Art and Culture

For APC, It’s Tinubu-Shettima Ticket

todayJuly 11, 2022 1

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Adedayo Akinwale and Michael Olugbode write on what informed the choice of Senator KassimShettima as the running mate to the  presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

After too much dilly-dally and horse-trading, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, confirmed the fears of some Nigerians when he announced the former Governor of Borno state, Senator KashimShettima as his running-mate  ahead of the July 15 deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for political parties to substitute their candidates where necessary.

Recall that Tinubu had on May 7th defeated 13 other aspirants to clinch the party’s presidential ticket, after scoring  1,271 votes against his closest rival, the former Minister of Transportation, Hon. RotimiAmaechi who scored 316 votes and Vice President YemiOsinbajo, with 235 votes. Following his  emergence,  there have been strong opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket that  the party was considering  in order  to boost the its electoral success in the coming elections.

Section 29 in subsection (1) of the 2022 Electoral Act says “every political party shall, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the Commission, in the prescribed Forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.”

It was against this background that Tinubu and the party leadership settled for a ‘placeholder’ in the person of KabirMasari to beat the June 17 deadline set by INEC for political parties  to submit the names of their presidential candidates and their running mates, while the search for a suitable running mate continues.

This, however, has afforded  the ruling party the ample opportunity to continue consultation to pick an acceptable running-mate that would complement the strength of Tinubu.

But before Tinubu travelled to France, he had  hinted that he was still in search of an acceptable running mate ahead of the 2023 elections.

How Tinubu arrived at the choice of Shettima

Even at that time, it was strongly believed that the presidential hopeful had decided to pick his running mate from the North-east region to whittle down the power and influence of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), AtikuAbubakar while party leaders from the North-West region are also making a serious push for the position.

Ideally, Tinubu ought to have settled for a Christian running-mate, but party sources believed that the APC would lose gallantly in the conservative North if Tinubu were to pick a Christian running mate.

The party sources added that North-east, which has the second highest bloc votes in the country, is predominantly Muslims and would graciously vote for the PDP should APC settle for a Christian running-mate from the north.

THISDAY checks revealed that Tinubu settled for Shettima having played a key role in Tinubu’s emergence as the standard bearer of the party. Nevertheless, the politicking, power play and the quest by various tendencies and interest groups in the party to grab the seat delayed the choice of Shettima.

At first, the political calculation was for one of the sitting APC governors to replace President MuhammaduBuhari in 2023, but the change in the political dynamics forced the governors to settle for the vice presidential position.

The insistence of the governors that they must produce the running mate has been a major cause of  delay in naming the running mate for Tinubu. The ruling party presently has 22 governors and 14  are from the Northern part of the country.

The northern governors played a pivotal role in ensuring that the presidency was ceded to the South and also foiled the palace coup orchestrated by the National Chairman of the party, Senator AbdulahiAdamu, who almost foisted the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawal as the party’s candidate on the eve of the presidential primary.

North-west push for Vice presidential slot

Interestingly, the Governors of APC, ministers and party leaders  from the North-West including Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Sokoto states, recently  resolved to engage  Tinubu to aggregate the views of the region as the search for a suitable running mate continues.

The North-West leaders made their position known in a statement issued and signed by the APC National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Dr. SalihuLukman after their meeting in Kaduna. The Kaduna meeting had in  attendance APC governors, gubernatorial candidates and ministers from the states of the North-West.

The leaders said if the contribution of the region  to the emergence and growth of  APC and its electoral viability, especially with the  North-West providing about 39% of the votes the APC recorded in the 2019 and 2015 was anything to go by, there was need to engage Tinubu to aggregate their interest.

 “The meeting noted the contribution of the North-West to the emergence and growth of the APC and its electoral viability, with the North-West providing about 39% of the votes the APC recorded in the 2019 and 2015 presidential elections. Therefore, the zone resolved to aggregate its interests and vital concerns and engage accordingly with the presidential candidate of the party,” they argued.

Notwithstanding the strong opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the ruling party tested the resolve of Nigerians when Tinubu announced that he has picked Shettima as his running-mate.

Although the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)  warned the APC that such a notion would  undermine the Christian community, while other concerned Nigerians also believed that ethno-religious factors are still very much relevant in Nigerian politics and the idea should be jettisoned.

Be that as it may,  Ganduje confirmed the fears of some Nigerians especially the christian community when he  hinted at the weekend that  Tinubu has agreed to pick a Muslim Vice Presidential candidate.

He said: “We have advised him to pick a Muslim deputy and he has agreed. A Muslim-Muslim ticket is a reality. It is not something new in Nigeria.”

Tinubu’s announcement

Tinubu on Sunday  confirmed Senator KashimShettima as his Vice Presidential candidate. The presidential candidate disclosed his choice to journalists at the Daura residence of President MuhammaduBuhari.

Tinubu arrived in Daura Sunday afternoon to pay Sallah homage to President Buhari and intimated him on the choice of Shettima.

Shettima: A pearl from the North East

Shettima was born on the 2 September, 1966 to the family of Sir Kashim Ibrahim, a Kanuri from Maiduguri, the Borno State. He is married to Nana Shettima, and they have three children: two females and a male.

A master’s degree (MSc) holder in Agricultural Economics in 1991 at the University of Ibadan.Shettima joined the University of Maiduguri as a Lecturer with the Department of Agricultural Economics and was in the academia from 1991 to 1993.

He was later to join the banking sector in 1993 when he was employed by (now defunct) Commercial Bank of Africa Limited as head of accounts unit at the bank’s office in Ikeja, Lagos State. He left the bank in 1997 to African International Bank Limited as a Deputy Manager and rose to become a Manager in 2001. In 2001, he moved to the Zenith Bank as head of its main branch in Maiduguri. It was from the Zenith Bank that he was picked by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to become first the Borno State Commissioner for Finance, he later transverse the Ministries of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Agriculture, Education and Health where he cut his teeth in public administration.

He became the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after the assassination of ModuFannamiGubio, who was already picked as the flag bearer of the party. Shettima’s election as the party’s flag bearer put pay to his fledging career at the Zenith Bank where he had risen to Senior Manager/Branch Head; Assistant General Manager (AGM)/Zonal Head (North-East), Deputy General Manager/Zonal Head (North-East) and the General Manager as he had to resign to contest for governorship at the 2011 election.

Shettima, who was elected with a vision to transform BornoState could not however turn his dream into reality as Boko Haram ran riot in the state and at a point in time controlled a larger stretch of the state. At a particular time in the history of the state it was like a bet between him and Boko Haram who would win the battle of building and destruction, whenever he built Boko Haram would destroy, the battle went on for sometimes and he had to give up as it takes long time to build but minutes to destroy. He limited himself to Maiduguri, the state capital and few other local governments and he was able to make Maiduguri, a place of pride in the thick of the crisis.

Shettima was highly emotional and could not but cry in those days when almost on a daily basis he had condolence visits to make and subjects to bury. No wonder he became popular with few challenges of the military and the C-in-C, President Goodluck Jonathan who he could be said to have a broken relationship with at a time especially during the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls. Many strong supporters of Jonathan largely still see Shettima as an instrument used by the APC to rubbish Jonathan and it may need a brain cleansing to get this off their minds.

Shettima and Tinubu became soulmates when Shettima was seeking his re-election in the days of the formation of APC and Tinubu stood by him to ward off the threat of Ali Modu Sheriff who was waiting to take a pound of flesh off him. It was this that perhaps pushed Sheriff into the PDP and support for Jonathan that failed and he later retraced his steps.

Shettima who was  governor of Borno State between 2011 and 2019, ran his government on the similar template used by  Bola Tinubu in Lagos.

Among his closest aides were  an Ibo Christian from Anambra State in the Southeast, an Urhobo Christian from Delta State in the South-South, a Fulani man from Gombe in the northeast and a Hausa man from Zamfara State in the northwest were his image managers, he also had Yoruba Christian from the Southwest as friends.

Shettima’s leadership credentials have attracted positive recognition within and outside Nigeria. Governor Shettima emerged the 2014 Governor of the Year (Leadership Newspapers), Governor of the Year, 2015, (Nigeria Union of Journalists, national body); Governor of the Year, 2015 (NewsWatchTimes Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2015 (Vanguard Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2016 (Tell Magazine); 2017 Zik Prize for Leadership; Kaduna NUJ Award for courage and exceptional leadership (2017), FCT NUJ Merit Award for exceptional Leadership, 2017.

After the completion of his stewardship in Borno State as the governor, he was elected into the National Assembly as a Senator representing Borno Central and he has not performed badly where he has marshaled many arguments with his native intelligence and love for details.

There is hardly any argument you can win against Shettima whose first hobby is reading and the second memorizing all he read and third hobby delivering what he read.

The issue of Tinubu’s Presidency threw Shettima up again into National limelight when he was among the first known voices in support of the now presidential candidate of the APC. He was among those from the North to say it amounts to injustice if the power is not allowed to move to the South, and he was surely at his oratorical best when at the launch of Tinubu’s presidential aspiration, said the job of the president is not that of bricklaying.

Shettima, could rightly be said to be the first proponent of “Emilokan” (It is my turn to rule which Tinubu came up with when he saw power slipping from him). He had said at the Abuja chapter of the Tinubu Support Groups Management Council (SGMC), that Tinubu deserved the right of first refusal for his diligence in birthing the APC and securing the 2015 presidential ticket for President MuhammaduBuhari, and called on the president then to reward the loyalty of the former Lagos governor.

He said: “In 2015, some aspirants with very huge war chest were itching to clinch the ticket of the APC. Like the Rock of Gibraltar, Asiwaju and his progressive team stood solidly behind the candidature of President MuhamaduBuhari.

“We shall have minimal thresholds below which we won’t operate and the irreducible minimum is that after eight years of Presidency in the North, the logic, common sense, equity, justice and fairness demand that power should move to the Southern part of the country and who is better qualified? Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu should be given the choice of first refusal. More than any other person, he has sacrificed more for this democracy, for the APC.

“I’m not asking you to tone down critical assessments of your future leaders, but redirect you to see the bigger picture. We are not here to prepare for the Olympics, but an institution that relies on the superiority of ideas to thrive. Asiwaju’s credentials aren’t only appealing; they are proof of the qualities this country needs to redeem its vast potentials and possibilities.

“We are here to testify to this power of ideas, one that overturned the fortunes of Lagos State and sustained its supremacy as the largest economy in subSaharan Africa and kept the opposition alive when it was more profitable to sell out”.

When the campaign was getting tough in the APC and some were ready to opt for either the Vice President or the Senate President instead of the Jagaban, it was Shettima that came out to take the bullet and describe the presidential contest as not that for selling ice-cream and tomatoes.

He said “nobody has doubted the competence of Professor Osinbajo. He’s a very cerebral person, but we believe that in terms of intellect, capacity, reach and the ability to move this nation forward, and most importantly, for us to win the upcoming election, the best candidate that the APC has is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“Mind you, the dynamics has changed with the emergence of Atiku as the candidate of the PDP. We need someone who can match and even overshadow him in terms of brand name recognition, in terms of capacity. This is why we are championing the cause of AsiwajuTinubu.

“Osinbajo is a good man; he’s a nice man. But nice men do not make good leaders, because nice men tend to be nasty. Nice men should be selling popcorn, ice cream.

“But he’s a very decent person. I can’t doubt that. He’s my personal friend and I’ll rather not comment on his person. But he’s a very decent man. That I can tell you.”

Shettima has merited his position as he saw beyond others, he was quick to identify with Tinubu and was ready to mount the podium to sell what he believes and go to the public to take the bullet for him when the situation calls for it. His choice as the APC Vice Presidential candidate is a reward for dedication and support.

The real hidden pearl in Shettima by this is now unearthed on Nigeria who would see what as long be hidden in Borno and perhaps what made Borno State in spite of all the crisis of Boko Haram still be home to many and now home of emerging peace.

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