As Voltaire said, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well”. Not only can we see this to be true through the life of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Colonel Sani Bello, we see that it is also possible to give the gift of living well to others, as he so often does. Born on the 27th of November 1942 and the only child of his parents, he has risen from a modest, inconspicuous background to achieve sustainable success while impacting the lives of many. It is why the occasion of his birthday is one that cannot be ignored as he is a great man in every sense of the word.
A product of some of the finest institutions in the world including the Nigerian Army and the revered Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England, the man has seen many seasons, weathered many storms and possesses a calm, almost unassuming mien that could fool the untrained eye. He may be a billionaire businessman but that is not all that can be said of him. Not one to flaunt his wealth through ostentatious displays, he lends credence to the belief that simplicity is the keynote of true elegance. Great thoughts speak only to thoughtful minds and Colonel Sani Bello is highly cerebral such that even within a few minutes of encountering him and listening to him, you cannot but know you are in the presence of greatness. However, beyond his sagely wisdom, his great actions speak to mankind in general and his impact will surely outlive him.
There are not many wealthy men in Nigeria whose wealth isn’t solely in their money. The retired Army colonel is in a class above them. How many men can you point to who have served their nation as a state governor and have their progeny also do the same? Sani Bello served as military administrator of the old Kano State from 1975 to 1978. His son Abubakar is presently the governor of Niger State and is doing a great job of building the state to keep up with the demands of the 21st century. Aside the Niger State Governor, he is a father to other children and they are all evidence that he has been a success at parenting too. Unlike many men, he has given his children the great gifts of a good name, roots of responsibility and the wings of independence to become the best versions of themselves.
Colonel Sani Bello’s biological children are not the only beneficiaries of their father’s kindness. Without fanfare, the man has been a philanthropist for a long time and his foundation, the Sani Bello Foundation gives loans and grants to young entrepreneurs. His foundation conducts medical outreaches thrice a year and often is the only hope for many indigent people. He has built arguably the best ICT centre in the whole of Nigeria in his home town of Kontagora in Niger State and also founded and established a radio station Landmark FM there. He offers scholarships and gives grants and loans at no interest rate to citizens of Niger State who are selected by his foundation. Little wonder then that he is loved and regarded as an elder statesman by people from all walks of life.
As he has been gifted another year by The Almighty, it is the prayer of many that he spends all his days in sound health, unabated peace and increasing prosperity. President Muhammadu Buhari has also joined in wishing him a happy 77th birthday and thanked him for a lifetime of dedicated service to the community, state and nation. He added that the retired Colonel’s discipline, exemplary team building skills and dedication to duty distinguishes him from other men and consistently marked him out for honour. Happy Birthday to the indefatigable, inimitable and indeed estimable Colonel Sani Bello.