Senator Basheer Lado and Return of “Talakawa” Politics

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Northern Nigeria’s most sophisticated political arena comes alive as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed Lado declares for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) alongside over 116,000 card-carrying loyalists. Louis Achi reports

Nigerian politics is fast losing touch with the people. Yet, democracy is all about the people and how best to take care of their welfare. For a breather, there is one politician who most uncommonly connects with the people, evocative of the way and manner Aminu Kano did in the first and second republics. He is Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed. Coincidentally, he too is also from Kano State. Kano has a way of producing these unique leaders as heroes for their generations.
There are many things Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed aka Lado holds in common with the late sage of Kano and Nigeria politics, Aminu Kano. Some of the characteristics they share are their uncommon compassion for the downtrodden and philosophical insights into the affairs of men.

While the late Aminu Kano chose to shun the conservative politics of the North to pursue a socialist bent under the Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU), which he co-founded, and later, Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), which he formed, Senator Basheer Lado shuns the aristocratic ambience of his birth and pedigree to be at home with the masses (“talakawa” in local parlance).

Unlike Aminu Kano who believed all political parties are but the expression of class interests. His philosophy of the “talakawa” (commoners) interest is diametrically opposed to the interest of all sections of the master class. As this seeks the emancipation of the “talakawas” which is naturally hostile to the party of the oppressors. Senator Basheer Lado chose a slightly different path. Lado does not believe in the radical class struggle or revolution as some call it, in the classical sense but rather fights to empower the people directly.

To Lado, what the society needs is social justice and equity, where everybody is free to pursue his happiness in liberty while struggling to be free from want. He however, as a democrat, often says the way out for the emancipation of the “talakawa” from suffering is to reform the political institutions into democratic institutions. By placing democratic control in the hands of the “talakawa” for whom alone they exist. In other words, the people must be given the unfettered powers to choose their leaders and that way, put them in charge of their destinies.
The way and manner Basheer Lado carries on has shown that a politician does not need to commit class suicide to connect with the people as may happen in socialist movements. Like Aminu Kano, Senator Basheer Lado was also brought up in Islamic ideas of equity and justice. As many “talakawas” in Kano lined up behind the message of Aminu Kano, so have they lined behind Senator Basheer Lado for the genuineness of his philanthropy and humanitarian services. Both men have admirably sought to use politics to create an egalitarian Northern and Nigerian society.

While their ideals – education, poverty alleviation and empowerment are the same, their approaches are different. Aminu Kano was a radical to the core in the classical sense while Senator Basheer is more of a liberal progressive politician who has embedded himself in Kano and Nigerian politics. Using his position and influence to lift his people.
Like any servant leader who seeks political position in order to be in a position to serve and make life more abundant to a greater number, Senator Lado’s desire for political position is essentially borne out of the need to use same and resources to reach out to many more.

Long before he came into politics, he had founded the Ladon Alheri Foudation, an NGO with which he organizes medical and welfare outreach programmes. Driven by compassion for the suffering people, he had earlier noted that the many cases of blindness in Kano were avoidable and treatable.
In the pursuit of this noble objective, Ladon Alheri as he is fondly called, has been organizing annually such medical missions, carrying out eye operations and giving out free eye glasses to his people in Kano. Through Senator Lado therefore many have miraculously recovered their vision.
He is a firm believer that the ultimate route to emancipation of the people is through education. This explains his sponsoring Special Education Tax bill against public officials sending their children abroad for schooling. Lado has over the years paid for WAEC and NECO examinations for hundreds of Kano indigent students as part of his larger scholarship scheme.

There are several unique programmes and projects which Senator Lado has embarked on in the last one to two decades; such as renovating cemeteries, building boreholes for mosques and giving out soup ingredients (kayan miya) to people. Most unusual you may say, Lado occasionally visits markets and pays up for a lot of food stuff and when the people come around for the items and attempting to pay, they would be told Senator Lado had paid. This earned him the appellations, Lado mai kayan miya, Lado mai Tomatiri and so on.

Perhaps touching the poor the most is his giving out capital (jari) to housewives to start petty businesses. A sum of N10,000 is giving out randomly every week to the most needy of his constituents mainly women/housewives. This capital empowerment programme of Lado’s is monitored and aired on Freedom Radio (99.5FM), every Wednesday night.

Though he believes too that every politics is local, Senator Lado is a most detribalized Nigerian, who believes the nation must do away with ethnic politics to make progress. Why Senator Lado is a highly respected politician in Kano and in Nigeria at large goes beyond his pursuit of equity and welfare for the weak and the downtrodden. His brand of politics is without bitterness and best wishes for all.
With malice to none, he deftly navigates the murky Kano and Nigerian politics, maintaining healthy relationships with members of the political class, regardless of their persuasions and leanings.

Senator Basheer Lado symbolizes democracy, youth and women empowerment and freedom. He contends that the shocking state of social disorder existing in Nigeria is due to nothing but the present callous and uncaring leadership class, who he said have not done enough to help the President do as much as he desires.
Since the days of Aminu Kano, it is doubtful if another Kano politician has touched the people so dearly and won their hearts the way and manner Ladon Alheri has effortlessly done. This gave him the edge to defeat the former House of Representatives’ speaker Umar Ghali Na’Abba to become one of the youngest senators in the 7th Senate.

What is instructive is that most of the philanthropic and humanitarian activities of Lado under the aegis of Ladon Alheri and other platforms, long started before he decided to go into politics. In fact, he joined politics in order to have the power to do more and so did not launch himself into these activities for political gains as most politicians do.
An appreciative Kano people call the N2.5 bn Kundila Bridge Kano, Gadan Lado. He attracted this project as Senator representing Kano Central. Though the then President Goodluck Jonathan had named the bridge after former Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero while commissioning the project.

The same way a delegation from Katsina State visited Kano to show their own appreciation as well for the 171 km Kano-Katsina road dualization, which he attracted again in his capacity as senator and vice chairman senate committee on works. These are unprecedented constituency projects by any rookie senator.
Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed is without a shred of doubt leading a new pack of political leaders who are replacing the older generations with a refreshing approach to national politics and pan Nigerian leadership.