Alhadji Waziri Kolo Ibrahim was a wealthy Kanuri businessman from Borno State, Nigeria who became a prominent politician and party leader during the Nigerian Second Republic. He was one of the original founders and financiers of the Nigerian People’s Party but later left the party to form the Greater Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP) in 1978. As leader of the GNPP he won approximately 10% of the vote in the 1979 Nigerian presidential elections.
Ibrahim was born on February 26, 1926 in Yerwa, Maiduguri. His father, Baba Alhaji Ibrahim Ibn Mohammed was an Islamic scholar; Baba Alhadji named his son after a friend who was then the Waziri of Borno. Waziri’s early childhood was in Damaturu where his father was an Imam of a local mosque. He attended Damaturu Elementary School (1936-1939), the Maiduguri Middle School (1940-1943) and Kaduna College, 1944-1947. At Kaduna Collge, he was classmates with Prof Umaru Shehu; while in school, it was the desire of the then Chief Education Officer of Borno, Kashim Ibrahim that Waziri should enter the teaching service after graduation. However, Waziri did not further his education after Kaduna College nor was did he teach. He chose to work with U.A.C. as a trainee manager in 1948 and rose to become a cashier and storekeeper at U.A.C.’s, Maiduguri branch in 1951. He then worked at Jos in 1952 before becoming a labour and staff manager for the Benue area in 1953. By the time he left the firm, he was the Kaduna district manager.
POLITICAL AND BUSINESS CAREER
In politics, Waziri was initially a member of NEPU, he organized the Damaturu branch of the association in 1950 and was the branch chairman in 1951. In the late 1950s, he joined NPC and was appointed the Federal Minister of Health in 1958, in 1962, he was appointed the Minister for Economic Development ministry. In 1960, he was part of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nation’s when the country was accepted as the 99th member of the U.N. In 1962, As minister of Economic Development, he presented to the parliament an ambitious capital expenditure budget over a six-year span based on a 4% annual growth in GDP and investment of resources in productive projects to foster development. Among the major planks of the budget, was the development of the Kainji Dam. However, close to half of the capital expenditure’s revenue were to be obtained through foreign aid.
After the military coup of 1966, he went into private business. During the Nigerian Civil War, he was involved in arms dealing and consultancy and afterwards, he established a defense consultancy firm. He also established a group of companies under the corporate name Herwa which included a tin mining venture in Jos and a soap and flour mill in Maiduguri. He opened a 5 million naira Herwa clinic in Kano. He entered the fishing industry after buying out Stephen Tolbert’s fishing concern and in addition, imported frozen fish under the corporate name Nigeria Cold Stores.
In 1978, Waziri joined politics again, he co-founded the NPP along with Kola Balogun, however a disagreement with some party members such as Adeniran Ogunsanya about Ibrahim becoming both the party’s chairman and its presidential candidate led to his exit from the party. He then formed the Great Nigeria People’s Party. He was unsuccessful in the election, but was popular in its Kanuri base. His party won the gubernatorial election in Borno where the Kanuris are majority.
Waziri’s first marriage was to a Shuwa Arab lady, Fatime, he later married two other Wives, the last being Fatimah, daughter of Kashim Ibrahim.