The perennial worries for Borno state, used to be those of desert encroachment, rural poverty, drought and rinderpest, but for Governor Kashim Shettima, who has been battling hard to keep Borno State in one piece, his headaches have multiplied more, in recent times.
With ceaseless onslaught by marauding criminals; and the approaching general elections in the air, these indeed, are no easy times for Gov. Shettima . Last week, he broke off serious state duties, and rushed to Kunduga, the scene of repeated mass slaughter of defenceless Nigerians by armed criminals, to comfort and personally give condolences to the survivors. It is such a sad thing that Borno State has become an axis where that much talked about “federal might” has failed to manifest, both in terms of literal physical presence say, of effectively functioning federal Government institutions, and or troops, in numbers that can help put an end to the rampaging armed hoodlums that have brought so much tears and blood to the people. What really can the government and the people of Borno State do, without federal help, and most importantly, the needed support of the political power elite of the State? Is Gov. Shettima performing enough to merit such support? The answer of course, is yes. Let me then make the point that as a state Governor, with limited powers and resources, Kashim Shettima has demonstrably shown sufficient courage, vision, resolve and determination to, in the face of so much chaos, confusion, blackmail and distraction, stand his ground and do what is right. He has refused to relocate to Abuja, neither has he kept silent over what he believes could possibly be the solution to the current crisis in the North-East geopolitical zone
His headaches though, as earlier said, have multiplied, given the emerging subterranean moves, unguarded utterances and shameless shenanigans by some persons wanting to continue to posture as Godfathers, and to hobble his every move and efforts, at all cost. I personally condemn that.
But we must recall that this man, by his training and orientation, is not given to desperate intrigues; and to my own knowledge, Kashim was doing pretty well as a banker, before being drafted into the fluid world of Nigerian politics. In government, he had headed the state’s finance, agriculture and local government ministries, respectively, where he equally acquitted himself pretty well.
In politics, Governor Kashim understands that the pursuit of real progress must not only involve a broadening circle of collective effort but also a strong and abiding faith in God. Based on these he builds a formidable links with people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, having cemented a strong and purposeful relationship through his large heartedness.
As the governor of Borno State, his level-headedness and an uncommon streak of self-effacement and humility have won him such large following as well as throngs of admirers within and outside the state. Perhaps, unfortunately this has strangely become a source of envy and conflict for Gov. Shettima.
It is sad, therefore, that former Gov. Ali Modu Sheriff, who convinced Kashim Shettima to join politics and gave him all the opportunities to grow politically, is allegedly the one now, plotting Gov. Shettima’s ouster, according to many people. How this has happened is far beyond what one can understand.
A lot of people are aware that Sen. Sheriff was the very political benefactor who virtually set up the Kashim Shettima administration in the state, when the latter won his election, even when the senator failed in his bid to return to the senate. He, it was who freely chose and subsequently appointed cabinet members for the governor. And as a godfather which he imagines he is, he may have himself benefited from such godfather roles, but there have to be limits for certain things!
Now, if Sen.Sherrff today, wants to stop Gov. Shettima from moving forward, politically, then many questions would have to be asked and speculations would be given a free rein. This is because one of the most acute crises that have continued to threaten the consolidation of democratic governance in Nigeria has been the damaging role of the politics of godfatherism. Nigerian citizens must accept the challenge to collectively speak against it; and most importantly, educate themselves on their rights and roles in efforts to grow our democracy. To allow a few rich individuals to choose who to be our governor, commissioners, permanent secretaries, special advisers, ministers, etc., is to have no democracy, at all.
In a society such as Nigeria, where the wealthy wants to get wealthier, and the powerful wants to get more powerful, the citizens would have a lot of work to do ; and keeping quiet cannot be an option. We have to ask and demand for truly participatory democratic practices in which we can freely choose our own leaders choosing those to lead Borno state, particularly as the next general elections approach, is a task and a responsibility that is far beyond one powerful individual.
It becomes imperative for the electorate to challenge the existing order for good governance to thrive. Political gladiators with dark antecedents characterize by subjugation and greed should be ostracized like waste. Their long political visibility has conveyed nothing to our people.
This is essentially because we have all seen what cabal politics has done, even at the national level. Very powerful Borno persons like Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff should proceed to the centre to test the extent of their power and might. Our state needs some respite, peace and harmony in order to plan its growth and future.
The author wrote in from No. 30 Zoo Road Kano.