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Nigeria at 60: Nation of woes and ‘The Shehu Sani’s elusive solution’

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Few days from now, Nigeria will be celebrating her 60 years of independence. Any rational right thinking citizen who was of age on 1st October, 1960 that witnessed the handing over of the territory called Nigeria to the indigenous leaders would have envisaged a prosperous nation; a nation devoid of ethnic, religious and cultural differences, but unity and faith for a greater Nigeria that was ready to champion African leadership.

Six decades after, it’s being leadership tragedy. Nigeria and her people have not had the best of times. To say that it’s better for the colonial masters to continue their hold on the leadership of the nation wouldn’t be out of context, if the current social malaise are anything to go by.

Even the federalism and democratic system of governance being practised has been left suffocating with the citizens, particularly the downtrodden at the receiving end. The context and philosophy of democracy, “government of the people by the people and for the people”, is a mere theory that doesn’t have its substance in Nigeria’s brand of democracy.

Since 1999 when the nation returned to democractic governance, there have been nothing about civilian administration that proved a vantage point above military interregnum in politics. Unfortunately, therefore, politics which should have been a platform for credible leadership has been highjacked by crooks; those who are bereft of leadership ideas and unfortunately, some religious and tribal irredentists who initially pretended to be on the side of the masses only to cause irredeemable and collateral damages Nigeria is witnessing in the 21st century.

Flipping through this piece, one wonders, why ‘the Shehu Sani solution?’

Comrade Senator Shehu Sani, a civil rights activist and President of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria is that Nigerian who has been crusading for egalitarian society. His passion and patriotism for a Nigeria where there are equal rights for citizens irrespective of religion and tribe has unarguably brought him into direct confrontation with governments of the day on several occasions.

Truly, different people are wired to do things differently, but Shehu Sani’s advocacy for Civil rights and respect for the rule of law has been unequalled in a society where majority of people sold their consciences for political favours.

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Talking about Nigeria’s chequered history in the last 60 years with travesty of governance where politicians are building fiefdoms at the expense of the commoners, Senator Shehu Sani who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial district in the eight National Assembly and former Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts would be the saddest person. What is in vogue, albeit what the ruling party is celebrating as dividends of democracy is nothing, but mediocrity in the real sense of it.

Juxtaposing pre-colonial and neo-colonial era in terms of infrastructure and human welfare vis-a-vis a just and free society, which is the crux of civil rights focus that Shehu Sani has advocated for decades, was unfortunately have been the squeezing and deliberate move by the elite to maintain a vacuo between the bourgeois and the prolectrate. A situation that drives the interest of the privilege in the society against the commoners.

While in the 8th Senate, Shehu Sani who got to the Senate on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 was one of the best lawmakers who’s contribution during plenary was that of a patriotic Nigerian rather than a party man. He has always been detailed in his presentation. He has grasp of art and science of lawmaking, though, a first timer to the Senate, Shehu Sani’s insistence on good governance for Nigerians, saw him challenging ills and anachronistic actions of APC government at the time.

A man who wouldn’t pretend about his feelings, he once stopped Kaduna State from accessing World Bank loan as Chairman of Foreign and Local Debts in the 8th Senate, when it was not necessary for Kaduna State government to access the loan. Though, his stance was misinterpreted by his critics and political traducers who lay in wait to take pound of flesh politically, being who he is, he stopped the loan.

The eight Senate was highly dependent on the cerebral firepower of the likes of Shehu Sani and others to drive the legislative agenda of the Upper Chamber which was sometimes considered an opposition to the executive arm of Government.

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One recalls, his debate on the bills creating “Northeast Development Commission (NEDC)”, which today has become operational. Sani at the time insisted that a Commission be established with a mandate to reconstruct wreaks and havocs occasioned by the Boko Haram attacks.

Always taking to the part of risks, which he had always been known for, he chaired an “ad-hoc Committee on “Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in Northeast”, that investigated alleged “grass-cutting contract scandal to the tune of N200 million”, involving the erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal. Though, the executive arm of Government tried to play the ostrich initially vide a letter, President Muhammadu Buhari personally wrote to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Babachir was later eased out of office upon conviction of Senator Sani’s led Ad-hoc Committee report which recommended the suspension of SGF from office.

It was no surprise that he was bullied out of the All Progressives Congress when he bidded for a return to the Senate. But in saner climes, if a political party should lose the person of Comrade Shehu Sani’s standing, and the party bigwigs and stakeholders are undeterred, then something is wrong with the system and the people. One could say, dearth of men of quality and tested characters are the reasons for Nigeria’s backwardness.

The insecurity in Nigeria is damning by the day with the global rating of Nigeria as the 3rd most terrorists nations of the world. Security or insecurity of any nation, the world over, is a summation of what the government in power was actually doing. In combating terrorism, banditry and kidnapping, the ruling All Progressives Congress has more questions than answers. Where are the likes of Senator Shehu Sani who may have genuine solutions to the challenges bedeviling the country? For now, the solutions are elusive!

Kaduna State, basically could be said to be a micro Nigeria, given its historical State that was headquarters to native authorities. Most personalities who have made indelible marks in the history of Nigeria have either lived in Kaduna or schooled in the state. Back then, Kaduna was home to all, loved by all before the fall of industry and industrialisation that saw Kaduna State a ghost of itself as well as other states due to questionable leadership of the country.

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The narrative of Kaduna State today is horrific. Things have suddenly changed for the worst. Killings and the unprecedented arson going on in Southern Kaduna Senatorial district, though, under reported is reminiscent of ‘Somalia’, with no hindsight of solutions. The trajectory of crisis in Southern Kaduna is a manifestation of the lack of leadership. To state the obvious, if Shehu Sani was to be the governor of Kaduna State, would the crisis have lingered this long? If he had been saddled with executive powers, as it were, would he have made inflammatory statements in obvious provocation of a section in the feud? Would Shehu Sani have engaged in financial inducement of criminals for them to be better equipped to attack the vulnerable communities? These questions and others are left in the public domain for further analysis.

Shehu Sani is the only Senator among the 109 them in the Bukola Saraki led 8th Senate, dead or alive; in government and out of government that still keep a line of communication with me as a correspondent that covers the Nigerian Senate and so, it’s easier to have a perspective of him as a man who is on the side of the masses. Perhaps, the only four years he spent between 2015 and 2019 was grossly inadequate a time that Kaduna people has benefitted from what he has to offer.

It’s therefore incumbent on the people, particularly the younger generation who yearns for genuine political leadership to scout for Senator Shehu Sani once again. In essence, like Shehu Sani, like many other patriotic Nigerians elsewhere, if solutions to the nation’s daunting challenges were not coming from the leaders, the led should generate their own solutions, else, for another 60 years, Nigeria will still remain where it is.

Samson Atekojo Usman is a journalist and based in Abuja.

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