By Ibrahim Sulaiman
Put Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu, Laolu Akande, Tolu Ogunlesi, Bashir Ahmad and Lauretta Onochie on one pan of a scale, and then place Sha’aban Sharada on the other, the latter will outweigh the effete sextet.
In terms of influence, all the six media aides put together would fall short of giving the right calibration mass if 35-year-old Sha’aban Sharada – President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Broadcast Media (Radio) – were to be placed on the scale.
Backed by the powerful cabal led by the president’s powerful nephew Mamman Daura, Mr Sharada commands respect from governors, ministers and other top government officials.
Mr Sharada, a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano, began his journalism career as a marketing assistant with Freedom Radio, Kano. He was later redeployed to the religion desk of the station, where he became famous for coverage of religious events such as Maulud and preaching.
After a couple of years at the religion desk, he was later redeployed to the programme department, where he produced sponsored programmes. While there, he made contacts with politicians, especially President Buhari’s ally, Jafaru Isa.
For chieftains of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, President Buhari’s Yar’Adua Close residence in Kaduna was political sanctuary where politicians gathered, like pilgrims, for anointing. Mr Sharada warmed himself into Mr Buhari’s heart for his regular visits to cover events and recording of Mr Buhari’s statements.
Talk about access to the president in his residence or in office, Mr Sha’aban enjoyed that privilege even before his appointment.
Pompous and flamboyant, Mr Sharada at every opportunity would demonstrate to his friends or top government officials his closeness to the president by calling him on phone in their presence.
When Lai Mohammed was ‘famzing’, Femi Adesina was jubilant and Garba Shehu was grieving over receiving or missing of President’s call from London in February, Mr Sharada was in regular contact with the Nigerian leader on phone.
DAILY NIGERIAN reliably gathered that Mr Sharada also calls the president to brief him on the state of the nation.
At a prayer session for President Buhari’s recovery organised by Kano State government on February 22, Mr Sharada picked his phone midway into the live TV prayer session and called the president to inform him about the gathering.
After speaking with the president for a while, Mr Sharada handed over the phone to Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who then put the phone on speaker mode and attached it to the microphone of his dais.
“Thank you for the prayers. I am really grateful. MashaAllah,” the president said to the chorus of “Allahu Akbar” by the audience.
For the consumption of Hausa listeners, Mr Sharada regularly interviewed the president and sent the clip to local radio stations in the North.
“This is not the first time Buhari spoke in Hausa during Sallah. Every Sallah, the president speaks exclusively to Sha’aban for distribution to local radio stations. I wonder why the president’s message becomes controversial this time,” said a source at the Presidency.
DAILY NIGERIAN reliably gathered that Mr Sharada was behind the recent controversial “national broadcast” the president made felicitating with Nigerians on Eid in Hausa language. According to sources, Mr Sharada spoke with the president on phone on Saturday, June 24 on the need for the Sallah message.
“Sha’aban told the president that in view of the rumours making the rounds that he suffered speech impairment, his supporters will be relieved when they hear the president’s voice,” said a source close to Mr Sharada.
“After convincing the president on the imperative of recording his voice, Sabiu Tunde recorded the message and sent to Sha’aban a day to Sallah.
“The audio clip was then sent to BBC and circulated via WhatsApp to other radio stations and individuals.”
Mr Sharada was appointed Personal Assistant to President Buhari on Broadcast Media in February 2016, and was until his appointment a broadcast journalist with Freedom Radio, Kano.