LATE ALHAJI (DR.) ISA KAITA, WAZIRIN KATSINA, (CON, CBE, DPA (EXETER) LLD (ABU) LLD (BUK)
Citation for Royalty Award 2023
An excellent Teacher, a committed journalist, a seasoned administrator, an articulate Parliamentarian, an honest and dedicated public servant, the doyen of educational development in the North and a Minister of Education par excellence, late Alhaji Isa Kaita, Wazirin Katsina of blessed memory.
Late Alhaji Isa Kaita was born on 4th January, 1912 in Katsina into the noble family of Malam Haruna, Wazirin Katsina, later Sarkin Kaita, a close confidant of the famous Emir of Katsina Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko. In 1927, Isa Kaita was admitted into the famous Katsina Training College. It was here that he became acquainted with such persons as Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, Alhaji Aliyu, Makaman Bida, Malam Sa’adu Zungur, MalamYahaya Gusau and a host of others, thereby becoming a member of the Northern Political Intelligentsia, forerunners in the political activities that were to later culminate into the nation’s independence. Isa Kaita distinguished himself as a brilliant student, always coming up of his class. He combined academic work with sporting activities, thus excelling as an intelligent student, a captain in the game of fives and a School Prefect. in 1932 he passed out of the College with merit.
Between 1932 and 1941, young Malam Isa Kaita served as a teacher in Katsina Middle School. Later in 1941 he left the classroom for broadcasting, and together with late Alhaji Bello Dandago, travelled to Accra in Ghana (then called Gold Coast) to serve as a broadcasting officer with the Hausa Service of what was to become Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1944 he returned from Ghana to become the Private Secretary of the newly appointed Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Usman Nagogo. In 1946 he was appointed the Chief Scribe of the Katsina Native authority, a responsibility he discharged creditably for two years.
In 1948 he was awarded a British Government Scholarship to study Public Administration at the University College of the South-West, Exeter, England. He bagged his Diploma in 1950. Upon his return from England, Alhaji Isa Kaita was appointed Development Secretary, and Chief of Staff Katsina Native Authority.
Alh. Isa Kaita contested and got elected to the Northern House of Assembly in 1952 while also serving concurrently as a member of the House of Representatives in Lagos. This was the take-off of Alhaji Isa Kaita’s long standing political career, and the prelude to his illustrious service in Government.
In 1954, Alhaji Isa Kaita was appointed Minister of Works, Northern Region. In 1956 he became Minister of Natural Resources and in 1957 he was appointed Ministry of Education. This coincide with the establishment of Kaduna Technical Institute in 1956 which formed the foundation of Kaduna Polytechnic.
The appointment of Alhaji Isa Kaita as the Minister of Education in Northern Nigeria has great historical significance. The nationalist struggle had recorded certain important political gains and the country was fast moving towards independence. For the North, this meant a great deal of preparation in mapping out strategies to consolidate these gains, as well as, to establish viable structures and constructive policies to contend with the great task ahead. Seen in this context, no other ministry had greater challenges than the Ministry of Education.
This Ministry was virtually the power house for the reorganization, modification and transformation of then existing educational and training institutions, in terms of both their physical structures and training programmes as well as thee founding of new institutions to meet the immediate and future manpower requirements of the whole region. The History of Kaduna Polytechnic will not be complete without mentioning the contribution of Late Alhaji Isa Kaita. In a memorandum he submitted to the Executive Council of Northern Nigeria on 30th November 1961 as Minister of Education he “proposed that the technical Institute shall be designated the KADUNA POLYTECHNIC, this title being more in keeping with its future status”. The proposal was accordingly approved by the Executive Council.
This led to the commissioning of a special committee to formulate and advise Government of Northern Nigeria on the planning of Kaduna Polytechnic. The committee submitted its report to Late Alhaji Isa Kaita on 1st June 1962. Subsequently, the upgrading of the Technical Institute to Polytechnic took effect from 1965 with the appointment of the first Principal. During his tenure as Minister of Education, Technical Education was given high priority. This was clear from the establishment of a Trade Centre at Ilorin in 1957 and upgrading of Trade Centres to Technical Training Schools in 1961. So undaunted was his spirit, and so strong his faith that in the honesty of his purpose lay the assurance for success, that he was never deterred by the humility of simple beginnings.
In 1957 Alhaji Isa Kaita was a member of the delegation to the London Constitutional conference. In 1959 he attended the United Nations General Assembly session at which the Northern Cameroons was made part of Northern Nigeria. Late Alhaji Isa Kaita actively participated in the self Government struggle for Northern Region of Nigeria in 1959 and also the struggle for Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.
In 1963 he attended the Commonwealth parliamentary Association conference at Kuala LKumpur, Malaysia, and another Conference of the same organization in 1965 at Wellington, New Zealand. Alhaji Isa Kaita combined all these duties and responsibilities with his duties as a parliamentarian.
After the January 15th, 1966 Coup detat the task of remobilizing the Northern Political Leaders devolved on Alhaji Isa Kaita and a few others. With the attainment of political stability in the country after the Nigeria Civil War, Alhaji Kaita retired from active public service. However, this as the situation later proved, was only to be in terms of direct ministerial duties. No sooner had the dust of the political crisis settled than an avalanche of appointments, cascaded on the elder statesman. Alhaji Isa Kaita was in 1968 appointed Chairman, North Central State Public Service Commission; Chairman Code of Conduct Bureau 1980-1983, Member Katsina State Foundation (Gidauniyar Jihar Katsina), One time President, Rotary Club and active member too. Chairman NTI 1992, and in 1992 this distinguished elder statesman was appointed Chairman Organizing Committee, Arewa House Appeal Fund, a position he held until his death in November 1994 at the age of 82years. In 1953 he represented Nigeria for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
In 1955 he served as 1stAmirul Hajj for Nigeria. Alhaji Isa Kaita was titled Madawakin Katsina in 1956 he received the honour of the order of the British Empere (OBE) 1958, in 1962 he was honoured CBE by her Majesty the Queen and also in the same year, was appointed to the higher title of Wazirin Katsina, in 1965 he was honoured Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), in the same year he became Honorary Doctor of Laws, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and in 1981 Honorary Doctor of Letters, Bayero University, Kano. He traveled to almost all countries in the world by either official or private engagement.