Mahdi Shehu

By Felix Abugu

Mahdi Shehu, Katsina-born medical doctor, is also described as an activist. Indeed, he is, at least to the extent that, as a typical northern ‘radical’, he talks as he pleases and couldn’t care less!

Mahdi Shehu (mad Mahdi, I should think) reminds one of the late irrepressible Dr. Junaid Mohammed, who literally shot from the hip all the time, eternally throwing fusillades of verbal missiles at whomever or any ethnic group (other than Fulani north, of course) that caught his fancy. It’s as if both Mohammed and Shehu were ‘blessed’ with anarchic minds. What is it about northern medical doctors? But never mind. This is simply about Mahdi Shehu…

Alhaji Shehu has also been described as a staunch Atiku supporter and presidential campaigner. In that capacity, Shehu has been saying quite a lot of nasty things about everybody and groups, except, of course, his and Atiku’s ethnic group. And as campaigns and campaigners go, I hold the view that no well-meaning, serious-minded presidential candidate will allow a campaigner to say for that presidential candidate what the candidate cannot defend. While Mr. Peter Obi has once or twice told his supporters to be less abrasive in their reactions to criticisms of Obi by his opponents and or their supporters, neither Atiku nor Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) of APC is known to have also cautioned their own supporters against insolent electioneering.

And so, when Shehu gathers citizens in the northern part of the country in a town-hall and tells them not to vote for Mr. Peter Obi because he is a ‘Biafra’ candidate, it is to be assumed that he is speaking for Atiku. Obi, Atiku’s vice presidential candidate because of whom the South East massively voted for Atiku in 2019, against a sitting president who has not ‘forgiven’ the Igbo for the ‘slight’, is now, in 2022, a ‘Biafra’ candidate, barely four years later, just because he ‘dared’ to throw his hat in the ring for Nigerian presidency!

But let’s even interrogate this northern bugbear called ‘Biafra’. The agitation for ‘New Biafra’ is championed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (now detained by the state) under the aegis of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Although IPOB has thousands, if not millions, of members, mostly Igbo, not every Igbo is a member or subscribes to pro-Biafra agitations. Peter Obi is neither an IPOB member nor subscribes to pro-Biafra agitations. Indeed, IPOB has come out to deny that Obi is a member or supporter of the group or its cause in any way, practically curing anyone or group even suggesting that Obi is a member of the group. And let’s face it: there is nothing illegal about what IPOB is doing. By law, convention and practice, citizens of a country who feel aggrieved against the country, for one reason or the other, can agitate for self-determination. Every social or political protest is essentially a call on the authorities to redress the cause or causes of injustice that lead to agitations.

Even then, Peter Obi, it has been clearly stated, is not an IPOB member. So, why insist he is and use a non-existent ‘offence’ against him? How mischievously disingenuous! To think that we had all along dressed this selfish, serial presidential contester in the garb of a political strategist! How Atiku Abubakar has become such a bumbling, divisive laggard!

Let’s even assume that Obi is an IPOB member by association (for simply coming from the South East). What it also means that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is also a Boko Haram member since he is a Muslim from the North East. And which would the modern northerner, 2022 Nigerian of northern extraction rather contend with? IPOB in the South East whose members only carry placards and camera phones with bandanas tied around their foreheads and shouting ‘we want Biafra referendum?’ Or Boko Haram that is displacing local communities in most parts of the North, kidnapping women, men and children and raping and murdering women? Would he/she rather have ISWAP, terrorists and bandits killing off their men and leaving many women widows and children orphans? Certainly, the difference between IPOB and the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists ravaging the North is like that between light and darkness. Unfortunately for northerners and the rest of Nigeria, Mahdi Shehu and his principal Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would rather we have darkness just so we would retain the discredited status-quo and grant them unmerited access to the power they will always misuse.

But kole work ni! Not this time around. In point of fact, the problem with old northern ideologues like Atiku, Mahdi and Co is that they fail to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer business as usual and will never be again. With millions marching for Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed in core northern cities, most of them young Muslim men and women, who have bought into the Obi-Datti message of unity, peace, security and economic prosperity, who are these northerners who, after living eight miserable years under Buhari, would still rather vote for an Atiku for the simple reason that he is a northerner out to ‘save them from Biafra?’

Now, tell me, isn’t Mahdi mad to canvass such a hollow, illogical viewpoint?
— Abugu is veteran journalist and publisher 


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