By Jide Ajani, General Editor
Some of his views are as late as 2017 but they resonate today. Some as governor while others as a senator. Yet, there are some things he said while mobilising for his principal, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, before the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential primaries. He has been chosen by Tinubu as his running-mate.
Since his nomination, he has been the butt of criticism. He’s been and being presented as an incorrigible Islamist just because he has suddenly found favour with Almighty Allah (SWT) by being chosen to be Tinubu’s running mate. Wabillahi Taofeek, in Islam, means that the almighty should grant us His divine goodness in all materials particular in His own way. So, being chosen among many to be running mate, within this context, is an act of God and it is within his rights to claim it. In fact, APC Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, says “it is an act of God”.
Now, whether the optics are good or bad, he will live with and endure whatever outcomes that arise therefrom.
But Shettima is an intelligent man. He is cerebral. In Borno, if you took a census of those who see in him a strong leader, committed to the development and emancipation of his people, Shettima would score high, very high. And for those who followed his mobilisation for Tinubu in the build up to the APC presidential primary, his choice as running mate is earned.
But Nigeria is not about one man’s choice alone. It is about how disunity and criminality, occasioned by the evil of tribal bigots and religious jingoists, have turned Nigeria into a war zone. Then the economy. Unemployment. Inflation.
Penultimate week, Shettima was unveiled as Tinubu’s running mate but that unveiling ran into its stormy controversy.
What we present to you are the views of Shettima captured in video clips of past speeches and interviews. We will bring you the main interview later. But the following are his thoughts on restructuring, Tinubu’s quest for the presidency, religious harmony, Boko Haram, and national unity, as well as his unveiling speech.
You may describe Shettima as controversial because of his views. But he speaks from the heart and stands to defend what he says.
As governor, he once delivered a speech where he said, “restructuring my foot”. The context of that statement is presented below. His position is that Nigeria had other pressing issues bedevilling it beyond the opportunistic chant of restructuring which, frankly, means different things to different people.
But in a polity of clashing socio-political, economic and religious interests, wouldn’t a clearer, more fluid devolution of responsibilities engender more success, than the act of kicking the can down the road while nothing appears to be working well in Nigeria? But should he have even said that? You be the judge.
Tinubu’s age and competence
Age is just a number. There are some younger people that can perform abysmally low. My principal has the experience, exposure and a lucid mind to add value to the nation and we are at a very critical juncture in the annals of Nigeria’s history, buffeted by all sorts of challenges, be it security, be it economy and a leader that we need is a leader who understands the dynamics of running a modern economy.
The world is a knowledge-driven world. We have moved from the agricultural age to the industrial age and now we are in the post-industrial, knowledge-driven age and you need a Nigerian president who has been tested with excellent and competent leadership skills.
Most importantly, with all these agitations about non-inclusion and separatist tendencies around the country, you need a leader who understands Nigerian sociology and we don’t have a better person than my principal.
Sacrifices made by Tinubu and the ticket
People cannot be indifferent to Bola Tinubu my principal. Whatever my principal said about his past sacrifices for our party and how we won in 2015 is not a new thing.
Can anyone come out and dispute what my principal has said about his sacrifices for this country and our party? He played a very crucial role in the ascendancy of President Buhari. I was a foundational member of APC and those who suffer from memory amnesia can forget about the role of Ashiwaju Tinubu in the ascendancy of President Buhari.
If we can go down memory lane, their relationship goes beyond 2015 and it started quite earlier.
Before the 2014/2015 merger, a foremost traditional ruler from Northern Nigeria led his own team, went to Ashiwaju in Lagos and told him, ‘not in our name, he doesn’t represent us’.
A group of retired army generals also approached him in Lagos and told him, ‘not in our name, he doesn’t represent us’. So, also, the northern establishment where a professor led a team and disowned President Buhari.
To add insult to injury, there was a delegation from Katsina that disowned the president and said he is not their anointed candidate. Asiwaju withstood all those pressures and in the presidential primaries in Lagos, without the block vote from the South West, Buhari couldn’t have clinched that ticket. I was part of that.
He has paid the price so what is wrong with him demanding the job? He deserves the right of first refusal.
On Muslim/Muslim ticket
In other climes, people are talking about nano technology, bio technology, of big data, of artificial intelligence.
Just two days ago, the American web was showing pictures of Mars and other galaxies, while we are busy here talking about herdsmen and farmers clash, talking about rural banditry, kidnapping, battling with Boko Haram and talking about religious mix.
The task before us is to transform this nation into a just and fair society where everyone will have a sense of belonging. We are like a kaleidoscope of colours and we should learn to accommodate and embrace each other.
There is this quote about a young girl who was asked if she was a Christian, a Hindu or a Muslim and what she said was that ‘I am hungry’. Hunger knows no tribe or religion. Insecurity knows no ethnicity. Poor infrastructure knows no region. This is a great nation.
I want to reassure Nigerians who are accusing him of Islamising Nigeria. Has he started by Islamising his own family? Yes, Tinubu’s running mate might be a Muslim, but his life mate of over 40years is not only a Christian but a pastor of the RCCG. He did not impose his Islamic faith on his children.
He was the first governor to hand over mission schools back to their owners. He has groomed people from all walks of life. But I can assure you, we will reach out to all tendencies.
On religious harmony in Borno as state governor
Leadership requires you to live above board. No leader was elected/appointed by the votes of his ethnic kinsmen, or by those with whom they profess the same faith.
And in this country, if we are as religious as we are pretending to be, this country will not be in this mess. Religion has become a body ritual devoid of practical value. We have God on our lips and the devil in our hearts.
The Christians in Borno are our brothers and sisters. They were born, bred and buttered right in the heart of Borno.
Are we going to barbecue them? Are we going to drive them into Lake chad? We have a moral obligation to provide a level playing field. This is why I made deliberate affirmative action to make sure that in every initiative, we make sure the Christian community – and not only the Christian community because I don’t even subscribe to the notion of settlers and indigenes and so on – are carried along.
We have a very vibrant Igbo community in Maiduguri. One of my very vibrant special advisers on community relations is an Igbo from Anambra State. One of my closest senior special assistants, one of my closest, is an Urhobo man and he was born and bred in the heart of Maiduguri. He speaks Hausa better than I do.
So, I believe that we have to run an inclusive government if we want people to have a sense of belonging and to contribute their quota to the development of our state and in Borno, especially in southern Borno, most families are mixed because you’ll find Christians and Muslims in the same family with people professing different faith.
The CAN Chairman, Bishop Mohammed Naga, is from a Muslim family. His father is a Muslim, but the Bishop bears Mohammed. His predecessor, his father is a Muslim, so also is his mother. And in his house where his father stays, there is provision for Muslim prayer rug and space where his father can pray the Muslim way and there is provision for other accessories for him to practise his religion.
Promise of a better Nigeria as running mate
I’m grateful for this opportunity to be a part of this history, to deliver Nigeria to a future defined by fast-evolving technologies, that will propel us towards guaranteed national security, economic boom, youth engagement, mass employment, high-quality education, and, of course, uncompromising national cohesion.
I want to assure our teeming supporters that, in the coming days, we will be rolling out our plans for a greater Nigeria, and pointing towards the bright future that we envisage; and away from the destination of those with nothing, but mudslinging to market, as the reason they deserve to be elected. Such hollow strategies shouldn’t be the ideals of a nation, yearning for an experienced and documented visionary, like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the wheels.
We will work with commitment for all Nigerians, especially the youths, who represent the overwhelming majority of our population today. They represent our present and future. We give a firm assurance, that no discrimination of any form will arise, from this patriotic alliance for the deepening of Nigeria’s democracy.
Let us admit that the Boko Haram came out of the Muslim pole, they never came from the Christian faith and they went about on a burning spree, burning churches and mosques. But I felt compelled to rebuild all the churches destroyed by Boko Haram in Southern Borno. Is it the fault of the Christians? No. These are people who are, even in the best of times, the poorest of the poor.
They save for over a period of five or ten years to build a place of worship and these lunatics come and burn those places of worship.
Leadership, I believe, requires fairness, requires justice, requires equity, requires inclusivity at whatever price believe me.
At whatever price, I am willing to provide fair, inclusive and transparent leadership
On national unity and quit notice to Igbos in the North
I know the consequences of unveiling a masquerade.
I knew that I would be subjected to the most vitriolic of attacks for taking a principled stand on issues.
They have no right to give quit notice to Nigerians in Nigeria and some of the missing elements in our leadership equation in this country has to do with lack of clarity of vision and the tenacity of purpose. Tenacity of purpose of saying the right things and of doing the right things at whatever price
Viral voice mail
Some people came out with that viral message. I’m not so low that I will be calling Governor Amosun, Kunle. It wasn’t me. This was concocted about two years ago (2015).
Nobody listened to them. They hibernated, went into hibernation, redirected it and gave it a new life and made it look like a recent conversation. It wasn’t even a conversation between me and Governor Amosun. I couldn’t bring myself to call any of my colleagues by their first name – Kunle! Kunle!! Kunle!!!.
He is much older than me and I have tremendous respect for him and his integrity and persona and some of our people are quite gullible and that phantom Shettima was even speaking faster than my normal self and it has a Fulani accent and I don’t speak with a Fulani accent because I’m a Kanuri man and I’m a master to the Fulani so it was quite amazing. I have developed a thick skin.
Some of these things are sponsored by people with inordinate ambition to rule this country. They sponsored one on Governor El-Rufai and Governor Tambuwal too.