The defeat of Senator Shehu Sani in the 2019 general elections was a historic and patriotic duty that Governor Nasir El-Rufai owed the good people of Kaduna state to accomplish and to its very logical conclusion. Had El-Rufai failed in stopping Shehu Sani’s bid to return to the senate, history would have judged him harshly, for allowing him get away with his bad political behaviours, which would have further emboldened not just Shehu Sani, but many others coming behind to toe the same path of political rascality with firm assurance that there would be no dire consequences and the view that it’s rewarding to be a disloyal party member.
The unequivocal statement to Shehu Sani and his co-travelers which the March 9, 2019, defeat eloquently delivered, was “when you choose your behaviour, you have chosen your consequences.” And very fundamentally that party politics has rules, expected standard of behaviour and that not everything goes in politics. It’s the behaviour of the likes of Shehu Sani that has created the negative image for political parties as “standing for nothing” and as opportunistic vehicles for electoral contests. The truth is that in politics there are fundamental political principles and rules.
Shehu Sani is like most rich kids who have never been accountable for any of their actions and have refused to grow up, because of a confounding sense of entitlement that society owes them the right to behave in any manner they deem fit. Except for the Sani Abacha era when Abacha got tired of his rants and locked him away, from 2015-2019 Shehu Sani in a mistaken exaggerated sense of importance, exhibited tendencies that suggested that he was above the All Progressives Congress (APC), which made him. But for El-Rufai he would have gotten away with his rascality due to strong backers like Bola Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole. It was the support that emboldened Shehu Sani to consistently take divergent positions with the party on almost every issue – from its war on corruption to its educational policies, thus creating the impression of a house divided against itself.
The pertinent question for Shehu Sani and his supporters, who cheered him on is why join a party that you are opposed to everything it stands for, that you are so pissed off with that you can describe the president elected on the party’s platform as “dumb”? Political parties are after all, an organised group of people with similar ideas about how a country should be governed. Naturally, there would be differences in the implementation of policies, but those differences can be sorted out without name calling and working through the various organs to effect changes. But when such differences are fundamental people have been known to quietly quit the party and form their own parties.
The truth is that Shehu Sani’s membership of the APC was opportunistic, just like his human rights “activism” – the platform that thrusted him to national limelight during the military era. And there is no question about it that like other human rights “entrepreneurs” that Shehu Sani struck gold. He is, for instance, the life president of the one man Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRCN), which he founded and has remained the only known member, unlike the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) that has several known members other than Olisa Agbakoba, the founder. I challenge Shehu to publish the names of his members, the sources of funding and an audited account of his one man congress.
The fact remains that throughout Senator Shehu Sani’s career, be it during the NGO days or politics, neither his words nor actions ever matched the image of a revolutionary he seeks to paint. Thankfully, his desperation to retain his seat at all cost ,including without going through the primaries and his endless trips to Daura to court the support of a man (Buhari) that was consistently the butt of his jokes stripped him bare. But he deserves some credit for creating and sustaining that “image”, especially amongst southerners, of a rebel, the conscience of a backward and decadent north, when in every respect he is not different in any significant way from those he criticises.
Since his crushing defeat and consequent loss of job Shehu Sani has taken his rascality in the name of criticisms to new heights. For instance there is no evidence of Shehu Sani’s contribution as a senator towards a better society by putting in place measures that would have ensured that insecurity became history. Rather like Donald Trump who promised to “drain the swamp”, he became part of the Abuja swamp, confirming that he stands for nothing beyond rhetoric. It’s obvious that Shehu Sani is a misguided revolutionary like Solomon Dalung, former sports minister, who equates socialism to drinking tea with the downtrodden masses in the West of Mines and dressing in green or red beret.
Thankfully Shehu Sani has tested his “popularity” at the polls and without the support of Buhari and the APC that had long been at the receiving end of his tongue he lost. It’s a shame that he has refused to learn the lessons that political opportunism doesn’t pay, especially as he is expected to return to the party to help Tinubu win the presidential ticket of the party for the 2023 elections. Oshiomhole’s attempt to hand over Kaduna central senatorial district, using his power, woefully failed, and remains a blur on his and Shehu Sani’s democratic credentials, because automatic ticket is unknown to the APC constitution. In Niger state where they succeeded, the Supreme Court has since thrown out the beneficiaries of the automatic tickets.
For the South which has continuously been searching for “progressive” northerners, Shehu Sani might be your hero, but the critical people of Kaduna state certainly know that he is not their hero because he is not only lacking in principles, but is an opportunist. Shehu Sani is a man who riles against “injustice”, but who perpetuates grave injustice against the downtrodden masses he claims to represent.
Post script: Senator Shehu Sani if there is any humanity left in you, kindly pay the family of late Rabiu Khalid, the Director-General of your campaign organisation and legislative assistant, his entitlements.
Ado writes from Kaduna.