By: Inuwa Bwala
Even in the face of the obscenities and incentives poured on him and his principal, Kashim Shettima maintained a dignified silence: always preaching peace and tolerance.
Amidst spurious branding and mindless allegations, he always extends hands of fellowship to his traducers. Some people may wonder, what manner of man is Kashim Shettima.
I once wrote, that, describing Shettima is like the futility of attempting to label an elephant from a particular standpoint. He is so large, that one needs to go round to a get a near adequate description of him.
Now, the tantrums are fast dying, the lying vaults are empty, the arsenals available to the war mongers are obsolete, and reasons seem to prevail in the evaluation of the man and his boss, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
When we talk about his intellectual dexterity and political sagacity, people say we are hero- worshipping, when we speak about his generousity and benevolence they accuse us of being psychopaths and whenever we preach about his liberalism and statesmanship, they think we are being Local, but everybody seems to be agreeing with us today, that Kashim Shettima is so many good things rolled into one.
Pre-innaugration critics may have seen the footage but refused to accept the truth, that, the intentions of the Bola Tinubu/Kashim Shettima combination is contrary to the initial perceptions and the country seems to be getting back on track. Nigerians seem to realizing that, continual denigration of leaders for cheap political goals may not be a vogue in democracy, rather, partnering with winners: no matter the circumstances of their emergence, gives more hope.
The obvious poser on the lips of many Nigerians today, could be what is the magic wand, that turned this administration into the darling of even ardent critics?
Many Nigerians, before now, nearly believed that nothing good could ever come from the Tinubu/Shettima combination,
My fair knowledge of the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, whom I regards as a friend, a compatriot and my boss, gives me a window into the answer to this curious poser, about the unseen hands behind turning the firtunes of the government.
It certainly was not about a vigorous media propaganda, rather about strategic calculations.
If one takes a critical look at how the Presidency was able to read the mood of the nation and came up with a balancing formula, that shut the mouths of doomsday forecasters over religious balancing, one may tend to agree that, a strategist is at work.
One of such strategic calculations was the emergence of Godswill Akpabio as Senate President and Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives: so also the emergence of Lieutanant General Christopher Musa as the Chuef of Defence Staff.
Every strategic thinker could see through the Vice President’s vigorous campaigns for the duo of Akpabio and Kalu: all in a bid to achieve stability and balancing in the leadership equation.
It is common knowledge that Shettima remains the single outspoken voice, which convinced the President, Ahmed Tinubu to accept Barau: his preferred candidate as Deputy Senate President, paving way for Akpabio.
One could also see the hands of Shettima in the apparent balancing in the appointment of Service Chiefs and ministers. Hav8ng worked with General Musa as Theater Commander, it was obvious that he recommended him to Tinubu.
Certain strategic policies and decisions of the administration, which attracted the admiration of Nigerians, have the imprimatur of the Vice President. This explains why he is visible in most international strategic meets, to represent the country.
Except for those who never see anything good in any leader and are bound to look for faults even in the best, there seems a national consensus that has proved his critics wrong and has given very good account of himself.
No matter what might be his foibles or Achilles heels, anyone who achieves what Kashim Shettima has achieved in life today, or reached the height he has attained, and also contributed in reshaping our national outlook as he has done, deserves to be celebrated.
At 57, Shettima’s contemporaries, including my humble self often find pride in his attainments.
Shettima’s zodiac describes him as strong willed, tactful and with strong organizational ability. And indeed, nobody can take these attributes away from him.
I often hide behind Governor Babagana Umara Zulum’s summation of who Shettima is when he said in a previous birthday colloquium for Kashim Shettima, that, “he combines intellect, humility, statesmanship, philanthropy, benevolence and Godliness”.
At the general level, besides the numerous projects and programmes, he brought about, and for which he has been resoundingly commended, Shettima’s exceptional foresight which brought up Governor Zulum as Governor in Borno State, perhaps remains his highest selling point.
At a time when nobody gave him a chance, Shettima proved book makers wrong and left indelible marks in the political sands of Borno, cum Nigeria.
At the individual level, I always take delight in reflecting on my personal relationship with Shettima, especially his unfailing fidelity to our friendship, when every other person abandoned me.
One memorable quote from his conversations with me, was when he called me and said to me, “we are friends and have come a long way. Political differences do not matter religion has never been a problem between us. Our generation need to come together and work to make life worthwhile for ourselves and our people”. At that time, I expected Shettima to be hard on me. But chose to value personal relationship above other consideration. I consider whatever I do to support and celebrate him as a payback package. Others might have their own testimonies and I am sure all will tend to eulogize this rare personality.
I know as a matter of fact, that, what the future holds, is in the hands of God, but looking beyond today’s success, lies even a brighter world ahead for him.
If no one else has cause to, I have every cause to sing his praises. And to him I say, that, neither silver nor gold have I any, but my respect he has earned. Happy birthday my boss.