One of the factors exacerbating society’s problems is the lack of activists who speak out or channel the cries of their constituents to the appropriate authorities.The Northern part of Nigeria had potential elites such as Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, etc. that all merged and fought tirelessly along with others from the Southern and Eastern regions, which led to the independence of the country from British Colonial Masters. For decades, Northern Nigeria lacked someone that could confidently come out to speak or stage a mass protest about its challenges, but God blessed us with Nastura Ashir Shariff. He is an activist, unionist, and voice of the voiceless who always strives for the benefit of all.
Biographically, Nastura Ashir Shariff was born on January 1st 1970, into the family of an Islamic scholar in Sabuwa of Gwale Local Government Area of Kano State. As a tradition in Northern Nigeria, a child first attends an Islamic school before any other educational institution. Nastura had his rudimentary Islamic education from his father, and he had his western education all in Kano State. He started work with the Kano State Ministry of Education in 1988 and was later transferred to Dala Local Government Secretariat in 1989 as a Sport Secretary. Nastura’s political journey started in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as Deputy Administrative Secretary in 1993 and became Personal Assistant to the then Vice Chairman of Dala LGA in 1995. He finally retired and is now engaged in private business.
The agile Nastura is the present leader of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), which initially started as the Arewa Students Forum (ASF). It later mutated into the Arewa Youths Development Foundation (AYDF). The ASF and AYDP merged to form Arewa Citizens Action for Change (ACAC), which fought misgovernance and challenges throughout the North through writing, speeches, and protests. In 2017, the ACAC met with 26 like-minded Northern groups and formed the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG). CNG fights for those whose rights were violated, clamours for qualitative education, struggles for effective health care, reminds politicians of their promises, and re-awakens Northerners to the sacrifices made by past leaders.
The indelible dream of Nastura is to have a North which is free from all sorts of societal ills or any form of conflict; he, along with some similar-minded personalities, came up with the Initiative for Community Action against Drug Abuse aimed at halting drug abuse and the Mentorship Programme that targets Northern students pursing higher education. In reality, Nastura Ashir Shariff is the only unchanging man who has repeatedly staged peaceful protests against the insecurity and inadequacy of social amenities for people.In an interview with LawCareNigeria, he stated that his career in activism had its roots in history, where he was exposed to the Late Yusuf Maitama Sule’s school of thought. He further explained that contemporary training in political history, philosophical oratory, and diplomatic communication are what inspired many to refer to him as an activist and rights crusader.
The fearless Nastura openly expresses his view on issues affecting citizens or which put them in unbearable hardships, like the spate of students’ kidnappings in north-western States. Months ago, after a peaceful protest in Katsina State, he was arrested and taken to Abuja by the police, where he spent two days in detention; it did not discourage him in his quest for good governance. Nastura uses his hard-earned money to sponsor many students that he could not afford, and whenever they graduate, he asks them to do the same for others. In his unwearied vision, he wants authorities to make it mandatory in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions the revision of northern histories, cultures, past elites and how they lived their lives which would make the present and future generations imbibe.
More so, as getting government work is becoming impossible for poor and qualified applicants, Nastura strategically and financially supports all ranges of young people into businesses, while some acquire skills in order to stand on their own. Most of those involved in criminality are unemployed. Whenever Nastura is at an event, he always draws leaders’ attention to job creation as it is vital for crime reduction. In recent years, the whole Northern region has been afflicted by the activities of bandits, insurgents, etc., where an unspecified number of people have lost their lives on a daily basis. If people like Nastura were given a chance to lead, certainly all would be well. Nastura prefers to speak out and risk his life rather than remain taciturn.
There is no doubt that Northern Nigeria is the epicenter of politics. In view of the limitless challenges of the region, the current President gave most political appointments to people from the side, but all to no avail as they are passive in curtailing the challenges. It is therefore sacrosanct that individuals like Nastura deserve to be protected because they are contributing toward the development of others. Nastura’s vast experience, foresight, and like-minded colleagues around him would never let him accept a bribe to be quiet without calling him back on track. Nastura Ashir Shariff is happily married and blessed with two boys and two daughters.
Koli, a graduate of Mass Communication, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchimernoukoli@gmail.com