Who Is Governor Shekarau? A Rejoinder: The Presidential Candidate - Nigerian 2011

28 January 2011

By Saka Raji Audu 

It is now evidently clear that the Governor of Kano State, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau has emerged the Presidential candidate of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) after his landslide victory in a keenly contested presidential primary by the party on 16th January 2011. The overwhelmed victory of Shekarau to emerge his party candidate for the scheduled April 9, 2011 Presidential election in Nigeria has been causing sleepless nights to his detractors and political opponents.  

Like adding salt to injury, I recently published a well articulated but analytical piece titled, "Shekarau: The President-in-waiting", which succinctly shows that Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau was on his way to occupy the Aso Villa after the April 9, 2011 general election. This again heightened the heart-beats of his pocket oppositions and such oppositions are daily looking ways to reduce his chances, at least, even if it means fabricating things against him. It is in line with this old fashioned style of confronting one's foe that one Mr. Azu Robert-Mary quickly wrote and published an article, "Who is Gov. Shekarau " currently posted on the website of the Nigerian Village Square (NVS), dwelling on false and malicious claims of some ill-informed persons that Shekarau was 'responsible' for the May 11, 2004 violence in Kano, which spilled over from Plateau, Jos.  

Since Azu Robert-Mary got his reference from the so called research published by Olufemi Oluniyi of the University of Leuven, Belgium in July 2008, four years after the crisis; and he is interested to know the role of Governor Shekarau, permit to also elucidate the enviable role of the governor in saving the ugly situation in Kano during the May 11, 2004 Yelwa-Shendam spill-over crisis in Kano as follows.  

The burden of truth is truly appreciated except from the premise of falsehood. Propagandists claim that falsehood repeated severally acquires the notion of truth. Problem is falsehood dressed as truth peels off quickly because it cannot stand the rigorous exposure to the elements which truth, no matter how late, would unleash.  

The Kano riots of May 11 2004 gave mischief makers a platform to sow and water the seed of falsehood which they expect to stick around the person of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor of Kano state.  

Allegations of bias and negligence have been leveled against this innocent man after hoodlums hijacked a genuinely peaceful rally organized by the Ulama in Kano, to kill and maim non-Muslims, destroying their properties, displacing thousands and disrupting the state hard won peace. It is an allegation that suits the mood of the moment as someone has to take the stick for the spate of regrettable violence that rocked parts of the nation. Unfortunately, the violence tag does not fit Malam Shekarau and therefore this falsehood can never stand. The Plateau crisis and its spill over to Kano don't make sense at all; it in fact, exposes the fragility of our experiment in nationhood.  

The Kano episode is even more baffling to keen observers in view of the widely applauded proactive measures and extensive consultations Malam Shekarau has initiated since assuming office in May 2003. Apart from reducing the crime rate to the barest minimum, the administration's security measures have effectively curtailed the 'Yandaba menace in Kano which had defied solution by previous administrations.  

It is paradoxical how any one could accuse Malam Ibrahim Shekara of bias and negligence when in actual fact he has thrown himself into winning the love and confidence of non Muslims in the state. Malam Shekarau is an acclaimed man of peace, an accommodator and harmonizer. How could he fail to protect the people whose welfare he is spending millions of Naira on, people who voted freely and massively for him and who had come to regard him as the true messiah of non-Muslims in Kano? 

From the beginning, Malam Shekarau had preached peace, tolerance and harmonious co-existence in Kano. Beyond pontification, one of his first actions after his electoral victory was to meet with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kano Chapter to reassure them of their security under his administration. He argued that safeguarding their lives and properties was also a religious obligation, as only a good Muslim can live peacefully with a non-Muslim neigbour, quoting the Holy Prophet (SAW) who lived peacefully among non-Muslims after he migrated from Makka to Medina. Malam Shekarau preached love, peace and good neigbourliness, a message the Christian leaders carried to their congregation. 

To get a firm grip on the security situation in Kano, Malam Shekarau institutionalized a monthly Security Council meeting. The result is there for all to see. Crime rate in Kano has never been this minimal in the history of Kano.  The outskirts are safe. The secret is the cordial relationship with security agencies in the state to which the state government extends material and moral support, despite being federal institutions. The Police in Kano especially have benefitted from this support. The Kano Police is better equipped to day to fight crime because the Governor believes that any Federal Agency domiciled in Kano deserves the State Government's support.  

One of the kind gestures of Malam to the Christian community was transferring all matters relating to Christian Pilgrimage to CAN. Before now, Christian Pilgrimage was co-coordinated by the Muslims Pilgrims Board, the Christian community rose as one to applaud this act of friendship. 

In October, 2003, score of Ibo traders were involved in a fatal motor accident along Abuja-Lokoja road. They were travelling to Lagos from Kano for business when they met their death. Many sustained injuries. As the entire Kano community sympathized with them, Malam Shekarau went personally to condole the bereaved families as he would do were they Hausa traders. The Governor then Handed out a whooping sum of N11 million to be shared among survivors and relatives of the victims who have lost their bread winners. This act of goodwill reverberated through out the state and Ibo Christian leaders from Kano. And even from the South East, there were words of praises for the Governor.  

Any person conversant with Kano fully appreciates the absence of social infrastructure in Sabon Gari, the quarters inhabited mainly by non-indigenes, predominantly only by Ibo Christians. Sabon Gari had been neglected by the previous government for nearly 20 years. It was Hamza Abdullahi administration in 1984 that carried out the last road maintenance in Sabon Gari which hosts a large concentration of business and hotels owned by non-indigenes. Today, Sabon Gari has received a facelift, courtesy of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. Major roads have been reconstructed by reputable engineering company while the perennial shortage of portable water is being tackled head on. 

The road construction and rehabilitation in Sabon Gari has truly given non-indigenes hope that they have a secured future in Kano State. The quality of work on the roads, the construction of gutters and culverts convince non-indigenes that this is a well-thought-out-plan, not a political gimmick.  

Could a Governor who invests so much energy, time resources and personal efforts in courting and sustaining this level of interaction with non-indigenes resident in the state harbour evil against them? Could Shekarau love and hate non-indigenes with equal favour? Common sense reasoning points otherwise. Shekarau was too involved in rebuilding the blocks of inter community exchange to be distracted by allegations of falsehood by mischief makers. Given his antecedents, Malam Shekarau has acquainted himself as a detribalized nationalist. As Governor, he has been open and accommodating to all shades of opinion and tendency.  

In March 2004, different interest and pressure groups organized demonstrations in Kano, pressing their needs through the Governor either for his personal attention or for the attention of the then President Obasanjo. For Instance, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) South West zone came marching to Kano to protest against the decision of the Federal Government to hike university bed-space fee from N90 to N10,000. The Governor received their letter to be forwarded to the President, gave them his support but cautioned them against resorting to violence impressing their demand. Afterwards, the policy was reversed.  

The association of Motorcycle Riders in Kano and Kofar Wambai traders have also demonstrated in Kano, marching to Government House to hand in their protest letters. They were also received by Governor Shekarau. As the father of the state, any aggrieved citizen can turn to him individually or collectively to seek redress. He cautioned against violence.  

Therefore, when the Ulama led a mammoth crowd of faithful to Government House to protest the killing of Muslims in Yelwan Shendam, the Governor was obliged to receive them as well. They too are stake holders in Kano. The influx of refugees fleeing the killing zones in Plateau caused great anxiety in Kano. The Ulama called for prayers at the Umar Bn Khattab Juma'at Mosque near Government House which was attended by over 10,000 Muslims. Eminent Muslim leaders in the state,  including the Venerable Sheikh Umar Kabo, Chairman, Council of Ulama, Kano State, who led the procession to register their anger with the Government over the killings.  

The Governor received their protest letter which he promised to deliver to the then President Obasanjo and as usual, cautioned them against any act of violence or reprisal action capable of jeopardizing peace in the state. 

It was while the peaceful protest was going on that news of riots and vandalism in some parts of the state broke out. It is therefore clear that the hoodlums who perpetuated the acts were never part of the procession to Government House, a procession that began and ended peacefully. They merely took advantage of the mounting tension to unleash mayhem.  

To his credit, the Governor managed the crisis adroitly and should be lauded, rather than criticized. He made a statewide Radio and Television broadcast where he appeals for calm and restraint.  His words were carefully chosen, appealing to the conscience and religious morality of the people.  

"I wish to remind the people of Kano State that we must learn to be guided by the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We must remember that a good Muslim is not expected to take law into their own hands and should not punish a person for the offence of another." 

"Those who lost their lives or had their properties destroyed in the inferno in the last two days did not have any thing to do with the occurrence in Plateau State." 

The Government keeps making a new broadcast each new day for three days, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the state on the first day of the riot, summoned an emergency security council meeting every day in four days and asked the then President Obasanjo to invite the Military to keep order. 

It is also his credit that the riots were extinguished on the same day they began contrary to previous cases where riots lasted upwards of three to five days. 

Deeply troubled by the tragic turn of events, Governor Shekasrau visited people who had flocked to Army and Police Barracks for Shelter, comforted them and assured them of their safety in the State. He ordered the release of funds to purchase drugs and medicaments for the Murtala Mohammed Specialists Hospital, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Kano where the bulk of the critically injured were receiving treatment. 

He also ordered the State Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Agency as well as the Ministries of Health and Environment to assess the situation and assist the refugee centres. He promised to apprehend the perpetrators of the violence and bring them to justice.  

In the end, what matters is not what structures of falsehood against the Governor were erected on quicksand but the strong pillars of truth upon which Malam Shekarau's iron-cast reputation rests. A man of peace cannot wage war, and not against a segment of his constituency with whom he is in good terms.  

It is time to forget and forgive and page over the tragic event of May 11th in Kano that happened about seven years ago. There is also a piece of advice for those maligning the good name of Malam Shekarau. His good works and honest intentions, his overtures to Christians, his large heart and accommodation of non-indigenes, his vast army of admirers within and outside Kano and his genuine effort to empower non-indigenes through infrastrural reconstruction and re-development will continue to stand him in good stead long after the trauma of the May 11, tragedy is gone. 

In all what happened, where can a reasonable person fathom the so called complicity of the governor in the unfortunate crisis? Still all of the above shows who is governor Shekarau and with his good leadership role in the Kano crisis of May 2004, we can now see that Messrs Azu Robert- Mary, Sam Egwu and the so called researcher, Olufemi Oluniyi at Leuven university have only expressed their various opinions about the statements credited to them in the spill over Yelwa-Shendam crisis in Kano of May 2004. Even, seven years of that inferno, various crises have been taking place in Plateau till date but none of Egwu, Robert-Mary and Olufemi Oluniyi has said any thing about it up till date, perhaps principally because the state involved is predominantly inhabited by Christians and they are Christians.  

As for Shekarau presidential ambition, the moving train of success has started the journey in earnest on a clean note and by the special grace of God, it will reach Aso villa unscathed, no matter the falsehood dish out by religious bigots and ethnic chauvinists under the sponsorship of desperate oppositions who are not sure of their own destination.  

It is worrisome that Brazil built power plant for 120,000MW in three years with a loan, which they paid in another three years. South Africa has awarded a contract for generation of 5000MW at just $3billion. But our PDP government has spent $17 billion in 11 years but yet cannot even give 2000 Mega Watt of electricity. It is our time to decide and no amount of cosmetic religious bigotry as espoused by Robert Mary, Egwu and Olufemi Oluniyi will change Nigerians' mind from casting their precious votes for the man who can truly bring about progress as he has done to the people of Kano in the last eight years. Nigerians are eager to cast their votes for Shekarau as President of Nigeria in April 2011 because they know that with Shekarau as their President, Nigeria will be great.


Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: sakaraj@yahoo.com



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