Do you remember my piece titled, ‘Abu Kyari: The New Deputy National Chairman of the APC and my lessons in fishing’, published on the April 4, 2022? It was a narration of how I was mentored by Uncle Habu (Senator Abu Kyari), to develop my business endeavours in my early 20s. Begging for space in that article, I however didn’t cover how I visited Abu Kyari in Maiduguri, when he was the Chief of Staff to then Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state; to sell an idea I had about how Governor Shettima could deploy the same teaching gadgets that Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state had used to revamp the quality of education in primary schools.
The Opon Imo was revolutionary in equipping students with knowledge and improving their performances with their School Leaving Certificate Examinations. Senator Kyari encouraged me and took me to see Shettima, who was very supportive; even though he didn’t patronise me at the time, he made me understand that the challenges of education in Borno were peculiar.
He went nostalgic about my late dad Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, and lectured me about how I had huge shoes to fill, and a life of commitment and servitude I had to live; in trying to emulate the late Talba. In my then business mind, I was ruminating about how this was a huge business opportunity, but alas; it had turned into a lecture in history, politics, and intellectualism! I was like.. Kanuri ya ji turanci mun shigesu! Anyway, to me, that was the unveiling of a new breed politician, who had wits, oratory, and fine administrative skills, that Borno needed to reclaim it from insurgency.
On June 20, 2022, in another article titled, ‘Kashim: I present to you my master builder’, which was probably the sixth or seventh installment of a series of articles I have been writing, covering Shettima as a governor in Borno, and lately, as one of the arrow-heads of the Asiwaju campaign for the presidential candidature of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In that piece, I espoused the leadership qualities of Shettima and why I was of the firm belief, that he is the cut-out for the position of Tinubu’s running mate.
At one point, during the build up to the primaries, Kashim Shettima was in a cuffs off, sleeves drawn, fists bumped demeanour, when Tinubu was ‘attacked’, and mischievously represented as denigrating President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Oludapo Oluseun Abiodun of Ogun state. Shettima’s valiant defense of Asiwaju showed how deeply and truly he supported him. Shettima came to the rescue of Asiwaju, and at the end of the day, needed some rescuing himself. And like a true democrat, with all humility, he tendered his unreserved apologies to those his defence may have rocked.
Many people, both young and older Nigerians, have come to realise that Shettima is not just your ordinary chief executive of a state – even though he must be recognised for sterling efforts in rescuing Borno – that would evaporate into oblivion, as soon as they leave office, or retire to the senate. Shettima is the kind of speaker that glues you to the screen, as you watch him render himself, selecting fine language, and delivering handsome messages to the listener, without even disagreeing with him one tiny bit.
In a write-up, ‘The Jagaban of Jagaban’s campaign’, I summarily asked that Shettima be made director general of Asiwaju’s team. In ‘APC and the North-east question’, I winked at Shettima, as the supposed running mate for Tinubu. Today, Tinubu himself has come forward to answer the gaping question of who to pick. I scrolled quickly to reach the bottom of the long Tinubu statement, so I could breath. Finally, finding Shettima’s name, I heaved a sigh of relief, and did the Shukur prostration.
The silver lining to the pick is Asiwaju’s confession that ‘Senator Kashim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all important electoral victory, but also step into the shoes of the vice president. As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character and patriotism, he has my implicit confidence and faith.’ He went on to state that if we truly understand the challenges upon us as a nation, then we must also see the imperative of placing competence in governance, above religious sentiments.
Aside religion, Shettima ticks all the boxes there are: politics, experience, national spread or acceptability, party loyalty and that of the candidate, oratory, education, pedigree and lots of other criteria. Some people consciously build themselves to aspire for leadership. Shettima was unintentionally built for leadership and he has found himself thrust by fate into the ring of leadership, at a time when tested and trusted individuals are on the main menu of the day, in filling the soon to be left vacuum in driving the affairs of our dear Nigeria.
Political expediency gave birth to a Fulani muslim in the PDP. The same thing has given birth to Kashim Shettima as a vice presidential candidate to Asiwaju, despite all that has been said and done to scuttle such headways. Mine is a prayer, that Tinubu and his running mate, Shettima, deliver for the APC, and eventually for Nigeria; repositioning where the party veered off, or couldn’t accomplish identified targets and deliverables. This is a team that APC faithful believe in, and will sweat for till it is a done deal.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.