By its very nature, the democratic process spurs citizens to form opinions on a number of issues. Voters are called upon to choose candidates in elections, to consider constitutional amendments, and to approve or reject other legislative proposals.
Almost any matter on which the executive or legislature has to decide may become a public issue if a significant number of people wish to make it one.
The English philosopher and economist Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) saw the greatest difficulty of the legislator as being “in conciliating the public opinion, in correcting it when erroneous, and in giving it that bent which shall be most favourable to produce obedience to his mandates.”
But, whether public opinion is regarded as a constructive or a baneful force in a democracy, there are few politicians who are prepared to suggest in public that government should not ignore it.
Among the rare breed of public officials who usually seek to satisfy widespread demands—or at least take it into account in their deliberations—and who usually try to avoid decisions that they believe will be widely unpopular is the Senator representing Kaduna Central — Malam Uba Sani.
Uba has over time, mastered the fine art of making huge public capital out of popular public opinion sourced from casual encounters with ordinary citizens, receiving direct and online petitions, listening to callers on radio talk shows, and reading letters from concerned constituents.
He has quite expectedly also made enemies whose prejudices manifest at the slightest opportunity to comment on matters affecting or coming from him.
For instance these self-made commentators of half-truths always remember to paint a dark image around Uba Sani’s performance in the two years he has been in the Senate but pretend to skip his numerous strides in policy and constituency support efforts.
A recent example of those who take to writing without sufficient knowledge of the subject matter is one Israel Bulus who attempted an inaccurate analysis of 2023 possibilities in Kaduna state.
Rather than contribute to the intellectual materialism, Bulus only succeeded in giving meaning to fringe journalism and abuse of the collective sensibilities of his intended audience.
Since prejudices die hard, Bulus unresearched analysis, published in the Leadership newspaper of June 22, 2012 conveniently ignored recognizing Uba’s milestone in the Senate with a record of initiating 19 bills and several motions so far.
They lack the ordinary decency to acknowledge his support for the education of the poor that involves payment of WAEC/NECO fees for 175 indigent students from his constituency and secured jobs for people in Kaduna State University and some Federal Government agencies.
Blinded by prejudice, these self-styled political analysts would typically not remember that since his election, Uba has paid for CAC registration while training 1000 entrepreneurs in poultry and other businesses of the agro-allied companies.
He has paid hospital bills for victims of banditry attacks in Giwa, Kajuru and Birnin Gwari among others. Gave clothes, cash and foodstuff to all the IDP camps in the State.
Uba has taken it upon himself to distribute foodstuff during all festive seasons and stands out as the only lawmaker that has constituency offices in all the 7 Local Government Areas of Kaduna Central.
He is as well the first and only lawmaker to conduct a personal “Thank You” tour of his constituency after his swearing-in as Senator and has seen to the drilling of boreholes in all rural communities of his constituency.
Uba has periodically sponsored vocational training for youth, women and girls for economic self-reliance and has cultivated the habit of personally attending functions in his constituency, whether of marriage or death and making huge donations.
It is obvious that Bulus variant dry analysis about the shape and nature of Uba Sani’s political strategy ahead of 2023 was spurred by reasons other than public education. And one wonders what impact such a news feature seeks to achieve.
Bello, a public commentator, writes from Kaduna