Abdullahi Mahadi: The demise of the flower man

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By Haruspice

I was in 200 level when I received a neatly wrapped parcel, it bore Prof A. Mahadi as the sender. So many questions ran through my mind while unwrapping the parcel: Could it be a summon from the senate? Have I gotten myself into trouble? These loads of anxieties ran through my mind as I eventually opened the parcel.

It was a book titled ‘My five years stewardship as Vice Chancellor of ABU Zaria.” On the first page reads these words,’ ‘Mallam Haruna, your article titled ‘The triumphant Exit of Mahadi’ pasted on the notice board of the Kashim Ibrahim Library got to me. Whilest thanking you for your kind words, pls accept this autographed book that chronicled my administration’.

Prof Abdullahi Mahadi
I was in 200 level when I received a neatly wrapped parcel, it bore Prof A. Mahadi as the sender. So many questions ran through my mind while unwrapping the parcel: Could it be a summon from the senate? Have I gotten myself into trouble? These loads of anxieties ran through my mind as I eventually opened the parcel.

Yes, ‘the almighty Mahadi , fearless and no-nonsense Vice- Chancellor of the largest university in Nigeria would find me worthy of sending me his book! I was pummeled with punches of humility as I walked around the campus with constricted pride.

During one of the Sallah celebrations, he sent again a letter to me, this time through his daughter Hadiza, who was my classmate to join them in his house to celebrate the eid. I was treated to royalty as his wife personally took charge of my food. The professor insisted I sit with him in the sitting room that had many prominent personalities, drawn from both the academia and power corridors. He would at interval reintroduce me to his guests as his friend!

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I was ready to spend my mentoring days with him when he was appointed as the pioneer Vice-chancellor of the Gombe State University – a place he recreated himself in excellence and waving reference. Professor Mahadi coined a label called ‘The Mahadi Legacy’, it is an ideology baked in excellence.

He first showed this when he succeeded Late General Mamman Kontagora as the Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria- having rescued the university from the dungeon of decadence and debauchery. Kontagora feared a relapse of the school to it’s rotten days when he was appointed minister.

Respite however , came when Professor Abdullahi Mahadi was appointed. It was Mahadi’s reign that would eventually recreate the existence of ABU Zaria into a world class of academic exquisite, valour and excellence.

From the University Gate, you are first greeted with the outpour of flowering scent that pleasantly ooze from the neatly trimmed flowerbeds that littered the walkways. From the both sides of the road, laying in luxurious lush carpet grasses that give an instant soothing calm.

The flowery ornaments in the university wear a heavenly mien that serve as resorts for lovers of nature. The greatness of ABU Zaria isn’t just in her academic standard but the environmental aesthetic made possible by Professor Abdullahi Mahadi.

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He so invested heavily in beautifying the campus communities that other universities come to ABU in crash courses. The Gwoza born historian changed the landscape of ABU Zaria to an eldoraldo of sort so much that those who studied and practiced horticultural science looked up to him for inspiration.

It was during Mahadi’s reign that ABU campus began to wear the serenity of paradise where tranquility define existence. From Samaru to Kongo, DAC to Shika, you could walk the campuses without raising a strand of dust as everywhere wore the sole of concrete tarred roads. So did the students enjoyed absolute peace in class and hostels.

How he managed to have people clean the hostels and university compounds everyday before life bounced back after dawn baffled onlookers. You rarely saw the cleaners but everywhere was always clean.

The flower man was a thorough system man who rose through the classroom to union struggle and end up as an astute administrator. The man lived not for just humans but the environment; he gave life to plants same way he recreated excellence in people.

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You can’t pass through Professor Mahadi’s tutelage and not have something to build your aspiration with; he was a man with the midas touch, he did the impossible – created excellence everywhere he touched.

The world lost a great man in Professor Abdullahi Mahadi, the giant with the deadly obsession for a serene environment. Although gone, the many flowerbeds he raised on the campuses of ABU Zaria and Gombe State University, will continue to flourish from generation to generation. Good night, the flower man.

Sorely musing By Abdullahi O. Haruna (Haruspice)


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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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