Senator Shekarau with Nefisat Abugu amd Kabir Bello from UNN Nsukka

In continuation of our coverage of the 77th Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) 2019 of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) in Kano, former Governor now Senator Ibrahim Shekarau also spoke to the 5,000+ youths assembled from the 19 Northern States and Abuja. Sardaunan Kano’s paper, “MESSAGE TO MUSLIM YOUTH”, was modelled after an Epistle of the same name by Imam Hasan al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al Muslimun). An abridged version:

“It is apt to start with the proverbial quote where Elders asked Youths: ‘O YOUTH, WHAT DO YOU WANT?’ and the Youths answered: ‘WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE WANT, BUT WE WANT IT NOW!’ Herein lies the predicament of the youths of today – confusion and lack of purpose but full of zeal and energy.

“In many parts of the world, youth are on the move – via protest movements. They are making ‘changes’ in their countries’ political futures. They recently led changes that swept away AbdulAziz Bouteflika in Algeria, Omar Hassan Al Bashir in Sudan, Sa’ad Hariri in Lebanon and Evo Morales in Bolivia, among others. The Arab Spring of 2011 is still alive, now joined by Latin American and African Springs.

“Now that the youth have ‘succeeded’ in these ‘revolutionary’ changes, what has been their benefit? In most countries, sadly, it is back to ‘square one’; as the same generation of the ousted leaders have taken over. Why? Because most of the youth are unprepared for the changes that they cause.

“Youth in every society constitute a tremendous resource for national development. In order to succeed, youth must know what is expected of them. They must be given rules – at home, at school, in the community – and they must be aware of the consequences for breaking those rules. In addition, youth must have a clear picture of the positive hopes that parents, teachers and other adults have for them.

“In our political terrain, the most vivid example of the potentiality of youth to participate is their agitation for and subsequent success in the enactment of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Act. Now that a law has lowered the age threshold for the youth to participate actively in the politics of this nation, 2019 was not a good example of the youth utilising that mandate. Many of the youths are still mostly where they were – appendages of some political leaders, if not thugs.

“In this Information Age, while youths all over the world are into coding and other technological innovations and making money out of it, the youth of Nigeria are generally busy making shortcuts by engaging in Internet fraud and wasting time on social media. The same mobile handset someone is using for profit, many of our youth are using for loss. While some are engaging new technology for entrepreneurship, many of our youths are spending thousands of hours and data on frivolous social media activity that steals time and money. While many youths see and use the mobile handset as an economic tool, some still see and use it only as a social tool.

“Over time, the changes which have occurred in the family structure are tremendous and far-reaching. The extended family was an important social unit. Responsibility for member’s welfare rested on one another. Everyone was his brother’s keeper. There was an observable, pronounced sprit of brotherhood. This traditional society is virtually no more. The basic structure has changed considerably. The tendency now is toward unbridled individualism. The net effect is a lamentable disintegration of our cherished traditional social structure. We must retrace our steps.

“According to British intellectual and colonial officer in Northern Nigeria AHM Kirk-Greene in his paper ‘Mutumin Kirki: The Concept of the Good Man in Hausa’, the Hausa people have yardsticks to measure decent, acceptable behaviour. These traits include: Respect for Self and Others; Gentlemanliness; Sense of Justice and Fairness; Courage and Bravery; Putting Others First; Fending for One-Self (and not reliant on others); Modesty; Tactfulness; Humility; Simplicity; Sociability (being able to interact peacefully with others – or what is now called ‘emotional intelligence’); Friendliness; Avoidance of Idle Talk; Truthful and Honest; Communal Spirit; and Religiousity.

“Based on my belief that we need to now revive the goodness from within our youth towards future leadership, I have initiated at three universities (BUK in Kano, my hometown; ABU in Zaria, my alma mater; and University of Nigeria Nsukka, my second academic home) an annual prize for the Best-Behaved Graduating Student of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000.00), a Plaque and a Certificate to be awarded annually at Convocation to a selected male or female student whose institution feels has shown the best of these traits.

“The selection criteria has been left to be determined by the institution according to environment, culture and circumstances – it could be a student who, in the face of want, returns lost money; it may be a student who volunteers to help others; it could be a student who goes the extra mile as a Class Captain, etc.

“So, talking of potential is not enough. We are all stakeholders in this nation. Therefore, me must start somewhere. They say decent people cannot participate in politics because it is a dirty game. Nay! To help make the desired change, the MSSN must come out to participate in Nigerian politics. Start small – begin, for example, by sponsoring one of you as a local councillor in one ward in one local government; then graduate to LGA Chairman; then to Member House of Assembly; and so on, and so up. With Allah’s help, and then with your numbers and your ability to mobilise, you can succeed.

“Let me at this juncture introduce Kabir Festus Bello and Nefisat Umeka Abugu, Amir and Amirah respectively of the MSSN of UNN Nsukka that I have brought all the way to Kano to participate in this IVC. I was at their university recently and they paid me a courtesy call and I learnt they have never been to the North. It is my wish to continue to facilitate such bridges between young Muslims and even others so that our understanding of each other will be enhanced in sha Allah.”

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