UNTOLD STORY OF MY PRIVATE BOND WITH SHETTIMA
By: Inuwa Bwala
We fought together in the same trench and we fought each other from opposite trenches, yet we remain very close compatriots in the face of everything.
Nobody ever introduced us to each other, but we have heard about each other for a long time before we eventually met
Our paths actually crossed when I came into Government. By then, he was already the standard bearer of our party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Governorship election of 2011in Borno state.
So many stories have been told about me to him, just as a lot had been told about him to me.
What we avoided doing was not to judge each other by what others say to us about each other, but by what we believe to be the true content if our characters and our defining principles.
Immediately he won the election as Governor if Borno state , he wanted to make me his spokesman, before he constituted his cabinet, but it did not eventually work out that way.
As my boss and friend, Kashim Shettima accorded me rare privileges, untill we parted ways over the question of loyalty, which were essentially my own fault. But even after we parted, he came down to seek for the continuation of our relationship.
I must confess that, Kashim Shettima has been the unseen hand behind some of my success in life and my triumphs over some evil plots against me. I leave out the details of that for my upcoming memoir, entitled, “Freedom Yet At Prison’s Gate”.
Since our reunion, I have viewed to make up for my misendeamours and to cherish the re-established friendship for the rest of my life.
I have since thrown my weight behind him and I have no regrets I did, even if I lose out on other fronts.
An so, in the heat of the contest for the Vice Presidential slot of the All Progressives Congress APC, somebody once asked me why I did not seem to see anything wrong in Senator Kashim Shettima as the choice: in the face of his perceived imperfections? And I told him that, it was because there was nothing wrong as such, rather, the politics of hatred and baseless profiling.
At a point, many people would rather see Kashim Shettima as a political neophyte, though they agreed that he is a rabid intellectual; exposed to too much philosophical literature.
But recent events depict Shettima, not only as that, but as a suave political tactician, with a vast and sophisticated network of compatriots, cutting across political, ethno- religious, regional and socio-economic barriers.
The candour with which he carried himself before, during and after the contest, even in the face of villifications are pointers to the fact that, Kashim Shettima’s choice as the running mate to Nigeria’s President elect, Asuwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, remains the APC highest selling mark in the just concluded elections.
I dare say that, even amongst his contemporaries, Kashim Shettima stands out as our political maverick, incomparable to any other amongst us.
No matter the perspective from which anyone may look at him, there has always been a rendezvous of opinions, to the effect that the former Borno state Governor has a very wide capacity.
And he has a very sophisticated network of friends, cutting across political, religious, regional, social and economic divides.
Kashim Shettima does not himself seem to know the extent of his public acclaim, from the things he does.
In the build up to the elections, when Shettima told all those who cared to listen that, the combination of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and himself was the ticket to beat in the Presidential race, very people did not fathom what was to come out of the ballot box.
To this extent, so many people, even from within the APC worked against them, and with the eventual outcome, so many of them are beating a fast retreat: coming back to pledge loyalty.
I think the problem with many of those who wrote off the President and Vice President elect, had to do with the mentality of the average Nigerian politician, who often restrict their political reach within their own little enclaves, in the belief that ,elections are won and lost in their own small enclaves.
At a point, I was confused and wanted to quit, but was saved by Shettima’s foresight, when he invited to his private room and cautioned me.
He said ,”Honorable Inuwa, we share a lot of things in common, we are contemporaries, and we have come a long way. Do not do what I suspect you want to do. Do not go anywhere. Look up to God and look up to me. Things are going to be ok and I will always remember the sacrifice you make for me. Besides being compatriots in the struggle of life, we need each others’ support and I assure you that the benefits will be more than when we pursue our individual goals separately.”
These were Shettima’s words that changed my intended course of action.
After he spoke to me I looked back at a particular period in our relationship when I accused him of commiting all imaginable obscenities, even as a sitting Governor, but Kashim Shettima still called me and told me that, the two of us do not enjoy the luxury of fighting each other.
After the elections, I deliberately sat back and watched without writing anything in my usual manner, and I was rather apprehensive meeting my boss, Distinguished Senator Kashim Shettima for the first time since he became the Vice President elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I was apprehensive because I knew he was going to query my action. Of course I could only offer a feeble defence of my action when we eventually met, but in his usual way he embraced me like the biblical prodigal son returning to his father
Before the elections, I have been all over the place marketing him as the best choice for Nigeria in our situation. But I have not said anything in the public domain since he was declared the winner, along with his compatriot, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
I did not seem to notice that I have been quiet for too long, untill I began to think of what caption I will give my first encounter with him as the Vice President elect.
An he told me, “we are not going to gloat iver this victory, as a victory for a particular group, race or creed, but for all Nigerians, abd I am glad you have come to take your rightful place in the celebrations.
The days are ticking away as we inch towards May 29th, when he assumes office. I sincerely pray that we all live long enough abd well to be witnesses