By Ismail Omipidan
I have known Kashim Shettima, the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, since 2001 when he was still a banker. He joined politics formally in 2007. As a commissioner in Borno State, he served in about four different ministries, including Finance, Agriculture and Education. By 2011, he was elected the governor of the State on the platform of the defunct ANPP. He spent two terms. By 2019, he was elected a Senator to represent Borno Central Senatorial District.
He was never a member of PRP or NEPU. But his ideas about politics and governance can be squarely located in the ‘Talakawa (Masses-oriented)’ ideals and principles of politics and governance. He has consistently proved to be a detribalised and a compassionate leader.
For instance, as the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, he led the struggle to ensure that the Quit Notice issued by some northern youths to the Igbo residing in the north was withdrawn.
Again, when elections were won and lost in 2015, and some APC members were accusing the Igbo of not contributing anything to President Buhari’s victory, Shettima again came in defence of the Igbo, declaring that the mere fact that the PDP could not record the figures it posted in 2011, in 2015, from the South- East , was enough contribution to APC’s victory by the people of the region.
In the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, a frontline politician in the State who had defected to the then ruling party at the centre, the PDP, had made an empty boast to then President Goodluck Jonathan that “Mr. President, hold me responsible if Borno is not delivered to the PDP,” adding that the APC was not going to get up to 30 percent of the total votes.
Rather than make any boast, Shettima quietly went to work and by the time the election was won and lost in 2015, the PDP could not even secure the required 25 percent votes for the party’s presidential candidate, Gooodluck Jonathan, as Shettima delivered 473, 543 votes to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, representing about 97 percent of the total valid votes cast, leaving Jonathan with just 25, 640 votes.
Again, in 2019, in the entire States in the north, Borno was the only state that improved from its 2015 performance at the presidential election. For instance, while President Buhari‘s votes dropped significantly in most of the northern states where he won, in Borno, the votes increased by about 400,000, as Buhari polled 836, 496 votes to defeat former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s candidate who garnered 71, 788 votes.
I am aware that Shettima has always asked to be given the “opportunity to prove that leadership under our constitutional democracy can be humane and people-oriented.” His idea about governance and leadership so far perfectly fits into the understanding of these two concepts.
Interestingly, Shettima belongs to the zodiacal sign called Virgo, the only zodiacal sign represented by a female (females are usually humane). Knowing him well enough, I can say with certainty that he possesses in great abundance the traditional Virgo traits. Virgo is modest and shy, meticulous and reliable, practical and diligent, intelligent and analytical.
Since May 29, 2019 when Prof. Zulum became the new leader, Shettima deservedly took the backstage, providing Zulum with every available space to explore and make his own mark as the new man in charge.
In one of my private conversations with him in Maiduguri, shortly before the governorship poll in 2019, hear what he said about Zulum: “My successor is head and shoulders above me in terms of intellect, capacity and ability.” How many predecessors will say that about their successors, especially in our clime?
Again, in September 2019, four clear months after leaving the stage as Borno Governor, a reputable professional union contacted me to intimate him of its decision to honour him with an award of excellence for his superlative performance while in office as Governor. Shettima shocked me with his response.
Hear him: “Salaam Alaykum Hon.Ismail.
“There can never be two Captains in the same Ship. My tenure is over and the sooner I come to terms with this reality, the better. I was lucky for having a successor who respects and holds me in the highest esteem. In light of the foregoing, I will appreciate if my Governor is given the Award instead of my humble self….”
You can see why I refer to him as a rare leader.
Distinguished Senator, as you celebrate your birthday again today, Friday, September 2, 2022, I pray Almighty Allah continue to guide your steps and provide you with the knowledge and wisdom to navigate through our country’s murky political waters.
I pray those demons that confuse and make political leaders want to share Allah’s attributes with Him will flee from you. I pray Allah also grant you the knowledge, wisdom and courage to identify them and flee from them whenever they come calling as associates and supporters.
Happy birthday to you my dear friend, brother, benefactor and our incoming Vice President in sha Allah, Senator Kashim Shettima. Allah ya kara zumunci, sir.
Omipidan, is a former Assistant Editor (Politics) with the Sun Newspapers.