by Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
Along the Kaduna Abuja Expressway, among the very numerous filling stations is Mackson, owned by an Igbo man, just like the millions of investments Nigerians of Igbo descent have all over the North. Kashim Shettima, then as Borno State Governor, had stopped to buy fuel for the long trip to Maiduguri, way back in 2017. In a viral video, he could be seen preaching patriotism, one Nigeria; assuring ‘Mackson’, that he should be comfortable and feel at home, and execute his business endeavor as a son of the soil. You are an Arewa-Igbo man he declared. You belong here and I hope and pray you are not a subscriber to one of those divisive ideologies. Mr. Mackson enthused that if he had such huge investments in the North, where would he go to? At that time, PMB was just 2 years into his first tenure, Kashim was on his 6th year as Governor and Sir Asiwaju was 5 years away from declaring for the Presidency ~and yet Kashim, Golden boy, Jasirdi, Baban Zulum, Father of Modern Borno, was out there Preaching Nigeria! Kashim is not and never was about being VP. Kashim is a natural and a brilliant administrator who was the best among equals, and was the best performing Governor up of the Niger. Arguably the best in the country at that time, if you bring in the war against terror for context. Hear from Jagaban, Sir. Asiwaju himself:
“I did not choose Senator Shettima so that we could form a same faith ticket. The ticket was constructed as a same progressive and people based ideology ticket. I made the best available choice at my disposal without recourse to religious sentiments.” Tinubu while in an interactive session with the leadership of CAN, offered a confession; “I selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern. Picking a Christian running mate would have been politically easier. But the easy way you see, is usually not the right one. The selection of a running mate is at once a very momentous yet very intimate decision. Resting such a key decision on religious affiliation as the primary weight did not sit well with me.
I am not saying there were no good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith. What I am saying is that the times we inhabit do not lend themselves to a Christian or Muslim solution. We need the best solution. Every time I thought about it and I did think a lot; I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima.
His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed oriented. Enjoying excellent organisational skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.
This exceptionally gifted human being has humility of spirit, courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive world view in harmony with my own perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed. I trust the calibre of the man. I know the great lengths he went in fighting Boko Haram in his State. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuild damaged churches.
This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious. He possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom. I know people have reacted harshly to my selection. They have done so without knowing the man or giving him or me a fair hearing.”
Such accolades and compliments from your boss and President to be is the most honoring and gratifying thing to have at such a onerous time. If you know Kashim or reflect on his personality from the shots of a wicked photographer at the NBA conference in Lagos, even though Kashim wore snickers with his suit, in a deliberate trendy look ~ you’d probably even mock him as some did. If you have only heard of him or known of him from the last four years of his Senatorial sojourn, at best, he is just a stranger to you and his selection as VP candidate would constitute even more stranger things to your grasp of his abilities or leadership prowess.
Kashim is a 8 year war-time tenured governor of his Borno State and just barely making it through to becoming a Senator from such a very tumultuous enclave is quite some bravado on it’s own. You get a bit of the man from present day Governor of Borno State Prof. Babagana Zulum. For your leader to leave you with a parting gift of a working maverick like Zulum, tells you a lot about the passion and focus of Zulum’s mentor: Sen. Kashim Shettima. He has not only laid the solid foundation for a modern Borno and the emancipation of it’s people and their economy, but has bequeathed to them a Zulum that not only Bornolites are proud of; but the generality of Nigerians. We see in him the preview of what a leader should be seen to be doing, and the qualities he ought to possess, with the highest form of proactiveness, ever seen so far in Nigeria’s governance space.
Kashim built 51 Churches in Borno State alone. Kashim has built more than 16 manufacturing plants, fully functional in Maiduguri. He also built over 2500 houses in multiple estates across the State, including the final establishment of The Borno State University. A 250 bed Ultra Modern Hospital named after Maryam Abacha is situated at Dikwa Road, specialising in women and children’s medical cases, the first of such in Maiduguri. 49 Mega Schools, fully equipped and furnished, and then air-conditioned; all for the use of everyday pupils, as children of Borno State citizens. All these amidst periodic attacks on himself and his convoys from time to time. Kashim earned this VP slot of a thing. Kashim truly and squarely deserves it.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.