Politicians across board are flexing their political muscles enroute 2023. Hon. Katung – too – is among politicians in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District challenging the current status quo. Writes Bomba Dauda
2023 will offer politicians another opportunity to test their popularity. The coveted political office in Southern Kaduna geopolitical zone, the senate, will be up for grasp in no distance time. Senator Danjuma Laah, the incumbent, his tenure is gradually rolling to an end. Just as if he hasn’t gobbled up much of his constitutional approved four years of one term but, it is obvious that Laah’s 2019 to 2023 mandate has less than a year and half to become stale.
Former House of Representatives member and the running mate to Rt. Hon. Ashiru Kudan of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 gubernatorial election, Hon. Sunday Marshal Katung has declared his intention to contest for the highest regional seat. Katung will lean heavily on his web of connections (within the PDP caucus and his popularity in the region).
Politics runs through his household. His wife, Mrs. Abigail Marshall Katung of the Labour and Co-operative Party is the serving Councilor for Little London and Woodhouse Ward of Leeds City Council.
Katung is a familiar game player in the state politics, has vast knowledge of the region political terrain and acquainted with the remote challenges the region currently face. He is a thoroughgoing Southern Kaduna homeboy, was born in 1961 in Batadon, Madakiya in Zango-Kataf LGA of Kaduna State. Raised and had his elementary education in the locality. Attended University of Lagos and later Law School also in the coastal state before he became the Company Secretary of Reinsurance. Katung never broke loose from his root. He lives through the region’s DNA, has an unalloyed bond with his people.
He has experiences that cut across both the private and government sector economies. He was a Commissioner for Finance and was later made the Commissioner for Water Resources in Kaduna State during the Late Gov. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa’s government and thereafter he was elected into the House of Representatives in 2015. In 2019, he had the PDP ticket in his ambit but, relinquished it to Amos Gwamna Magaji (the serving House of Representative member) who hails from Jaba Local Government Area.
For sure, Katung has sympathy across the region, when in 2019, after picking the PDP ticket for House Representatives for Jaba-Zango Federal Constituency, he gave up the ticket and opted to contest for governorship as a running mate to Ashiru. One of his trusted allies recently told Gurara Accord that, “Katung took such a gamble for Southern Kaduna and not for self-benefit. If it was a decision that was based on individualism and not collectivism, Katung would have held on to his ticket and got re-elected for the second term as House of Representative member.”
The pair of PDP apparatchik and cheerily pro-Southern Kaduna populace are quite aware that Katung needs to be compensated. The gamble Katung took in 2019 for the geopolitical zone deserve to be rewarded, it is onus on the people of Southern Kaduna to compensate him by giving him a mandate.
Apart from the proposition to treat Katung compassionately (after all, nothing to lose by testing the proposition), Katung has qualities that will grease his way: the federal lawmaking parlance was where Katung plied his political trade (he knows the intrigues and the rigour, he is endowed with the know-how), he is well-educated and exposed, he is articulate and has qualities and pedigree that places him above the incumbent. Katung is an embodiment of logics.
For real, Katung is more organize than Senator Laah, again, he has contacts and connections outside Kaduna State and abroad where Laah can only imagine. In today’s world no one solve problems alone, leaders network and think outside the box, this is part of what a Katung representation aims to bring to the table.
What Southern Kaduna need to progress? The solutions are largely within and mostly off-shore. Laah has huge deficit in the later, he lacks external contacts and influences.
Taking Youth into Account
Having expressed his intention to contest for the senate, Katung has met with various political and non-political groups from the region. One of such groups is the youth. Katung has a spiritual and transcendent bond with the youth. Before his adventure into politics, the youth of Southern Kaduna are known for their penchant for knowledge and hard work–the vast youth that rings the bell of hope. As the lighting hope for many youth, therefore, Katung has repeatedly said his dream is to lead the youth to a new height of realism and pragmatism.
In an appreciation message Katung sent to the people of the region after his declaration, it reads: “I sincerely wish to express my gratitude to the citizens of kaduna state, especially the young men and women of Southern Kaduna for the tremendous support received since the declaration of my interest to run for the Senate seat in 2023.”
One of his most attractive public persona is his simplistic nature and he has unveiled himself in a user-friendly way to the people of the region. This is how, Katung straddles two worlds: the older and younger generations, he relate with young people with a high sense of dignity, respect and communion. The region’s youth have found a leader who takes their challenge to heart, who understands their complexities and is ready to make them realize their vast potentials and importance in the scheme of things.
At a political function in November, 2021 he dressed in his usual casual form (Jeans, shirt and Face Cap), he joked about everything at the amazement of over 100 young persons; mostly media influencers and head of groups from Southern Kaduna. They were brimmed with excitement to hear him described them as the “best of the best” in Southern Kaduna politics. In his inference, “because you shape public opinion.” He delivered his speech meticulously and succinctly in the friendliest manner.
“I’m not just here to tell you I want to run for the senate. I want us to share ideas on how we can do things differently. It is only an unserious person who does the same thing every day and get the same result, yet, refuses to change. We want accountability, we want transparency, we want inclusiveness and how can we achieve these? This is why we are here. I know I don’t have all the ideas, this is also why I’m here to share ideas that can make Southern Kaduna the envy of other zones in the state.”
For every step of the way, Katung didn’t present himself as the all-knowing, he lowered his ego and appealed to young minds in a style they understand and made the meeting very engaging to some extent. When he spoke, everyone listened with acute attention due to the depth of the message and the new focus he was driving them through.
Participants at the interface expected him to talk squarely on politics, he talked about economic independence intermittently, how to be self-dependent, how everyone needs to get involved in lucrative activities, create personal wealth while urging them to reduce their dependence on government for jobs and what to do. “This is the new economic order around the world,” Katung explained. Whoops and cheers erupted.
Katung identified insecurity, poverty, lack of economic development and unemployment as the factors affecting Southern Kaduna. He said economic development starts with the real sector (the small and medium scale enterprises) and that our leaders deliberately failed to develop this sector. As long as there is no growth in the real sector, Nigeria will continue to struggle. When we encourage vocational training and skill acquisition it will help us develop faster. Katung will unveil his manifesto soon and is most likely that it will be all inclusive.
Touching lives has become linchpin of his life. A kindhearted gentleman that takes joy in extending a helping hand to those in need. He is revered for his compassionate service to humanity.
On 1st April, 2021 Katung celebrated his 60th birthday at the Rafiki Orphans Home Ungwan Rimi and ECWA Widow’s Training School, Samaru-Kataf both in Zangon-Kataf LGA of Kaduna State, where he donated computers, clothes and food items to the orphans. He equally donated food items and wrappers to the widows. In his closing remarks at the two centers, he promised to do more to cater for their well-being. This is a philanthropic effort more than a political gesture.
In July, 2021 he gave scholarship to selected 108 undergraduates from Chikun, Jema’a, Kachia, Kagarko, Sanga, Kajuru, Kaura, Jaba, Jema’a and Kauru from designated tertiary institutions: Kaduna State University; Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria; College of Education, Gidan Waya and College of Nursing and midwifery, Kafanchan.
Before the above gestures, he has visited the Internally Displaced Person’s Camp and shared palliatives amid the Covid-19 Pandemic.
As a Hustler
While talking to social media influencers in Kaduna in November this year, he challenged them to always approach politicians and wealthy individuals with a blueprint instead of going cap-in-hand begging for handout. “Life rewards only those who use their time in lucrative ventures,” he said.
He drew example from his personal experience as a student when he used to travel to Lagos to buy clothes and sell to co-students, he mentioned Hon. Isa Ashiru Kudan as one of his customers. When he was in University of Lagos, he said he was a professional DJ and because he was making money he wasn’t asking people for money. “But today, politics has spoiled our psyche, our youths have now become professional politicians,” he decried.
At the gathering of some 108 recipients of N50,000 (each), Sunday Marshal Katung Scholarship early August, 2021 the humanitarian made a startling revelation about his schooling days at the University that hauled a reverberating shock.
The hall was at graveyard silence, the 108 students listened to Marshal in desperation, he spoke specifically to the students to motivate, stir up positive emotions and reorient their psyche towards been winners. He did that unambiguously. Every successful man or woman has a story, he told them.
All the 108 recipients of Sunday Katung Foundation scholarship are from impoverished families in Southern Kaduna. I recalled, a tall black boy sitting adjacent to me subconsciously exclaimed, “wow!” to Katung’s emotional story.
The story was not about how he tried to fit in, into the urban culture that characterizes Lagos, rather, how he sold Compact Discs (CDs) on the streets of Lagos to meet his basic needs while contending with the high demands of academic works contrary to a wide range of beliefs that Katung’s life has been laid on a bed of roses or that he was spoon-fed with a silver spoon. In reality, his life is a far cry from such speculation.
Katung, like most Southern Kaduna children, had to fight prejudice: he toiled the soil to make a living, trekked long distances to earn himself western education. One certainty, Katung is highly athletic in his interest. He often put the bottom line to work.
He has tasted life on all the sides of the Isle, he knows what it takes for a poor underprivileged student to pursue his educational ambition amid lacks. He has stretched through the peaks and lows of the graphs of his life. Anything he is worth today, he earned it through hard work.
Apart from being down-to-earth and modest in life, he is respected as someone who has lowered the bar for poor and underprivileged people to step into his comfort zone.