BOTH men have copious things in common and are, particularly, serial victims of witch-hunt from multifarious tribes of uncanny hate, vicious calumniation, horrendous demonization, asphyxiating envy and political criminalization with the ultimate objective of truncating their prospective national leadership.
Based on their profound and robust antecedents nurtured by sterling character explicated here not too long ago, one of these two political giants, Insha Allah, will anticipatively preside over the affairs of this country. It is just a function of time and not a question of incertitude.
The charlatanistic circus show by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged corruption involving our subjects and police theatricals on grounds of Lamido’s purported interference with local government elections in Jigawa State are fleeting distractions to the envisaged presidential trajectory
In a book entitled “Redefining Leadership in Contemporary Times: Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema’s Example in Katsina State”, a friend of mine who wrote the foreword, Garba Deen Muhammad, stated inter alia: “Consistent, calm, firm and moderate, Katsina State Governor, Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema, personifies a leadership type that is rare in modern times.” This extract serves aptly as my preface to this week’s intervention. (Of course, Barrister Shema, an aviation lawyer, completed his superlative tour of duty as a governor in 2015).
I must thank, posthumously, the late President Musa Yar’Adua for insisting that Dr. Shema should leave his flourishing practice of law in abeyance and actively participate in politics. If there had been no such foundational underpinnings for this quintessential former governor, there, perhaps, would not have been the unprecedented transformation that has characterized the entirety of Katsina State, the historic community that has the highest number of Generals in the country.
The highly visible transpirations and phenomenal developmental undercurrents in the state are too manifest and revolutionary that even the blind could feel it. This is possibly the only state where critics have immeasurable arsenal but lack targets. Despite being subsumed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in all ramifications, Dr. Shema in his eight years’ tenure had a smooth sail in spite of the lopsided political leaning in the state.
It is, as has been roundly attested to, a demonstration of the leadership essence of Dr. Shema which has brought unparalleled credibility, transparency, accountability and holistic integrity to governance at a time when his counterparts in most other states were reveling in official banditry! If Dr. Shema had not performed creditably, the wind of nebulous change being parroted by the APC would have swept him away in 2011 polls.
What makes Dr. Shema’s tenure distinctive is that in all of his eight years at the helm, he never borrowed a dime locally or internationally, yet he executed eye-popping and visionary projects that virtually all the other debt-ridden states could not boast of in terms of cost, quality and scope. This can only be possible when the mission is to serve and elevate the people’s welfare.
You cannot accomplish what Dr. Shem had done in his eight years as a governor if there is no focus, purposefulness and commitment to the enthronement of good governance. If at all Katsina is indebted in any form today, it would be the least in the country and must have preceded the current regime.
From the proper management of public funds, Dr. Shema had unobtrusively proved that he is a man of impeccable character. At this point, I begin to ask; what next for this man of distinction? Is there any process that can bring him to the national podium to replicate similar services at a higher pedestal? The country needs such selfless people who cherish service to their fatherland and not primitive and obscene acquisitiveness of ill-gotten wealth.
Dr. Shema’s commendable achievements have made his era a reformist one because Katsina today wears a completely new look from what it was in 2006—just a rustic community typical of most country-sides. If other governors had this kind of reputational pedigree, Nigeria would have been a good place to live as life would be meaningful and not tragic as constituted due to official graft at all levels.
There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Shema is an exceptional leader. I am not surprised having been stoutly trusted by Yar’Adua, who, how I wish, had been alive to witness what his successor in Katsina had done with the strong foundations he laid. Dr. Shema may not be in any elective race now, but I have a nudge that in the future either he or Dr. Sule Lamido of Jigawa State will take their turns at national leadership having made indelible statements in their governorship spheres of influence.
Only very few states have the kind of prudence in financial management that is characteristic of Katsina. Dr. Shema has remarkably improved the chemistry of life of his people through various empowerment schemes and skill-acquisition initiatives, which I had outlined in an earlier article last year. For him, poverty alleviation is not a rhyme but a reality whose seeds are already sprawling in various parts of the state. I have always maintained that it is easy to govern if the leader could make the provision of basic necessities of life a cardinal prop of his administration.
All that the led need are fundamental social infrastructures—they do not care a hoot what happens to the state’s balance sheet thereafter.
Any governor who wants to govern well must understand the dynamics of our local economy which will propel him to create job opportunities and other empowerment initiatives for the people to express themselves and live amid gainful employment variables. Poverty may not be eradicated, but let it be meaningfully addressed by way of appreciable alleviation, which is what Dr. Shema had striven after in the eight years he held sway.
Dr. Shema’s reputation for forensic budget administration is unparalleled in the country. His discipline with public treasury is unrivalled. Just a justificatory line for this unimpeachable declaration: he built the state’s Government Complex with N8 billion interest that accrued to an investment by the state.
Today, the edifices that constitute that architectural incomparability are the best in Nigeria, if not the West African sub-region. Even former President Goodluck Jonathan could not hold back his sculptural astonishment when he declared during the inauguration that the splendorous masterpiece with Romanesque trappings was better than the fabled Aso Rock presidential structure!
It is easy to understand the peace and tranquility in Katsina State. There cannot be room for mischief with what the ex-governor had created and laid foundation for subsequent prosperity of the people who now live a life of dignity. Overall, I take off my hat to this unusual former governor for his holistic strides amid a rarity of taciturnity that is uncommon in this propagandistic environment, even where statutory allocations and IGR are bursting at the seams unlike wretched Katsina!
As I toast to Dr. Shema’s relentless and unequalled service to humanity, the question is: what next for him? Back to aviation law practice? Time will tell. Dr. Shema’s passion for his people and their consequential love for him are indescribable! He must be a divine gift for the liberation of mankind.