Remembering Maj. Gen. Hassan Usman Katsina; 20 Years After By Muhammad Malumfashi
Hassan Usman Katsina, an army general, elder statesman, polo player, business man was born on the last day of March 1933 to the royal sullubawa family of Katsina. He was the third child of their father Usman Nagogo who was the emir of Katsina from the mid-40’s to the early 80’s, and a grand-son of Muhammadu Dikko the first emir from the Sullubawa dynasty.
Served the Nigerian army for almost 2 decades, he rose to the rank of a Major-General at just 38 years of age making him one of the youngest ever to attain such heights, however in 1975 Maj.-Gen. Shehu Yaradua became one at only 36.
Hassan Katsina joined the Nigerian army in 1956 after earlier education at Kankiya Elementary School, Katsina Middle school, Katsina College (later Barewa College) around the 40’s to 50’s. NCAST Zaria in 1953. He attended several military institutions all over the world, including:
Royal officer training school, Teshie, Ghana
Mons Officer Cadet, Alder shot, UK
Royal Military college Academy, Sandhurst
Small arms school, Kent
School of infantry Warminster, England
US Army School of infantry Fort Benning
Staff college Camberley, England and
Royal college for defence studies, England.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant officer of the Nigerian army in 1958, promoted to a lieutenant a year later. A captain by March 1961, and then Major in 1963. After the 1966 coup, Major Hassan Katsina was appointed Governor of the Northern state of Nigeria by the Supreme Military council in Jan. 1966, a position he held for about 16 months. Northern state was later dissolved to Kano, Kaduna, Benue-Plateau, North-Central, North-west, North-East when additional 12 states were created by the military government. Katsina was promoted to Lt. Col. same year,1966. He was appointed Army chief of staff from 1968 to 1971 and subsequently promoted to the rank of a Colonel less than 2 months after his appointment and to a Brigadier-General later in April 1969. Gen. Yakubu Gowon (then head of state) appointed Major-General Katsina as the Deputy Chief of staff supreme military headquarters later. The Major-General was to be later appointed Federal commissioner of establishment a post he occupied for about 2 years before his retirement from service on 29th July 1975 that’s shortly after the Murtala-led bloodless coup that brought Gowon’s government down, at just 42.
He refused several appointment offers from government after he retired. 6 years later his father died, his elder brother Kabiru Usman who was then the Magajin-Gari was selected by the emirates council to succeed thier father. The governor of Kaduna state then (comprising of the old Katsina) Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa rejected Kabir Usman as the new emir, a move General Hassan objected stiffly. The governor later left unceremoniously, as he was impeached three months later by the then dominated NPN house of assembly, a party Hassan Katsina contributed to it’s formation. Abba Rimi, Balarabe Musa’s successor agreed with the choice of Muhammad Kabiru. Emir Kabiru is remembered most for his simplicity, humbleness, and down-to-earth nature. He died in 2008, his eldest son and also the Magajin Gari of the time was turbanned as the 50th emir of Katsina. Major-Gen. Hassan left us exactly 20 years ago, on 24th July 1995 in Kaduna where he’s been living since his retirement, at the age of 62! His funeral was attended by then head of state, General Sani Abbacha, former head of state, General Babangida, Late Ummaru ‘Yaradua another future President and thousands of others.
May his soul rest in peace!
General Hassan loves squashing, hunting, gardening and as a two-sate or four-sate bakatsine (as described by Daily Trust editor, Mahmud Jega) and from the royal family, is a big polo player and enthusiast.
Hassan Usman Katsina polytechnic, Katsina, General Hassan Katsina house, Kaduna, Hassan Usman Katsina park, Kaduna, many streets, roads in Zaria, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and other parts of Nigeria were all named after him. As the late General said on 16th Jan. 1966, ‘Allah ya sa mu dace’. Toh, Amin!
The writer Muhammad Malumfashi can be reached on twitter @ya_waliyyi