Date Published: 11/16/09
Sometimes I laugh at the critics of Governor Shekarau By Saka Raji Audu
Criticisms, especially the constructive ones are required for the progress and development of the society. They empower every sincere government to adapt rapidly to changes for people's advancement. But where situation is the opposite, which is the case in most of the criticisms against the people's governor, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau and his administration, which I had cause to respond to, they enhanced animosity, falsehood and retardation of any government efforts. It is always good to encourage some one who tries to make meaning out of a nonsense situation. It is not an easy task presiding over the affairs of Kano because of its political sophistication and litany of interests.
Among the five elected governor so far in Kano beginning from the first elected governor of the state, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed Rimi, the present one, Malam Shekarau is the only one that has carved niche for himself and to the admiration of his people. As Malam, he is dignified. As civil servant, he calls a spade a spade. And now, as a politician, he knows the dynamics of power. Rimi won the admiration of Kano people in 1979 because of the respect the down trodden have for the late revolutionary leader of the state, Malam Aminu Kano of blessed memory. This explained why in 1983, When Alhaji Rimi ditched him for another party, NPP, the down trodden could not spare him for the second term. Instead, a far less educated personality, the late Sabo Barkinzuwo, also of blessed memory, was elected in his place in spite of Rimi's much celebrated progressive achievements.
The election of Barkinzuwo as the governor of old Kano, now Kano and Jigawa, was like a protest vote against Rimi's recalcitrant postures for Aminu Kano. In the 1992 political dispensation, Kano naturally fell for the proscribed Socialist Democratic Party, SDP. It was almost certain that if the governorship election was conducted in the state, SDP would win. The election came and went. SDP, as popular in Kano as it was, presented candidate it was not sure of its popularity and acceptance in the person of Alhaji Magaji Abdullahi, the former 2ic of Shekarau. The other party, the proscribed National Republican Convention, NRC cashed on SDP political miscalculation in its choice of governorship candidate to intensify campaigns.
By way of omission or commission, SDP lost the governorship election to the less popular party, the NRC. That was how the present Senator, Architect Ibrahim Kabiru Gaya became the third elected governor of Kano based on a platter of gold. In 1999, the Kano politics changed. For the first time in the political history of the state, Kano went in the same pattern with the federal government. This was perhaps chiefly because of the general anxiety and desperation to shift federal power to the South at all costs, in view of the political logjam brought by the 1993 June 12 general elections. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who had just been released after serving three years in jail was adopted by the People's Democratic Party, PDP as its presidential candidate. This party, cashing on the general readiness for power shift, used its federal might to impose PDP in Kano, against the wish of its people. Alhaji Dr. Musa Kwankwaso, a one time member of the House of Rep became the fourth elected governor of the state.
In 2003 when it was time for another election, the Kano people, it seemed, realized the enormity of tilting to the federal direction. They vowed not to fall on the same stone again. While preparing ground for this challenge, they were not in any hurry to forget the past political experience. The presiding governor wanted to continue for the second term because of his incumbency advantage and Mr. President's support. In view of this perceived fortified foundation, Kwankwaso was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that nothing would stop him from having the second term. He however, never knew that the very man he had demoted from Permanent Secretary to a classroom teacher, based on mere opinion differences, would be his successor.
I, also, never knew who Malam Ibrahim Shekarau was. I first came in contact with his campaign poster in Wapa area, Fagge while on my way to the Triumph publishing house to submit a write up for publication. Later I saw his rickety Toyota campaign car with inscription "Shekarau for 2003." I would have dismissed it as a play if any one had told me that Shekarau could defeat Kwankwaso who had a combined advantage of incumbency and federal might. But, trust Kano people. They know their onion pretty well and when to strike. On 19 th April 2003, the governorship election was held throughout the federation. It was very easy for the Kano people to say good bye to Rabiu Kwankwaso and his PDP. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, the least expected candidate among the heavy governorship contestants, won the election and became the fifth elected governor of Kano state.
I never took Shekarau's leadership seriously until after taking stock of his three months in office. That was August 2003. Thereafter, I became impressed in some of his far reaching progressive decisions and implementations. Among these include the relative stability on power supply in the metropolitan, the improvement of water supply, which was epileptic in the last one month of his predecessor, the settlement of outstanding payment owed to civil servants in the state, the saving of the life of one little Munzali that was having health problem when his government released N2M to carry out treatment on the little boy at the Saudi Arabia. Other things Malam Ibrahim Shekarau did within three months of his government that impressed me were the 50% fertilizer subsidy he gave to farmers for improvement of their farm produce, the purchase of JAMB form for indigent students of Kano state as part of his resolve to encourage students in their educational pursuit and his constant warnings against corrupt practices, using shari'ah as basis for implementation.
By 2005, two years of Malam's administration, he had already achieved a lot in the governance of Kano state. In 2006, the Kano people were already asking him to re-contest for the 2007 governorship election, which would afford him the opportunity to continue with his good work and consolidate achievements. I later joined in this call because I was convinced by many of his numerous achievements on ground. It took Malam time before he could accept the voice of the people for his second term. It was not easy fulfilling this mission of the second term. Those who arrogated to themselves Alfa and omega in the state and wanted Shekarau to fill their pocket but refused them ditched him. He was persecuted and made to go through the dark side of life by the very politicians who claim they brought him to power. He was made to feel guilty of sins he has not committed dreaded with incessant fear. Still, I urged Malam to continue because it is good to encourage good, putting every thing in prayers. As Muslims, I was extremely glad that Shekarau did not cage out of frustrations. He would have given the anti-progressive elements chance to laugh. At the end of the ugly rough journey, Shekarau had upper hand and laughed last, which means he laughed best. Still not convinced that God was in control, the oppositions took him to court and he won. You know that in Nigeria, it is a difficult issue for one to accept defeat. Just two months after Malam Shekarau celebrated his 1 st year of his second term, the mercenary critics came up again with a subterfuge, displaying naked jealousy and animosity towards his administration. This time around, some hack journalists agreed to throw out their professional ethics and joined the dirty crusade to write nonsense about Shekarau's administration.
I have stated many times without number that journalism is not for every new comer. It is for people with conscience and analytical minds. Journalist worth his onion does not use one opinion to make conclusion or assumption of issues. Every thing of this life is in two faces. It is therefore totally unethical and unacceptable for some of our modern day journalists to engage in malicious reporting against a perceived enemy. Every one is entitled to one's opinion but for every opinion one makes, one should not fail to substantiate it or prove it beyond reasonable doubt. After all, we are often told that no body is guilty of any offence until he or she is proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is against the backdrop of false accusations coming out from some of our media axis that made me to respond accordingly, because as I said, the bad thrives because the good refuses to act.
For quite some time now, I have had cause to make some rejoinders against articles and news reports that are tilted to one side of the coins, making the readers to believe as if the subject being talked about lacks the other side. As a member of the Kano community, it will amount to disservice to my conscience and the community if after reading the malicious articles; I pretend that all is well just because I am afraid of being called all sort of intimidated names.
In my conscious attempt to put the record straight, I tried as much as possible to relegate sentiment to the background and endeavoured to address the issues involved in logical perspective. Unfortunately, the critics of Shekarau and their fellow travelers could not withstand my superior logical argument. They had to resort to personal attacks and intimidation in order to wade me off or made me feel guilty of sins I have not committed, so that they can have the field day to emit their do-able and un-do-able. Some of them wrote to my mail box and told me that I responded to their articles because I was sponsored and given money to do so since in their own shallow mindedness, there was no more chance for independent thought. Others even called me Shekarau's trumpeter and Sule Ya'u Sule's agent, leaving the issue talked about aside. The logical response I put back to them was that if I was paid to respond to, and correct their unfounded allegations against Malam Shekarau and his administration as contained in their articles and news reports, which they could not dispute, who paid them to write their destructive articles /news report in the first place? They couldn't provide answers to this puzzle. Again, if they know that they could not withstand opposite views to their newspaper write ups and reports, why should they forced themselves to write at all? I should think that whoever kills should also be ready to die, if not, it would amount to the highest form of injustice in the society. In any case, it is better for one to be dumb than for one to tell lies.
One is not unmindful of the fact that when one surpasses one in rational discourse, what follow thereafter will be personal attacks and character assassinations. This journalistic poverty does not work again any where in the world. We are in democracy and every one is entitled to his opinion. So, I have the absolute right to reply any body be it mechanic, trader or journalist that think he/she can deliberately write with sentiment in order to rubbish the great achievements of the people's governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State. Any writer who is afraid of rejoinder must not fail to do his home work properly before rushing to the press. It is not enough for any one to castigate without convincing evidence or proper investigation, and when such writer receives rejoinder to put the record straight, he will simply say the writer has received bribe to reply him as if the accuser is innocent. This is just an escape route and a clever way to accept defeat. If Mr. A that writes to tarnish the image of Mr. B accuses Mr. C of being paid to reply him, the logical question that comes to mind is, who bribes Mr. A to tarnish the image of Mr. B? We must therefore always endeavour to address issues rather than chasing shadows.
Indeed, Malam Shekarau is so far the longest serving democratic governor of Kano State, having been popularly voted to power in April 2003 and has successfully completed six and half years in the good governance of the most populous and politically advanced state in Nigeria, Kano. The critics of Shekarau are aware of Shekarau's radical transformation of Kano as most of them have in writing confessed in recent time. But, others are still shying away with this glaring truth, not knowing that conscience as an open wound, only truth can heal it.
Therefore, we must understand the fact that the radical transformation of Kano under Governor Shekarau is that of neglect to recognition, of instability to peaceful co-existence, of weak infrastructure to solid one, of structural decoration to both human and structural developments and from indignity to human dignity and respect. All these transformation would not have been possible without the political will, vision, mission, foresight and fear of God in the art of governance of Kano State by Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau.
I should be bold enough to observe that among his pairs, even in his political party, he is the only governor that stands tall and has remained focused, not minding the activities of some political detractors. As a detribalized man of substance, he has been able to bring together the different ethnic group in the state without favour or bias. This is why since he came to power some six and half years ago, both the indigenes and non-indigenes in the state have been living peacefully together without any form of molestation, unlike what was obtainable before his coming as governor of the state.
Not even the implementation of the Islamic legal system- the Shari/ah has affected the co-habitation of the divergent faiths in the state. This is because, contrary to the negative thinkers, the government of Shekarau has painstakingly ensured that the practice of Shari'ah in Kano, is within the ambit of the law, which gives room to other faiths to practice their faith as they deem fit without hindrance. This explains reason why places like Sabon-gari, Badawa, etc are still booming and there has not been any form of coercion to enforce Shari'ah there.
More importantly, the practice of Shari'ah in Kano and any other states for that matter was as a result of the popular demands of the people to allow themselves to be governed by their belief. Likewise, any state in Nigeria has the inalienable right to either accept or reject the use of Shari'ah in the day today running of its affairs, depending on the popular demand.
Still, one should not fail to point out here that, out of the three non-indigenes appointed by Shekarau in his administration as Special Advisers, two are Yoruba and Ibo Christians, which go to a long extent to show how accommodating, is Shekarau towards other faiths. Thus, this type of a leader is what the country requires to be able to create the needed peace, harmony and tranquility for the country's socio-economic and political transformation.
On the political front, Shekarau has remained a unifying factor in the affairs of his party. In this direction, he has consistently displayed love and loyalty for his party. In spite of the calls by some people for Shekarau to ditch his party and join the national ruling party, the PDP, he has remained focused and refused to be lured into taking decision that would be tantamount to betrayal of trust of his party, through which he rode to the corridor of power. This is unlike what some of his colleagues from Zamfara and Bauchi displayed when they betrayed their party and the people to join the ruling political party for whatever reason best known to them.
Some political pundits have argued that if Nigerians want Shekarau to vie for the 2011 presidency and win, he should join and contest under PDP. To my mind, this should not necessarily be the case. This is because, if Shekarau can unseat a serving PDP governor with his federal might and who desperately wanted a second term in 2003, the same feat could also be repeated at the national level without Shekarau necessarily betraying his party. Apart from the fact that he is not a desperate politician, who regards winning election as a "do or die affair" as in the national ruling party, he believes that power belongs to God and He crowns whoever He wishes, whether people like it or not. This is why our leaders are always advised to be steadfast and serve the people well. Once this is achieved, God is always willing to help the leader with success.
Indeed, many prominent personalities in Nigeria and those in Diaspora have spoken well of Shekarau's leadership qualities, which are required for the country's advancement. The Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Odemegwu Ojukwu had spoken good of Shekarau's sterling qualities during the latter's visit to Nsukka to receive the "light of the people" award. The traditional rulers in that land commended Shekarau for being a detribalized leader who carries every one along irrespective of tribe and religion. Since Shekarau came on board six and half years now, he has received many local, national and international awards of good governance. He has been invited to almost every nook and cranny of the country to attend one coronation or the other. Interestingly, Shekarau has never failed on every such invitation. During the activities to mark the country's 10 th anniversary of democracy in Nigeria in May this year, Shekarau's party national Chairman, Chief Ume-Ezeoke had the cause to describe Shekarau as a workaholic leader who mean well and has achieved a lot for his people. Similar commendation came from the former governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu, who also scored Shekarau high. Professor Wole Soyinka, the Kongi had also described Shekarau as the last man standing in his geo-political zone. All these various recognitions have been crowned with the recent conferment of Sardaunan Kano by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji (Dr) Ado Bayero.
Already, many people across the country are daily calling on Shekarau to vie for the 2011 presidential election because they have seen in him what he can do for the country to get her out of the socio-economic and political doldrums. The energetic and hardworking governor Shekarau is yet to decide on this, because he is still preoccupied with the progress and transformation of Kano State to a greater height.
Expectedly, the anti-progressive elements and bad belle people are not comfortable with this, because apart from joke, they know the worth of governor Shekarau for the country. This explains the series of lies and orchestrated wicked allegation against the man of God, which those involved, cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt.
As for others that might still want to tell lies in the future against Shekarau, it is better for them to know that they do not need lie to undo the governor because it will definitely not work since it has never worked. This is because, in addition to the fact that Shekarau has already won the hearts of Nigerians due mainly to his performance, there is nothing any one can do if he is destined to be the President of Nigeria. These are what make me to sometimes laugh at the critics of Shekarau, knowing full well that only God can decide for anybody in this world.
Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: firstname.lastname@example.org