|Biographical detail : ||(b. 1910, in Rabbah, near Sokoto, Nigeria; d. 1966), traditional Islamic leader, and Nigerian regional premier and power broker during the first years of independence.
Ahmadu Bello was a descendent of royal blood: his grandfather, Atiku na Rabah was the seventh sultan of Sokoto in the years 1873-1877; his great-great-grandfather Usman dan Fodio (1744-1817) founded and ruled the Sokoto caliphate. Throughout his life, Bello relied on his illustrious ancestry as a source of political power.
Bello studied at the Sokoto provincial school and then trained as a teacher at Katsina College. He received less Western education than did other prominent Nigerian politicians. Nevertheless, his status and family connections smoothed his ascent to power. Although his cousin Abubakar beat him out for the highest traditional position, the sultanate of Sokoto, Abubakar granted Bello the high position of sardauna, or military commander of the caliphate.
As regional adminstrator and sardauna, Bello achieved considerable power during the 1940s. His most significant advance, however, came with his membership in the Northern People's Congress (NPC) in 1951. Shortly after its founding, the NPC became the dominant power in Nigerian politics. By rising through its ranks, Bello advanced in the national power structure; by assuming the position of premier of the Northern Region, as he did in 1954, Bello became the virtual leader of Nigeria.
Although Bello was Nigeria's preeminent politician until 1966, his primary interest lay in the Northern Region. By lauding his ancestors, remaining in the northern city of Kaduna (unlike other regional premiers, who frequented Lagos), and allowing Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC to become prime minister, Bello revealed his commitment to customary rule, which is based on tradition rather than on written law or contract.
Bello focused on advancing the interests of the Northern Region. Aware that southerners tended to be better educated, he established programs to train his constituency for public service and the armed forces. Bello also implemented rules that made it difficult for southerners to receive civil service jobs, extending preference to northerners first, to Europeans second, and only then to workers from the south. This spurred southern resentment, as did Bello's Islamic zealotry, because he proselytized among followers of indigenous religions and supported a foreign policy that denigrated Israel.
Bello's policies won him passionate support in the north and considerable animosity in the south. He was assassinated in the 1966 coup. His death was mourned in the north and celebrated in some parts of the south.