Shekarau's presidency: Between Sheme's fear and the truth of the matter
I read the Saturday Column of Ibrahim Sheme of the Leadership newspaper titled, "My Fear for Shekarau" published in the August 7, 2010 edition of the paper. In his attempt to showcase the good qualities of Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau that should qualify him to be voted as the next President of Nigeria in 2011, Sheme, at the same time, expressed some fears about certain factors that might hinder the realization of Shekarau's presidency next year. Although, Ibrahim Sheme has the right to express his opinion but I do not necessarily think that the factors that warranted his fear are strong enough to undo Shekarau's presidential ambition if truth is to be told. Before I debunk the factors against Sheme's phobia on Shekarau's presidency, it would not be out of place to correct the wrong impression created by Sheme's piece about the word "Mallam". Shekarau's "Malam" simply means a "teacher." Sheme is in the best position as a northerner to know that in the northern part of the country, the word, "Malam" is fondly used to refer to a teacher and this, I believe, was how Aminu Kano of blessed memory got his name "Mallam." Between 1992 and 1998, I was a teacher in the then School of General Studies, BUK. My students addressed me as "Mallam" and twelve years after leaving the institution as a teacher, the old students still called me Malam Saka, Raji or Audu as it is convenient to them whenever we meet. I think and I am sure that Ibrahim Sheme has full knowledge of this basic truth. But due to the position he wants to take in his present article, "My fear for Shekarau", he tries to pretend on this by writing that," Usually, a Mallam does not engage in a gamble. But Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau is now in the game. His, however, is not commercial gambling, the one we call caca in Hausa (pronounced chacha). His is political gamble." Then, what do they call political gamble in Hausa if I may ask? I think people like Babangida, Buhari, Atiku, etc are not prefixed "Mallam" perhaps, because they are not teachers. Incidentally, they are all in politics. Is Ibrahim Sheme telling his readers that these peoples' politics is not gamble because they are not called Mallam? Why the exception of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau's politics, which Sheme refers to as "gamble"? This is especially not so, in view of people's description of Malam Shekarau "as a consistent, God-fearing and patriotic leader."Some one of these attributes can never be said to be a gambler either in politics or commercial except for mischievous reason as in the case of my good friend, Mallam Ibrahim Sheme. He and his fellow travelers should therefore understand that what good people suffer, for not taking part in politics, is to be ruled as fools. Also, in Plato's words, "the punishment which wise men suffer, who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men." Now, let us come to the issue of Sheme's fear for Shekarau. There are three main factors why Sheme feels that Shekarau would not make it to presidency. These include his lack of money and material in view of the desperation of PDP to take over Kano by hook or crook. Secondly, the ANPP crisis in Kano as a result of his choice of his successor and thirdly, the Buhari factor because of the CPC presence in Kano. On the issue of whether or not Shekarau has the money to win the 2011 presidential election in view of the fact that 'Nigerian politics' has been seriously monetized, in which only the highest bidder carries the day. Although, money politics has really eaten down the fibre of our national political psyche, this factor alone contributed immensely to the endemic corrupt practices that have invaded our society and has in turn caused serious havoc and disaster to the country's progress and development. We must however and in all sincerity of purpose try to stop this ugly political trend that has caused us more harm than good. It is in realization of this fact that no one should expect money from Shekarau or his agents to exercise his civic responsibility. This is because any thing built on corruption would certainly crumble and does not last. This is particularly why our eleven years of democracy has been in a state of rancour, hopelessness and disaster. We should therefore be able to make change by casting our precious votes for Governor Shekarau because of his ability, strength of character, goodwill and integrity. It is by exercising this civic responsibility that our leaders can be responsible enough to give the country the desired change, progress and advancement. It is also by doing so that the electorate can honestly assess and evaluate their leaders and in the event of none performance, they would have the moral rectitude to condemn and use the same powerful votes to remove such none performing leader. But if we continue to think in line with how much one gets to be able to exercise one's voting right, then we should not expect our leaders to live up to our expectations because we could not simply had our cake and would still want to eat it. One is however not unmindful of the fact that as a result of the chronic poverty pervading the nation, there is the implication of people being susceptible to money- politics. It was in realization of the high level of poverty among the people due to diversion of public fund meant for development that made the disgraced former national Chairman of PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor to feel that PDP would rule for 60 years or take over Kano and Lagos in 2011 at all costs, knowing full well how much of public fund his party has diverted to purchase the electorates preparatory to 2011 election. People should know that what PDP leadership requires from the masses is just votes and not their welfare. This is why we must not allow this type of anti-masses show of shame to happen again as the 2011 beckons. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is a good example of how absence of money-politics can spur a leader to perform creditably for the interest of the masses. In 2003, PDP deployed and distributed huge sums of money so that Shekarau could be defeated. This was in addition to deployment of the federal might against the humble man, but all these went in vain as the Kano people massively voted and defended such votes in favours of Shekarau. In 2007, similar thing happened. There was internal conspiracy by some powerful party men who were jealous and envious of Shekarau's marvelous mass oriented achievements. They jacked up the cost of the governorship form, believing that Shekarau being a transparent and God-fearing leader who deprive them of the desire to loot the public fund, would not get money to purchase his second term governorship form. As a result of the many good things Shekarau did for the Kano masses, the Kano Pensioners in particular contributed money to purchase the second term governorship form for Shekarau to contest. In spite of all sorts of blackmails by some of his party caucus and the PDP to cripple the second term ambition of Shekarau, he went, saw and conquered at the poll. This was how he broke the Kano political jinx. Therefore, no one can pull down any person God has exalted. Whether or not Shekarau can win the presidency of this country is a matter of divine decision. Should ANPP decide to choose Shekarau as her flag bearer for 2011and heaven backs it up, no mortal can do otherwise. As a Nigerian and a humble servant to his people, Shekarau has the track record that qualifies him for any political position in this country. No individual or group of people, no mater how highly placed and powerful they are, should think that they can take decision(s) against the wish and desire of the entire populace. In view of this, Shekarau stands a good chance of winning the election of 2011 as the President if his party nominates him since he is healthy, energetic, project and human oriented, and prudent in financial management as well as enviably transparent in all his dealings. Nigerians need nothing less than these qualities. Secondly, Sheme should understand that Shekarau's endorsement of his successor cannot in any way affect his presidential mission. Sheme should hear this fact. In December 2009, some ANPP caucus met and reviewed Shekarau's performances. They concluded that Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is really a man to be trusted, having been tested. As a mark of respect and solidarity, they further agreed that whoever the governor pointed to them as his successor, will be supported. This open remark was in view of the too many people that were already eyeing his seat come 2011. The governor seemed not to agree with this. Instead, he told them to go and do research so that they can come up with a candidate among themselves. The ANPP caucus meeting in the state, which included most of the 2011 governorship contenders of Shekarau's seat, insisted that Shekarau must show them the way. After a wide range of consultation, the governor broke the ice to endorse one of the contenders in the person of Alhaji Salisu Sagir Takai, a former Commissioner in the administration. Suddenly and surprisingly too, the same people that insisted on the governor to lead the way for them on the person that he would like to succeed him revolted against his endorsement. The moral question involved in this issue is this. A leader of any type ought to be honest, truthful, reliable and steadfast. If this is the basic fact, then how comes about the double standard position of supposedly 'would be governors' that seem to have eaten their vomits? What were they thinking when they publicly asked the governor to endorse somebody for them? Do they think of the serious political implication of their renegade action? Does it mean that they are not honest, truthful, reliable and steadfast? If this is the case, what is the moral justification about their wish to take over the honest man's seat in 2011? This alone amounts to self disqualification and a failure of the litmus test on reliability and trust. By Shekarau's endorsement of Takai, he is simply saying that look, this is what you asked me to do and therefore, this is my preference but he is subject to confirmation through free and fair primary election. He did not say that Takai must be accepted at all costs. If the governor could allow free and fair primary election in 2007 between him and his former deputy in the person of Engr. Magaji Abdullahi, why should he not allow same for Takai and others? Shekarau is not the first leader to endorse successor. Obasanjo did it to the late President Umoru Yar'adua even though his former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was there to anoint but he didn't. How comes the same people that betrayed Shekarau that cried for his endorsement or anointment? On the issue of Buhari factor in view of CPC presence in Kano or elsewhere, it should be clear to Sheme and his likes that Nigerian politics is a very cumbersome and strenuous system that only men and women of strong double heart can endure and survive its temperament. Buhari and Shekarau are two political giants that have captured Nigerian political waves since 2003. This is not withstanding the fact that Buhari had registered his political presence as far back as in December 1983 when he led coup de'tat to oust a civilian government. Likewise, Shekarau had also put his name in the sand of time as far as in 1970s when he started his teaching career in the Kano state civil service . These two political magnets joined politics with common interest and circumstances. They both represent the interest of the masses and are in politics to salvage this interest. Perhaps, the one major difference between the two political icons is the fact that one has military orientation against the other. Still, their political struggle to serve and emancipate the masses started in 2003 when they both joined the All Nigerians People's Party (ANPP). The past record of service of these two renowned politicians is quite clean and unblemished. This, perhaps, explains why the two had to join the same political party to foster common goal of alleviating the masses. If Shekarau is destined to be President in 2011, there is nothing the Buhari factor can do. After all, Some Nigerians have wanted Muhammadu Buhari to be President since 2003. But, for the fact that his time has not come, nothing one could do other than to continue with the struggle. During the 2007 ANPP presidential primary, Malam Shekarau played prominent role in the final selection and acceptance of Buhari as the party presidential candidate as many other candidates were not willing to step down for him. Shekarau's political power of conviction saw the 'recalcitrant' candidates kowtowing and they eventually agreed to step down for Buhari as the party flag bearer, even though he could not win in the general election. This, in addition to other ways, is how Shekarau has equally reciprocated Buhari's 2003 gesture. So, it would be unfair for any one to think otherwise against Malam Shekarau. Even if Buhari had not left ANPP for CPC, Shekarau, as a Nigerian and like any other Nigerian, is qualified to vote and be voted for. Now that he has decided to seek nomination from his party as its presidential candidate, Buhari is also free to seek for the same position through his new party. This is part of what democracy is about. No body should take it as a betrayal because both Shekarau and Buhari are all presidential materials for the country, in view of their past pedigrees. People should be allowed to decide between the two. Again, in democracy, no one is born to rule. On the issue of his war against illicit film makers and writers, of which Ibrahim Sheme criticizes, to me the checks on the activities of the film makers are quite in order. The Kano filmmakers, which the Kano State Censorship Board, has fought to their demise, is a war against infection of morality and cultural adulterations mostly from love stories, books and other forms of indecent writings and film making, which have the tendencies of destroying what Kano holds as its pride. The concern of any one including perhaps the government is the future of our children. It will be rather too tragic and ignoble that our present children and the one yet unborn are being bequeathed with nude, lovemaking and such other immoral writings that have now invaded and dominated the psyche of our children. Perhaps, Ibrahim Sheme would have heard media report how a twelve-year-old girl got impregnated and later killed her child because of shame. It's in the light of this unfortunate development that some drastic measures were taken by our policy makers to avert the social convulsion threatening the future of our children. This moral war cannot affect Shekarau's presidency.
Incidentally, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau's presidential ambition is not a 'do or die' affair and there is no need for Malam Sheme to express unnecessary fear about winning or not winning. Shekarau's faith teaches him to leave the future alone until it comes. There is no need for us to be hasty in our judgment especially things that have yet to come to pass. It is not wise to pick fruits before they become ripe. Tomorrow is non-existent, having no reality today, so why should we busy ourselves with it? Why should we have apprehensions about future disasters? The important thing to know is that 2011 Presidential election is still five months away from us. We should prepare and leave the judgment until it comes. Why are we sad about election that has not taken place? For us to be engrossed in expectations about the future is looked down upon in our religion since it leads to our having a long term attachment to this world, an attachment that the good believer shuns. Indeed, the greatest fear is fear. What we require from Ibrahim Sheme for Shekarau's presidency is prayer and best wishes, nothing else. The issue of Bafarawa cannot be the same with Shekarau. So, Sheme is wrong to have insinuated such comparison between the two. We plan, they plan but God is the best planner. Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: http://us.mc10.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=