He sedulously avoided quarrels and was never heard to use filthy words or foul language, and people never hesitated to entrust their valuables to him for his trustworthiness was unimpeachable.

Abdulrahman Bida receiving a gift at his sendforth in Bauchi General Hospital (1947-1948)

During the period of his service as Chief pharmacist, one of his biographers, Alan Feinstein described him as soft-spoken and genial in disposition that anyone who came into contact with him inevitably loved and respected him9. He evinced traits such as tolerance, forbearance and truthfulness along with a fine understanding of men and their affairs.

Personal Life                                                                                                               Abdulrahman Bida stayed with three (3) wives to his death and was blessed with twenty-two (22) children (11 males and 11 females) 9. Among some of his children are Abdullahi Maikano (Rtd Pharmacist) as his eldest son followed by the late Muhammad Ndayako Abdulrahman (Rtd Custom officer), Yahaya Mustapha Abdulrahman (Rtd Chief Nursing Officer), Garba Abdulrahman (Rtd Deputy Director, CBN). He has many grand and great-grandchildren. He is a member of Polo Club Kano. His hobbies are politics, fives, horse race and polo game.                                                                                                               Death
In 1989, Abdulrahman Bida solemnly left us (May his soul rest in perfect peace)


1] Shehu Shagari (2001). Shehu Shagari: Beckoned to serve: an autobiography. Nigeria: Heinemann Educational Books
2] Tanko Yakasai (2004). The Story of a humble life: an autobiography Volume 1. Kano: Amana Publishers
3] Abdulkadir, A. T., Maradun, A. A & Babajo, M. (2004). Makers of Northern Nigerian. Kano: De Imam Ventures
4] John, M. G. (1998). The time has come: Reminiscences and reflections of a Nigerian Pioneer Diplomat. Ibadan: Spectrum Books
5] Yakubu, A. M. (1999). Saadu Zungur: An authology of the social and political writings of a Nigerian Nationalist. Kaduna: Defence Academy Press
6] See the list of delegates in AHA/ Class 15/Box 1/43039 CID Report and the NCNC convention and Assembly, Kaduna (1948)
7] For details of NEPAs aims and methods see AHA/ Class 12/Box 1/42295 H. R Abdullahi to the Senior resident i/c Kano provinces, No. NEPA C/1/18, 24 April 1947
8] Vargas, D. (2002). EFA: The Sardaunas Game EFA Website. Eton Fives Association. Archived from the original on 8 April 2007. Retrieved 5th June, 2007
9] Abdullahi, Maikano (2018, April 1). Personal interview

(Grandson of the Late Abdulrahman Bida)
aliyu21m@gmail.com/ mustapha.pg610806@st.futminna.edu.ng
Industrial and Technology Education Department, Federal University of Technology Minna

Leave a comment