By Yerima Mohammed
The nouveau politician that Mustapha Shehu (aka Mustash) is, shows in his brand of new politics that is changing the political landscape of his home state of Borno, and is gradually catching up in other parts of the country. He burst onto the partisan political space when he joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in February 2022, after publishing and editing a national magazine dedicated to politics, development, and economy for 12 years.
He joined partisan politics after advocating in vain, from 2007 to 2019, to have a law passed at the national assembly to solve the national security problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria. The frustration and despair that followed, due to what he describes as the seeming inability of particularly the northern political class to empathize with the problem, pushed him into the PDP with a view to working for the success of Atiku Abubakar whom he perceives would be amenable to solving the out-of-school children conundrum if he becomes president.
For Mustash, politics is both immersive and distributive. In his political dictum, the politician interfaces with his compatriots on individual and group bases at the grassroots, not only when election approaches, but even after the elections. This informed the conceptualization and birth of the Borno House to House (Borno H2H) Movement which was launched in the capital city of Maiduguri in December 2022, and in Biu, the political hotbed of the State and the leading local government in southern Borno, in the preceding month.
It is in this regard that as Director-General of the Borno H2H Movement, which has a life of its own, Mustash raised a team and built a database of over 3000 volunteers spread across 15 major local government areas in the state after a recruitment drive that cut across all the local government areas. These volunteers constitute youths and women who are mostly PDP members or sympathizers. The initial idea was that these volunteers, drawn from various wards in their local government areas, will campaign house to house for only Atiku and Okowa, but the zeal and enthusiasm shown by the volunteers given the disenchantment with the Zulum administration in the state, changed this idea. The movement now will campaign for all PDP candidates in the state from the position of councillor to president, not only in the 2023 general elections, but in all future elections.
This new approach to politicking appears subtle due to its noiselessness, but it has the potential of changing the long-standing political narrative in the state. Given his wide experiences as a teacher, industrial chemist, administrator, maritime practitioner, journalist, and political scientist specialized in the field of international relations, it is no surprise that his brand of politics tends to deviate from the norm of crudity, greed, selfishness, and brigandage. His education also helped him. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from ABU, where he participated in campus politics as Food Chairman in the ABU Student’s Union Exco, Mustash also obtained three postgraduate qualifications.
Mustash attended the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron in A/Ibom State where he obtained a post graduate diploma in Shipping Technology. He later attended Harvard University, USA, and graduated with a master’s degree in Journalism becoming the first and only Nigerian, to date, to have earned this degree from the university. His last educational pursuit was at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, USA, one of the top five international relations schools in the world, where he obtained a master’s degree in International Relations becoming the twelfth Nigerian to have earned this degree from the school.
This nouveau politician, who is redefining politics in Borno, appears to be one of the few purposeful politicians whose stars have just started twinkling. He is one of those seemingly innocuous politicians to watch in the coming years.
Yerima Mohammed writes from the GRA, Biu, Borno State