late Abidina Coomasie: A pride of journalism profession
- Katsina City News
- 23 Aug, 2023
BRIEF PROFILE OF
ABIDINA A COOMASSIE
(1939 – 2001)
Abidina A Coomassie was born in Katsina in 1939 to the family of Ahmadu Coomassie, a renowned educationist and later one of the leading civil servants in the government of Northern Nigeria. Abidina and some his sibling brothers and sisters (Ibrahim, Sambo and Lantana) were first taught at home by their father before being enrolled into the elementary school where they were put in advanced classes. Abidina spent only two years before proceeding to the Middle School. When he completed the Middle School he was employed as a Provisional Teacher and he taught in several primary schools in Katsina. After a short spell as a teacher, he was admitted at the Katsina Teachers’ College for his education certificate Grade III.
Abidina Coomassie proceeded to the Bauchi Teachers’ College after Katsina for more training in tne teaching profession. After Bauchi, he came back to Kaduna and took up appointment in the Secretariat of the Northern Nigeria House of Assembly located at the Lugard Hall Kaduna. They were mainly responsible for the production of the Hansard – the publication of the proceedings of the Northern Regional Parliament. This was around 1961.
In 1962 the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria established its television station, Radio Television Kaduna (RKTV), the first in Northern Nigeria, where Abidina was immediately employed as a newscaster. This was his initiation into the world of journalism spanning almost four decades, until his death in 2001. From RKTV Abidina resigned in around 1964 and took up appointment with the Hausa Section of Radio Ghana in Accra. This was the job he held until after the military coup of January 15th 1966 which eliminated top political and military leaders of Northern Nigeria. He returned to Nigeria and immediately took up appointment with the New Nigerian Newspapers, publishers of the New Nigeria and Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo in Kaduna. He was an instant hit, producing front page stories that made him the leading ace reporter at the time.
In 1967 the Nigerian civil war broke out and the late Abidina was sent to the war front to cover the conflict for the New Nigerian. That was how he met and became friends with people like General Ibrahim Babangida and other military officers who became notable personalities in Nigeria’s political history, After the war he returned to Kaduna and carried on as the leading reporter of the newspaper.
Three years later in 1973, Abidina left the New Nigerian and took up appointment with the Daily Times, at the time the leading newspaper in Nigeria. He quickly became the News Editor of the paper. It was during his stint at the Daily Times that Abidina Coomassie left Nigeria for further studies in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1975. When he returned to Nigeria, he continued working for the paper until sometime in 1978 just before the advent of the 2nd Republic that he left the Daily Times and joined Mobil Oil (Mobil Producing Nigeria), initially as the public relations manager, and later as the liaison manager between the oil company and the Nigerian government, as Manager Government Relations.
After a few years with Mobil, Abidina disengage from their services and went into the oil business himself. It was a huge success for Abidina that he even relocated his residency to the U.K. He, however, did not abandon his first love as a newsman. He was at the time writing for the West Africa Magazine under the late ace journalist, Kaye Whiteman, who was his close friend.
Nigeria. But his thoughts were not on the regular morning paper. He believed that Nigerians would be more appreciative of an evening paper which would give readers all details of the day’s events, instead of waiting till the following day to read all about them. That was why he adopted Eddy Shah’s Today as the name of his newspaper. After a serious feasibility study, Abidina was advised against an evening paper as the poor transport infrastructure would make circulation to all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria difficult. He finally settled for a weekly newspaper which was launched on Sunday June 29th 1986.
Today Newspaper was an instant success nationwide. With its front page banner headline and detailed story on pages two and three, it gave the reader in-depth account of a story not covered by other newspapers. Over time, it became a must read for many readers. It was the first newspaper in Nigeria to start desktop publishing using Apple Computers. Furthermore, it was the first newspaper in the country one could read on the internet. Over time, two additional weekly titles came online. The first was the Hausa vernacular newspaper A Yau (meaning Today) and later Abuja Mirror to cover events in Nigeria’s seat of power.
In the late 1990s Abidina wrote an epic book detailing how some leading Nigerian politicians who masquerade as democrats and civil rights advocates are in reality political opportunists. The book Democracy and Political Opportunism in Nigeria has been largely hailed as a reference material for researchers in Nigeria’s democratic experience..
Abidina was a pride to the journalism profession. Not only was he ordinarily given to generosity, Abidina was very particular about the plight of journalists. In 1997 he was conferred with the Fellowship of the International Press Institute (IPI). He took it upon himself to assist out-of-job veteran journalists. He was also responsible for the training of many Nigerian youths in many overseas universities in various fields of endeavour. In the year 2000, Abidina fell ill and had to be constantly abroad for medical attention. In December of that year, he decided to come back home to Katsina. He passed away on 29th January 2001 at the age of 62 (sixty-two).The late Abidina Coomassie is survived by three children, one male (Abubakar) and two females (Bilkisu and Jamila).
Kofar Sauri was a MD @ Today Newspapers, Now Secretary, Network for justice katsina state
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