By CHARLES KUMOLU
Relishes lessons from ex-President Shagari
Entrepreneur, youth advocate, and scion of the family of late President Shehu Shagari, Mr. Bello Bala-Shagari, discusses how the lessons he learned from the former President defined his steady steps to relevance. The UK-trained Bala-Shagari, who is the President, National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, leaves anyone reading this with something to ponder upon.
In Kitty Kelly’s, The Family: The Real Story of The Bush Dynasty, which focused on the family’s intimate life, he identified the golden children just as searchlight was beamed on the black sheep among others.
In chapter 22 of the 634-page book, which went beyond the family’s protected public image, Kelly singled out George Prescott Bush, grandson of President George Hubert Walker Bush, as one of the golden children of Bush dynasty.
P4, as he is known in the family, is the eldest child of Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor and one-time Republican presidential hopeful.
To quote the internationally acclaimed bestselling author: “After graduating from Rice University and teaching high school history in Florida for a year, he campaigned for his uncle for President before starting law school at the University of Texas. He graduated in 2003, clerked for a federal judge in Dallas, plans to join the Dallas office of Akin, Gump, Straus, Hauer, and Feld. The Bush family considers George P their answer to John F. Kennedy Jr.–handsome, accomplished and destined for a bright future.”
The portrayal of P4 as promising in the book which was published in 2004, is yet to be faulted till date.
He is consistently rising in that direction as he is currently the Commissioner of Texas General Land Office–a position he contested in an election known as make or mar for the Bush political dynasty.
The journey of this promising grandson of a former US President has a meeting point with Bello Bala-Shagari’s pursuits.
Enterprising and cosmopolitan
Like George Prescott Bush, Bala-Shagari is the grandson of former President Shehu Shagari and as well the son of President Shagari’s eldest child, Captain Bala Shagari, who was detained and retired by the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
Intelligent, vibrant, enterprising and cosmopolitan, Bala-Shagari, who studied Business Information Technology and Systems at Middlesex UK is passionate about governance and leadership.
Just like the grandson of late President Bush, who was described as accomplished and destined for a bright future, you won’t meet Bala-Shagari without having a similar impression.
At 30, he emerged the President of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN,–a Federal Government organisation charged with policy formulation and implementation on issues bordering on youth development in Nigeria.
In fact, his growing presence in national conversations, suggests that he may someday, lead a new generation of political leaders from his bloodline.
Being a scion of the Shagari family, it is natural for him to have an interest in social issues and leadership, but he told Vanguard that he was inspired by history not just his parentage.
Inspired by history
“I was inspired by history, especially that of my grandfather and Shehu Usman Dan Fodio. The first book I ever read was a book written by Jean Boyd and Shehu Shagari on the history and leadership of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio. I learned how he lived a simple life and greatly influenced Nigerian people and beyond, through his leadership and scholarship. Hence, I also wanted to leave my own mark in history in any way I can.
“Being the grandson of former President Shehu Shagari influenced my interest in leadership in so many ways. I have always admired him and he has been my idol. I have always told people that I would love Shehu Shagari even if he was not my grandfather. There is a saying that charity begins at home. There was no need for me to search elsewhere for a role model when I have one at home. I got to know him better when I started reading his books and watching some of his videos. That was how he transformed from being an ordinary grandfather to me to a role model.
Praised in poetry
” There are things you will never know about him because he does not blow his trumpet. But when you get to know him, you will see him quite differently. I always try to see that I keep up to him and do my best to also emulate him. I once wrote him a poem because he was a poet himself. I praised him in the poetry and because of his modesty, he was shy and he told me that he does not praise himself. He felt that for me praise him is as if he himself is blowing his own trumpet.
A good name
“Having a grandfather like him is a privilege. A rare one! He has left us a good name but little wealth, unlike his contemporaries. People often say to me that even if he is not corrupt he led a corrupt government. But the question I often ask is “who hasn’t led a corrupt government in Nigeria?
He was never a rich man and he made that clear to everyone even during his lifetime. But we enjoyed a lot of privileges. Although things weren’t always easy for us. People thought that whatever we got was on a platter of gold but that is not the case. He was not the type who used his authority or influence to make things easy for you. It was never our discipline to believe that we can get whatever we want so cheaply without working for it. But he admired and supported hard-working family members.
Man of consensus
“I learned humility and self-respect. He was the most humble person you will meet given his status in the eyes of the world, yet he didn’t tolerate disrespect. Hence he doesn’t beg for anything from anyone and he took what duly belonged to him. That is why you hardly heared him say a word after his retirement. He didn’t meddle with national politics and during his time no one spoke to him from behind the curtains. I remember he wrote in his book that General Obasanjo lamented that he wasn’t happy with him because he didn”t consult him as a former Head of State during his presidency. That is who he was, no one dictated to him his responsibilities but he was a man of consensus.
I had to work hard
”There was a time when I was very young, my late step-grandmother, Aishatu Shehu Shagari was going to make my grandfather’s bed and she took me to his room with her. When we went and I saw his bed for the first time, it was round in shape, it appealed to me because I never saw anything like that. I asked her who was going to inherit that bed if my grandfather is no more? She said my father and I became happy. Then I asked again what if my father is no more?
She then chased me away from the room and since then I knew that I had to work hard to get that kind of a bed. This story is one among others.
”I am glad that many people who are unaware of the activities of the youth council are now beginning to understand the organisation. I was in their shoe a couple of years ago. That is why I made publicity of the youth council one of my priorities. Because how can a body representing the whole youth of a country with the highest population in Africa remain unknown to almost 60-70 percent of its youth population? The only people aware of the youth council are those, who are politically inclined. It can’t remain so. In the past, I wondered who these youths were when I heared that Nigerian youths had said one thing or another. Who did they consult? That is why I intend to bring to the attention of the entire Nigerian youths, the activities of the organisation.
Dignity and credibility
”In the past, some of its leaders succeeded in giving it a bad name. Those days are over. Its relevance has returned and we will stand firm in protecting the dignity and credibility of Nigerian youths in the eyes of the world. So far, we have reclaimed our good name on the international scene and recently I even got elected as an executive committee member in the Afro Arab Youth Council as the Coordinator of West Africa.
Some people are still not happy that we are taking a new route and vacating the old ways of doing things in the council, but we are overcoming them with the truth.
”Politicians often make attempts to divide us by sponsoring factions among us, but this time, we have resisted such forces. Some of them still deliberately insist that we are divided so that they can continue benefiting from it, but we are coming out strong and nothing will stop us. We have lost so much and they have gained a lot from the so-called division.
Political offices in the near future
“It is in the hands of the Beholder. I refuse to be distracted by the future, so I live in the present. Because I believe my future will be determined by my present. I am doing my best to focus on my present assignment, perhaps, that will lead me to a greater height. But whenever any responsibility and opportunity to serve presents itself, I won’t hesitate to take it.