Every day we get closer to the 2011 presidential election. In spite of the many contestants that have sprang up and are warming up to participate in the presidential contest, some of the potential candidates are yet to unleash their blue prints and reasons why they should be elected as President of Nigeria by 2011. The credibility of candidates is being relegated to the background in view of the turning issue of zoning, which we all believe, was introduced for selfish interest and to also cause diversion and create confusion. However, among the known Presidential hopefuls, only Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, the Sardaunan Kano appears focused and has always talked about issues rather than sentiment and animosity. He is simply a candidate that have always addressed issues, zoning or no zoning. If he is eventually presented by his party, ANPP, he is going to be a candidate to beat when the 2011 presidential poll is finally conducted. The reasons for this assertion are not far-fetched as follows:

1. Achiever and performer per excellence: As the people's governor, Shekarau was able to give much attention to the basic needs and aspirations of the people such as creation of employment opportunity, provision of good access roads, rural and urban electrifications, promotion of both western and Islamic education, making hospital accessible to people through the provision of drugs and free hospital cards, rehabilitation of dilapidated hospitals and building of new ones. He also provided basic tools for improvement of agriculture, enhancement of transportation system through provision of tricycle vehicles known as "Adaidaita Sahu", improvement of water supply through enhanced water treatment plant and increase in daily supply and the provision of structural and human development, etc. All these performances are responsible for his many awards and honours by the progressive minds across the country.

2. Ambassador of Peace: Peace, unity and stability are the basic ingredients of advancement and progress. No society that is bereft of these basic attributes can achieve success. Shekarau has religiously ensured that people leave in peace without rancour by doing things that unite the people and avoiding things that divide them. This is not to say that people are totally free from friction. But he has always tried to ensure reduction of friction and squabbles to barest minimum as we have seen in his leadership disposition in the last six years in Kano State.

3. Consistent: Shekarau is highly known for his consistencies and steadfastness because he is a principled leader. He does not believe in robbing Peter to pay Paul. This explains why in spite of all odds, he remains the last man standing in the northwest geo-political zone of Nigeria. He does not hop from one party to another bearing in mind that political prostitution is a negation of political ideas and ideals. Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano state has been described as the last man standing in northwest geo-political zone and one of the last saviours of the nation. The assertion was made by an elder statesman and renowned playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka when he paid a solidarity visit to the governor in Kano. The Professor said based on the determination of the governor as a person who finds honour in respecting the mandate given to him by Kano people, he deserves to be highly commended. Wole Soyinka pointed out that as a person who has been so passionate to democracy "we symbolically and morally lend solidarity to people like Governor Shekarau for his wonderful performances among other things that is why I am in Kano."

4. Democratic prowess: He is a democrat and has never truncated democracy or democratic proceedings in whatever form. This is because he knows that it is through democracy that people can realize their wishes and aspiration. Thus, he has always allowed people to have their way and say. During his second term primary election, he allowed his deputy to contest with him without any form of coercion. Thus, his deputy was able to test his acceptance with the people, courtesy of Shekarau's democratic prowess.

5. Dependable, dedicated and principled: Governor Shekarau is trustworthy, workaholic and highly dependable. These basic attributes have seen him through many difficult waters. He listens to all but always endeavours to do the right thing. He is a leader who does not believe in jumping to conclusion, always giving way to reason before embarking on any cause of action. All these have been responsible for the many successes he has recorded so far in his administration as the only leader in Kano State who has served two terms as the governor of the most populous and politically sophisticated state in Nigeria.

6. Easily forgives: Governor Shekarau is a leader that forgives whatever wrong done to him. This is a man who was demoted from being a Permanent Secretary to a class room teacher by the power of his predecessor. When he also became governor of the state, he bears no grudges or ill-feelings against him. Rather, Shekarau ensures that the opposition counselors whose allowances were not paid by his predecessor were paid by him without malice or sign of vengeance. This is unlike if his immediate predecessor were to be in his shoes. Closely related to Shekarau's act of forgiveness is the habit of giving the oppositions their due rights. This type of attribute increases pace of development and enhancement of peace and unity among the people.

7. Empowers women and youths: The rights and empowerment of women are prominent in the governance of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. His Ministry for Women Affairs ensures the rights and empowerment of women in the state. It is during Shekarau administration that the restive youths are adequately settled in gainful employment and schools against the background of the fact that an idle man is a devil man's workshop. This effort drastically reduced crime rate in the state. This is also the target of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau for the youths and women of Nigeria when he becomes the President of the country in 2011 by the special grace of God.

8. Freedom of Expression: The free flow of information about governance is very crucial in democracy. It is on record that Shekarau gives free hands to both government and private media to operate without any form of coercion and attempt to doctor such media contents. He is the most media friendly governor in Nigeria. If Shekarau is voted as President of Nigeria in 2011 by the special grace of God, the type of draconian decree four of 1984 used to cajole and imprison journalists will be unheard of. Shekarau gives less attention to deliberate media hypes and destructive criticisms by the oppositions and partisan media onslaughts aimed at moving him and his government away from good governance, believing that whoever is too big to be criticized should also be too small to be praised. This principle advances progress and has given his government good direction.

9. Hard work and integrity: He is known for his hard work, integrity and steadfast approach to issues. As a result of these, his administration in Kano established Anti-corruption and transparency department, which has handled many cases. His government also discloses revenue and expenditure on monthly basis through his Ministry of Finance. He also established the Directorate of Monitoring and Evaluation that acts as checks and balances on contract awards and executions. This ensured that every contract is monitored to avoid delays and abandonments.

10. Impeccably transparent: It is not surprising that in May 2005, a visiting senior official of the PDP-led federal government, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), former Attorney General of the federation and Special Adviser on Ethics and good governance to the former President Obasanjo pronounced Malam Ibrahim Shekarau Nigeria's most transparent and vibrant governor. Similar commendation came from the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC), retired Justice Emmanuel Ayoola who had advised other state governments to emulate Shekarau by setting up anti-corruption agencies such as the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Directorate (PCACD).

11. Intelligent: As a teacher in Mathematic, Shekarau knows his onion pretty well. You cannot manipulate and jungle figures against him with the consent of cheating the system. Some of the billions of public money diverted and stolen by PDP leadership since the party came to power some eleven years now are as a result of manipulations of figures, which most of our leaders are ignorant about.

12. Internationally recognized: Governor Shekarau is not a local champion that concentrates his focus on local matter alone. He is a man that is internationally exposed and widely travelled. As we know, travelling enhances education and experience. He has on many occasions been invited to present papers at the international level where he brain stormed on issues that affect Nigeria and Nigerians, both at home and Diasporas. In November 2004, the former President Obasanjo appointed Shekarau to lead a powerful multi-layer public section team to Argentina to study the South American country's debt management initiatives. All experiences he garnered as a result of his interaction with the world community will be added advantage to his leadership experience in the country's transformation.

13. Justice and equity: Democracy is all about justice and fairness. This is what Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, the Sardaunan Kano represents. In 1999, two civil servants were dismissed on alleged diversion of public money. The two civil servants later appealed. A committee was set up to look into the case in which Shekarau was the Chairman. After thorough investigation, the civil servants were found guilty of committing the offence. Shekarau said it was not fair for the system to simply ask the culprits to go without recovering the public money so diverted by them. The civil servants were however reinstated and subsequently given compulsory retirement. Their retirement benefits were used to recover the public money so diverted by them in addition to the refund made to the government by each of the two culprits. In this case, justice has been done to the system. If civil servants realize that whatever they steal from the public coffers will be recovered and still lose their job, they will avoid doing so as it does not profit them. This will bring sanity to the system than allowing such people to go away with their misdeeds. It is unfair to the public that owns the fund. Even though, the two civil servants involved still went ahead to challenge the decision in court, justice and fairness is seen to have been done.

14. Nationalist: As a patriotic citizen of Nigeria, Governor Shekarau is a leader that accommodates every body irrespective of tribe, religion, sex and region. He has travelled wide and breadth of the country. His appointment of non-indigenes into his cabinet and the honour he has received in Osun, Anambra, Plateau, Niger and other parts of the country are cases in point.

15. People's leader: Governor Shekarau is a man that believes in a government where the interest and well being of the people are protected and of paramount importance. As the two terms governor of Kano State, his administration executed people's oriented projects in its improvement of agricultural yields, massive road constructions and rehabilitations, opening of new incentives and moving the people from the nadir of poverty to the limelight of recognition.

16. Populist: Governor Ibrahim Shekarau is a household name in Nigeria. Before he became Governor in 2003, he was a civil servant and a teacher who impacted on millions of people. The beneficiaries of Shekarau's knowledge cut across the nook and cranny of the country that hardly any minute passes away without been talked about. As a new generation politician, Shekarau seems to have created good impression for a start that has really contributed to the growth of his political wings.

17. Respect for traditional leaders: Shekarau is a leader that does not disparage traditional leaders. He considers them as partners in progress. The significant role of traditional leaders in the development and progress of the society is what Governor Ibrahim Shekarau adores. This explains the enhanced relationship between his government and traditional rulers across the country.

18. Security Conscious: Shekarau pays high premium to security of life and property in his governance. As the Chief Security Officer of his state, he takes every security matter with high level of seriousness. This is because of his concern for peace and safety of the people irrespective of their origin. This accounts for the relative peaceful atmosphere his state has been enjoying in the past six years, leading to influx of people and investors into the state. This area has been a source of envy to some opposition who would have wanted heavy crises for the state. If Shekarau becomes President of Nigeria in 2011, there is no doubt that indeed Nigeria will be a home for every one irrespective of tribe, religion, cultural and religious differences. He did it in Kano and will also do it for the rest states in Nigeria and beyond.

19. Technology personified: As a graduate of science, Shekarau has the penchant desire to provide technological development, which society deserves for life improvement. In this direction, he embarked on ICT project for technical and human developments. In this direction, the administration of Shekarau also established the Ministry of Science and Technology towards the development of this core area.

20. Vibrant reconciler: The surest way to stop a crisis is to prevent the cause and nip the trouble in the mud by addressing the issue in time. Realizing the harm unresolved crises could cause to business environment as Kano, the Shekarau administration has had cause to intervene and resolve some trade disputes among some business interests that would have hitherto degenerated into high level crises that would horrendously affect the peaceful conduct of businesses in the state. The people acknowledge the various steps taken by government in resolving the naughty problems that would have escalated if not its timely diplomatic intervention. It is this spirit of togetherness irrespective of whatever differences that the various business concerns operating in the state are endeavour to live peacefully with one another in the state.

It is in realization of the above twenty potential qualities of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, the Sardaunan Kano in his leadership dispositions that made the good people of Nigeria to call on him to contest in the 2011 presidential election. Except for jealousy, hatred, envy and greed, there is no other reason why with free and fair election and if his party nominates him as her flag bearer, Shekarau should not win the 2011 presidential election, not minding whose ox is gored. Whatever it is, time shall tell.

Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano- [email protected]

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