“A practical politician is one whose political reputation has reached a Messianic proportion. My political philosophy includes making the world a better place to live in through the exaltation and uplifting of life” – Malam Aminu Kano.
This was the core and thematic value of the politics of the late Malam Aminu Kano who devoted his entire life canvassing for a masses-oriented government and won the laurel of ‘the champion of the masses’.
Right from adolescence, politics began to find its way into Aminu’s blood. Luckily for Nigeria, the politics never looked ugly and dirty. From the days of the NEPU to the PRP, it was high profiling for its ideological potency and fits the political settings of all times. His proclivity to politics of unwevering dogma was designed as a matter of noble purpose and direction and was an effective remedy to Nigeria’s tremendous crises. Show me today’s political opportunists, I will show you the Aminu Kano who developed this cardinal leadership principle to emancipate the downtrodden, ‘Anyone who wants to be a leader must be the servant, not the boss, of those he wants to serve’.
Unveiling a paradigm shift to corroborate the prevalent situation, some broadminded Nigerians saw his politics as very incredible and would not let it vanish into the thin air without lending their support. The interesting list included Professors Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. Others were Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Sule Lamido, Abubakar Rimi, Balarabe Musa, S.G. Ikoku, Michael Imoudu and Uche Chukwumerije, among others.
Aminu Kano’s politics teaches our contemporary politicians his ideological essence and how it boosted national development; his unquestionable faith in our beloved country; his insatiable desire for a masses-oriented government. Malam demonstrated secret strenghts in resilience; exalted wisdom that never supported lies and betrayals; soft calmness on profound thoughts and reflections on human development. If he had been entrusted with the mantle of leadership, he would have transformed Nigeria into another Dubai.
He was quoted to have declared that he believed in party supremacy, loved to pass through the pains of his philosophy and disliked the opium of attaining power by all means. Till his last day, he practicalised politics by resorting to some self- denials, believing that the needs of the body were simple and that devoting time and emotional energies on opulent lifestyle wasted the human spirit.
In his applied politics, there was increased patience that remained within its sustained capacity for goals achievements; a domineering foresight that lived beyond ordinary challenges. Refined of ample humility, he discarded cheap popularity, self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement among others. He was free of jealousy, feelingless yet contented and merciful. He treated all friends and foes alike, untouched by respect or disrespect ( and not unduly) puffed up by praises, loved silence and solitude, had a disciplined reason and a single purpose in order to achieve his life mission and vision.
Significantly, he uplifted his ideological school to the admiring centre of people’s redemption without resigning to any form of political vendetta. Striving within the ambit of a defining goal, he designed and authenticated his politics to produce enigmatic and highly yielding episodes. But like every prominent figure that had passed away before him, he abruptly disappeared from the battlefield with a huge debt of an unfinished war. Till his last breath, he was relentlessly combative with ideas and not people and left everlasting revolutionary effects on his people.
Aminu was greatly inspired by the thoughts of late Indian nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi. Drawing a similarity between Aminu Kano and Mahatma Gandhi, Professor Chinua Achebe had this to say, “Gandhi was real; Aminu Kano was real. They were not angels in heaven; they were human like the rest of us in India and Nigeria. Therefore, after their example, no one who reduces the high purpose of politics which they exemplified down to a swinish scramble can hope to do so without bringing a terrible judgement on himself.”
At the time of his death in 1983, he left behind two sets of clothes, a black and white television, an old 504 Peugeot car and one low profile house. While on a condolence visit to the family of the late Malam, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was astonished as to his Spartan living. He then turned to Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, an NPP stalwart, whispering to him, ‘we ought to have come here and learn politics,’ whereas Chief Obafemi Awolowo declared that,’ Nigeria has cheated this man’ when he paid a similar visit.
Alan Feistein is an American actor as well as a researcher on African politics. When he met the late Malam Aminu Kano for the first time at a function in New York, he became infatuated with Aminu’s compelling ideas on politics. That indelible encounter propelled him to write and produce the book ‘African Revolutionary: The Life and Times of Nigeria’s Aminu Kano’. In a beautiful tribute to him in that book, Professor John N. Paden observed about Aminu Kano: ” He will be remembered for many contributions and qualities. He was truly extra- ordinary in both his political and personal life. He served as a bridge or gateway within Nigeria and beyond: between young and old, rich and poor, men and women, nation and region, Western and non- Western, African and non- African, Muslim and the People of the Book.” Also in his book, ‘ But Always As Friends’, the one-time Colonial Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Bryan Smith depicted Aminu Kano as a compelling conversationalist with an original mind and considerable organising ability.
More than 22 years into uninterrupted democracy, where are we now compared to Aminu’s constructve politics? We are now embroiled in an enduring political mess! Almost every politician wants to contest and win election to enhance self-complacency. Political exodus is the venom poisoning the soul of politics. Many politicians are bossy both in theory and practice, while the followers are politically enslaved.
Political corruption such as god fatherism is a political killer that prospers with immunity. The dividends of democracy are converted into gains of democrats. Party supremacy has been ruined as political parties are pocketed by mischievous elements. State leadership is mainly a source of amassing ill-gotten wealth and displaying pomposity and what have you.
Before his demise, Aminu Kano prophesied that ‘Nigeria will know no peace until the son of a nobody becomes somebody, without knowing anybody’. This is the original prototype of our socioeconomic and political turmoils created by poor political leadership. Rest in peace, Aminu Kano!
Abdullahi writes from Ringim, Jigawa state via [email protected]