Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
August 8, 2006
Today’s piece is fashioned after a similar one, Nixonistic Obasanjoism, written by Godwin Agbroko, the Chairman, Thisday editorial board. He too fashioned his insightful piece after one of the Andy Aprogu’s commentaries in the 70s. Agbroko made a fitting analogy between the former president of the United States and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. However, the subjects of today’s piece, Pope Alexander VI and Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, are also deserving of such a sensational caption.
Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503), whose surname became the epitome of low standards in the papacy of those days, is the most controversial pope of the Renaissance ever to seat in the papal saddle. Though his election was very controversial, but did not, at the first instance, excite much alarm, and did really mark a strict administration of social justice and good leadership in a satisfactory contrast with the previous pontificate. Shortly afterwards, the ecclesiastical corruption rose to an all-time high. In spite of the splendours of the court, the condition of the Rome became everyday deplorable. In spite of his ostentatious lifestyle and the beauty of his palace, the subjects wallowed in penury. But baring one remarkable aspect of his life as pope, thus his love for arts which brought architectural development to Rome, yet on the other hand, nepotism, crass cronyism, lies (laced with oaths), ostentation, embezzlement, failure to live above board, and indeed sex scandals became the hallmark of Pope Alexander VI’s administration.
From every available nuance one could grasp, Kano State governor, His Excellency Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, fits into Pope Alexander’s shoes. Shekarau, who promised to salvage Kano from its ‘pariah status’ to shariah state (tongue in cheek, mark you), who promised to reincarnate the Groundnut Pyramids but ended in giving us a pyramid promises, I guess, needs no much introduction. But to draw an apt analogy between the two men of God, who cast aside all show of respect for their words, who transformed from reformers to deformers, who metamorphosed from dealers of hope to dealers of hoax; one ought to give both an impartial introduction. Shekarau, just like the pontiff in question, became Kano state governor under a controversial circumstance (remember Ibrahim Little?). But given his unblemished records and his supposed moral integrity, we all joined the frenzy, and he avail himself of the support he had, and easily warmed his way into the pious hearts of Kano people.
The masses, however, thought that one of them has, for the first time, become the governor. Alas, little did they know that they were to fall from the frying fan into fire. This, however, is what made his early scandals and blunders like fertilizer scam, cronyism and inflated contracts to be endeared by the people. But all these seemed to have died down when his unbridled passion for duplicity, treachery and rhetoric became manifest. He dumped his benefactors and labeled them detractors. His reason: “it was God, because I believe in him, that gave me the mandate (without even showing an interest),” he always told the subjects he willfully kept uneducated. Today, we are under the rulership of a vintage shariah leader of this time (If you like, kafi Danfodio) that teaches Muslims how to say Allah is one! A man who pretends to be godly but rules godlessly! The new campaign strategy he now invented to hoodwink the gullible is painting his billboards with the Arabic inscriptions, “Allahu Wahidun” (Allah is one). Wonders shall never cease! All, remember, of the aspirants are Muslims who duly believe that Allah is one. This, in my opinion, is a flimsy and unintelligent excuse. My argument here is, what about Lenin and the like? Do they also believe in the God that Shekarau believes in?
Shekarau, like Pope Alexander VI, is not a man of his words and he is now the most controversial leader of this era of moral rebirth (similar to Alexander, the most controversial pope of the Renaissance) whose faith is now put to the test. His supposed oratorical prowess, carefully interspersed with the oaths always held his gullible audience captive. According to the political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli, as written in his famous book, The Prince, “Pope Alexander VI never did or thought of doing anything but deceive others; and he always found someone to trust him. There was never a man who gave more convincing assurances or backed them up with greater oaths; and never a man who kept his word less. And yet he could always deceive people whenever he liked, being a great master in that art.” It is quite reasonable for one to infer that Machiavelli’s fitting description of Pope Alexander VI matches Kano State Governor perfectly.
Shekarau’s nepotism and cronyism are the highest ever in the history of Kano State. His friends, siblings and relatives (competent or otherwise) are the major beneficiaries of almost all the contracts he has, without due process, awarded. Another display of nepotism I have written about several times is the award of overseas scholarship to the unmerited children of those (rich cronies) who can sponsor their children from their fat pockets. A whopping five million or more is spent on one privileged child (mark you, whose parents can sponsor from their fat bank accounts) but he abolished primary school feeding programme that “awards” a few morsels to the malnourished children of the poor. I know of a less privileged person with a hard-earned second-class (upper) degree and met all the criteria but one – “who is your father?” The secretary to the state government allegedly demanded. To cut the story short, he was denied because his surname doesn’t indicate any of the famous royal or aristocratic suffixes.
One of the most deceitful fallacies Shekarau government sold to Kano people civil servants is what he termed “human development project.” What this inane project means is giving some fringe benefits to workers. I am not against this. But all I am saying is that this, by commonsense or classroom notion, is not “human development project.” The fringe benefits given to the workers are only chicken feeds that cannot settle their medical, school or water bills. The project would have been laudable if for instance, Shekarau gives an ordinary worker extra 1000 monthly and provides all his basic needs. But when that worker has to spend about 2000 to buy water and spend another N2000 to settle medical bill, therefore I can not see the logic of this “human development project.” Give quality education, medicare, water that the masses can benefit from – and not a bundle of lies and duplicity – wrapped in thin linen of oath! Worse still, the politico-religious ulamas we have today will back it up with some outlandish hadith. Just as I heard the governor’s aide on a local radio saying that it is lawful, Islamically, for shekarau to harbour or protect the “dignity” of his corrupt commissioner even if it will amount to emptying the state’s treasury!
Another fallacy is the elevation of the “Yamoussoukro syndrome” (embezzlement in the name of religion). Once a visitor from other states that have progressive-minded leaders enters Kano from Zaria road, all he would expect to see is flyover (the like of which he left in Kaduna) that will at least douse the traffic congestion and the imminent dangers along Naibawa/Unguwa-uku axis, alas our good governor of Kano State says its not the priority: fine sign posts, according to Shekarau, are our priorities. This is similar to what we termed in common lingo as Allah ga naka – God, have your own share (of the loot).
My prayer is that may the State House of Assembly continue to diligently discharge their legislative duties, disallow the increment of their “constituency grants” (from N5 million to N40 million) to becloud their vision, and refuse to heed the call of those haves who crave for the have-nots’ shares, disregard the call of the venal aristocrats who will today give Kano a phantom “dash” of some millions and later be awarded (or rewarded) with multi-billion naira contracts, the bourgeois who struggle to finagle our commonwealth and many others who do not feel the downright hardship this government flung the good people of kano into, despite the unprecedented grants it receives from the Federal Government.
Jaafar, a concerned indigene of Kano, wrote from Kano. .
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.