Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Dictatorship in Shari’ah Apparel: A Kano Model
Jaafar S. Jaafar
December 6, 2005
If my memory serves me well, Ibrahim Ali Amin (Little), a fine gentleman, whose mandate and hard-earned popularity were piously deprived of by the powers that be, would have been at the helm of the affairs of Kano State from May 29, 2003 to date. This poor young but determined gentleman is not the subject of my essay but atleast might serve as a vital reference to the political development of Mallam Shekarau’s administration. Very much against my will, though his ‘Hadith mechanics’ might object to it, I have to remind Mallam about one sound Hadith in the 40 collection of Al-Nawawi that only a pseudo-apostle of the Shariah can afford to ignore: …Innallaha ta’ala tayyibun, ĺa yaqbalu illa tayyibun. Since Islam enjoins the believers to redirect one another, this only serves as reminder to the defaulters. So if the said ‘mechanics’ are really believers of such teaching, therefore they should not have allowed him to accept the loot. Given his antecedents and the foregoing, the events may have had him a tragic belly flop into the murky pool of Kano politics, because two opposing camps, Ulama and politicians play the same godfather role concomitantly. Hence, foreshadowed what Magashi and Naja (his estranged and much vilified godfather/mother) failed to understand until recently.
To those in government and some fundamentalists, criticising the policies of the Kano State (figuratively saying the truth) is tantamount to sacrilege or rather megaphoning your support for Israelis invasion of Gaza Strip, wherein, lynch mob come to action. They will simply label you non apostle of Shari’ah, Islam, etc. but the State rules beyond the central tenets of Shariah.
Shekarau had promised the full implementation of Shariah in his campaign, and reiterated same in his marathon inaugural speech after we elected him (and stood to protect the outcome) as the executive governor of Kano State. The confidence we reposed in him towards the realisation of the same earned him our votes. What is present today is neither Shariah nor good governance. One thing they should note is that even before the clamour of Shariah, Kano was a Shariah State. There was in existence a judicial service commission established under Kano State Judicial Service Commission Law 1980. Its members include the Chief Judge, Grand Khadi and the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice (people with legal mind). And it oversees the administration of justice in the state which includes the Shariah implementation. Today Shariah commission is much more engrossed in erecting expensive billboards and unnecessary signposts in our streets.
Another point is that even the much more emphasised Hisbah as presented today is not Hisbah per se. Today in Kano the person employed for the work of Hisbah is popularly known as ‘Dan Shizba’ (apology to Kwankwaso) not Muhtasib as called in the real institution. In the proper institution of Hisbah, a Muhtasib is under duty to investigate all improper conducts in order to call for their stoppage. His task is to preserve the Islamic social order, moral integrity of the state and promote social justice in the society. He is primarily responsible for safeguarding people’s means of subsistence and ensuring economic stability. As an institution that operates under the stipulation of Al-amr bi Al ma’aruf (commanding of good) and Al-nahy an Al-munkar (forbidding of evil), a Muhtasib is expected to be skilful and well informed about the customs, practices and behaviour of the people. Not just ‘erection’ of beard as the criterion is today. He should be just, judicious, sharp and knowledgeable of the apparent Munkarats (forbidden acts).
Compared with kitted Dan Shizba in Kano who only sees his relevance as yalo fifa (traffic warden) who wreaks untold accidents on our roads due to naivety, a Muhtasib does not require any uniform to equate himself with a police officer. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) used to be a Muhtasib. He used to inspect markets to see that the merchants did not engage in improper conducts. He equally appointed Said bn Al-as bn Umayyah as a Muhtasib in Makkah and Sayyadina Umar bn Khattab in Madinah.
Apart from this there is no established institution that will serve as a check on the executive and official misconduct. Suffice it to say, in ‘Kano model’, Shariah is only applicable to common man. The project monitoring bureau (or may be Shekarau’s overpaid, brief-cased I second legislature) can not take the place of Al-Mazalim which under Shariah equally serves as a disciplinary commission of the executives in line with Shariah, regardless of their various positions.
Some will say my argument lacks substance; some may say it’s illogical of me to compare Shariah and non Shariah states. Corruption, sleaze, ostentation and political injustice are also pervasive in Kano, despite the government’s pretences to religious Puritanism. So let’s take a closer look at (once humble and centrist) Shekarau’s haughtiness and misgovernance; therefore, a little analogy might help our understanding of the present scenario. I did not see the said achievements that are not in a place where Shariah does not operate, nor did I see the probity, accountability, fairness, etc. It was just a sheer charade! Shekarau, the lord of the manor, is not just an autocrat, as the case for the rest of the governors, but perfect and smart enough to justify his actions and inactions and tie it down with injunction to give it a Shariah flavour.
Goebbel Joseph (sorry, Garba Yusuf) and his ilk will say I’m
not apostle of Shariah (I’m an ardent one). But I will ask them some moral
questions: why did a government of acclaimed ‘saints’ that preaches
accountability, austerity, probity and good governance fail to practice one in
the famous fertiliser deal? Why not in the rehabilitations of roundabouts? What
about the over
As it is in the vilified non-Shariah states, the attendant political manoeuvre that is bereft of Shariah principles, justice and ideals of democracy is also present in Kano. Any critical observer who is not economical with the truth should no feign ignorance of the prevailing truth in what happened in the ANPP chapter of Kano State. Mallam was his boastful self, wagging finger in a usual manner, admonished them (the deprived candidates), and poured his well calculated tirade against his benefactors, The Buhari Organisation (TBO): ‘we were very tolerant towards your activities [TBO],’ Shekarau says ‘if you dare us now, we shall MATCH you!’ Mallam could not bottle up his simulated loyalty to Buhari, as the odour of the treachery was let loose in the fiasco they call ‘fair selection.’ In a swift mafia-like operation, the candidates that have laboured and pre-date Mallam’s entry into the party were thrown out. His blue-eyed boys that are known to nobody and opposed to the TBO were hurriedly rigged up instead. The election was not fair, just and all-inclusive since the backbone of the party was not included. But Sule Ya’u Sules of this world are now harping about the shameful way they conducted the ‘selection’ (as they say, and no pun intended). It is easy enough, for anybody who can read between the lines, to see what was at the back of their ‘pious’ minds.
As the case may be in non-Shariah states, given that no one cares to listen or view their most sycophantic Radio and TV houses, Mallam resorted to private Radio and print media to show some rehabilitation and ‘warm’ receptions he gets from his bootlickers on return from flamboyant junkets. The overblown frankness of Mallam Shekarau overawed him to globetrot at the expense of malnourished poor. Unlike many of his colleagues (governors) who pretend to woo foreign investors, our maverick governor is otherwise. His is ‘ego trip’ to woo recognition as having a clean bill of ‘health’ with EFCC. Shekarau spends unfathomable amounts of money for publicity stunt, just to steal the limelight. I don’t know the message they want to convey to beggars, jobless and street urchins (that constitute a better part of the State’s population) through pages of the newspapers. Where would an impoverished mendicant who scrambles for a morsel ya sawa bakin salati get atleast N80 to buy a copy newspaper? The succinct answer is NOWHERE. (Or if you may correct me, say mai kosai). If my guess is right, this stems from his clandestine affinity with the Aso Principal. He wants OBJ to assess him, not the people, as if divine assessment. Unlike other Babarists (those who kowtow to OBJ) like Nnamanis, Mallam is a crypto-Babarist who rule in the same dictatorial trend but with different apparel.
It is quite believed that Shariah is much more than penalties; to wit decapitation, amputation, stoning, lashing etc. It is an alternative system for bad governance where people feel safer and enjoy certain governmental interventions in their day to day life. These include reduction of hardship and provision of palliative measures towards poverty. With the harsh and inhuman policies of the Federal Government that are unbearable, the Shariah led Kano State is expected to go beyond Hisbah and Zakkat distribution and take that advantage to apply the Shariah economic policies to improve the common lot. Rather than publicity stunt the reorientation body, A dai dai ta sahu is more engrossed in, the money could be used to subsidise food stuff to enable the common man eat atleast twice a day. We all know it’s not for the government to collect and distribute Zakkat, for it to be boasting and beating up chest on Zakkat as an achievement under its Shariah implementation programmes. Government is to compel the rich to give Zakkat to the poor as ordained by Allah (SWT) not their children, spouses or relatives. Have they ever compelled any rich to pay out? I am not making an argument just to relish my cynical mind or for the sake of winning an argument. Such a manner is not only antithetical to the development but to the Shariah they claim to protect. Shekarau owes Kanawa explanation on why he gave about N4 billion fertiliser contract without due process to an individual that many believed to be a proxy, who as well does not have expertise in such procurement. Why is he now a freeman (as Kwankwaso) and has gone scot-free with N400 million? Is he also harboured by Obasanjo? Is it fair to cry foul EFCC did not arrest Kwankwaso while you do not call for the rearrest of Muftahu Baba-Ahmed? You also owe us explanation on how an archaic refurbished tricycle costs N500, 000.00. In the matter of the rehabilitation roundabouts, some critics like this writer challenged many that Mallam deserves some credits, because the project was meant to tackle perennial floods that hamper movements on our major roads during rainy season. But when I leant that ten roundabouts are being rehabilitated at the cost of N290million, I simply rest my case. These make people to come to a conclusion that Shariah implementation in Kano is billboardly different to the previous era. Therefore, whether we like it or not, we are stuck in a time warp!
Jaafar, a public affairs commentator, writes from Kano, and can be reached at email@example.com
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.