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A truly compelling feeling forced me to write this rejoinder to the reactions ace writer Mohammed Haruna published in his column in Daily Trust and The Nation on Nov-18-2015 in response to the piece he wrote a week earlier titled “Shekarau at 60.” I initially hesitated to write because such comments, like the unrestricted slanderous remarks often made by “Sojojin baka” (hired political gladiators) in political programs aired by some FM stations in Kano, are better ignored than dignified with response. But then, silence can sometimes be misconstrued as acquiescence, and the gullible carried along.


Some of the readers’ adverse political comments contained wild allegations and ill-feelings against the former governor of Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, which can be summarized as follows: (a) his election in 2003 was solely because of his endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari (then ANPP’s presidential candidate) after he raised his hand at a rally and proclaimed “ANPP Sak!”; (b) Shekarau betrayed Buhari and was instrumental to his “routing” from ANPP; (c) his joining the PDP was a political misadventure as the party is now held in disdain; and (d) if it is true Shekarau planned to contest the presidency in 2019 his famed attributes of “eloquence, humility and simplicity” would not make his chances brighter.

Examining these comments critically one would realize that they are mere surmises of envy based on ill-feelings and/or small-mindedness. These traducers were not close observers of the political events that made them to refer to the man in such unsavory terms; they were distant onlookers who antagonize the former governor out of sentiment and just because they belong to a different party.

Let me take the last three of the accusations before tackling the first. Shekarau did not betray Buhari, nor did he rout him from the ANPP. The rift between them was instigated by some TBO (The Buhari Organization) stalwarts who, because of their insatiable appetite for patronage which Shekarau could not satisfy, vowed to make things difficult for him by turning Buhari against him. It is instructive that many of them are today estranged from the president.

What forced Shekarau to join ‘disdainful’ PDP is common knowledge, even to the mischievous. However like I said in previous articles, with so many enemies within the party he had helped to build his joining PDP was a lesser evil than what would have befallen him and his supporters in APC. On the three attributes of humility, simplicity and eloquence, no one can deny him those. Impressed by his eloquence, several observers of 2011 presidential debate, especially those who commented in the social media, adjudged him as the winner. Even the BBC, as recalled by Haruna, was of the view that if the polls were carried out on Facebook and Blackberry messenger Shekarau might have won.

One of those who responded to Haruna’s piece, sounding bitter like a TBO member, insinuated that the former governor mixed these attributes with “strong doses of ingratitude, deceit and ill-wish for one’s people; and lacking credibility.” All I can say on this is that some people have the tendency to talk loosely without weighing their words. If this glib talker or writer were to be asked to prove what he said in court he would definitely be hard put to defend himself.

His assertion that eloquence, humility and simplicity would not brighten Shekarau’s chances if he were to contest presidential election again is true for almost anybody else; excellence in character does not make one president of Nigeria. With the exception of Buhari, none of our leaders can be said to have been appointed or elected based on his personal attributes. Not even Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria who also had the three attributes, could be said to have been elected based on them. Late Sir Abubakar was so eloquent and spoke Queen’s English so well that international media dubbed him as “Golden Voice of Africa.”

It is unfortunate that in Nigeria differences in political beliefs are often expressed in crude, uncivilized manners. People easily hurl abuses, libelous and malicious statements at leaders, aiming to tarnish their reputation. In extreme cases, senseless vendetta and even violence could be involved, resulting in unnecessary bloodshed.

There is no denying that Buhari was a factor that Allah used to make Shekarau’s victory in the governorship election of 2003 possible. But even he, being rational, cannot claim as his supporters do that he was the only factor and without him Shekarau would never have become governor. In fact, as Muslims believing that one’s destiny can be decided by another man is akin to repudiating predestination. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: “Indeed, all things We created with predestination.” (Surah al-Qamar, 49).

Hence, Allah’s will that Shekarau would be governor of Kano state was a foregone conclusion even before he was born. That is why in 2007 he won the election for his second consecutive term even as the said support had been withdrawn. In any case, if the slogan “ANPP Sak!” had such magical power to make anyone governor how came it did not succeed in Katsina state? But while commenting on it Buhari himself blamed ANPP’s loss in his home state on indiscriminate rigging and buying of votes.

Therefore contrary to what the critics would want us to believe several factors played significant roles, such as widespread disenchantment with the incumbent governor resulting in his perceived declining popularity on account of his alleged iron-fisted rule. People also opted for Shekarau before the polls after realizing he was persecuted over his purported hobnobbing with Sharia advocates. It was a well-received campaign issue that earned him sympathy and support.

Even Olusegun Obasanjo, the then president, was probably a factor. The man was reported in the Daily Trust of Nov-13-2012 to have confessed that he could have rigged Shekarau’s election in 2003 if he had succumbed to pressure from some people in his party. So had those people been able to persuade OBJ one wonders if rigging would not have defeated the slogan in Kano as it did in Katsina.

Then there was the most crucial role played by some retired Army officers (Gen. Bashir Magashi, Gen. Jerry Useini and AVM Mukhtar Mohammed) who as ANPP agents thwarted PDP’s local rigging machine and prevented compromised officials of INEC from rigging the election. These Generals, assisted by retired Majors and Captains, were the real ‘conquerors’ of rigging. So much for the myth of “Sak”!

In conclusion, we all have the right to revere our leaders and criticize others without overstepping the bounds of law. Every politician has his ardent supporters and strident critics. Hence, party supporters should avoid subjective criticisms or use of innuendoes to describe other leaders while jealously guarding the reputation of their own. Doing so is liable to retard our nascent democracy and ultimately the nation as a whole.

Muhammad, former Special Adviser to Shekarau, wrote from Hotoro, Kano < aumo21@yahoo.com>