Sheriff Shagaya: the political model called a seven-star general

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By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju

At every level, not just in Kwara but also Nigeria’s brand of politics is incompatible with fundamental principles of loyalty and this seems to be making it difficult for the God-fearing, people conscious right people. Alas, an intrepid Kwaran is daring the odds, sticking his neck out fittingly to change the narrative, even though the caliginous political parlance appears to be getting murkier. An handsome young stubble bearded man of high intellect and visionary spirit has come to realize that the price we pay for always allowing the worst of us determine our collective destiny is too steep, retrogressive, damaging and it is something to be guilt-ridden and aptly ashamed of.

As for Kwara State, a dinosaur had done a remarkable thing during the recently concluded general elections by changing the narrative and writing his name in gold; unlike some politicians dominating our political conversation today. He characterized Vincent Peale’s remarks: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

His first shot was in 2015 general elections, having missed out, he didn’t retire the way most politicians did; he ensured staying back to cater for the masses and supporting his people in spite the unfavorable results. The establishment of a platform to support the needy and indulgence in promoting human capital development was birthed — the Salman Shagaya Foundation. Thence, he created anew history none has imagined in our political system, queuing behind his brother, Muktar Shagaya, for the position he had taken interest from after eight years of selfless humanitarianism. What a great man!

Throughout the electioneering period, Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya political messaging was a different kind of gospel, and the message was “Investing in People and Community Development”. It was a breath of fresh air, resonating across the length and breadth of not just Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency but Kwara State in particular, and Nigeria at large. The receptions every nooks and crannies were massive.

Even those who had a dismissive attitude toward his brother’s candidacy ab initio were gushing about Shagaya outing, premised on the simple fact that Shagaya ran the most organized, responsible, and pervasive campaign. With the rare financial, physical and political support given to his brother and the entire All Progressives Congress (APC), he helped the party garnered the most attention and became the glamorous bride of the Kwara State general elections, drawing many a crowd everywhere he reached and spoke.

Throughout the campaigning phase, Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya was honest, decisive and accurate in his speeches and word choices. His messages also flowed like spring water with an accompanying soothing tone that was soft yet firm. He was known with cliché — mio kin soro pupo, oro mio’nipo (meaning: I do not talk too much; thence, my speech would be concise and succinct!)

He was a stickler for punctuality and followed the rules in a culture where politicians saw arriving late to functions as a sign of self importance and unparalleled authority. He will be waiting by 2:30 if you request his presence to an event at 3:00pm. This isn’t because he was idle; rather, it’s a result of the value he places on every event, regardless of who organized it, and the reality that people may be judged by simple things like keeping to schedule.

As a successful business mogul and first among equals philanthropist, often nicknamed as “the Seven Star General,” is aware of the value of branding. He feels that political leaders owe their people moral behavior. He believes that it’s more vital to ensure that the process of gaining power is free from fraud and corruption than it is to simply win elections. He is very aware that honest foundation is and essential.

While retrospecting on the 2015 general elections, a constituent put, “elections typically draw a large number of participants, many of whom lose not only the election but also their entire character and reputation. But in this case, Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya has been standing tall, commanding the respect of his people, and beyond, for a skillfully orchestrated issue and community-based strategy.

Shagaya, all through electioneering, adopted own style, propagating humility and talking hope in an atmosphere where elections have a history of vitriols. To him, dwelling on pedestrian talks obfuscates the real issues and reduces the level of political discourse. More importantly, he understands that politics is first and foremost a service, that the real power lies with the people, and at all times, the wielders of political power must be conscious of this fact. It is the reason he treats everyone with respect and dignity.

An adherent of ‘Renewed Hope’ and ‘Ijoba Mekunu’ Movement, Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya ensured the APC cruse to victory, having crossed his T’s and dotted his I’s, by supporting the party with his resources. His conduct has won him the heart of the people. Laurels and accolades are coming in for a man who used his 2015 election experience to prove a point that truly power belongs to people and you must add values to people’s lives.

At this juncture, much thanks to His Excellency, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for providing an enabling environment for everybody to participate in the process without undue interference. Yet, assembling a formidable team was a hallmark of Shagaya leadership. So, in all these successes, no one can obliterate the vibrancy and effectiveness of his powerful team.

Shagaya team played a vital role in developing and executing the campaign’s vision that sank deep with the voters. The team comprised of believers in good governance, deployed their various experiences in marketing, business and engineering precision to politics. Shagaya team’s Midas touch remains one of the reasons the campaign reached a wide followership and generated momentum.

Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya, businessman and philanthropist represents a new face of politics in Kwara. His vision reverberates and resonates with the people.

Basheer writes from Ilorin.

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