Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, CON, an alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the Sardauna of Kano, initiated many large-scale development projects in Kano State, too numerous to mention while in Government as the Executive Governor of Kano State,. History records him as the driving force behind the creation of the “Hisbah Guards”, an outfit that promotes pristine Islamic living and peaceful co-existence of inhabitants of Kano.
In this interview in honour of the investiture of Alh Liadi Tella as the Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwo land, with the crew of the PEACE magazine, he describes the MSSN of his youthful days as truly pan Nigerian.
Can we have an overview of your administration while in Government?
I established my Government programmes on the tripod of societal orientation. It was basically set up to change the attitude of the people through education, our history and disabuse their minds from the issue of social injustice. Long before I became the governor, I had the feeling there were two major social points which I needed to address to excel and these were: developing human capacities and addressing social injustice. Aminu Kano, our renowned politician, used to argue that any government that can protect the lives and properties of people, grant them qualitative education, be just in its dealings with the masses can go to sleep, because the citizens will fend for themselves on all other things needed to live a meaningful life. Through this we achieved peace and progress in all sectors of governance unlike now that Kano is the hub of drugs transactions and abuse. Today, all that we achieved through the social re-engineering of Kano inhabitants, the person who took over from me in the name of political difference whittled them down. In all due respect, successive governments do little in terms of social justice and that is making Kano to be going back to her volatile status before my administration.
Why is Kano Politics Unique in style and political participation?
Well many things make Kano Politics unique. Historically, it has been a trans-Sahara trade route for thousands of years attracting different kinds of people, orientations, attitudes, exposures, civilizations and cultures. And when they come for their trading activities, many eventually settled in Kano. If you go to Kano city and check the names of the various quarters (kundila) 90% were derived from either the language of the very first people that settled there or the name of the towns they came from. Kano is where you have virtually every major ethnic group in Nigeria that is so populated that they are only more in their own traditional settlements thus it is a very large cosmopolitan city. In the process it attracted various trades and skills and made many busy to be learning from one another thus influencing their thoughts and actions. Also, Kano is not only educated in the so-called western system of schooling, it has the advantage of a very deep level of Islamic knowledge and scholarship. Of course, if you have any scholarly environment, then one is sure that environment has education, development, awareness, civilization and politics, which may guide its inhabitants. Therefore, the awareness, the knowledge, commercial activities and population make Kano politics outstanding and guide Kano great leaders like Malam Aminu Kano, in their agitations and political sojourns.
What is your take on MSSN of those days and that of today?
We had very good time. Recently at the 60th anniversary of Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, I delivered a speech where I reminded today’s members of the good time and sense of purpose with which we pursued the goals and ideas of MSSN in those days to serve as wake up calls for them. For instance, as young as I was then, at the age of about 20, I had the opportunity of riding the train from Kano to Lagos for national conference and through other activities of MSSN, we moved around, bonded together and that gave us the exposure unlike what they have today. The bonding still subsists. We do not discriminate against each other along ethnic lines, or social classification. Liadi Tella, Kunle Sanni, Jamiu Ekungba, Oloyede Is’haq and many others are my friends that I met through the MSSN activities. We have been there for the last 40 years, and whenever we meet, I do not see them as Yoruba people nor do they see me as a Kano man. I would always say proudly the MSSN is about the only Islamic organization that had lived this long. Many had come but faded away, and it is a body that accommodates all kinds of people. I am not sure today’s members bond as much as we did. The huge membership may be a part of the problem and paucity of funds. In our time we used to have a single Islamic Vacation Course, IVC, but over time it got split into zones and holding separate conferences. Till today, I do visit IVC talk to inspire them, although some are now “my grand children”. MSSN in our time was truly pan-Nigerian organization.
Your Excellency can you tell us some things you knew about Liad Tella that we do not know?
He is a man of God and he does not joke when it comes to being Godly. He will insist on the right things being done at all times and always a great listener. He warmly welcomes his fellow brother, ready to embrace and attend to him. Incidentally, being a professional journalist, he is someone always open to additional knowledge and sharing of the knowledge. I see him as a brother that would always be there for you and he puts that brotherhood first before any other thing. Abd’Liad will take time to visit you, just to say hello, once he felt it has been a while. He has the penchant of wanting to reach out.
What are your expectations as he is turban as the Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwo land?
I congratulate him. It’s a worthy recognition of all these characteristics I mentioned about his personality. Being made the leader of his Muslim community reinforces what we all outside his community long identified in him. My expectation is that he should see the recognition to be their leader as a big challenge for him to further prove himself and serve mankind. I cannot but only pray for him for God to continue to guide him and support him.