Penultimate week -on the Wednesday column section of this paper- one Mr. Philip Agbese featured as a guest writer from United Kingdom vide, his piece titled –‘The theatrics of a tired leftist’. Armed with objectionably rare dose of invectives, he descended on his target- the controversial Afro hairstyle –wearing Senator Shehu Sani, with such vehemence that foreclosed any pretense to fairness, objectivity and truth. Under such spell of impulsive overdrive to undress and drown his hate object in prejudiced slander –he left a huge gap that exposed a premeditated hatchet job from high quarters. Although, the writer flashed his Diaspora credentials with conspicuous brutality, the local complexion and influence were unmistakable. As such the question of whose war he is fighting should not be a jigsaw puzzle.
On a fair assessment –the entire piece, though garbed in pseudo- intellectual cloak, was cruelly offensive and distasteful to the tradition of intellectual engagement envisaged in public discourse. It ended up being a huge assemblage of raw assault and disjointed arguments that have no reasonable link with objective criticism offered to nudge and recommit political players to proper conduct and ideals of governance.The writer began by weaving David Trump’s divisive personality profile and its related inflammatory insult to exploit divisions and faults for self-political glory. He then went on to marry Shehu Sani to this line of infamous and discredited political pranks. This false start in his line of argument exposed the intent and mission –which is to assail and malign by assorted crude manipulation of facts which are already in public domain. Had the senator not been locked in a bitter supremacy battle with the Kaduna state government and some officials of the ruling party in the state, one would be lost trying to wrap ones head around these vicious vitriolic jabs. I struggled with energetic vigour but failed to see any link between Trump’s and Sani’s political trajectory. The mileage is light years away between pro-masses leftist czar and a divisive ultra-conservative right wing former TV celebrity who rode on white supremacist sentiments to political victory.
Not even the senator’s bitterest opponent would dispute his long years of pro-masses brand of leftist activism which he has managed to sustain right through to the National Assembly. He was in the trenches with the pro-June 12 NADECO elements like Gani Fawehinmi. Ransome Kuti, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Fank kokori Tinubu and a host of others. In his interview with The News Magazine in March this year, he said: “I was a leading figure in the struggle to liberate Nigeria from military rule and in the course of our struggle, we made sacrifices and we encountered challenges. I have spent a significant part of my life in prison. I have been jailed in Kaduna, Kirikiri, Port Harcourt and Aba prisons during military rule.
Sani easily runs into trouble with the forces of establishment who operate on a different wavelength of political philosophy, principles and understanding of issues incongruent to his leftist leaning : By personal admission, he recently declared: “When you are in politics, you are not expected to be driven by your conscience and principles, but by cliques and class political interest and persons like me who are in politics to serve my people with my conscience, principles and ideas would naturally get into trouble because most of the people I will always be in the same boat with are people I shared very little with”
So, when the writer made a fuss of Sani’s running battle with EL-Rufai , his criticism of Buhari , Osibanjo and a host of others, including the military top brass who attended the APC flag off campaign of # NEXT LEVEL, and concluded that all these were aimed at getting back at those who opposed his return to the senate, the writer lost it flat. It’s obvious that he is not even aware that Sani was the only candidate in Kaduna state cleared to contest for the senate seat by the national body of APC until El-Rufai pulled a master stroke allegedly with a threat to dump APC if his candidate was rejected in favour of sani. It is strange but understandable that in his entire piece, the writer refused to acknowledge Sani’s positive contributions to debates, motions and oversight functions and other key national issues which uplifted his rating on a national scale as one of the most distinguished senators of this current session of the National Assembly. His contribution and reasoned criticism of Buhari’s anti-corruption war birthed the celebrated ‘Deodorant and Insecticide’ mantra on the presidency’s handling of insider corruption cases.
The writer also has issues with how Sani explored the social media to feather his political nest by the application of Trump-like twitter handle to inflame and fuel anti-establishment sentiments on sensitive national issues –concluding that the senator has gathered sizeable network of blind followers whom he refers to as children of anger that should be seen as threat. Not a few would see this as popularity strength which became evident when the senator answered the popularity challenge Governor El-Rufai threw at him recently. The Governor had dared him take a walk through the busy Kaduna central market on a broad day light to test his popularity. I am not sure the El-Rufai was happy with the outcome of that walk.
Is Sani guilty of double standard which has made him uninteresting to the people for failing to declare and renounce his share of the vexatious jumbo pay the law makers receive, as alleged by the writer? Belatedly though, but the senator has the singular distinction of being the only law maker to have opened up publicly on how much the law makers earn. This position of the writer collapses under the weight its contradiction when aligned with his assertion that Sani has highjacked the power structure of his new party –PRP, steering it from its welfarist ideology to a potent hit-back vehicle against his opponent. Wouldn’t this require considerable level of influence and popularity to achieve- against the backdrop of his claim that the senator has been rendered uninteresting?
When the writer concluded his piece, classifying the senator as an ethic jingoist who sniffs every political engagement with mercantile fury for commercial benefits, I find this grossly inconsistent with the senator’s fanatical statism philosophy and his disdain for tribal affiliation, as his statement below shows:
“The Nigerian political class, in as much as they see themselves as Hausas, Yorubas, Igbos and so on, their common desire is to protect class privileges. They so much believe that refineries cannot work until they are sold, electricity companies cannot work until they are sold, and even the roads cannot be free of potholes until they are concessioned, the airports cannot function well until they are concessioned.”
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