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 reduced to 15 years.
While Shehu Sani was earning his prison badge,which he naturally treasures, Dino Meleye 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 earliest clients? For certain Senator Shehu Sani has bragging rights over Senator Dino Meleye,who has never been behind the walls. But Senator Dino Meleye might soon taste life behind the walls, going by the concerted efforts to implicate him in gun running.Senator Shehu Sani on his release, as was the fashion from 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 overnight pro- democracy activists- formed the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRCN), a pro- democracy organization.
The Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria was and remained a one man outfit,until Shehu Sani got elected to the Senate. He is the only known member of the CRCN, unlike the Civil Liberty Organization(CLO),that had 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 is a very lucky man,leaving 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 racket in town is the huge humanitarian crisis of the North – East,a visit to Borno State will confirm it as the latest racket in town.
But why is Senator Shehu Sani a “darling” of same Nigerians,who loath Senator Dino Meleye? 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,and were it a military government they would have long been hauled before a Special Military Tribunal,to answer for their high “crimes”. There are ongoing efforts to recall them- the civilian equivalent of being dragged before a military tribunal. Senator Dino Meleye has an April 28th date with INEC.
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 Meleye) by the same crowd. While will the same crowd contribute financially and otherwise to get “that rascal” Dino Meleye recalled,and the same crowd will do everything humanly possible 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 senator? His only rival being the “common sense” Senator Ben Bruce.
The answer lies in the amazing capacity of Senator Shehu Sani to “package” and in the essential and fundamental nature of man – the unpredictability of man.The mob in Julius Caesar by Williams Shakespeare is a perfect example of the 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 the “tyrant” Julius Caesar, until Mark Anthony address swayed them and they turned against Brutus. Cinna the poet was the first unfortunate victim of the mob.He was butchered for simply bearing 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 he was eventually killed for his bad verses. That’s 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. The likes of Col.Abubakar Dangiwa Umar and most senators, especially the former governors amongst them and the common man who have had dealings with him in the past will not share in the sentiment that he is a living saint, because they know Senator Shehu Sani inside out. The staying power of Senator Shehu Sani is the capacity to “emotionally manipulate” and to cash in on the mood of the people – crass opportunism. For instance Shehu Sani hinged his opposition to the 350 million dollars loan Kaduna State is accessing from the World Bank, as being in sympathy with the Southern Kaduna people- ” 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 wants to use the “road block” he mounted on the facility to negotiate a soft landing with the State Government.
Senator Shehu Sani is presently an internally displaced politician,having first been suspended,before his eventual expulsion by the All Progressives Congress (APC). The like of Frank Kokori,then Secretary- General of the powerful oil workers union, who in real terms contributed more than many,in the battle to actualize the June 12 mandate,hasn’t profited from his detention like Shehu Sani has. Frank Kokori has been in the cooler and the belated appointment as Chairman of the National Social Security Trust Fund has been put on hold by Dr.Chris Nigige,the Minister of Labour. He needs to take lessons from the distinguished senator,who understands the game of being relevant better.
In September 2015,Senator Shehu Sani,declared his assets,which showed a healthy balance,and no liabilities.He declared N22 million in three bank accounts,residential houses in Kaduna and Abuja; two other houses under lease and two uncompleted office apartments in Kaduna; (which must and should have been completed by now), inherited houses in Katsina State, and Minna, Niger State, several choice vehicles, and N5million worth of shares(for the revolutionary struggle).Put together Shehu Sani is a very comfortable billionaire,who interestingly made his money from writing. At least that’s what he claims.
Thankfully Senator Shehu Sani hasn’t attributed his amazing and fantastic wealth to several “sources”, like the flamboyant K.O. Mabadiwe the political juggernaut from Arondizuogu who built the Peoples Palace from sources “known and unknown”- the unknown being corruption. Nigerian lecturers must be ashamed of themselves.How can they be living in penury when Senator Shehu Sani is making so much money from royalties? Is it that our lecturers write thrash? They sure need tutorials from the Senator Shehu Sani who has proven that writing can be a very profitable business. Wole Soyinka, the renowned author and noble laureate,must be very jealous of Shehu Sani’s earnings, as he obviously hasn’t made such money from his numerous publications,maybe from speaking engagements and teaching. To date Senator Shehu Sani hasn’t availed Nigerians with the number of copies the books sold. When you are a favorite child you get away with blue murder. Can Bukola Saraki get away with such claims?
From the blues last week,he tantalized Nigerians with details of how the Senate of which he is a very prominent member has been collecting an “ungodly” N13.5 million monthly,because his conscience,which had been in deep slumber,suddenly woke up and has been troubling him,but not to the point of returning the over N400 he has so far collected. His other reason is the urgent need to get rid of charlatans,like his twin brother Dino Meleye from the Senate. Expectedly the revelation has generated the needed distraction in the typical Nigerian nature from Dapchi and other matters. Who remembers Maina’s case? Or the fact that the NNPC has been illegally paying subsidy on imported fuel,without appropriation?
But why hasn’t Saint Shehu Sani shown the difference from the rest of the “thieves”, by providing Audited account of how he has in the last two years spent his share of the bonanza, which gave him sleepless nights and forced out a confession? Worse still, is that there is no indication that he will stop collecting the largesse. What are the projects that Senator Shehu Sani has executed, at what cost,the location and the names of the contractors,for this is the only way his revelation will make sense? In the last two years Senator Shehu Sani has collected like the other 108 “thieves”, over N400 million for constituency projects and N324 million as running costs,minus his salary. An Audited account won’t be out of place. It is not enough to describe thenational assembly is “one of the most non-transparent organs of government ” without putting forward a way out of the mess and without being accountable. But in the typical Shehu Sani manner he has managed to pitch his colleagues against Nigerians,for the sole benefit of Shehu Sani and him alone,when he is not any way different.
Though the Senate robustly described the revelation as old wine,packaged in new wine skin,because the figure Senator Shehu Sani dished out are contained in the various line items and expenditure heads of the budget of the National Assembly which has been made public.”Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries”, said the Senate. But no matter the effort at damage control,Senator Shehu Sani has further damaged what was left of the senate reputation. There is no doubt about this!
Moving forward in what significant and fundamental way has Shehu Sani contributed towards a better society since his election? in what way(s) has he fundamentally effected change,or put in place measures that will ensure that the high crimes he has squealed about,become history? Or is Shehu Sani grandstanding like Donald Trump,who promised to “drain the swamp”,but is rather swimming in the swamp? Every action must be towards an integrated solution. But he apparently lacks the capacity or the needed hard work , hence the resort to the less rigorous option of twitter and newspaper interviews,rather than through the instrumentality of the law. What does Senator Shehu Sani stand for beyond rhetoric ? Is he a misguided revolutionary like Solomon Dalung, Buhari’s Sports Minister who equates socialism to drinking tea with the downtrodden masses in West of Mines and dressing in green and beret- a very simplistic understanding of socialism? 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.
The failure of Senator Shehu Sani 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 is an albatross and a big blow to his anti – corruption stance. Silence is an admittance. 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 experience and temperament to be Senators.
In an interview he made what can pass for his purpose in government “Our people need jobs, effective medicare and education. Our people need to be freed from economic bondage, which they have found themselves in. So, I think if you are in government, your priority should be how to make life better for the people, from the position which you have met them”. Can he produce his report card for scrutiny?
Shehu Sani is an irritant,which is very obvious from his encounter with the regimes of Sani Abacha,Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck through to the Buhari administration. During the Goodluck Constitutional Conference,members wanted him kicked out, for “irritating” them, it took the intervention of Justice Nike Tobi for him to survive the onslaught of the members who didn’t find his insults funny. The Kaduna State Chapter of the APC insists he stands expelled for breaching not one,but several provisions of the party constitution,the implication is that he has the opportunity of testing his “popularity” at the polls without the support of Buhari, and the APC , that he has been at the receiving end of his tongue.Nigeria is basically a two party system and the failure to respect the party can be fatal.Just as the role of the party in getting people elected can’t be ignored.Will Senator Shehu Sani bow to these realities to get a second term or go down with his “principles”? It is not about words like ultra-critic,conservative and reactionary,it is now about survival. And Man by nature is very selfish.