By Muhammed Abdullahi.
Perhaps those who read the popular blog, Ilorin.info, in the days leading to the 2015 General Elections would recall how much stress I went through trying to convince people, especially youth, that what I saw in Sherif Shagaya’s eyes the first time I met him was not ambition, but a burning desire to give back to the people using the instrumentalities of politics.
Those of us who were close to him during that period of electioneering were well aware that if it were up to him to decide, he would certainly not touch politics with the longest pole.
Quiet and blunt, Sherif neither has the cunning of an average politician nor possesses the treachery that goes with the game of politics. He was sincere and truthful; the two qualities that made some of us vouched for him and worked to market his candidacy at that time.
For defending the rare attribute of honesty Alhaji Sherif is endowed with, we endured verbal assault by pen-merchants led by one Bashir Akanbi who believed that no writer puts pen to paper to propagate any individual unless he is paid to do so. But even at that time, I kept insisting that oftentimes, one needs to conquer the urge to think according to the dictate of his stomach.
What I was promoting in Sherif at the time was not only his achievements at a very young age, which by the way is quite impressive; rather he won me over by his penchant and abiding commitments to the welfare and well-being of the less privileged. Sherif did not have to market himself to me or give me one long list of the people he had assisted; I just listened to my hunch at the time which has now been proved right.
It has been four years since Alhaji Sherif last made attempt at any political contest, but the sincerity and love for the people that I saw the first time I met him has endured till date.
Before our very eyes, Sherif Shagaya is touching lives and multiplying happiness across homes in Kwara State. Just today, the Salman Shagaya Foundation which he chaired had a well-attended empowerment program. At the event, Sherif reiterated what he had repeatedly told some of us, that he need not be in politics before helping the people and impacting lives.
Before our very eyes, Sherif Shagaya vindicated those of us who supported his attempt to represent Ilorin West/ Asa Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives in the 2015 elections. No doubt, we were right while the naysayers, like they say in parliamentary parlance, were wrong.
While I have not had any interaction with Alhaji Sherif since after the 2015 elections, the report I continued to read about his plan for the downtrodden is cheering. Already, the constant empowerment programs he undertakes using the platform of the Salman Shagaya Foundation has given a lot of hope to our hitherto neglected urban poor. Today, because of Sherif Shagaya, many households within Ilorin metropolis can now boast of at least basic necessities of life, while some have used the cash donated by the Foundation to start small businesses that are slowly but gradually expanding the frontiers of possibilities.
Commendation and gratitude are the basic ingredients that oil the tenacity of a man with pure intentions. It’s therefore my hope and prayers that the accolades and encomiums, gratitude and prayers, that have trailed every efforts of Alhaji Sherif Shagaya to rid our communities of poverty and neglect would only serve as a morale booster for him to do more.
Abdullahi, a media/youth development practitioner wrote from Abuja.
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