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Every sane person familiar with how things work in Nigeria knew a long time ago that the powers-that-be would come for Shehu Sani; it was not whether but when and how. Sani himself must have known this or could he have thought that the forces against which he was ranged were magnanimous and cultured enough to let him be? It must be that he was unfazed and had made up his mind to continue his advocacy, regardless whose ox is gored and not minding the dangers to his liberties and person. Now that they are trying to get him entangled in a murder charge, the senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly will have to be at his level best to have the better of his opponents. The National Assembly, especially so the Senate and its leadership, must also throw its full weight behind Sani if the frank-talking senator is not to go down or be silenced at the very least. A discerning and conscientious public is also needed to stand with Sani. Collectively, conscionable Nigerians must see through the shenanigans of Sani’s traducers and the complicity and deceit of viciously compromised military forces in the unfolding saga of charges of murder and criminal conspiracy they are trying to weave around Sani. Senators especially must be careful not to treat Sani’s case with levity because he becomes the second distinguished member of the red chamber that is being similarly assailed and roped-in by the powers-that-be; the other being Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi State.
Those alleging similarities between Sani and Melaye’s cases may not be far from the truth. Both senators are a thorn in the flesh of their respective state governors. Both, too, are also critical of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. Melaye not only sided with Senate President Bukola Saraki in his coup to upstage party leaders to clinch the coveted post, he has remained vociferous and upbeat in his support for the rebels. Someone described Dino as one of the most articulate and outspoken senators; he may be right. Melaye that I know does not do things by half; you may not agree with him but he invests passion, energy, and time in anything he finds worthy to do. When it was worth his while to fight the cause of “hairdresser” Speaker of the House of Representatives Olubunmi Etteh, he did so with braggadocio and without shame, jumping from table to table, chewing gum splashing in his mouth, with his robes torn in shreds right in the hallowed chamber. He may be loquacious and not your signature gentleman, but he delivers – and receives his compensation to boot. His influence under Etteh and the plum committee he controls in Saraki’s Senate testify to this. He was influential in his native Kogi, too, until fate dealt a cruel fate on a-quarter-to-governor Audu Abubakar. Influenced by his Senate group’s opposition to APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Dino supported current enfant terrible, Yahaya Bello, to become governor. For a while, both Dino and Bello got on well – until the bubble burst. Now, they are sworn foes. Bello is believed to have orchestrated an on-going INEC move to recall Dino from the Senate. The process has gone some way but the likelihood is that Dino, holding to the courts and confident of Saraki and the Senate’s unflinching support, will serve out his term.
Sani may not be as lucky as Dino in his own unfolding travails if he does not get enough outside support to rein in President Buhari, the Presidency cabals that he has poked funs at repeatedly, and Gov. el-Rufai, for whom he has no love-lost. Till tomorrow, we continue to quote Sani’s damning critique of Buhari’s laughable anti-corruption fight, to wit, that the president applies deodorant when the corrupt is his loyalists but wields insecticide when an opponent is involved. What a categorization! Permit me to repeat here a section of what I said in my “On the Lord’s Day” column in the last edition of the Sunday Tribune. It reads: “And talking about corruption, Senator Shehu Sani’s characterization of Buhari’s so-called anti-graft fight remains evergreen; I mean the deodorant and insecticide metaphor. This APC senator and nemesis of Gov. Nasir el-Rufai adroitly applies sarcasm. Remember his wolves, jackals, hyenas and lion characterization of the Cabals that have rendered Buhari impotent? Nigerians were amused when he took snake charmers to the JAMB headquarters to help charm the snake that reportedly swallowed JAMB’s N36million. It was a minus, though, that when monkey game was reportedly played on N70m APC senators’ money in custody of their caucus leader, Sani joined his colleagues to sweep the malfeasance under the carpet, treating it like PDP and the Goodluck Jonathan-era “family affair”. Sani, however, found his voice again when Buhari declared his second term bid last week. Waxing lyrical, he said Buhari chose not to be Mandela. Simple as that statement seems, it has deep meaning which, I hope, is not lost on Buhari. “Not a Mandela” means not as honourable as Mandela; and not as selfless and patriotic. Mandela was not enamoured of power but yielded his space for a younger person; that is generational shift. He respected his age; retired gracefully and sat back to help create a succession that stabilised his country. Not divisive, Mandela helped bring blacks, whites, coloured and all shades of opinions together for the good of his country. He had the constitutional right to second term but waived it. His people genuinely craved for him to continue but he politely declined. He knew when to quit – when the ovation was loudest – and allowed no cabal cajole him to soldier on. Mandela was a statesman; father figure; national and international icon who had dignity and lived a dignified life. He died truly mourned and greatly missed. He left indelible marks in the sands of time. Not being a Mandela means not being all of these. Thank you, Shehu Sani, for saying it as it is!
You can see that Sani has repeatedly stepped on powerful toes. In Kaduna, himself and another senator, Hunkuyi (Kaduna North), are leading a faction of APC opposed to the governor. With his foes seeking a second term in office, crushing Sani becomes a task that must be done. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the senator, who has the very useful background of pro-democracy activism, will be a hard nut to crack. Unfortunately, the pro-democracy constituency is not as active and solid as it used to be. The APC government has used patronage and filthy lucre to compromise many and reduce the others to shadows of their former vibrant selves. The ultimate losers in this whole saga – and whose loss will be irreversible in the long run – are, however, the police force. Never before has the police descended to an all-time low as under the current IGP. Merit sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity and cronyism breeds unqualified disaster.
You broke my heart with your write-up on Leah Shakiru. Indeed, Christian leaders and followers have failed God but I join my faith with Leah’s and pray that the power that raised Christ will enter Boko Haram’s camp and work for Leah’s release in Jesus name. Continue the good work and God bless you! – Jeremiah.