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SHEKARAU AS AGENT OF CHANGE

By NBF News

August 5, 2010 has opened a new vista in the political history of Nigeria at least from the boring discussion of the PDP zoning wahala, but remarkable because Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Sardaunan Kano and governor of Kano, formally declared his intent to vie for the presidency of this country.  Since his emergence on the nation's political scene, Shekarau has always been regarded as a dark horse. In all his contests for political offices, very few people have reckoned with him. He has always been dismissed as a non-starter, and this included the first time he contested and won the presidential election of the All Nigeria Conference of Principals (ANCOPSS).

When he contested the 2003 gubernatorial election in Kano State, virtually nobody gave him any chance. He was a permanent secretary who was downgraded to the position of a classroom teacher by the then governor. More so, he did not abuse the many high offices he held to amass any wealth. People justifiably felt he stood no chance. The multitude of pessimists included this writer. But against all odds, Shekarau won that election, defeating the incumbent governor that maltreated him, in a landslide.

When he sought to contest for second term in 2007, first, there was the famous jinx, which, in Kano's political history, no leader has succeeded in breaking. It is to do with no one before Shekarau had succeeded in winning election as governor of Kano State for two terms. But the man of destiny defied all odds, including what was meant to be insurmountable hurdles deliberately placed on his way by the then president and his lackeys, as well as the person riding on ANPP's platform to contest for the presidency. At the end, however, Shekarau entered books of history as the first person to win for second term office of governor of Kano State .

Now, as the end to the second term of Shekarau in office is few months away, he is listening to the clarion calls from his teeming supporters all over the country to have a shot at the presidency. All thought it was a joke, but the man of history made his intention known on August 5, 2010 to declare his intention to contest for the highest office in the land in order to continue his selfless service. His integrity is not in doubt, as he is an honest man, who Nigerians know as dedicated servant leader, whose disposition to selfless leadership is remarkable.

Unlike many of today's politicians, Shekarau does not start building a record of credibility now but he started this from his childhood days. A peep into his record which could be easily verified in secondary schools in Kano, such as Community Commercial College, where he won the end of the year best behaved student for five years consecutively from 1968 to 1972, while in 1985 he received a letter of commendation from the then Inspector General of Police, Etim Iyang, for exceptional contribution to Police Community Relation Committee. He has also bagged a lot of letters of commendation from his then employer, Kano Ministry of Education, in 1982, when he produced the best GCE result in Kano State as a school principal in Hadejia. To add to some of his laurels, in April 1986, he was commended as a school head that collected the highest revenue as a principal in Birnin Kudu; and the list is not exhaustive.

This is not limited to Kano State alone. Various Nigerian communities and institutions have bestowed on him awards and traditional titles, the latest being Wazirin Raya Kasar Nupe conferred on him by Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, on June 26, 2010. All these awards are obtained from credible institutions and individuals, not just anything goes of honours.

Perhaps, what endeared him more to the people of Kano State and Nigerians is not unconnected with his a detribalized person. While declaring his intention to contest for the presidency in 2011, Governor Shekarau noted that he had come to put an end to what he called transactional politics, which had undermine the nation's growth and settle for transformational politics, which he assured ANPP supporters his presidency would offer.

The ANPP presidential candidate attributed the loss of hope in government by Nigerians to the uninspired leadership that PDP had provided and assured the gathering of change. He catalogues some of the yearnings of Nigeria to include 'it is common knowledge today, Nigerians of every standing and circumstances are struggling relentlessly to improve their lives. And they are yearning for an operating environment that is rule based and transparent. They are tired of a system that is weak and often unpredictable; a system of rent seeking, and a system where hardly anything gets done without some waste of resources. They are tired of the Federal Government that is not working for them; a government that couldn't create jobs, a government that couldn't fulfill its pledge to entrench rule of law; attain food security; deliver electricity in spite of repeatedly shifted deadlines and changed promises.

He said: 'What is lacking is a focused leadership that will do what it takes to tackle our problems. I am convinced that with discipline, sustained focus and by applying ourselves, we can address the challenges facing us as a nation.'

Though this seems to be an agenda, it is pertinent to look at few antecedent of the man. As a governor, it was learnt that he awarded a contract of N5.6 billion for the construction of Tamburawa Water Treatment Plant, but never cared to know who the contractors were as he never allowed them any access to him. All he cares to know was their technical depth and competence to carry out the job; so also with nearly all the contracts awarded by his government. He also has to his credit the most cost effective and biggest water treatment plant, in Tamburawa village, producing 150 million litres of clean water daily. He has built and equipped hospitals and schools, including those of Giginyu, Zoo and Katsina road, which is a unique urology centre manned with some of the best  medical doctors in that critical field.

Perhaps, Shekarau has considered his ability to transform his people as one of his greatest achievements.

He has done this through reorienting them to be their brothers' keepers and preached love for one another. This is why Kano is no longer the flash point it used to be for decades, when, at slightest prompting, some people can descend on non-indigenes and cause all sorts of destruction. Non-natives live very peacefully, without fear of attack from anywhere.

After all said and done, Nigerians need a brand new leader who they can readily trust, especially at this dicey stage in the nation's history. It is time now that Nigerians need to believe more in themselves and ability of their country to help them achieve their manifest destiny.

-Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin