He is also seen by moralists—or those who think they are—as their flag bearer in the murky waters of Nigerian politics. As a result of these interconnections with multiple interests, Shekarau was able to defeat a vey strong incumbent and a member of the ruling party in the centre first in 2003; and then breaking a state record by winning a second term in 2007.
He was not just expected to provide change; he was supposed to be the change from the chronic bad governance that has been the lot of Nigerians, to a purposeful, people-oriented, Islam-driven leadership that would make Kano, a conveniently homogenous society with political ideology as the only dividing line, and indeed all Muslims, proud. He was supposed to be our pearl and role model in every sense of the word.
Now he is into his seventh year as governor, and even though he has conducted himself fairly decently, pearl or model are hardly the words you hear very often even among his supporters. What is more prevalent is the desperate struggle by his cabinet members to defend his tenure. This is bad for the man; after six years as governor, the debate on Shekarau, considering the huge expectations he came into office with, should be: “Is Shekarau the best governor Kano has ever had; and who would be his worthy successor?”
But there is no such debate, not even as a joke. Instead Shekarau has found himself in the humbling position of having to go to the state-controlled radio station and swearing oaths that he knew nothing about the April 2007 murder of the late Kano-based Islamic scholar and preacher, Sheikh Ja’afar Adam.
Sheikh Ja’afar Adam was a brilliant, fearless, politically-inclined Islamic scholar who was murdered in the most despicable manner a day to the 2007 general elections; and also barely 24 hours after vowing to reveal certain secrets about how the elections were to be manipulated by politicians.
His murder, right inside the mosque where he was leading the dawn prayer, stunned the entire country, especially Muslims familiar with his fiery sermons. What followed was a miracle. Instead of Kano, which had exploded as a result of less provocation committed elsewhere, exploding into anarchy; there was silent rage and condemnations.
Eventually, the elections were held relatively peacefully and Shekarau was elected governor for the second time.
And then a most curious thing happened: the Shekarau administration treated the murder of Adam as if it was a routine occurrence; at the very least many people, this columnist inclusive, expected the Shekarau administration to launch a convincing investigation into the murder of the late Islamic cleric; after all, Kano is a Shariah state and Shekarau, being a Muslim and activist himself knows the worth of a scholar like the late Ja’afar and the spiritual and social consequences of treating his gruesome murder flippantly.
But somehow, Shekarau allowed himself to forget about the matter. In this though, the guilty parties are many : the police, not surprisingly; the media which ought to have shown greater persistence; and of course the elite segment of the Muslim Umma and those self-appointed Muslim representatives that make political noises over mundane issues whenever it suits them. But we all went to sleep, until about four weeks ago when first, the online news web site Sahara Reporters and later the Kaduna-based weekly publication, the Desert Herald categorically accused Shekarau of the murder of Sheikh Ja’afar Adam.
This further triggered its own set of intrigues: a top member of the Shekarau administration promptly told the police that it was not his boss that was responsible, but Ado Mohammed, Executive Vice Chairman of the Kano-based independent radio station, Freedom Radio, which itself, has been having a running battle with the state government for the last five years.
Just when the police was hauling in another victim of this bizarre sequence of events, Tukur Mamu, publisher of the Desert Herald newspaper, the Daily Trust newspaper reported Friday that both Ado Moahammed and Governor Shekarau have been cleared of the murder of Sheikh Ja’afar Adam.
So now what is next? What are we supposed to make of the police’s clearing of Shekarau and Ado Mohammed? Few people, if any, ever thought that either of the two was in any way responsible for the murder. Shekarau might have developed an unhealthy habit tolerating incompetence, (read: fertilizer scandal, fake EFCC clearance, Panshekara ‘killings’) but he definitely does not look like someone who would kill, or order a political opponent to be killed; as for Ado Mohammed, even Shekarau himself while exonerating himself had said that he didn’t think he (Ado Mohammed) would commit murder.
This still leaves a very wide gap in the whole sordid mess. If the police have arrested Tukur Mamu, what about the owner of Sahara Reporters? And lets not forget that it is thanks to those two that the murder investigation is being revisited in the first place; so in a way all those that truly care about the way and manner the Ja’afar Adam investigation was being handled ought to be grateful to both Desert Herald and Sahara Reporters, regardless of what their motives were, for causing the issue to be revisited. And what would happen now to those who cooked up evidence against the Ado Mohammed, which led to his detention for nearly a week?
This is where Shekarau must put in a higher than average performance. His subordinates are fast becoming notorious for their tactiness, and in most cases they go scot-free, leading to speculation that the man is controlled by the people he should be controlling. He must not allow such clumsiness to define his legacy.
In this respect, he must do at least two things: (1) Start an immediate investigation into the circumstances that led to Ado’s travails; and (2) Insist on the Nigeria Police reopening its investigation on the gruesome, highly provocative murder of Sheikh Ja’afar Adam. Shekarau might not be guilty of murder, but he could be guilty of letting someone get away with one. As some one who fancies himself as a good man, he must be conversant with the adage: The only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.