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Hassan Katsina (1933 – 1995)

Hassan Katsina (31 March 1933 – 24 July 1995) was a Nigerian Army Major General and son of Usman Nagogo, the Emir of Katsina from 1944 to 1981. He was governor of the Northern Region of Nigeria from 1966 to 1967. During the Nigerian civil war, he was the Chief of Staff, Army and later became the deputy Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters under the administration of General Yakubu Gowon.

Early life and education

Hassan Usman Katsina was born in Katsina to the royal house of Nagogo in 1933. He attended Kankiya Elementary School and Katsina Middle School. After finishing middle school, he went to Barewa College, Zaria and the Nigerian School of Arts, Sciences and Technology also in Zaria. He joined the Nigerian army in 1956.

Military career

Hassan Katsina rose through the ranks of the Nigerian military from a 2nd lieutenant in 1958, to become a Major General and member of the Supreme Military council by 1975. Then, he had become a prominent and senior Northern military officer, who had linkages with the traditionalauthorities in the north and the perception of a genteel character to many Nigerians in general. He served both as an apolitical army officer, early on in his career and a political appointee under a federal military regime from 1966 to 1975.

Immediately after joining the army in 1956, he underwent training in a few institutions such as the Mons Officer Cadet School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst where he was course mates with Iliya Bisalla.  He became a Lt Col in 1966, after which, he was made the governor of the Northern province of Nigeria. He died on 24 July 1995.


Military governor

On January 17, 1966, the then Lt Colonel Hassan Usman Katsina became the military governor of the Northern province of Nigeria. He was handed over the reins of power by major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, a major figure in the coup that first brought to power the Nigerian military and led to the death of Ahmadu Bello, the former premier of the province. Hassan Katsina stepped into a new position that was in need of strong leadership to calm nerves as a result of the military incursion to power and the death of prominent political leaders from the region. His administration chose to carry on with the progress attained by the Late Bello and brought aboard senior civil servants in the region who possessed administrative attributes that could continue with the success achieved by Ahmadu Bello. During his brief period of leadership, he led the Interim Common Services Agency, an agency which undertook the task of sharing the collective resources of the region in a new decentralized political and economic system of governance. Hassan Katsina, also revitalized political linkage with the emirates in the north as a support base for his new administration; and was close to re-introducing the old Native Administrative structures of the colonial system, where emirs played a major role.

On the under hand, he also promised to reform the native administration and local governance. Keys figures in his administration were Ali Akilu, who later played a major role in the creation of states in the north, Ibrahim Dasuki and Sunday Awoniyi. 

Instances of rebellion

However, his administration sometimes had to control violent actions from the populace and in his own military camp. In May 1966, some Northern cities were engulfed in a series of violent killings in reaction to various political events of the period. The north, which in 1952 had no more than three (that is not true, as at 1950s the north had over 50 secondary schools) Barewa Zaria 1922, GC Bida 1914, GSS Ilorin 1914, Rumfa Kano 1909, GC Katsina Ala 1918, GC Keffi 1954, GCMakurdi !954, Abdulazziz Attah Okene 1918, GSS Katsina 1914, Ramat Yola 1918, GCKangere 1954, GC Maiduguri 1954 and many more, go confirm) secondary schools were still suffering from inadequacy in educational facilities when the military administration of General Ironsi announced a unitary system of governance. Many Northerners feared they may be overwhelmed in administrative positions by the numerous educated southerners especially, Igbos, resorted to violence fueled by the aforementioned, and a few other reasons including the notion that the January 15, 1966 coup was an Igbo coup. This led to the exodus of a number of easterners from the region.

Later life

Though, he was respected by some of the military officers who led the 1975 coup, a few of whom he had promoted rapidly, he was retired in 1975 and later rejected entreaties for a governmental appointment after his retirement. He was later involved in the formation of a few political organizations such as the National Party of Nigeria  and the Committee of Concerned Citizens. He was also an ardent fan of the game of polo. He became the first person from Katsina to have attained prominence in the Nigerian Army.