“Polling in the Line of Fire” presumptuously argues that the violence that trailed Kano’s council polls was triggered by Shekarau’s intransigent misreading of Kano’s electoral swing moods and Kwankwaso’s garrison politics mentality. My interest is where Shekarau’s name was mixed-up those of desperate political gangsters because it simply does not add up.
After reading and re-reading “Polling in the Line of Fire” there was no linkage between Shekarau and violence in terms of cause and effect. Yes, violence trailed the Kano Council polls but who was behind it? The writer shares the blame equally between Shekarau’s forces and those of his antagonist represented by a former governor. Both camps have denied sponsorship (as they are wont to) but coming down heavily against Shekarau with such acidic flavour as “contaminating this shinning moment is hedonistic … the win-at-all cost attitude of Shekarau is abominable” obfuscates rather than enlightens the debate.
I am favourably disposed toward accepting Malam’s own account of the story (he said he is blameless and that his opponents hired foreign thugs to foment trouble because they were certain to lose the popular vote) on three points of philosophical premise.
Between Shekarau and the opposition group who was more likely to employ violence as an electoral tool? Which group has a national reputation for pulling incredible electoral feats whether the voters watched or not? Now if the writer of “Polling in the Line of Fire” would commit himself into accepting that Shekarau trounced Kwankwaso in 2003 and broke the jinx (of Tazarce) in 2007 by popular mandate, what would make such a popular politician resort to violence soon after securing a historic second term ticket? What has happened between April and November (of the same year) to erode Malam’s huge popularity base? Malam’s own account is that his opponents raised the thugs in readiness for their defeat at the polls.
Was the council poll the first time the party was losing in Kano in recent history? That Bichi, Dawakin Kudu, Gezawa, Sumaila, Bagwai, Garun-Malam, Ungogo, Doguwa and Albasu were all declared trouble spots by law enforcement (sic) “an indication that the once clean as a whistle Shekarau has resorted to Darfurism”. How exactly? I don’t understand much about the Darfur analogy but I take it to mean thuggish violence. Which party has controlled the aforementioned nine local governments since 2003 when the integrity Tsunami hit Kano? Currently at state and federal Assembly levels, which party controls the nine LG? If your answer is ANPP, then why would they unleash violence when they should be hiring musicians to celebrate “business as usual?” the logic simply does not add up.
Usually when a government engineers a riot for political purposes, it sets up a panel of inquiry whose findings and recommendations end up in thick files inside the archives. But this time around Malam ordered the Kano Police authorities to round-up the vermin and bring them to justice. Would you expose your thugs to justice? By ordering the arrest and trial of all those caught in the disturbances, Malam has made his strongest case of denial and it is left for neutral observers to make their judgment. But any writer who can arrogate some conjectural licentiousness to himself and relishes in a columnist’s cheekiness to presume certitude from a grisly mix of fiction, revisionist history and free running imagination would claim infallibility.
Why should I believe that Shekarau lost Nassarawa? Is it because Salisu Buhari said so? Why should I believe Salisu Buhari and disbelieve Malam? On a moral scale, who weighs more? If Rimi can lose Sumaila in April, why can he not lose it again in November?
Blaming Shekarau for the post-poll violence in Kano is a hard sell, you have to do better than quote Salisu Buhari to press demonize a man who has kept faith with his people, delivered on his electoral promises and resisted the temptation of stealing from public till.
Castigating Shekarau for “biting the hands that fed him” is an old school tune that sounds like broken record; it has since lost its resonance. On a positive note, it is exactly for this reason that Kano voters just love Malam. Actually, Shekarau did worse that bite those hands, short of cutting them off gaba daya he shackled them under lock and key and the evidence is that this Governor is able to pay pensioners, teachers, workers, bursary for students, employ over 30,000 new workers who are paid living wages, construct roads in the urban and rural areas, empower the girl-child, abolish fees in public hospitals, solve Kano’s intractable portable water crisis, initiate new frontiers in commerce and market development, IPP, public housing, education, feed hundreds of thousands during Ramadan and maintain a healthy bank-balance without borrowing a dime. Those hands that fed him are no altruistic hands, those are the hefty, greasy, crooked hands of seasoned and emergency contractors, supply-side agitators, merchants of mischief, expired political god-fathers, hangers-on, neophytes and lay-about. If he had licked those fingers, believe me Kano would still be stuck in the former administrator’s era morass where “the state is broke” became a swansong for diverting the commonwealth into private purses while the people suffered. That is why Malam returned to power without the assistance of any god-father.
Lastly, “Polling in the Line of Fire” reminds us of the vicious mood swing of Kano voters. But we also know that Kano voters can also be a faithful to icons who imbibe humility, self-discipline and ideological fidelity. It was Max Weber who made a distinction between those who live by politics and those who live on politics. Kano people appreciate this webberian principle as representing more than semantic. Before this Malam, there was another Malam, a more famous one, and throughout his political life, Kano people never abandoned him or his heritage. They are rebellious when they encounter the sweet tongued rogues who forget their electoral promises as soon as the comfort of office envelops them. But when they encounter men of integrity like Malam (as they proved with the First Malam) they can be loyal even to a fault. It is those who are left to manage their massive rejection that resort to violence.
Sule Ya’u Sule (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director of Press and Public Relations, Government House, Kano