By Faruk Adejoh-Audu
The military era was a time when many brave and outspoken opposition elements had been cowed into silence. Dozens of politicians, activists, journalists, and statesmen had been either headed into jail or hounded into exile. Worse, there were suspicions of state sponsored assassinations and disappearances of persons known to be opposed to continued military rule, and were campaigning for return to democracy. It is unarguably the most repressive era in Nigeria’s checkered history. It was the regime of the brutal late dictator, General Sani Abacha who died in office, that Uba Sani, a little-known student union activist, almost a child at the time, confronted. He stood up to be counted in the struggle for democracy and justice.
A former Head of State, general Olusegun Obasanjo and his second in command, late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and several other statesmen and politicians had been imprisoned on trumped-up charges of participating in a coup d’etat to overthrow the government. So vicious was the Abacha government, that activist and even lawyers who rose to vouch for the innocence of the political prisoners were equally captured and railroaded to a secret military tribunal and convicted for an offence unknown to law.
Thus, it was confounding to observers that young Uba Sani could be so audacious in courting the ire of a dictatorship that indulges neither elder statesmen nor youngsters. Besides, Kaduna and indeed the entire Northern Nigeria wasn’t a conducive turf to prosecute the democratic struggle for the restoration of the annulled June 12, 1993, as most northern leaders had dismissed the struggle as an ethnic agitation of the Yorubas. In truth the struggle was centered mostly around Lagos and the South West states, where the presumed winner of the annulled elections, Late Chief MKO Abiola hailed from. But even then, most of the kingpins of the struggle had fled on exile and were issuing press statements from the comfort and safety of foreign countries.
Yet with all the odds stacked against him, Uba Sani, braved it all and became the voice of the struggle in Northern Nigeria. Of course, the radical tribe of the north led by Late Alhaji Balarabe Musa, late Yusuf Bala Usman and Alhaji Aliyu Umar Esq a radical lawyer, and later Col Dangiwa Umar remained vocal despite harassments and intimidation from security agents but the young Sani barely 23 years of age at the time was the name to reckon with when it came to mobilizing and organizing street protests and other form of resistance.
Soon he rose to become the National Deputy Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) which was the main civil rights/ pro-democracy group involved in the agitation for democracy and the National Deputy Chairman of the Joint Action Committee (JACON) chaired by the legal icon, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) which was the umbrella body of all the groups involved in the agitation. At that tender age Sani was already deputizing the most famous and respected activist and pro-democracy lawyer in Nigeria.
Of course, he paid the price of being constantly hounded and detained by the SSS and was constantly in hiding or on the run, but undaunted he forged ahead. One of his most famous projects was the Free Shehu Yar’Adua Campaign which he prosecuted almost singlehandedly to the chagrin of the junta which quickly assassinated the highbrow prisoner.
When the Abacha dictatorship ended following his death and his successor Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar returned the country to democracy , Comrade Uba Sani’s name rang loud amongst the heroes of the struggle and was the natural choice when President Obasanjo another hero of that struggle needed a fiery but brilliant person to handle his office of Special Assistant on Public Affairs, a portfolio that demands combative communications.
20 years after the restoration of democracy, Comrade Uba Sani defeated and dislodged his former friend and colleague in the struggle Comrade Shehu Sani to represent Kaduna Central Senatorial District,in the Senate. A job that has done well.
Senator Uba Sani had not only facilitated the loans approval which has resulted in the delivery of massive infrastructural development of Kaduna State by Governor el-Rufai, but has also been credited with a plethora of bills aimed at elevating the living conditions of Nigeria through education, financial inclusiveness, healthcare, enhanced security, constitutional amendment to foster devolution of power particularly as it concerns the power of states under the federal constitution to establish their own police and improve their internal security, a role the federal government has been unable to satisfactorily perform.
Specifically Senator Uba Sani is credited with the following bills: Federal College of Education, Giwa kaduna State (Est, 121); Forestry, Technology and Research, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State (Est,Etc) Bill 2019 (SB201); Unoversity of Technology Kaduna (Est, Etc) Bill 2019; Information and Communication Technology Kaduna South (Est, Etc) Bill2020 (SB 407); Federal Medical Centre, Rigassa, Kaduna State ( Est, Etc) Bill 2019 (SB. 169); Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2004 ( Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019(SB. 178); Care and Protection of Child parents Bill 2019 (SB.198); Firearms Cap F28 LFN (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 549); Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 550); NDLEA Act CAP NO.3 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 582); Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill 2020 (SB. 410).
Having survived the dangerous terrain of activism in a dictatorship and navigated the executive and legislative arms of government at the federal level, the Authentic Comrade Uba Sani on Tuesday declared to run for the governorship position. To take over from Nasir El- Rufai, his friend and mentor.
Without doubt, Uba Sani has the wealth of experience to succeed Mallam el-Rufai as Governor of Kaduna State come May 29, 2023 and to sustain the programme and projects of El- Rufai, who has raised the bar in governance.
For a man that has been involved in one struggle or the other all his adult life, this will undoubtedly be the most crucial battle of his life so far. Before now there have been whispers of other aspirants,but they pose no threat to the ambition of Uba Sani. He is certainly the front runner,the man to beat. Every indication is that Uba Sani will pick the ticket and go on to win the election. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from every indication will be fielding Isa Ashiru,a man that El-Rufai,defeated in the APC governorship primaries in 2015, and in defeated in 2019,as the candidate of the PDP.
As candidate, Uba Sani is almost as good as governor, given the intractably factionalised state of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna state. And with the traditional “trouble makers” of Kaduna APC like Senator Hunkuyi, Shehu Sani and Tijani Ramallan already overwhelmed by el- Rufai, the coast is clear for Uba Sani,to take Kaduna state to the next level.
For Uba Sani, the struggle continues. And the people of Kaduna State,must count themselves lucky to have a man of conscience,commitment and a determined goal getter take over from Nasir El-Rufai.