By Babajide Obafemi
It is no longer news that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the presidential standard bearer of APC. Despite the many gang-ups from within, the godfather and kingmaker who was bent on nothing but fulfilling his age-long life ambition of ruling Nigeria and pivoting her ways back to becoming the real giant of Africa succeeded, just like he does always, in getting the much coveted APC Presidential ticket against all odds.
Against all odds, the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom swam through the reptile-filled murky waters of APC primaries amidst thick conspiracies, the sky-high odds and gang-ups.
Fondly referred to as the Lion of Bourdillon. The Lion is of the cat family and a proverbial attribute of the cat is its posession of nine lives, a way to describe its invincibility. By an admix of political deftness, intellectual adroitness and diplomatic dexterity, the Lion emerged. After his emergence, came, another hurdle of choosing a deputy which was not going to be easy because many factors had to be considered.
It is a fact that in recent years, Nigeria’s sovereignty has been badly threatened across religious and tribal lines; on religion, it became a saying that you are either for Paul or for Apollo. Because of the ravaging insecurity, and because a region that is in power was believed to be the perpetrator of banditry and insurgencies, the noise of who is the better tribe and who is making Nigeria ungovernable rendered the air. But of a truth, we are all culpable. No tribe can be left out of the griefs of where we found ourselves in Nigeria.
The opposition parties’ standard bearers had swung into action, doing the expected, choosing their deputies from the other regions of Nigeria and also doing the supposed needful by choosing from the opposite religion of the main ticket holder. Now, Asiwaju who is a Southerner needed to choose his partner from the North as expected and in doing that, factors like reach and political structure, intelligence, good background, unblemished past records, excellent performances in offices earlier held, and of course, that elephant in the room, which is religion should be considered.
As expected, Nigerians were not looking at the more salient factors which had to do with performance and the intelligence level of a Vice Presidential candidate, they do not consider, that a VP must be as cerebral as his boss and should be able to also bring to the table, ideas that can progressively move the nation forward. They forgot that a VP is also a President and must be ready to fill in the gap at the absence of his boss, they also forgot that he or she must be able to work assiduously, under huge pressure and with less supervision; all they became concern about is which religion does he practice leaving the crux of the matter to attend to less important ones as if religion can solve our economic and insecurity woes.
Those who knew that a Northerner who will thick almost all the boxes for a befitting VP candidate from the North, already, also realized that that candidate may not be able to scale the religion aspect of the hurdle, the fact is that Islam is the dominating religion in the Northern part of Nigeria.
Asiwaju was then faced with the hydra-headed monster of both throwing the religious sucker-punch and getting a befitting Vice Presidential candidate who will be a round peg in a round hole or cowing-in to those who are still romancing religion as against performance and capability; the great technocrat, political and economic tactician went for the former. He knew that if this marriage called Nigeria must work, we must move against religion and tribal bigotry.
Against all odds, except for his religion, he had identified a man who has the sterling qualities of a VP, a man who is presidential, a man who takes the nation first and who can sacrifice all to get Nigeria back on track and a man who has the structure and reach and who because of his background, also understands the language of the low, middle and upper class citizens and that man is no other person than Senator Kashim Shettima, the former governor of Borno State.
Born 2nd September 1966, to the family of Shettima Mustapha Kuttayibe in Borno Central of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima a revered Agricultural-Economist and a financial expert was the former governor of Borno State in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. Kashim, the star boy of his department read Agric-Econs as his first degree at the prestigious University of Maiduguri in Borno State where he graduated with a BSc Hons. before proceeding to Ibadan for his Master’s degree in the same course after his mandatory one year youth service in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State of Nigeria. Kashim, having lectured between 1991 and 1993 in the University of Maiduguri, went into the banking sector where he honed his economic and financial skills. Kashim Shettima, worked at the defunct Commercial bank in Lagos as the head of account between 1993 to 1997 before crossing to African International Bank Limited as deputy manager, he then moved back to Maiduguri where he became the Zenith Bank General Manager before finally vying into politics.
In 2007, Kashim Shettima was appointed by Governor Ali Modu Sheriff (GAS) into his cabinet as the Commissioner of Finance, his Midas touch, bravery and sterling performances made his then principal moved him to five different but important ministries in four years; Shettima performed excellently in all five ministries before providence made him the candidate of ANPP in the state after the first selected candidate, Modu Fannami Gubio, of the party was shot dead by gun men before the general election.
Shettima, who already had his mind made up on good governance plunged into rebuilding Borno State, which was at the time of taking over as a governor, already witnessing a surge, in the ravishing attack of the deadly Boko Haram sect. How people then attributed the emergence of this deadly sect to his time as the governor of Borno State beats all imaginations. Not casting aspersions on GAS’s government, recall, that Boko Haram started under the reign of President Olusegun Obasanjo, where Governor Ali Modu Sheriff who later became a Senator was the governor of Borno State at that time, unconfirmed reports had it that the sect were the political thugs that GAS used and dumped for his re-election. Do not also forget that Kashim Shettima, was not a member of the GAS cabinet that introduce this deadly sect in his first term in office.
If Shettima was involved in the activities of the deadly sect, why was his convoy attacked in February 2013 where four civilians and an army officer were killed? Why did he have a hot altercation with then-President Goodluck Jonathan about the way insurgency was handled with kid gloves in his state when he was governor? Why did he weep profusely during his meetings with the former President and the present President Mohammadu Buhari? Why did he seek the help of NGOs and the international community in the rebuilding of his state?
The Shettima we know, had various ethnic and tribal groups, working with him when he was governor and while he was a senator. The Shettima we know thrives beyond religion that was why he was deeply involved in rebuilding churches and other religious centres destroyed by bandits during his stint as governor of Borno State. The Shettima we know, will not place ineptitude over competence because of religion or tribe. The Shettima we know, has traversed the length and breath of Nigeria as a struggling young man and as a leader, thereby breaking the boarders of tribe, religion, touching lives everywhere he goes and making impressionable friends.
Kashim Shettima, in his bid to curtail insecurity during and after his tenure as governor, introduced and funded the Civilian JTF who, as aborigines, were made to help the military, in identifying where and how to move and tackle the deadly Boko Haram sect. While dining with some vigilante and CJTF parents and personals, those whose only work is to spread rumor and fan the embers of negative press, quickly circulated the pictures he took with them as him dining with Boko Haram leaders in the state. Kashim Shettima, has never shy away from the fact that Nigeria needs help and the major help needed is in area of insecurity and power, once these can be largely solved, the economy will boom against the postulations of naysayers.
One of the greatest hallmarks of a great leader is identifying a good touch bearer and trailblazer of a successor, Lagos State today looked like it’s on an auto pilot because a man did not allow political greed becloud his successor plan of handing over the touch to a much more competent hand in Babatunde Raji Fashola who took over his blueprints, adjust few lines and carried on with implementations for a better Lagos. Other governors who had succeeded Asiwaju after Fashola, had contributed to a better Lagos, thanks to the ingenuity and brilliance of an uncommon politician and technocrat who reigned before.
Shen Kashim Shettima, a Northerner who has a like mind to Asiwaju his boss, also identified a worthy successor in Babagana Umaru Zulum, who even the opposition in Borno State has agreed, that is doing well, in positively running an insurgent ravaged state like Borno.
Not knowing that he will be in a position to peer as a VP candidate to the Presidential standard bearer of his party and looking back at interviews that Kashim Shettima did about insurgencies the economy and all what he has said about religion and tribe, one will agree that he is a sincere man with a liberal mind, one will also agree with Asiwaju on why he was chosen as partner to run the race.
Kashim Shettima, like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the real deal, not allowing a jaundiced sentiments of religion and tribe overtake our sensibilities and judgements, those two are the peer who can sincerely move this nation to that enviable height we all seek. .
Babajide Obafemi is a Media Consultant, he can be reached via [email protected]