Senator Shehu Sani and political opportunism

October 11th, 2018

By Emmanuel Ado

What’s the difference between Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) and Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West)? Essentially none, as both men are two sides of the same coin, very indistinguishable, save for size and complexion. The other one significant difference is that Senator Shehu Sani somehow managed to sufficiently irritate the General Sani Abacha administration which promptly hauled him before the Major General Patrick Aziza Special Military Tribunal for “Accessory to the fact of treason and managing an unlawful society”. Initially jailed for life, the sentence was later reduced to 15 years imprisonment.

While Shehu Sani was earning his prison badge, which he naturally treasures, Dino Melaye was busy running his political/pro- democracy “rackets” from his Katsina Road office Kaduna. Is he still on talking terms with Buba Marwa, one of his earliest clients? For certain, Senator Shehu Sani has bragging rights over Senator Dino Meleye who has never been behind the walls. But Senator Dino Melaye might soon taste life behind the walls, going by the concerted efforts to implicate him in gun-running and other crimes. Senator Shehu Sani, on his release, as was the fashion during the General Ibrahim Babangida administration, when every Tom, Dick and Harry, motivated either by the easy access to visa to relocate or the United States dollars, became an overnight pro-democracy activist. He formed the one man Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRCN), a pro-democracy organization.

The Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria was and has remained a one man outfit which fizzled out once Shehu Sani got elected to the Senate. He is the only known member of the CRCN, unlike the Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), that had known members other than Olisa Agbakoba, the founder. With his more than N700 million guaranteed senatorial
salary, he definitely doesn’t have further use for the organization which served him at a very critical point of his life. Senator Shehu Sani was a very lucky man who left the lucrative NGO World just when the donor agencies were tired of funding the “fight” to restore democracy and their attention was shifting to issues of governance and
capacity. The latest NGO racket in town is the huge humanitarian crisis of the North-East and this is because they understand the donor agencies mentality and adjust accordingly.

But why is Senator Shehu Sani a “darling” of the same Nigerians who loath Senator Dino Melaye? Is the differences in their stars, because essentially their politics is not in any way different? Both have made”irritating” their governors and the political party that sponsored them a hobby, that were it a military government they would have long been hauled before a Special Military Tribunal, to answer for their high”crimes”. Though the efforts to recall Dino Melaye the civilian equivalent of being dragged before a military tribunal failed, it showed the frustrations with him. Unlike Shehu Sani, Dino has since moved back to the Peoples Democratic Party while Shehu stayed put in the APC to continue his troubles.

But why do both men (Siamese twins) generate polarised and passionate reactions amongst same Nigerians? It just doesn’t add up, that one side of a coin will be”liked” (Shehu Sani) and the other side “despised” (Dino Melaye) by the same crowd. It’s the nature of man to be unpredictable. So, while the same crowd contributed financially and otherwise to get “tha trascal” Dino Melaye recalled, the same crowd has done everything humanly possible, including a purported automatic ticket, to “save” Shehu Sani – the “scourge” and nemesis of the elites, the “moral conscience” of the Eight (8) Senate, the only “Saint” amongst the 109 “thieving” Senators, the only pro-poor

The answer lies in the amazing capacity of Senator Shehu Sani to”package” and in the essential and fundamental nature of man, to be very unpredictable. The mob in Julius Caesar by Williams Shakespeare is a perfect example of that unpredictable nature of man. The mob that turned against Brutus and his co-conspirators were initially with the plotters. They were in total support of the cold-blooded murder of Julius Caesar the”tyrant” until Mark Anthony turned against Brutus and his co-conspirators. Cinna the poet was the first unfortunate victim of the mob. Andhe paid the Supreme price. His only crime – bearing the same name with one of the conspirators. He had to die, even when it was proven beyond doubt he wasn’t the Cassius they were after. And so he was eventually killed for his bad verses. That’s the man for you.

Senator Shehu Sani deserves some credit for creating and sustaining that”image” of a rebel, the conscience of the society, when in every respect he is not different in any significant way from those he criticizes. And this played out in his desperation to return the Senate at all cost. Muhammadu Buhari once the object of his attack, is now his
best friend. The staying power of Shehu Sani is his capacity to “emotionally manipulate” and to cash in on the mood of the people – crass opportunism. Shehu Sani, for instance, had hinged his opposition to the 350 million dollars loan Kaduna State wanted to access from the World Bank, as being in sympathy with the people of Southern Kaduna -“I don’t want Nasir El -Rufai to use the money to pay killers of Southern Kaduna people” – a line that has resonated with some people, when in fact he wanted mounted the “roadblock” to negotiate his return ticket to the lucrative red chamber. I guess people understand better!

Moving forward in there is obviously no significant or fundamental way that Shehu Sani has contributed towards a better society since his election. He hasn’t in any way fundamentally effected change, or put in place measures that will ensure that the high crimes he has squealed about became history. Rather Shehu Sani has like Donald Trump who promised to “drain the swamp”,been swimming in the Abuja swamp.

What does Senator Shehu Sani stand for beyond rhetoric? It’s obvious he is a misguided revolutionary like Solomon Dalung,Buhari’s Sports Minister, who equates socialism to drinking tea with the downtrodden masses in the West of Mines and dressing in green and beret.Senator Shehu Sani must convince in words and actions that he is not a human rights aristocrat who lives off the sufferings of the poor. His push for automatic ticket negates and calls into question his democratic credentials.Why will a democrat refuse to participate in primaries to obtain the consent of the people he wants to represent?

The “real” Senator Shehu Sani has finally unveiled himself as a fake democrat. Just as his failure to refute the Report of The Authority newspaper that the Senate Foreign and Local Debts committee which he chairs had engaged in “cash for approval” for Foreign Loans remains an albatross and a big blow to his anti-corruption stance. His eloquent silence is an admittance that his Committee actually engaged in cash for loans approval. Senator Shehu Sani’s rise to power will continue to generate debate as to Nigeria’s recruitment process. Though educated like Dino, they both obviously lack the expertise.

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