Not a few people rushed to the palatial building of the famous Bida, Niger State-based super polygamist, 92-year-old Alhaji Muhammed Bello Masaba, when the news of his death filtered out last week. It turned out, however, that his purported death was nothing more than an unfounded rumour.
Famous for marrying 89 women against the maximum of four prescribed by Islam, the Islamic cleric has had a running battle with some Islamic scholars and traditional institution. Naturally, therefore, the news of his death generated massive interest from the social media.
But during a visit to his Masaba Quarters in Bida, our correspondent found Pa Masaba, as he is fondly called, seated majestically among his followers, listening to their complaints and offering words of advice.
He had earlier laughed off the calls our correspondent made to him about his rumoured death, saying, “I am not dead, I am alive. Allah’s divine assignment must be carried out. Although death is the ultimate end of all, I will fulfil my days and divine assignment.”
He then invited our correspondent from Minna, the state capital, to his Bida home to dispel the rumour of his death.
He said: “My dear, I have heard the wicked rumour being peddled, but Allah is greater than all the perpetrators of this wicked rumour.
“Please, I am inviting you to come to Bida. I am now with all my children and other well wishers.
“My health is in perfect condition and I have been attending to people since the wicked rumour went viral.”
Off our correspondent went to Bida the next day for a chat with the super polygamist. Once at his compound, our correspondent had to climb the staircase to his three-storey building to meet him in his sitting room.
On her way up the staircase, our correspondent met many of his wives and children as they swarmed up and down the staircase. Others around the compound were busy with the process of preparing lunchmeasuring the spices, cleaning the fish and so on. The mood in the compound was gay and there was not the slightest indication of sadness or despair in the face of any.
Pa Masaba’s sitting room was filled with his followers. He was seated in a chair with his personal assistant seated close to him. Looking hale and hearty, he beamed a smile at the sight of the reporter.
“You must have been here before,” he said, prompting the reporter to affirm his words. He then said he purposely invited a correspondent of The Nation to let the world know that he was hale and hearty. He then said he would not entertain any question because he was under “divine directive” not to speak to the media on any issue now.
He said: “I only want you to come and see me. I am alive and well. I really cannot speak to you today because I am under divine directive not to speak to the media, either about my rumored death, my views about the nation, my family or anything. So I am not speaking. I follow every directive I receive from God.”
After leaving the cleric, our correspondent engaged his personal assistant, Alhaji Matahiru Salahudeen Bello, who has been with him for more than 27 years, in a conversation.
Bello disclosed that all Masaba’s followers were saddened by the rumour of his death, which he said must have emanated from the camp of his enemies. He said the cleric had never been sick, which made the rumour totally unfounded.
Bello said: “Baba is not sick. He is well. This must be the work of his enemies. He is 92 years old now and he is enjoying life to the fullest.
“We have been receiving calls from all over the country since the enemies planted the fake news of Baba’s death. The panic the report has caused can only be imagined. That is why we have asked Baba to stay outside and address the faithful.
“Baba is not sick, not to talk of being dead. His enemies are at work. Like he has told us, no man can take his life when he is not due.
“He climbs the staircase to his three-storey building every day. He went down at 4.30 this morning and climbed up a few hours before you arrived. No one helped him to climb the stairs.
“Baba can do what a man of 65 cannot do. That is to show how healthy he is.”
Speaking further about the super polygamist, Bello added: “Baba Masaba is not an ordinary being, he is an agent of God and he cures whatever sickness is brought to him.
“His character is very good. He is good and open to everyone and extends his charity to all and sundry.
“He is more than a father to me and many of us here. He is my mentor.”
Asked how Pa Masaba treats the patients that are brought to him, Bello said the Islamic cleric treats them without medicine. But he expects everyone that comes to him to submit to the will of God.
“Whatever sickness is brought to him, he treats it. He believes that God cures all and he is the agent that tells you how God will cure you.
“He treats people without herbal or orthodox medicine. He expects his patients to submit to God and shun adultery, alcohol, fornication and other vices.
“My wives, children and myself have been with him for almost 30 years, and we have been living without the application of drugs. The same goes for others.”
Some of his followers who spoke with our correspondent expressed their wish for the Islamic cleric to live longer. “We want him to be alive. If possible, for many more years. He is more than a million to us,” one of them said.
It was learnt that Pa Masaba has more than 5,000 dependants, who he feeds and houses. Most of his followers earn their living around the place where the building that houses the Masaba family is sited.
One of them, who earns a living from cleaning people’s nails, says he earns between N2,500 and N3,000 every week cleaning nails for visitors and patients of the cleric. The Nation