By Mohammed Mustapha
Some people were born great while others had greatness entrusted on them. Alhaji Bilya Sanda, the Katsina – born, successful businessman, educationist and an arch – philanthropist aptly fits into both the latter and the former.
To start from the cradle, Alhaji Bilya Sanda was born on 4th April, 1954 at Unguwar Jaji in Katsina metropolis. He started his education in 1961 at Nassarawa primary-school, Katsina and completed it at Garama primary school, Katsina in 1967.
The successful and accomplished business guru gained admission into Government Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina). He passed out in 1972 with the West African Secondary School Certificate (WASSC).
After his foray into the basic education of primary and secondary schools, the iconic but young Bilya Sanda briefly forayed into the civil service where he worked with the then North Central State Ministry for Works between 1972 and 1973.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s gluttonic and burning desire for higher education spirited him to proceed to ATC/ABU Kano for a three-year course leading to the award of the National Certificate in Business Education (NCE).
Upon the successful completion of his NCE course, the patriotic and energetic Bilya Sanda was mobilized for the National Youth Service in 1976. He was deployed to the then Gongola state.
Alhaji Bilya Sauda did his primary assignment at the Federal College of Education, Yola as an Instructor, an assignment he discharged diligently and creditably.
He later continued his sojourn into the civil service where in 1979 he took up another appointment with the Funtua Agricultural Development Project (FADP) as a Commercial Manager for a period of two years.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda capped his public and private service career with the prestigious position of a Commercial Manager of the Katsina steel rolling company in 1989. He voluntarily retired into business in 1989.
While at the Katsina steel rolling company, the successful philanthropist-cum – industrialist attended several courses both at home and abroad. These included: a middle management course in sales and marketing at Kobe and Tokyo, all in Japan, 1983.Others were: a pre-shipment inspection in International Business in London in 1987.
Indeed, these courses had really helped in bolstering the sagacity of Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s present social and business life as an accomplished technocrat and entrepreneur.
Chronicling the life of Alhaji Bilya Sanda in this laconic write up is however daunting and tasking. However, an attempt to provide a crux or his enviable and indelible achievements can be given a trial here.
The successful Industrialist, Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s business acumen made him to switch focus to the manufacturing and industrial sectors. He indeed set up and sustained four (4) manufacturing concerns. They are: Industrial Minerals Ltd located in Katsina, Pyramid Oil Mills, Malumfashi, Bil Marble and Granite Ltd as well as Farm wheat flour Mills ltd, all in Katsina.
It is extremely noteworthy here that, Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s entrepreneurship is greatly helping to alleviate the twin monsters of poverty and unemployment through his engagement of thousands of citizens of Nigeria.
His business activities which are mostly economic development-oriented, are helping to curb the menace of restiveness, other related social problems and other criminal tendencies.
The towering achievements and accomplishments of the life of Alhaji Bilya Sanda are crowned and laced with his impeccable and unrivalled philanthropic activities in all spheres of human life. He is a man whose wealth is not only useful to himself or his immediate family but it has been divinely bestowed on him to benefit the entire humanity.
The unparalleled philanthropic gestures of the silver-spooned Alhaji Bilya Sanda spanned the health, education, religious and social services. He is always ready to genuinely, piously and sincerely contribute his widow’s mite to any cause aimed at further spiralling humanity to greatness.
“My aim is to feed one thousand human beings on a daily basis. It is only then that I will be satisfied that, i am using my God-given wealth to further the cause of humanity.
“Philanthropy is one of my myriad of hobbies. When you assist others, you will be assisted. The genesis of my philanthropy was in 1978 when I had an accident and I was assisted by somebody I never knew at a place far away from my home town and state . That singular gesture by that good samaritan saved my life”, Alhaji Bilya Sanda, recalled.
According to him, “my mission in life is to assist the indigent people. You can assist the people with your God-given energy, time and intellects. No assistance, is too small or too big”.
One needs not to wonder therefore with the myriad of philanthropic gestures of Alhaji Bilya Sanda starting from the “Hospital friends’ Association, an NGO he founded and nurtured to greatness and fame.
The association is dedicated to assisting indigent patients to secure medical care at home and abroad which he also chairs.
In the same vein, the dexterous, and dogged, God-fearing Bilya Sanda extends his widow’s mite to prison inmates whose lives are being reformed. He routinely and tirelessly donates medicaments to the prison inmates across the length and breadth of the giant of Africa, Nigeria.
In the area of education, Alhaji Bilya Sanda traverses both western and Islamic education. In 1996, Alhaji Bilya answered the clarion call by the government for private participation in the education sector. He then successfully and patriotically conceived the idea of establishing a comprehensive post-primary science institution.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda, founded and established the “Ulul- Al Bab Science Secondary School,” Katsina. Though not an Ivory tower , the school is currently the leading non-public secondary school in the whole of Northern Nigeria. This can be attested to and vigorously verified by any doubting Thomas.
The school, a comprehensive science boarding secondary one is domiciled in the centre of learning and tradition, Katsina, “Ta Dikko Dakin Kara, – literally meaning “Dikko’s Katsina, the home of hospitality”. The school is the first of its kind in the state and adjudged to be one of the best post-primary institutions in the North.
Indeed, due to the non -shylockness of its sole proprietor, Alhaji Bilya Sanda, the school is by far, the most affordable among its peers in the whole of Nigeria.
His words, “we collect about N100,000 from each student for a term of three months. This money covers feeding, books, medicaments and laundry services, among others for a period of three months. It’s a residency kind of school where students are not allowed to go out until the end of the term.The parents are only allowed to visit their children or wards every last Saturday and Sunday of the month”.
The school has enrolments from 27 states and FCT – Abuja. Alhaji Bilya Sanda is also a member, Board of Trustees of the Katsina Islamic Foundation, the proprietor of the Katsina Islamic University and has immensely contributed in the construction and development of the University.
In public life, he has contributed in several ways. In 1990, he wasnominated to serve as a Councillor with the then Katsina Local government. He also served on the boards of several public Parastatals and specialized committees.
These included: Board member, Katsina state sports council (1991-1997) Board member and Katsina state Pilgrims Welfare Agency (PWA) 1998 – 2000, among others.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda, is a member, patron and supporter of many religious, socio-cultural groups and NGO’s. He is equally a recipient of many awards and honours in recognition of his services and contributions. He is a member of the International Relief Organisation, Saudi Arabia.
A happily married man, Alhaji Bilya Sanda is blessed with six children and his hobbies include: mixed farming, travelling and philanthropy.
To cap it all, Alhaji Bilya Sanda has since 2009 to date being the indefatigable Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the council of the prestigious and the most peaceful citadel of learning and an Ivory Tower, the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. It is proudly the jewel of the seat of the Caliphate .
In all the public appointments of Alhaji Bilya Sanda, he has never accepted any allowance or remuneration. He still repeats this feat and unequalled gesture at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto where he has endowed all his allowances to a trust fund aimed at uplifting the living standard of the members of the university community.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda recently constructed and donated a giant and magnificent edifice, “the main gate” of the prestigious university’s main campus. This gate is an imposing structure which happily welcomes any visitor to the main campus.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda is also currently building a 50-room hostel for the post graduate students of the institution, which is nearing completion. He also recently donated two (2) Peugeot 406, vehicles to it. He is also on the verge of completing an ultra – modern and pioneer 30,000 metric tonnes per annum, organic fertilizer plant at the university.
This is aimed at boosting fertilizer production, teaching and research as well as soaring the socio-economic development of Sokoto state in particular, and Nigeria, generally.
“Since the day we were sworn in as council members of the university in Abuja in 2009, i have vowed not to take from the university but will always give to it. Transparency, honesty and dedication will also continue to be our watch wards”.
He continued, “we have also pledged to move the university forward.
We will take it to greater heights better than we met it. This is however a daunting but a surmountable task. The university is the most peaceful one in Nigeria. The successes are however collective.”
Indeed, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Chancellor of the university, Eze Uzu II of Awka, Eze (Dr) Gibson Nwosu and its ever-energetic and patriotic Vice Chancellor, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu (OON) and the entire university community are ever grateful to Alhaji Bilya Sanda for his invaluable contributions and commitment to its development.
There was little wonder therefore when in recognition of Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s immeasurable contributions to the development of the university, he was on December 1st, 2012 awarded with the prestigious honorary, Doctor of Science (D.Sc). Honoris causa by the institution.
It was the day the University conducted its epoch-making joint 28th , 29th , 30th and 31st convocation ceremony ( 5th) .
“I feel delighted and will remain grateful to God for this gesture.
The award will spur me to do more for the university, Nigeria and humanity generally,” Alhaji Bilya sanda enthused shortly after he was conferred with the award.
In fact, Alhaji Bilya Sanda’s life of philanthropy and selfless service to humanity is what Nigeria desires more of. He is indeed, an iconic philanthropist, worthy of emulation by all and sundry in Nigeria and beyond.
Mustapha wrote in from off Kano Road in Sokoto.