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Remembering Buhari’s biggest campaigner

Sheikh Awwal Adam Albani
Sheikh Awwal Adam Albani

In the run up to the general elections of 2011, a well known Zaria-based Muslim scholar, by the name Sheikh Awwal Adam Albani, dedicated several minutes of preaching to telling the electorate what to expect in the event of a Buhari victory. He warned Nigerians not to expect any miracles if the General won, because the situation he would meet the country in would be such that in the first four years, he won’t be able to do anything other than halt the damage that had been done to the country.

Sheikh Albani added that General Buhari would meet a country so devastated by corruption and mismanagement that all his efforts in doing things differently will not yield fruit, because he would be preoccupied with clearing the mess he inherited.

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Alas, Awwal Albani’s prediction didn’t come to pass because Muhammadu Buhari did not win the election that year. And by the time he won, four years later, the Sheikh had been killed a year and a month earlier. For he was gunned down, in cold blood, on the evening of February 1st 2014. Albani was murdered along with his wife and son, on their way home after an Islamic study session with his students, in another part of Zaria town at around 9pm.

Though some men were arrested and paraded by the police in connection with the murder, it’s not yet clear whether the mystery behind the murder of this patriotic and forward-thinking cleric had ever been solved.

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Lately, however, some members of many Buhari support groups have taken to making short videos of this lecture, making a case for what seems like the government’s inability to totally eradicate poverty, just like they did two years ago. At the height of the recession that manifested under this administration, some Buhari supporters with good memories had dusted the same lecture and sent it to cyberspace. They hoped to convince Nigerians feeling the pinch that the recession was only a natural outcome of the messy situation President Buhari had inherited from the previous government.

This must have worked marvellously because all through those difficult days, ordinary Nigerians were busy making excuses for President Buhari, insisting always that the former general needed time to right the wrongs of PDP. This is probably the reason why despite the wailing of elite ‘wailers’ the common people never wavered in their support for PMB.

I have personally read two testimonies from people who deliberately instigated poor Nigerians about their economic hardship and were amazed to hear the people downplay their woes and sound optimistic that better days were ahead.

Having seen how successfully they used Albani’s preaching to get Nigerians, particularly Northerners, to accept the recession as a natural setback towards the attainment real dividends of democracy, these same PMB supporters are now using it along with images of mismanagement and insecurity from the last administration, to get voters to give the president a second term. It seems that even from the grave the late scholar is certainly the president’s biggest campaigner.

Yet it seemed like only yesterday that Isa Sa’idu of Daily Trust reported thus:

“Sheikh Albani was opposed to driving in a convoy or having students as vigilantes for their teachers. This is why he drove himself and moved everywhere alone or in company of a few friends or family members.

The killers of Sheikh Albani apparently saw this as an opportunity. They appreared to have trailed him after his lecture at Tudun Wada. The Sheikh made a stopover at a junction known as Central Store along the Zaria Gaskiya Road where he did some shopping. As the Sheikh branched off from that road at the Magume junction on the way to his house, the killers overtook him and blocked his car with theirs, according to  people in the area. He slowed down by a speed-bump, and then the gunmen opened fire.

“The first thing they did was to smash his windscreen. When he saw that, he recited inna lillahi wa’inna ilaihi-raji’un (from Allah we are and to Him we shall certainly return),” said Dr. Abdulganiy Abdulrafi’u, one of Albani’s students.

“The assailants shot the wife on the shoulder and when Malam (Sheikh Albani) saw that he came out to confront them. While his children were asking him to lie down in the car, Malam could not stay in his car to be killed without making any effort. He came out and made attempt to overpower one of the gunmen.

“But for the fact that the gunmen were many and having realised that Malam can halt their mission, they began shooting from all angles, and that was how Malam fell down reciting Laila ha illallahu (there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah).

Malam’s  wife and son died on the spot. After the shooting, a Good Samaritan whose house was near the spot of the attack rushed Malam to the nearest hospital, which was the Wusasa Hospital (Saint Luke’s). Throughout the about three kilometres journey Malam continuously recited ‘Laailaha illallah.’  But he died before reaching the hospital.”

Yesterday was exactly five years since the assassination of Sheikh Awwal Albani. The Buharists making capital out of his thoughtful preaching should remember that one good turn deserves another. Sheikh Albani won for PMB the goodwill and understanding of Nigerians, they should acknowledge this by remembering that the late Sheikh left two wives and 20 children, a primary school where he was educating the children of the poor free and a science academy which ably served the community by giving Zaria youth quality training. All these deserve some presidential aid and attention.

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