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We’re on a mission to rescue Kaduna from APC – Sen. Shehu Sani

Sen. Shehu Sani is a human rights activist, politician and author. He represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District between 2015 and 2019. In this interview, the…

Sen. Shehu Sani is a human rights activist, politician and author. He represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District between 2015 and 2019. In this interview, the senator who recently expressed his intention to run for governorship under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) explains why all oppositions in Kaduna must unite to dislodge the APC.

What have you been up to since you left the Senate in 2019?

First of all, I am grateful to Allah for being able to serve as senator who represented Kaduna Central from 2015-2019. After I left the Senate, I returned to my familiar turf, which is activism because I am not a career politician. I joined politics to change the narrative and to make my contributions in the national conversation, in terms of impacting on lives and making laws that will reinforce our country, unite our people and give us a sense of direction as a democracy. Many a times, people go into the National Assembly not as a representative of the people but as stooges of certain governors or godfathers. So, they are unable to defend their people and take a stand on issues that are of interest to their people. So, I returned to activism, we have a centre in Abuja called African Freedom Foundation, which I head. I have also been the president of the Civil Rights Congress in Nigeria and we have been involved in advocacy, public enlightenment, providing legal aid to the indicted, at the same time, humanitarian activities. 

I was privileged to have the opportunity of experiencing politics and also as an activist and I now know the fundamental differences. As an activist, you are driven by ideals, ideas, universal standard of fundamental rights, but as a politician, you are caged to work with certain people whom you share very little with in common.

Could this be the reason why you and other legislators from Kaduna had frequent clashes with Governor Nasir El-Rufai?

The APC which I used to belong to was a merger. People came from different political and ideological background for a common purpose. We had a common enemy at that time, which was Jonathan Goodluck and the 16 years of a government that was unable to lead Nigeria to the promised land. But right after we evicted that government, there were crises in Kano, Kaduna and other states. The forces that merged to fight a common enemy now found themselves fighting themselves. As for Kaduna State, the person who is in-charge of the government and I come from different political backgrounds. From what I can say, he is from the neo-liberal capitalist philosophical order and I come from the leftist socialist background. I believe right from after he was sworn in, I have never seen him up to today, except the day he came to condole me when my mother died; three days after which he went to the media to insult me. So, virtually I have not been to the Kaduna State Government House for four years and we never even sat on the same table for the four years I served as senator. 

It was very clear that governors who emerged in the APC became emperors, they want to dictate to the party and to everyone. If they like you, you are a member of the party and if they don’t, you cannot be a member of the party. I can’t belong to that kind of association where I have to be subservient, to surrender my conscience, my conviction for one person to sit you down and dictate what he wants. I understand in the political spectrum of Nigeria, if you want to survive, most times, you keep your mouth shut when things are going wrong and you accept things even if they are not right. I cannot be a senator who will not go to the floor of the National Assembly and speak for my people simply because I don’t want to embarrass the state or federal government. 

Take for example, there is a young man called Dadiyata who has been kidnapped for over two years now and you can imagine; neither members of the state assembly nor federal legislators from the state have the courage to stand up on the floor of the parliament and speak on the issue.

If elected governor, how would you tackle the myriad of problems in Kaduna, especially insecurity?

My intention to run for governor is to serve my people, to develop my state and to provide a different kind of leadership that will take into cognizance, the honour and dignity of my people. My first intension is to unite the people of northern and southern Kaduna. They have never been as divided as they are today and the ethnic and religious gap keeps widening. Secondly, is to tackle the debt burden of Kaduna State.

Kaduna State is now the second most indebted state in Nigeria. My third priority is how to develop the state with a human face because it is not all about demolition. I want to also focus on developing the rural communities and also want to reactivate the moribund industries that provided chunk of employment to the people. But most importantly, I want to focus on security. I am not one of those who believe that governors are helpless in terms of security in their states. They use the federal police to protect themselves, win elections and to pursue political enemies, so why can’t they use the police to protect the people? 

I agree that the police are the exclusive control of the federal government but what stops the state government from providing vehicles and other operational materials to security agencies? Go to the zonal commands, most of our divisional police offices don’t have functional vehicles. They will give you an emergency number to call and when you call that bandits are raiding your village, they will tell you they don’t have vehicles. If they have the vehicles, they don’t have fuel or the equipment to fight. 

From Kaduna to Abuja, there are about 37 villages, how have the federal or state governments involved the youths of those villages in protecting that road? How many youths in those villages were employed into the police or civil defence? So, what you see from Kaduna to Abuja is that bandits don’t attack the villages along that road because most times, the villagers cooperate with the bandits as against cooperating with the security forces and the government.

You recently said when elected, you would clear the ‘mess’ of the present administration. What exactly do you mean by that?

I must appreciate the development within the city which has not been the case in the last three to four decades. The roads have been expanded and there are street lights and shopping malls. The question we need to ask ourselves is, at what cost? Who in Kaduna State will tell you that they have knowledge of the money used for these projects? I’m going to change that; I’m going to run an open and transparent government. This administration has been building roads and one bridge all through. In Kano, Jos, Borno, there are bridges, so why should one or two bridges in Kaduna become such a sensation? What is the use of a bridge if people cannot use it in peace? The Kawo bridge is a marvelous structure and commendable, but I believe the lives of the people of the state is more important than that bridge. You cannot cross that bridge outside of Kaduna anytime outside 8pm without getting yourself into the hands of bandits. 

Again, this government has indiscriminately retrenched civil servants, teachers without remuneration or concern for their lives and livelihoods and their families. You are elected to serve people not a few individuals or create a beautiful city for a few people. Civil servants in Kaduna have been evicted from their homes, their properties auctioned and at this moment, the government has not published the names of the beneficiaries of those auctioned houses. A mess is a mess when a part of a state feels they are not treated as a part of the state. The people of southern Kaduna are as important as the people of northern and central Kaduna. The priority of a leader should be the people of his state, contracts that should be awarded to competent hands from the state, appointments should be given to competent hands from the state. So, you don’t turn Kaduna into other people’s state while the people of the state are marginalised.

You moved from the APC to PRP and now the PDP where there are other strong contenders. Are you concerned?

I am a believer in myself and If Allah (SWA) says I will be the governor of Kaduna State, nobody can stop me. If He has ordained that I will not be governor, then I can never be. President Buhari contested three times and the fourth time, he became the president of Nigeria. So, it is not a do or die affair but I have to offer myself to lead which I am going to do.

Some people call you mai gashi and the present governor has used your signature hair to diss you. What is the secret behind the hair?     

I come from a hairy family and this hair has sometimes become a sort of joke. They used it to diss at me and the governor and his wife have also been doing that. But I think he is envious that he doesn’t have hair. From the picture I have, I think he used to have hair but now he doesn’t. His wife has always commented on my hair too, to which I told her to encourage her husband to wear wig. Because of this, I have decided to trim the hair down so I can live in peace. 

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