Kashim: The lessons and blessings of forgiveness

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.

Deeply entrenched in our ethno-religious diversity as a nation is an unfortunate gullibility that makes a nuisance of our intelligence. There is also a very worrying degree of religious extremism across the different religious groups of our society that polarises us at the slightest. Religion they say is the opium of the masses, and worryingly more so, in a frighteningly religious society like ours. Modern day Nigerian politics has religion as the most potent factor or ready ingredient in cooking up a devout and cultist following. In the civil service, it is equally an index for the accelerated growth of civil servants and at times even a tool for immunity. In Nigeria, religion and the protection of whichever religious grouping one belongs to, is first and foremost before any other consideration or factor. For religious balancing, the ‘Nigerian wheel’ is balanced by picking a muslim ahead of a more qualified Christian and vice-versa. It doesn’t necessarily mean the job or port-folio would suffer a setback, but inadvertently, the more qualified individual is robbed of his opportunity, by virtue of his counterparts’ religious beliefs.

In delivering speeches, in formulating policies, and in creating laws etc., public servants are usually in the cross-hairs of observers, especially the fiercely religious cross section, who pay attention to the most minute details of one’s ‘religious whispers and winks’. One ends up meandering through a maze of religious tensions and outbursts, all in an effort to avoid stepping on religious sensitivities. Everything geared towards the larger Nigerian picture has to have a religious balance or tilt, so as to avoid unnecessary rancour and sensationalism that often impedes the progress of whatever issue or matter is dwelled upon.

Our Vice President Kashim Shettima has been a victim of this unwritten public policy of religious and ethnic balancing. He has oftenly been misinterpreted or misrepresented, better still, victimised over his genuine efforts of being statesmanly, in a drive to carry Nigerians and Nigeria along. The national scene has been challenging for a vibrant and enthusiastic Kashim Shettima, who is eager to pursue the ethos of unity and patriotism in the Nigerian dream project. His focal message to us all, has been about being true Nigerians, and not tribalistic or religiously antagonistic ones.

The assignment of charting out a campaign that would successfully actualize the APC’s zoning formula for the leadership positions of the National Assembly has been daunting, especially for Kashim who also belongs to the national assembly family, having just completed his term as a Senator representating Borno Central. Through his efforts, alongside Senator Kyari, The APC Deputy National Chairman, and Hon. Gbajabiamila, The Chief of Staff to Mr. President, the party’s will was achieved and Senator Akpabio and Hon. Abbas were returned as Senate President and Speaker, in a very transparent and interesting contest.

Kashim was successful in his first assignment as Vice President as he helped to create a party supported balance in the National Assembly. It is important that the 10th Assembly remains on the same page with the party’s agenda for obvious reasons, drawn from the lessons of the 2015/ 8th assembly and the drawbacks it caused the PMB administration’s first term. The second agenda is the balance struck in finding representation for the different geo-political zones and their religious inclinations too, in the hierarchy of the National Assembly. The North West is handsomely repaid in both Deputy Senate Presidency and Speakership positions. Even the Peter Obi owned South East has a Deputy Speakership, and as God would will it, Godswill Akpabio from the South South is Senate President. Christians and Muslims on a ratio of 2:2 were adequately captured in the Kashim Shettima led intervention. This is to bar any future allegations or insinuations of either Islamisation or Christianisation of the 10th Assembly, which the unpatriotic elements amongst us, have now found happiness in brewing.

Kashim’s entreaties and campaign speeches delivered to the Senators and Members elect were weaponised and we woke up to a heated discourse, laced with accusations of religious antagonism against Kashim. His intentions were not paid any attention. But yet our religion preaches the superiority of intentions over actions. At the end of the day, Kashim has come public with a humble plea for forgiveness over his comments. Out of context or not he has begged for forgiveness. That is a good sign that he and the government he represents are ready to embrace criticisms and corrections, and are willing to redeem themselves whenever they err.

I am of the opinion that we kindly forgive Kashim Shettima as he has sought our forgiveness. I am of the stance that we should forgive and forget for it is at times like this and for reasons deduced from such actions, that Nigerians throw away the baby with the bath water. I am of the resolve that I should not write to justify Kashim’s speech, but to join him in seeking forgiveness for his ‘wordings’, just as he has done himself. If Kashim can be begging for forgiveness, then who am I not to beg you too? Kindly forgive Kashim. Kindly pray for the success of this administration because it is in charge of our future and will define that of generations to come. It is in our collective interest that Jagaba/ Kashim succeed. May Allah’s forgiveness and ‘barik’ be upon us all, amen.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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