A Tribute To Ishaya Bakut (1947-2015)
MAJOR General Ishaya Bakut (rtd) faithfully served his beloved Nigeria and its citizens and was fully committed to achieve a brighter future for West Africa. Bakut had a distinguished military career and was a great leader not only during his years of active military service, but also in civilian life. He is remembered as a man who cared deeply for the people, communities, economy, environment and future of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.
Born on August 16, 1947 in Kurmi-Bi, Zonkwa in Kachia Local Council of Kaduna State, General Bakut attended Government College, Kaduna on a Shell BP Scholarship (1961-1965). He then attended the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant following his graduation in 1969. He served as a Company and Battalion Commander in the Infantry from 1969 into 1970, during the Nigerian Civil War. Bakut next attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, until 1975, when he received his B.Sc. in Engineering. In 1976, he was appointed Commander of the 41 Engineers Brigade, Kaduna.
He attended the United States School of Engineering and the Command and Staff College, Jaji (1977-1978) and (1979-1980), respectively. In 1980, he began serving in the Nigerian contingent of the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and completed his service there in 1981. He returned to Command and Staff College, Jaji as Director (1981-1983) and went on to complete his M.Sc. in 1985 from the Indian National Defence College, New Delhi. From 1986 to the end of 1987, Gen. Bakut served as the Military Governor of Benue State under the then Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
In 1991, also during the Babangida era, Bakut was appointed Field Commander of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) during the Liberian civil war. As ECOMOG Field Commander in Liberia, he was committed to impartial, non-political peace-keeping. In 1995, he became Principal Officer to the Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya before his retirement during the military government of Gen. Sani Abacha.
In a statement issued to Bakut’s family and the people of Kaduna State following news of his death, President Goodluck Jonathan said the nation had immense gratitude for the General’s years of admirable military service. “Gen. Bakut will not only be remembered and honoured at home for his service to Nigeria, but also abroad for how commendably he carried out his peace-keeping duties,” the statement said. Leaders, family, friends, citizens and co-labourers in Gen. Bakut’s efforts to improve the lives and futures of West Africans, particularly at home in Kaduna State, were shocked at his passing following a brief illness. As a patriot who was committed to the stability and peace of Nigeria, and securing its economic future for the benefit of its people, Gen. Bakut selflessly worked to improve the lives of Nigerians after his retirement from the military.
He was a proponent for grassroots development through infrastructure development, particularly in the energy sector. He hoped the energy sector would see the same revolutionary growth that the telecoms sector enjoyed in 2001. Recognising the value of clean alternative power sources to reduce Africa’s reliance on non-renewable fossil fuel, he was not only a proponent for so-called green energy’s contribution to energy sector growth, he got involved in bringing it to reality.
He played a vital role in securing chiefdoms and titles for the Bajju and other indigenous southern Kaduna tribes. This gave the tribes the opportunity for self-representation, self-determination and released them from the shackles of the emirate system. This also ended taxation without representation as all the taxes collected before were sent to the Emir of Zaria. Bakut’s varied leadership experience, education and vision for West Africa’s future made him ideal for his role as Vice-Chairman of Anjeed Innova Group, a position to which he was elected in November 2013. As Vice-Chairman of this corporate vanguard of a new generation of infrastructure companies that integrate commercial and social agenda, his understanding and vision proved invaluable.
His belief in the dignity of all people and the need to increase available resources to improve lives and communities, particularly those caught in the cycle of poverty, was embodied in Anjeed Innova’s ZERO HARM policy to empower people, develop communities, preserve the environment and enrich the lives of future generations. He played a key role in securing land and funding, along with facilitating communication with the Ministry of Power and the government of Kaduna State for the Anjeed Kafanchan Solar Project, which will bring clean, renewable, reliable power to thousands of Nigerians.
As well as filling the gap between demand for electricity and availability for residents of its local government area during the first 10MW phase, the project will provide training and jobs and continue to positively impact the people of Nigeria and neighbouring countries through its planned 100MW expansion and future solar projects. Its success has the potential to change the face of African power generation as it paves the way for solar power development throughout West Africa.
Anjeed Innova Group subsidiary Anjeed Kafanchan Solar is an indigenous independent power company, poised to become Nigeria’s first commercial grid-connected solar power generating company. Bakut believed in the Anjeed Kafanchan Solar Project and worked passionately to help others catch and support his and Anjeed Innova’s vision. Alongside all power projects, Anjeed Innova Group executes grassroots social development projects through its non-profit arm, the Kunak Foundation.
The first major development project in the Kafanchan Solar Project area was renovation of the Aduwan Gida Rural Clinic, in which Bakut personally invested deeply and took much pride. The basic aim of the Kunak Foundation’s Aduwan Gida Rural Clinic Renovation Project was to improve the general operating condition of the clinic and provide a safer, cleaner working and healthcare environment for its predominantly female staff and patients, who are mainly women and children.
Community support and involvement were outstanding, with local volunteers being empowered by providing the labour to improve the clinic for their families, friends and themselves. Bakut was a vital member of the leadership team of the Kunak Foundation, which was formed in 2005 to create systems and solutions to improve development issues in Africa by dealing with their root causes. Most non-profits focus on a single cause or disease, but Kunak is community and village-focused and works toward providing systemic and self-sustaining solutions to rural problems.
This all-inclusive approach supported by Bakut provides long-term solutions that allow all parties to benefit. Gen. Bakut died on March 21, this year, at the age of 67. There is no doubt that he was a man who loved Nigeria and was passionate to secure its future. He knew and loved his home and its people, and understood their needs. Anjeed Innova Group is grateful for his service and would proudly to carry on his legacies.