As the run-up to the 2019 general elections picks up speed, it is expected that many contenders will show interest into various positions in line with provisions of the electoral laws governing the much awaited polls. While all other positions are equally important, the office of the senator representing Kaduna South Senatorial District is of paramount importance, as much of the wellbeing or otherwise of a post-poll Southern Kaduna, revolves around the character and quality of the Senator-elect.
Therefore, it is on the above premise that I have taken time to study the trajectory of past elected senators; legislative performance and how their relationship with the Federal and State Governments at the time they served impacted on the wellbeing of the people, how much were they able to lobby for development of the constituency and constituents, their roles as the leader of other members of the National Assembly (House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly), irrespective of party affiliation, how their contributions to and on national and international politicking and alignment helped their credentials and even their roles in the chambers of the National Assembly and the country at large, among others.
Agreed, times have changed, and, of course, the dynamics of politics and politicking generally has changed, but much of Southern Kaduna’s political tradition hasn’t changed much, and the people are far more enlightened than before – an interesting angle to the entire discourse. But of more interest is the fact that, the Southern Kaduna of today in a contemporary Nigeria is more exposed to bitter politicking from outside than within. And to crown it all, our expectations from the political leadership hasn’t changed much, even when it is said to have changed, its largely the demand for competence, accountability, mentorship and doggedness in the pursuit of the Southern Kaduna cause.
Hence, drawing from all the above resource available to me and my personal experiences, having toured the entire nooks and crannies of Southern Kaduna, either on politicking, humanitarian, charity or advocacy grounds, I make bold to say that I have the basic qualification to draw up a template for the selection of a Southern Kaduna Senator, come 2019. This, I do as my personal commitment to a better and prosperous Southern Kaduna, and for posterity to place us where we rightly belong, either as heroes or villains. Never misconstrue this noble initiative (Template) as serving any form primordial sentiments or built around an interests, but instead an objective perspective for a better Southern Kaduna pre and post 2019 elections.
As expected, many have indicated interest to contest for the Senate seat; while a lot more are expected to do so in the future. Most of those who have indicated interests are qualified in their own right; each of them has an advantage or two over others or all over them. Actually, every aspirant comes with a truckload of merits and demerits. My job here is not to pinpoint what merits or demerits any candidate has or lack, but to create a template around those merits and demerits in order for us to weight them and be guided accordingly.
2.0 THE YARDSTICK
In arraying and x-raying some select ‘necessaries’ for an ideal senator of the Federal Republic, representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, from 2019 and beyond. These and more forms part of the requirements for a true representation that is sacrosanct and fitting to the peculiarities of Southern Kaduna in contemporary Nigeria; given the recent spate of rising level of insecurity, calls for restructuring, globalization, technological sophistication, international alliances and deepening democratic culture and many other factors. An attempt will be made to make these templates concise, and it is therefore itemised accordingly;
2.0.1 LOCAL WISDOM
The ability of knowing when to stand up and speak and when to sit down and listen is a rare virtue many do not posses, with a set of people having its set rules of engagement that are peculiar with them. These norms and values guide their manner of communication, interaction, socialising and managing conflicts. One cannot afford not to have such wisdom as a political leader of Southern Kaduna. For instance, you can’t walk up to a General Zamani Lekwot with an outstretched hand demanding a handshake or interrupt his speech because you disagree.
Aside the tour for political patronage, the candidate’s footprints should be visible all over the region (literally speaking). The people should be able to recognise and identify their political leader, even before he comes around shopping for votes and political patronage. There are many reasons for anyone with the desire to better the people to be all over Southern Kaduna, even when not seeking or in a political office. From the many mass graves and killings sites: one should be able to sympathise and empathise with those grieving, to the many social gatherings and cultural festivities that yearly take place in their area.
The desire to identify with Southern Kaduna peoples during trying times should ordinarily make such person available and willing to participate in any developmental projects, either directly or indirectly.
Youthfulness is wealth, and when channeled appropriately, can bring about tremendous growth in a society. Youthfulness in this sense doesn’t have to be of age, but of agility and sportsmanship. But it is most desirous to have a totally young person at the helms of affairs, because the burst of energy alone cannot be replaced nor taken for granted. Therefore, the candidate should truly be a youth by age. But can this be traded off? No, it cannot!
The history of Southern Kaduna is one replete with instances of marginalisation and in some case injustices by state apparatus (State and Federal). Our history as a people is shaped by the many struggles and battles we have fought, from the times of our forbears till today. At various stages of our history, strong men emerge and champion the cause; many others provide the support and the needed impetus to fight on. The senator of Kaduna South should have his/her name written in the annals of our history as a contributor to the positive advancement of the people’s lot. Such interventions must not be huge and monumental, but must be seen to be a sacrifice. The person mustn’t even be in the forefront, but must certainly have paid his or her dues. For instance, what has one done prior to seeking elective position?
BE A BRIDGE
As a bridge, our senator should be knowledgeable in contemporary communication mediums, social media savvy, because of the place of Facebook, Twitter, etc, in politics and interactions. He/she should have the ‘swag’ to link up with the old, not so old, young and even the children on and off the social media. It is also key that anyone seeking to be our senator should have the wisdom that the grey can appreciate, the eloquence that the not-too-old can understand, the humility that the youth can access and the friendship that the very young generation can depend on. Such a person must serve as a bridge to the past and a vision to our future.
Our senator must be the senator of an educated people as Southern Kaduna prides itself as a hub for brilliance, intelligence, knowledge and more; we cannot afford to be represented by a daft person who cannot articulate issues affecting our people within and without our shores. In short, he should be one of our best in standing up for our people.
HEAP OF MISTAKES
As humans we err, none is perfect. We have blown fuses and burnt several bridges in our imperfect lives. We all have our shortcomings, and are prone to make even more blunders as we strive towards perfection. Therefore, our past mistakes can never define our future nor our present resolves to make a difference. The choice therefore, is either we live above those mistakes, having learnt from them, or we simply exist under them.
Therefore, the Senator Southern Kaduna needs is one who is standing on his/her heap of past errors but ready to right the wrongs of the past. Because, the acknowledgement of past blunders and missed opportunities, backed by a resounding resolve to make amends is key in leadership. We simply don’t need a perfect senator, because to be perfect in these climes means to that person hasn’t tried anything at all.
MENTORED – POLITICALLY
The Apprentice-Master relation started in Germany, which the Nigerian Igbo ethnic group uses today to great effect in trading; thereby making them to stand out in trade and commerce. Our brothers have equally inculcated it in their political lives; no wonder they keep churning out young and smart political alecks to slug it out with our papas in the political turf of Kaduna state should we be smart enough to imbibe ‘maulatrix’ (my word) from them in this game, we should imbibe political mentorship as well. The place of Mentorship in politics cannot be overemphasised, and its uses are enormous. The likes of Barak Obama, Emmanuel Macron, Ambode, Fashola, etc, are striking examples of the products of Mentorship.
Though we have continually accused some of our past and even present political leaders of not mentoring younger generations, there are a few who did a little mentoring (Even if it was not a formal arrangement). The likes of Late Yohanna Madaki, Col. Baba Nyan and Sen. Isaiah Balat still have some mentees who at least helped them run errands.
The performance of a mentored Politician can never be compared with that of a rookie, especially when the mentee really know his/her onions and understands what is at stake and the position of Southern Kaduna in the committee of ‘nations’.
The ability to be available, accessible and reliable for mentoring is a daunting task, but the reward is in the sheer size of growth which can be achieved when knowledge, expertise and experience is shared and/or transferred. The Southern Kaduna Senator must have a past of, or is currently mentoring others professionally, politically or in whatever guise that is meaningful to development of Southern Kaduna and the country at large.
Aside the provision of a paid job (Fish), one must be or have been engaged in mentoring (How to fish), for some time. Let us see your mentees and not those running errands and organising Vanity fairs and pimping to satisfy your urges and lusts.
PLAYED LOCAL, STATE AND NATIONAL POLITICS
One cannot shy away from the fact that conversance with local, state and national politics is not a priced possession. To manoeuvre one’s way within the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, and still return as re-elected representatives, one must have a good grasp of all this facets of politicking. But of paramount importance is the ability to deliver as a legislator, requires vast understanding of the relationship and place of local, state and national political players from the Southern Kaduna and across the country.
You can’t only get it right at the national or state or local and assume to be playing it good, you need a blend and mastery of all. Our senator should be able to have a good grasp of these all to be able to navigate through the murky waters of politics and come out triumphant.
The knowledge, understanding and in fact participation in international politics and relations is an added advantage for the candidate, this is in answer to the many questions being asked about how the international community views the plight of the Southern Kaduna people over the years. The ability to strategically establish, effectively utilise and efficiently retain such international relationships will not only expose the atrocities against the people, but open vistas of developments and investments to the human and natural resources-rich region. Therefore, a candidate with an established international relationship with particular reference to the plight of the Southern Kaduna people is most desired at this point. Because, the possibility and ability to build on such existing contacts once at the senate will go a long way in putting the plight of the people in the front burner, both locally and internationally.
We are living in a period characterised by waning opportunities for our people. Agriculture has remained underdeveloped and potentials of our region for economic development still relegated to the backwaters. International firms with dream of investing funds abound in every part of the globe. A Kaduna South Senator must possess the capacity to attract investments to change our grim economic skies of our region by attracting international investors to collaborate with our people. Through this, our ginger farmers can have the hope of being emancipated from the vicious shackles of middle men who are cronies of the oppressive system. Through this, maize from Saminaka axis can find financial support for competitive pricing and our vast green fields that are attracting herdsmen can be turned into economic empowerment for our people, among others.
KNOWLEDGEABLE IN LAW, LAW-MAKING AND LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS
While the lawyers may have an advantage over others in knowledge and understanding the law, but the business of law-making and legislative business is another keg of fish all together. But one will also accept the fact that, the knowledge of law can equally be an added advantage for any new comer or existing lawmaker in the processes of law-making. Therefore, where the candidate lacks the basics of lawmaking and drafting, he should be to assemble a team to do or at least be seen to be capable of assembling such a team.
‘SPEAKS’ 50+ LANGUAGES OF THE PEOPLE
Aside the duties of legislation and intricacies associated with the office of the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the understanding of the People – the Southern Kaduna people, is a requirement a would-be senator must have, without which he/she is as sure a case of DOA (Dead on Arrival). This is because, the Senator of Kaduna South Senatorial District must understand the diversity of our people; the uniqueness of every of the over 50 tribes; the uniting bond between them all. He/She must be able to tell when a Kadara man banters away at Gbagyi man, as his slave. Or the Ham man calling a Gwong man, his subject. He should understand the importance of a pinch of sugar in a Gure man’s pate delicacy. As trivial as these little details may seems, they are most of the things that binds us.
Therefore, the ability to understand the fears and aspirations of a Gwandara, Numana, Ninzo, Kataf, Gwaska and Gworok, etc, in a larger Southern Kaduna setting, is half-way into getting it right with the people.
Finally the office of the Senator representing Southern Kaduna serves as the economic, social, political, cultural and to some extent religious melting point for the people. Take it from me that, that seat equals to the seat of a governor to the people, and therefore, we cannot afford to waste that opportunity playing nice or sacrifice its importance on the altar of stomach infrastructure. We should know better, since we are better informed and knowledgeable, we should at least adopt wholly or partly this template as a guide
Maiyaki wrote this piece from Kaduna and can be reached via: email@example.com