OrderPaperToday – Activist-turned-politician, Shehu Sani was one of the more prominent members of the Nigerian Senate between 2015 and 2019. For a substantial part of the period however, he had a running political battle with his state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, which eventually impacted on his return bid to senate.
Shehu Sani was born on 29 October 1967 in Tudun Wada, Kaduna. Between 1975 and 1980, he had his primary school education at Local Government Education Authority (LGEA), Badarawa Kaduna, then got into Government Day Secondary school, Kagara, Niger State where he spent four years. He later proceeded to Government Science College School, Kagara, Niger State and then gained admission into the Kaduna Polytechnic in 1984, to study Agricultural Engineering up to HND level, in 1993.
At the polytechnic, he was a student union activist which earned him a position as the Chairman of Central Mobilization Committee of PAN-African Student Organization and President African Democratic Youth Congress. He equally served as the Social Director of Kaduna State Students Union.
Life of activism…
His activities in the student union launched him to national activism where he was introduced into the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Nigeria’s umbrella pro-democracy group by which had activists like Femi Falana and late Beko Ransome-Kuti. Shehu Sani was later appointed as the Northern Coordinator and National Vice-Chairman of the group.
He co-founded the Movement for Unity and Progress and teamed up with other northern progressives such as Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd.), Dr Bala Usman, Mr James Bawa Magaji and Alhaji Balarabe Musa, to fight for the actualization of 12 June, 1993 annulled presidential election.
As a result, in July 1993, under the regime of General Ibrahim Babagida, he got detained for advocating the revalidation of the result of that election. He was charged at a magistrate court, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, for sedition. During the interim government of Earnest Shonekan, Sani was rearrested and detained for two weeks and later charged to court for sedition.
In General Sani Abacha’s regime, Shehu Sani was implicated in the 1995 phantom coup and subsequently jailed for life and later commuted to 15 years by the Patrick Aziza Special Military Tribunal that convicted the likes of General Olusegun Obasanjo (later President), Col. Lawan Gwadabe (rtd) and Chris Anyanwu and other journalists.
His charges were: “Accessory to the fact of treason and managing an unlawful society (the Campaign for Democracy)”. He was detained in various prisons: Kirikiri, Kaduna, Port-Harcourt, Enugu and Aba.
He was later released in 1999 from life imprisonment when democracy was restored in Nigeria. As a human rights activist, in, 2000, he condemned religious riots in Kaduna state and helped with the distribution of relief items to the victims.
In 2005, he was appointed to reshape the civil society in the national conference. There were several other protests he led. In 2011, he facilitated the meeting of former President Olusegun Obasanjo with the family of slain Boko Haram leader, Muhammed Yusuf.
Under Obasanjo’s administration, Sani was appointed as a member of the African Union African Peer Review Mechanism, Member of the United Nation Reform Committee.
Obasanjo appointed him as a Member of the Presidential Committee on Prison Reforms, Presidential Committee on the Control of Violent Crimes and Illegal Weapons, Presidential Committee on Petroleum Products Prices, Presidential Committee on Conflict Resolution, Member of the Niger State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Member of the National Political Reform Conference, Member of the Charles Taylor Investigation Committee, and also appointed by the Nigerian Government as a Board Member of the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Member of the Presidential Committee on National Security and Civic Responsibility.
In 2013, he was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan into a Federal Government National Committee to Dialogue with the Boko Haram insurgency, an offer he declined.
In 2003, Sani ran under Alliance for Democracy (AD) for Kaduna Central senatorial district but lost to Senator Muktar Aruwa of the All Nigerian Peoples Party ANPP.
In 2011, he defected to Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for the race but lost to Senator Sani Saleh in the primaries.
Two years later, on the 28th of March, 2015, Sani under the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged winner of the senatorial polls.
He was made the Chairman Senate committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Sani never failed to lend his voice to national issues in the red chamber and elsewhere, particularly on Twitter where he has a substantial following.
Despite being in the ruling party, Sani was vociferous in criticizing the incumbent administration of President Buhari, although he would also take to the defence of the President at some other times.
He moved motions on increased insecurity where he lamented that blood is now cheaper than water; and warned his colleagues not to politicise the killings in Benue; and called for the probe of rape cases on IDPs by soldiers.
Shehu Sani was one to make his verdicts known not minding whether it offends his colleagues or not. His popular whistle-blowing on the ‘sacred’ earnings of senators–N13.5 million as monthly running cost with N750,000 monthly as consolidated salary- cut him out as a consistent activist even in politics.
He also called for the scrapping of the corruption-laden constituency projects scheme. His colleagues barely tolerated him on such accounts.
Senator Sani is equally known for being at loggerheads with his state governor, Nasir el-Rufai. On one of such matters he brought to the floor of the chamber, he described the governor as a curse and affliction to Kaduna state and defended Senator Bruce against the Kaduna helmsman over a rail project commissioned by President Buhari.
In the 8th Senate, he sponsored 7 bills but none was passed for third reading.
They are: National Commission for Peace Reconciliation and Mediation Bill, 2015, National Institute for Sports Act CAP N52 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2015, National Endowment for Arts and Literature (Est. etc,) Bill, 2015, Historic Sites and Preservation Protection Bill, 2016
Others are: Nigerian Foreign Service Commission Bill, 2017, Armed Force Comfort Fund CAP A21 Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and National Institute for Counter Terrorism Bill, 2018.
On 20th of October, 2018, he announced his resignation from the APC and defected to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) which probably affected his chances to regain his seat in the 9th Assembly.