Nigerian Politicians are product of the Society
Malam SHUAIBU IDRIS mni, IoD, Managing Director/CEO of Time-Line Consult Limited is a proud Alumnus of the Almajirici Methodology Schools’ of Learning. In addition, He holds M.A in Banking and Finance from University of Wales, Bangor, UK, B.Sc (Hons) Accounting, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. He attended the prestigious, Lagos Business School, Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program (AMP), the Advanced Leadership Program, Judge Business School, Cambridge University, U.K. and he was at the famous National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Nigeria.
In pursuance of his professional career, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Credit Administrators (FICA), the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (FCNA), Fellow Chartered Institute of Marketing Nigeria (FNIMN), Fellow Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM) and Fellow of the Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD). He is a member Board of Trustees of the Exchanges’ IPF, representing Registered Shareholders Association. Also a member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (MCIPM) as well as member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the National Institute.
Malam Idris has diverse experience and skills in Human Resources Management, sales and Marketing Strategy. He is a motivational speaker and mentor to youths and entrepreneurs. His working career is multi –faceted. Kaduna State Board of Internal Revenue, Chase Merchant Bank, Lakeside Investment Limited, Liberty Bank, Dangote Group PLC; where he retired as Deputy Managing Director, Dangote Flours Plc. He is on board of many organizations; but few suffice: Vesta Health Care Partners, Mikati Farms and Turan Petroleum, Care Organisation, Manna Children Initiative, Nurturing Fitra Foundation as well as Teens Empowerment.
In this interview, this native of Dogon Dawa, Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State, Nigeria, bares his mind on many topical issues.
What is politics to an average Nigerian politician like you?
Well, it is a very wide and lengthy subject. Politics means struggle, the struggle for what? The struggle to gain power; to administer people; and also is to make an impact, to make a name and to make money. In Nigeria, politics is where for any position people have to vie, to canvass and have to put themselves up for leadership. For me, politics is a desire to get into the position of leadership or authority with the singular purpose of making an impact on people, which reposed their trust on you. My take is that our society requires people of vision, people that have a mission, people that have some level of intellect, people that have a sense of knowledge and wisdom on how to administer resources and how to impact an individual’s life.
Can you share with our readers how you joined politics?
I was dragged into politics by my admirers who had their plans. It started a very long time ago during my school days, for a master’s degree in the United Kingdom; particularly in the era of President Ibrahim Babangida. I was a constructive critic and a darling to journalists who always wanted to hear my opinions on the policies of his government. Much later, one day, while in my Lagos office, I got a call from Kaduna that my posters were on the streets, announcing my candidacy for governorship. My reaction was whoever that put them out there would remove them because I had no hands in them. But shortly after, our extended family members summoned a meeting where after much ado, I was convinced by the then head of our family, may Allah bless his soul and he said:”Look Shuaibu, Allah can decide to give you the governorship of Kaduna and see whether you would remain on the straight and right path. The alternate is for Allah to take you to go out there to campaign, waste your time, resources and deny you success to test your faith. So, we are advising you to surrender to the call to serve your people, go ahead and vie for this position. Whatever the outcome positive or negative may, He gives you the strength and the wisdom to accept”. It is from there and then, I became a full-time politician. I surrendered. I started doing the little I could do within the confines of politics. I subsequently had a blueprint-WIPER which was wealth creation, Infrastructural development, peace based on social equity and justice, empowerment and resources mobilization on how to transform Kaduna. It was a 200-page document but Allah is yet to crown my efforts. Thrice I made attempts, but Allah knows the best for me because despite that, with my modest income, modest family and modest background, I am still relevant in politics of Kaduna State. “Fabiayyi alahi Rabbikum ma tukaziban” (which of His favours will we deny)?.
Do you share the view that Nigerian politicians are self-centred?
I would not say Nigeria politicians are selfish or self-centred or they are corrupt. Politicians are products of the society and that tells us, the society itself is corrupt. Where are these politicians coming from? Of course from the same society he lives with his people. For a politician to become a councillor of his ward for example, he would have spent a fortune. This is the least of political positions. The higher it is, the higher is the stake and the higher the money that goes into it. If one is sponsored by a god father to a position, when he says jump, one would not even wait to ask how high? One would first jump and say is this enough? So, this is why several politicians cannot be said to be corrupt, selfish or self-centred. He is a product of his society and a reflection of the character of the people. Only with the understanding of Islam and its jurisprudence, can one be above board. There was a time I sponsored someone to become the chairman of a local government in Kaduna. I funded his campaigns without any string attached. I only requested for justice, fairness and equitability in his management of the resources of the local government, not contract or patronage. How many people can do that?
How turbulent is Kaduna politics?
Kaduna State is one of the most difficult states to govern because it is multi-ethnic, cultural and multi-religious. Also, it is the melting pot of Northern politics. Thus, it could be turbulent and a bit difficult to govern. But with good leadership, fairness, justice and equitable person in the saddle of administration, governance and politics in the state will become simple and easy to handle. Since the commencement of the civilian rule in 1999, we have had different Governors who in one way or the other impact on the state. We have achieved some level of progress in terms of peaceful co-existence and tranquility. Kaduna used to be a very hotbed of tribal, ethnic and religious clashes, but in the last 10 years, we have not had any major crisis. “One area we need to do more is in the economic sector of the state; to empower the youths, who can be a willing tool for troubles. Alhamdulillah Robbil al-AmIn! The administration of the current Governor, Nasir El-Rufai” has brought monumental changes to the state in infrastructural developments. The road networks in Kaduna are significantly improved upon, so are the water provisions and many other development projects that are helping the state to be at peace. I think, what can further guarantee peace in the state in my assessment is the need to go back to the drawing board and see how we can empower our
citizens, attract investors to invest, establish and resuscitate our industries so that our teeming youths could get employed. We used to have vibrant textile and other medium scale industries, but today, Kaduna is now becoming a civil servants settlement with very few industries offering livelihood opportunities.
As a major stakeholder in Kaduna politics why the pockets of skirmishes in the state?
I think it generally has to do with lack of trust. This country is going through a period that I can say is extremely dangerous, where citizens do not trust their leaders, respect constituted authority, and have no hope in the leadership. To worsen the situation the judiciary that is supposed to be the last hope of the common man is not living up to the expectation and the moment there is no justice, equity and fairness in the society, chaos is the result. The skirmishes fester over time because appropriate punishments were not meted out to perpetrators. So, someone steals and you see him living a flamboyant life and laughing at you, what does that mean? It is an encouragement for you to go and do so. The brain-boxes behind the 1992 Zangon Kataf crises, Maitatsine riots, and killers of many others are still roaming the streets freely. On both sides of the divide, whether the Hausa-Fulani, Muslims or Christian tribes of Southern Kaduna, there are trouble makers and the system distils them but for nepotism, politics and bigotry, they are often left off the hooks. Largely, if we had taken the system that distils and catches the perpetrators serious and punish them severely, that would have been a deterrent for others not to misbehave. The skirmishes are minimal because some how we can find some level of a modicum of peace and tranquility. I refer it so because, in a place where there is poverty, youth unemployment and drug abuse, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. When it explodes, it may no longer be a religious, tribal or ethnic crisis; it may be a class war. Poverty is endemic, and if not addressed by the critical stake-holders it might erode once again the peace and tranquility in the state.
Why do you think Almajirici is becoming a menace in Nigeria system?
I am very proud to say, I am a product of Almajiriçi, which meant “the going out” to learn, write, recite and understand the Holy Quran. Then we were over 200 students and none of us was going out to beg for food because the Sheikh was a big farmer. We only joined his workers to till the soil while he supervised and his wives cooked the food we eat. Over the years, Almajiriçi has largely been bastardized and it has assumed a certain level of degradation and becoming a menace. The reasons are multidimensional. But these come handy to my mind. An average Muslim man would go ahead practising polygamy and fathering 15 to 20 children without taking up the responsibilities attached because he has interpreted the religious injunction on polygamy to go well with his whims and caprices. Responsibility to train educates and ensures the child becomes useful to himself and his community is not of concern to him. Also, Malams are no more into farming, nor have valuable means of caring for pupils under them because; they admit more numbers than they can manage as a result of the zealotry of parents. I don’t know why a parent should take his child, from Zaria to Maiduguri in the name of wanting him to go and seek for Islamic education. Are there no schools or Malams in Zaria? I think there is a need for all Nigerians and those in authority to put heads together and hands-on deck to checkmate this process before it goes out of hand.
What are the investments module you would recommend for Islamic organisations to help their Dawah activities?
I am one of those who share the belief that western orientated interest-driven banking system is not usurious as many believed. Particularly that the doctrine of necessity in Islam availed us such opportunity in Nigeria. Can one imagine what would have happened to my boss and mentor, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, if he was to rely on Islamic finance for his business? I doubt if his business would have survived. And can one accuse him that his business is haram because he decided to align with western orientated banking system? The answer is no. Based on the Islamic principle of the doctrine of necessity as contained in Quran, Chapter five verse 3 ”Prohibited to you are dead animals,1 blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [can] slaughter…whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is forgiving and merciful. So in Nigeria, under the doctrine of necessity Islamic organizations can avail themselves with opportunities in the banking industry to start investments, which can aid their Dawah activities. Investments such as buying of shares in sharia-compliant companies quoted on the stock exchange, in Sukuk bonds, in shares of Islamic orientated institutions like JAIZ bank and Allied Institutions. Furthermore, there are Islamic orientated finance houses that can help. My company; the TimeLine is one of such. We can guide and help Islamic organizations and individual Muslims to invest in sharia-compliant instruments. The Nigeria economy is capitalist oriented and interest-driven, but what alternative is there in the country? My expertise in investment modules tells me, interest within the context of the western orientated financial system is a process of equitability and fairness, where it forecast the time value of money. In the next three months one Naira of today may not be able to buy the same product you purchased with it so in three months one may have to look for N1.10kobo.
Why do you think the Zakat institution is not eradicating poverty among us?
We are not in an Islamic orientated system where justice, equity and fairness rules. Besides, to this fundamental fact, there are no enough organizations to properly collect and distributes, Zakat in our environment. There are very few of such and as long as we do not appropriately collect and distribute this important aspect of Islamic religion, we shall continue to have the quantum of poverty that we have in the society, particularly among the Muslims. Another important reason is how many of us are paying? And even those of us who pay, are we paying sincerely the appropriate amount? Ignorance that pervades in the practice of the religion also is a factor. For instance, particularly with my brothers in the North, give them some amount (50,000 or 100,000 thousand Naira) each as zakat, one will find one, or more that will rather marry another wife, than investing in a yielding business venture. So, the consequences of all these are crippling poverty being witnessed and It is not me who said but Allah, said, “I ordain you to pay zakat so that you can purify your wealth and so that it can be a source of succour to the poor”.
What motivates you?
Again, I go back to the Ayah “wa ma khalaqal jinni wal insini ila liya’buduni” what motivates me is simply the worship of Allah. Islam is the best religion, the most beautiful religion and the simplest of all religions. It gives reward to minute things, as simple as extending greetings to fellow Muslims, so wanting to get large rewards from Allah for worshipping Him, motivates me. Also, the wish to be impactful on people is another. I want a situation that whoever that comes to me or whosoever, I comes across or who comes across me, he or she should be able to leave my presence with happiness. These two, motivate me in my relationship with Allah and His creatures.
What are the things that disturb you as a Muslim?
Islam is one and Muslims are expected either from the Northern part or the Southern part of the country, to implement the teachings of the Quran and Hadith, so the non-Muslims need not being invited to Islam, but become Muslims because they will see the beauty of Islam in us. But today, most Muslims no longer follow the two books. In the North, we are more divided along ethnic lines than unified as a Muslim. What concerns them, first and foremost is where you are from? A Nupe would rather want to associate with people of Nupe lands, than a Muslim from Egbira Lands. Same, a Kanuri may align with their kinsmen than a Kano Muslim. I have been living in Lagos and traverse Yoruba lands for over 33 years, and I have been struggling to come to terms with two things. An average southwestern Muslim normally upholds his traditions over and above the principles of the religion of Islam, whereas the reverse supposed to be the case. Secondly, till this moment, an average westerner still does not see so much difference between being a Muslim and a Christian. Let me buttress that. How can a Muslim father in Southern Nigeria, for instance, seem undisturbed if his children revert to Christianity, or he gives out his daughter in marriage to a non-Muslim Subhanallah! The man automatically loses the benefit of the children Du’a for him, in his abode, six feet below. Islam forbids Muslims, giving out in marriage their daughters to Christians but sadly it is rampant here in Yoruba land. Unfortunately, some Northern Muslims are now joining the bandwagon. I have come across quite several Hausa-Fulani Muslim parents doing that. An example was the marriage of the late Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai, a Christian, to a Muslim girl from Maiduguri, Borno State. Similar to this is the high rate of fornication amongst today Muslim-girls both the girls in the North and the South commit all sort of fornication and they even get married the next day. These disturb me as a Muslim. People are now legalizing what Allah has forbidden, which is a heinous crime in Islam.
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