Celebrating Senator Sunday Katung @63

Senator Sunday Marshall Katung (SMK), representing Kaduna South senatorial district, Kaduna state, typifies greatness. As a lad in his native homeland of Batadon, Madakiya district, Zango-Kataf local government area, Kaduna state, SMK was never availed with luxury, privileges, and choices of becoming successful. Even if these requisite conditions did exist, they were not laid on a platter. SMK walked through the tight rope between peasantry and poverty. Growing up, he lacked the basic conditions that propel young aspiring children to greatness. He toiled the soil like many poor children to feed and trekked long distances like most deprived children to have western education. 

The federal lawmaker navigated through obstacles, barriers, and complex labyrinth to become successful. Celebrating such a man with immense qualities, who is selfless and has positively impacted many lives comes with much excitement and funfair. SMK means different personalities to different folks: to Abigail, he is a husband. To some, he is a father. To others, a politician, a role model, a natural giver, and a leader. SMK is indeed an icon to an array of people. The nexus between all of this is the passion that he does anything he cherishes. SMK has enormous love for people as he spreads positive energy around.

Educational  Pursuit 

SMK started his education at LEA Primary School, Madakiya and proceeded to Kufena College, Wusasa, Zaria in 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate in 1980. He attended the College of Advanced Studies, Zaria. He studied law at the University of Lagos from 1972 to 1986 and was called to Bar in 1987. He served at the Directorate of Air Provost of the Nigerian Airforce Headquarters, Lagos, from 1987 to1988. He later did Post-Graduate (PGD) in management at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and an MBA and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy (MIAD).

Hustling Life

While talking to social media influencers in Kaduna some years ago, Senator Katung challenged them to always approach politicians and wealthy individuals with a blueprint instead of going cap-in-hand begging for handouts. “Life rewards only those who use their time in lucrative ventures,” he said. 

He drew example from his personal experience as a student and a hustler when he used to travel to Lagos to buy clothes and sell to co-students, he mentioned Hon. Isa Ashiru Kudan as one of his customers. When he was in University of Lagos, he said he was a professional DJ and because he was making money he wasn’t begging for money. “But today, politics has spoiled our psyche, our youths have now become professional politicians,” he decried. 

At the gathering of some 108 recipients of N50,000 (each) Sunday Marshall Katung Scholarship early August 2021, the humanitarian made a startling revelation about his schooling days at the university that hauled a reverberating shock. The hall was at graveyard silence. The students listened to Marshal Katung in desperation. He spoke specifically to the students to motivate, stir up positive emotions and reorient their psyche towards being winners. He did that unambiguously: “Every successful man or woman has a story”. 

All the 108 recipients of the Sunday Katung Foundation scholarship are from impoverished families in Southern Kaduna. I recall, a tall black boy sitting adjacent to me subconsciously exclaimed, “WOW!” to Katung’s emotional story. The story was not about how he tried to fit into the urban culture that characterises Lagos, but how he learned and perfected the act of Disco Jockey (DJ) and sold Compact Discs (CDs) in the streets of Lagos. In Lagos, he lived a life of a student and a street hustler. 

Public/Civil Servant 

SMK has served both in the private and public sectors. As a young lawyer and the completion of the mandatory NYSC scheme in 1988, he secured a job at the Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation, where he rose to the position of company secretary/legal adviser, the youngest in the history of the company. He later resigned from the company and pursued his personal business. He was the commissioner for finance and later water resources in the late Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa administration. He was redeployed to the Ministry of Finance by former Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero after the demise of Yakowa.

Touching Lives 

Touching lives has become the linchpin of his life. A kindhearted gentleman that takes joy in extending a helping hand to those in need. He is revered for his compassionate service to humanity. 

On April 1, 2021, Katung celebrated his 60th birthday at the Rafiki Orphans Home Ungwan Rimi and ECWA Widows’ Training School, Samaru-Kataf both in Zangon-Kataf LGA of Kaduna state. He donated computers, clothes and food items to the orphans while the widows got food items and wrappers. In his closing remarks at the two centers, Senator Katung promised to do more to improve their well-being. This is a philanthropic effort more than a political gesture.

In July 2021, he awarded scholarship to 108 undergraduates from Chikun, Jema’a, Kachia, Kagarko, Sanga, Kajuru, Kaura, Jaba, Jema’a and Kauru from designated tertiary institutions: Kaduna State University; Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria; College of Education, Gidan Waya and College of Nursing and Midwifery, Kafanchan. Earlier, he visited the Internally Displaced Person’s Camp and shared palliatives amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he has increased the number of scholarship beneficiaries from 108 in 2021 to 400 today.

In September 2023, SMK partnered Beacon for Hope Foundation on skill acquisition training on seasoning production, soap making, catering, and bag making for rural women across the eight LGAs of his senatorial district. According to the digital senator, as he is fondly referred to by his admirers, “Our women can be effective agents of economic growth who can help steer our senatorial district towards the global wave of improving lives. We just need to give them the opportunity to do so. This is why I will stop at nothing until we give our women and youth the skills they need to grow financially.” 

Political Life 

Senator Katung is a member of the 10th Assembly. Previously, he was in the House of Representatives (Jaba/Zango-Kataf) from 2015-2019. In 2019, he won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary for the second time in a stretch, but relinquished his ticket for the current serving HoP member, Hon. Amos Gwamna, against the interest of the party’s apparatchik. The reason is that the Kaduna state governorship ticket bearer of the PDP in 2019, Rt. Hon. Isa Ashiru Kudan, picked SMK as his running mate. However, SMK prioritised the interest of the zone and the younger generation to have a say in the scheme of things, this is why he opted for Amos Gwamna, contrary to the opinion of PDP’s elite.

The decision to cede his ticket to Gwamna didn’t synchronise with the thoughts of the vast major of the people of Jaba/Zango-Kataf federal constituency. The people wanted SMK more as a lawmaker than as a deputy governor because of the quality of representation he was churning out for their general good.

Legislative Function

Senator Katung is the Vice Chairman Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, and is serving in 17 committees at the Senate. These are: Aviation, Agriculture Production Service, Appropriation, Local and Foreign Debt, Power, Senate Services, ICT and Cyber Security, Inter-parliamentary Affairs, Interior, Tertiary Education and Tetfund, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, Solid Minerals, Works, Women Affairs, Defense, Land, Housing, and Urban Development, and Health.

SMK is one of the prolific senators contributing efficiently in almost every session on the floor of the house. He is vocal and visible. So far, SMK has raised the following motions:· Motion for the urgent need to revive the textile industries in Nigeria with particular reference to the Kaduna – Kano axis.       

In response to the diphtheria outbreak, he raised a motion on the Senate floor advocating for containment strategies, ensuring public health safety·      

He proposed the establishment of the Federal University of Applied Sciences in Manchok to enhance higher education opportunities. To address financial barriers to accessing higher education, he introduced the “student loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Amended).”  As a result of the recent disease outbreak affecting Ginger farms predominantly in Southern Kaduna, he called:

For an immediate on-spot assessment tour of all affected areas of the ginger pandemic in southern kaduna on NCDCP to immediately coordinate surveillance systems to collect, analyse and further prevent spread of phytonosis. On NEMA to provide palliatives to the affected ginger farmers at Southern Kaduna, whose means of livelihood has been crippled by the disease.

Abubakar Labaran writes from Kafanchan, Kaduna state