The harmony in Shettima’s Vice Presidency.

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.

Just about a year ago, Sen. Kashim Shettima led the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu campaign for the APC Presidential ticket which was full of intrigues and hard-wired politicking.

In one of the campaign interviews, Sen. Kashim had jokingly issued a ‘jibe’ at then VP Osinbajo, calling him a nice man, akin to an ice cream seller, who wouldn’t make a strong leader. Of course it was campaign banter and Sen. Shettima had duly apologised just 48 hours after, stating that he didn’t mean to denigrate him.

One year after it seems the jibe and apology have not gone down well with the apologists of the Prof. Osinbajo’s quest for the Presidency, because an anonymous article has been circulated on social media, in what may appear to be a laughable come back at the VP’s jibe, labeling him an ice cream man too.

The article made an unconscionable attempt to denigrate the Vice President, and somehow draw a wedge, or perhaps ‘dig a trench’ between the Vice President’s harmonious working relationship with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

In trying to malign the Kashim Shettima Vice Presidency, the writer referenced Atiku Abubakar’s Vice Presidency, as championing one project after the other. Well, the anonymous writer does not mean well for Sen. Shettima obviously, as we are all living witnesses of how turbulent and anti-climactic Atiku Abubakar’s role as VP ended, brewing a very feudal relationship between him and his principal, former President Obasanjo, effectively bringing an end to Atiku’s Presidential ambitions at the time.

This has continued to be a spanner in the works of Atiku’s aspirations. The ice cream writer also drew comparisons with the Prof. Osinbajo Vice Presidency which suffered an equally debilitating end, similar to the Atiku Abubakar tenure. Prof. Osinbajo had wielded too much powers emasculating co-travelers on the corridors of power, which cost him the APC Presidential ticket at the end of the day, robbing him of an affirmative support from the Presidency. Infact, several agencies hitherto under his purview were removed from his office to form an entirely new Ministry, devoid of his influence.

Kashim Shettima came to the Vice Presidency position with more experience and dexterity, having served as Governor for eight years, facing the most tumultuous kind of terrorism that Nigeria has ever experienced. Sen. Kashim Shettima is a better student of power, its laws, and dynamism compared to two of his predecessors which the anonymous writer wants Sen. Shettima to emulate. It is hardly a good prayer.

The ice cream writer also tried to belittle the Vice President’s engagements on International duty, angry as to why Shettima is smiling at the cameras as he boards his official plane. Shettima has actually been on very crucial International official engagements too numerous to capture. Some include his travels to China to woo investors at the 3rd Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum, with over 130 world leaders in attendance.

This was immediately followed by a trip to the US at the instance of the African Development Bank, AFDB, engaging with various stakeholders and investors, exploring opportunities for investment in Nigeria’s renewed drive for food security and diversification. This has seen to the AFDB’s increase in its agricultural interventions in Nigeria from around 500 million dollars to more than a billion dollars.

The VP, Sen. Kashim Shettima had also been to Russia at the instance of the Russia-Africa Summit, to woo the Russian government as well as Russian businesses to partake in the Industrialisation drive of the country, and its efforts towards consolidating on the diversification of the economy. He was also in Europe for the World Economic Forum where he chaired the launch of the Private Sector Action Plan for the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCTA.

The Vice President’s International outings have been pertinent to the country’s drive for foreign investments, and efforts towards attaining food security.

Claims that the levers of power are ‘all’ in the hands of longstanding associates of the President, away from Shettima are wishy washy tales. All the levers and ‘gears’ associated with the duties and roles of the Vice President and Chair of the National Economic Council are fully within the control of the office of Sen. Kashim Shettima. Contrary to the writers assertions, The office of the VP has spearheaded and launched so many projects as Chair of the National Economic Council. Notable among those projects are the iDICE, which is the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises programme.

This programme is funding more than 200 technological and creative start-ups as well as 450 digital technology enterprises with a whopping sum of 617 million dollars– in partnership with global bodies. Another of such well meaning initiatives in the VP’s office is the Pulaku initiative, which is a non-kinetic approach towards fighting banditry and kidnapping especially in the North West.

This programme is building 1000 houses with hospitals and shops in each of the North Western States that have been ravaged by banditry. This same energy has been channeled to the security challenges in the South East and a South East Development Commission is already awaiting Presidential assent. The North East Development Commission, the National Hajj Commission, the National Emergency Management Agency, are some of the other agencies under the VP’s office, aside the numerous duties, and engagements that his principal assigns to him.

He has not been stripped of any supervisory roles over them. President Tinubu’s newly constituted Economic Coordination Council has the President as Chair, and VP Shettima as Vice-Chair. So the VP has more than enough on his table. The idea of having the Vice-President to take charge of the Police and its overhaul, or to hijack the duties of the NSA in formulating a new security architecture which is being done already, is just egging on the VP to toddle into troubled waters. ‘Ingiza mai kantu ruwa’ in hausa means pushing one into murky waters, and the intent of the writer cannot be beyond that. Why push him to usurp the powers of other political appointees?

Sen. Kashim Shettima is not new to the Tinubu dynasty and had long before now been penciled for the role of the VP, and had been one of those spearheading President Tinubu’s campaigns, since Shettima left office as Borno Governor.

Today he remains the President’s rallying point for traditional rulers and leaders of religious bodies. He led their delegation to the Villa during the ramadhaan, and has just recently secured an approval for 20% allocation of all government palliatives to go through the traditional institutions/ religious bodies.

Those coming for the VP are looking to make mountains out of molehills, flying kites to test the indispensability of Sen. Kashim Shettima. The Tinubu/ Shettima relationship has been for more than two decades, and the Tinubu/ Shettima ticket continues to wax even more formidably. To have come this far against all the odds, certainly the VP is beyond an ice cream man. The ice cream men have since melted away.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.


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