Two years after the death of a popular polygamist, Alhaji Abubakar Masaba, reputed to have married over 130 wives, ENYIOHA OPARA visited the home of the late cleric in Bida, Niger State
The cloud looked gloomy and cloudy. It appeared as if it was going to rain. Yet activities were in top gear at Bida, one of the popular cities in Niger State, which is home to the late polygamist, Abubakar Masaba.
Masaba was regularly in the news towards the twilight of his life as a popular polygamist and Islamic preacher, who had married over 130 wives and had more than 100 children excluding grand and great-grandchildren. Death snatched him in 2017 when he was about 93 years.
Many had expected to see what would become of the large family left behind by the spiritual leader of the Halihumot Nabiyi Islamic Organisation of Nigeria.
Masaba, born on April 14, 1924 in Bida, who moved to Lagos before relocating to Bida, was a Grade Two Teacher Certificate holder. He worked with the UAC and Bacita Sugar Company for many years.
When our correspondent got to the deceased’s house, he was restricted to the frontage of the twin-storey building containing over 70 rooms.
Some of the wives were at the balcony while a teacher was taking about 50 children of the deceased, aged between three and 15 years, Mathematics under a canopy downstairs.
The canopy with openings for ventilation served as a classroom. It is the first object that welcomes any visitor to the compound.
It was also discovered that over two years after, members of his large family, including his wives, were still intact in the house contrary to rumours that some of them might have remarried.
Speculation was also rife that a tussle over Masaba’s spiritual successor had allegedly led to a bitter feud between his family members and followers.
Family members of the deceased were seeing performing several activities at the three-storey building along the Kotaworo-Masaba Area in Bida. The building used to serve as a place for worship, evangelism and merriment.
Masaba’s burial was witnessed by a huge crowd including those who thought he possessed strange spiritual powers and would resurrect on the day of his burial.
Known as an ardent Islamic cleric, teacher and healer, he lived on the third floor of the Kotaworo-Masaba edifice.
Speaking about the family, the Personal Assistant and Secretary to the late cleric, Alhaji Mutairu Bello, said Masaba admonished them not to deviate from the right path.
Bello stated that their leader told them to remain hopeful and calm and that if they continued to embrace Allah, they had nobody to fear.
Speaking about Masaba’s successor, he said, “There is no tussle; Baba Masaba cautioned us when he was alive about it – there are talks and warning about it.
“This is not like every other society or group where they can select or pick somebody; we are waiting for when Allah will raise a successor.
“Masaba’s brother, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, is our father and we respect him a lot and he is the one acting as our leader for now. How long it will take us to get a messenger as a successor is not an issue since we have our father and I am his secretary.
“I have an assistant and we also have our imam and alfas. Baba has many followers all over the world. Baba laid down instructions on his successor and they are sacred and important to us.
“Baba was not specific and he did not mention who should succeed him. He only said everyone should wait for Allah, nobody should look or vie for any position except the Allah chooses.”
He explained that after Masaba’s demise, the family had been living well without problems, stressing that he hoped the peaceful coexistence would continue forever.
“Baba Masaba was a messenger of Allah and he preached unity. His teachings were to unite everyone. We, the members of the family and the entire Bida community, have been living together in peace and harmony without problem,” he stated.
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According to him, most of Masaba’s children are still around as some had married and others among the offspring had travelled out of the country.
On the wives left behind by Masaba, Bello said, “They are still around; none of them has remarried and they don’t intend to leave. They are with their children and even their grandchildren. I cannot say the total number of grandchildren but I know the children are over 100.”
Bello, the Sarkun Kudu Raba Nupe, said Masaba’s legacy would continue until God chose a successor whom everyone would look up to as the spiritual leader irrespective of age or gender.
“As the eldest here, I have not done anything extraordinary to put the family together but it is God who has been keeping us together. We are relying on God. When Masaba was alive, he didn’t use any fetish means to fortify himself, and same thing applies to us and we will continue to pray and rely on Allah,” he said.
The Chief Imam, Alhaji Abdulraheem Kegbegbe, who refused to speak on whether there would soon be a spiritual leader for the sect, prayed for continuous unity of the family.
Also, one of Masaba’s disciples, who gave his name only as Haruna, said the late leader was not an ordinary being but Allah’s messenger.
The front lobby of the building has satellite dishes well positioned and some married children of the deceased are said to inhabit the place.
It was learnt that while Masaba lived, there was no mattress and adornments in his room except an Islamic calendar. He was said to be sleeping on a prayer mat.
SUNDAY PUNCH further learnt that there was a group 15, consisting of followers above 50 years and the Nakabas, mostly youths, who control crowds during christening events and religious crusades held in front of Masaba’s house.
A youth leader, identified only as Hafeez, is among members of the group who oversees the late Masaba’s religious organisation to ensure it runs without hitches.
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“We are living peacefully in this place. Baba himself has shown us how to live peacefully. His message to the world is to embrace God and have strong faith in Him; to trust in Almighty Allah, to love our neighbour as ourselves. You can see that we all show these in our interactions,” Hafeez stated.