Let me begin by clarifying: I have nothing against Senator Shehu Sani. In fact I don’t understand people who don’t love him, who don’t understand his sacrifice to Nigeria, his activism that hasn’t earned him any money and his long torturous time in prison. I have been following Shehu Sani during the Ministerial screening in the senate and I can see that the leadership of the senate has something against him. I think they are agents of a certain governor who doesn’t like him. But let me not lose focus here. During the senate screening of ministerial nominees, Shehu Sani was only called twice to speak. I know there are 109 senators but how can you keep ignoring Shehu Sani’s hand? To make up for this I have decided to imagine what it would be like if the good senator had the opportunity to ask his intelligent questions to more of the ministerial nominees. Because I care, not just about Shehu Sani, but also about all ex prisoners in Nigeria.
1. Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma
Shehu Sani: Mr. Nominee, I want to thank you for your commitment to this country. As a lawyer I am sure you are aware of the situation of our prisons. You know, I know these things as a former inmate of Kirikiri prison. Wallahi I can even text you my prison number so you can cross check. Also you are a business man…
Senate President: Distinguished senator Sani, can you please put the question?
Shehu Sani: Yes. Ok. Mr Nominee, what is your plan to introduce business skills in our prisons so that people who leave prison like me can come out and be good in business like you. Thank you.
2. Dr. Kayode Fayemi
Shehu Sani: Your Excellency, former governor of Ekiti, I have read your CV. I see that you are interested in conflict and security and let me tell you, you can never know conflict unless you have been in a cell with twenty other strangers with the toilet and bathroom in the same space. As someone who was in Kirikiri while you were running an illegal radio station and passing through non-conventional borders, I can teach you about security and conflict just from my experience with big bad prisoners and wicked prison wardens who…
Senate President: Senator Shehu Sani, please we are running out of time. Kindly put the question.
Shehu Sani: Ok, Ok. My question to Mr Nominee is, if you become minister of the federal republic, how will you prevent conflict among prisoners who have to share the same cell so that they don’t leave battered and bruised. Thank you.
3. Chief Audu Ogbeh
Shehu Sani: Papa Audu Ogbeh. I am calling you Papa because I learnt respect for old age and hierarchy from all the time I spent in prison. You know in prison, if you don’t properly address the Chairman, hmmmm, wallahi you will regret being born. I have no major question but to urge you, as someone interested in agriculture to look into prisons having farms that prisoners can cultivate to train them for when they leave. I wish I had the opportunity to farm when I was in Kirikiri. God bless you Papa Ogbeh.
4. Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Shehu Sani: Mine is short. Will you as a serial spokesperson, speak on behalf of prisoners like me?
5. Amina Ibrahim Mohammed
Shehu Sani: Madam nominee. Because of your accent I did not understand half of what you said, but I am sure it is intelligent. Because if it looks intelligent, dresses intelligent, sounds intelligent then it is intelligent. My honest opinion is that if prisoners can speak like you after leaving prison, their chances of success will be greatly improved. As minister will you promise this senate that you will teach prisoners like me how to speak like you?
6. Babatunde Raji Fashola
Shehu Sani: Oga Fashola! I congratulate you. As Minister for Justice will you pledge to rehabilitate prisoners like me? Look at how early my head is going bald. It is from being in Kirikiri. How will you prevent prisoners from going bald?
7. Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu
Shehu Sani: I will be straightforward with you. Prisoners need to stop getting food cooked with firewood. I hated it as a prisoner. Will you as Minister for Petroleum ensure that prisons have access to kerosene for cooking? Can you swear you will do that?
8. Barrister Solomon Dalong
Shehu Sani: Barrister Dalong, you were a correctional officer. Which means you dealt with prisoners like me when I was in KiriKiri. But you may not have known me because you must have been a baby prison officer when I was a high profile political prisoner on death row.
Barrister Solomon Dalong: Distinguished Senator, I don’t know what you mean by baby prison officer.
Shehu Sani: Look Mr. Nominee, do you want to be confirmed or not? You know I am no longer in prison and you cannot talk to me like I am a prisoner and you are a prison warden.
Barrister Solomon Dalong: I apologise distinguished.
Shehu Sani: Better apologise because the tables have turned. And wipe the sides of your mouth.
Senate President: Senator Sani, please can you kindly just put the question.
Shehu Sani: Yes but I just needed to clarify that I am no longer in prison. Anyway. My question to the nominee is, as a former corrections officer, what will you do to make sure prisoners get access to basic necessities like medical treatment and more importantly conjugal rights. You know they say body no be wood. Prisoners too deserve to sleep with their wives. You don’t want them to leave prison and find out that someone has been sleeping with their wives. That can lead to assault or even murder and then the prisoner now returns to prison. We don’t want that. We really don’t want that.
All I am saying is we need to allow Senator Shehu Sani express himself more fully on the floor of the senate. We cannot afford to let all that prison wisdom go to waste.