Before Shekarau Islamizes PDP By Nasiru Suwaid
By Nasiru Suwaid
It was the word which caught my attention or to put it more succinctly, it was the announcement which made me interested in a political affair that should be of least interest to me. Actually, it was a report which featured on many local radio stations in the city, declaring the result of the sitting of a Shura council, which for those not familiar with the term or its meaning; Shura is a collection of chaste, deeply knowledgeable and highly regard scholars, who are formed to sit and give authoritatively binding decrees on strict matters of faith and they are usually tasked with making pronouncements on thorny and divisive matters confronting the community. Upon hearing what was read in the radio, the immediate thought that crossed my mind, was the possibility of an Islamic revolution having taken place in the pyramid city or even the horrible thought that perhaps the Boko Haram have succeeded on their fratricidal mission of taking over Nigeria, starting from Kano. However, what I heard later, through the tiny speakers on the transmitting black box is that it was merely the result of a committee of acolytes of the former governor announcing the desirability of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, defecting to the People’s Democratic Party.
The next day, it was a sea of people which met anyone passing through the stately mansion of the former austere school teacher now turned into an aristocratic peacock, living the life many born with a silver spoon princes would have dreamily envied and it happened just as according to plan, where the former governor defected chanting ritualistic incantations, explaining that it was only done on the urgings of his loyal followers, who have felt that the defection of the incumbent Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso into the All Progressive Congress, an individual whom they have always doubted his religiosity, as such, it should not be an opportunity for him to lead them onto the current political dispensation. As they quipped many times during the highly organized ceremony, sharing a political party with an individual who does not mix politics with religion, it just would not enable them to practice politics, the way it should be played. Indeed, many amongst the visiting crowd repetitively chorused a number of times during the event, that their politics is their religion or the way they play politics is guided by their religious ideal, thus, they are not just defecting to the People’s Democratic Party, they are Islamizing it.
I have to be candidly honest here before I am accused of an attempted plagiarism, to state that the title of this literary piece is not mine, rather, it is the words that came from the mouths of many a visitor to the expansive home of the former governor but most importantly, the sight I saw took me to something that happened a few years back. It was a day which broke with a special vibe on the air, everybody was excitedly happy and motivated, as it is the April 12th Presidential Election Day, 2003 and the place is Kano, the heartland of General Muhammadu Buhari’s fervently infectious support. Like everybody else, I had an early bath and took a short walk to the voting centre, which is a secondary school named after Late Mallam Shehu Mai Hula, one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the city. However, on my way to the voting centre, I encountered a group of young men having a heated argument, about the piety of the ever popular military General, in fact, one of the participants in the discussion, as an affirmation of his love, loyalty and veneration of the man, threatened to swear by his name, to confirm his belief on the exceptional quality of a trustworthy Nigerian.
Surprisingly, despite the fact of an attempted act of committing a heresy, a totally forbidden thing in Islam, almost nobody took grave offence, especially as it is in an area populated by a highly reactive religious zealots, indeed, none even dared to caution the over excited voter, highlighting the depth of popularity of the former military ruler or the seeming invincibility some of his supporters had built around the man, to exploit him for pure political advantage. After the release of the result and the evident rigging of the whole process, everywhere in town was a sea of angry faces, out of curiosity, I had to pass by the place, where a supporter had sworn by the name of the General. There and then, what I saw was as confusingly mystifying to me, that I had to break into a bout of laughter later, as I took in the angry picturesque demeanor of the same guy loudly complaining about what had happened. However, when somebody offered for them to join in a civil mass protest, the others countered that the city is swarmed with ready to shoot police officers and military operatives, the fervent supporter sighed and exclaimed; I am not ready to die!
It is instructive to note that this was the year Ibrahim Shekarau joined politics in Kano and no individual has benefited from the populist benevolence of General Muhammadu Buhari, as the former mathematics teacher, turning him into an overnight celebrity and remarkably, it is amongst his class of supporters, who dared to compare Buhari with saintly religious figures worth exalting. After all, didn’t their principal did the same while in office, where on many instances within the executive mansion, his closest officials would robustly depict their man to the incomparable disciples of the last prophet in Islam. Unfortunately, this is what typifies the essential character of the Kano politics, which is so much poetic love with little substance of a discerning followership, thus any smart politician seeking for easy votes, usually resorts to campaigning on the platform religion. In fact, it was what many observers had accused Buhari of committing, not knowing that those who sold the man as a religious symbol, only did so for selfish, personal and pecuniary reasons, as they are now on the bandwagon of selling President Goodluck Jonathan as an Islamic object of veneration.
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