BY ABDULHAMID AL-GAZALI, JULY 14, 2022 | 09:20 AM
The news of Kashim Shettima's substantiation as Bola Ahmed Tinubu's running mate did not only stop at igniting conversations on the highly controversial Muslim - Muslim ticket across the country. The choice now of who to replace him in the contest for Borno Central Senatorial seat on the platform of the APC has now become another big-time talk among political hangers on back in his home state. As for him, Tinubu had already handed him his graduation certificate, whatever that had meant to him in past. He is now welcome to play at the highest levels of the country's playing field.
Because I now head a newsroom, which is until recently, largely headquartered in the state, I made a personal decision to suspend my regular commentary on politics--as it nonetheless never ever even mattered. The job subconsciously turns you into a fence-sitting "lame duck" if you're not too careful. But my self-imposed break, if it is that, is even much more so because of the aggressive takeover by--and unceremonious fall of--the entire media space into the hands of a group of lily-livered, iPad clenching simpletons, who operate an almost "nonhuman", robotic, unintelligent cyber culture of CTRL + C / CTRL + V. In the reading of these impenetrable, mere bodyworks we call humans for decency, every level-headed discussion outside the woodworks of the familiar CTRL + C / CTRL + V binary they are acculturated into, comes already defined as some sort of venom targeted at someone, who is nonexistent. But even your hardest resolve to never give in to the barbarous hordes and their antics, in this world of so much beauty and grandeur, you will not want to be unnecessarily dragged down to crawl in the mud by 'lackeying' guards of an imaginary paymaster.
Now at the risk of such a usually readymade, yet spontaneous backlash, I am bringing my two-pence to the discussion of who should replace Shettima. I have two people in mind: Kaka Shehu Lawan and Adamu Lawan Zaufanjimba, in this order.
To start with, thanks to the last six years I have had to deal with news items about happenings in Borno, as well as my regular commentary on its politics many years earlier, I can almost draw up a hitmap of the activities of some of the major key players in the public space, including those with a highly taciturn mien. No matter how narrow you draw radar, it will not miss these two people.
Adamu Lawan's first entry into the state executive council was in the ministry of works (and bla bla) in 2015. He was later moved to the ministry of finance, where he appeared to have been better fit. Say whatever you may, in the ministry, he has helped to cleanse an obviously rotten system and oversaw its overhaul to attain global standards. I have never been told, but it largely explains why the state is gulping up a lot of donor funds and grants worldwide. That is all thanks to the system. Perhaps, given his background in economics (agric), where he was said to have had a first-class, and the banking hall, where he also rose through the ranks to the very top, he is already cut out for it. Besides that, if you come to politics, I think he has a fair record; a record particularly of loyalty to his boss, Shettima. In 2016 or so, his boss persuaded him to give up the contest for the same office after it became vacant following the death of Senator Ahmed Zannah. He did. He was also served the same dose in 2019, when Shettima once again picked Gov. Zulum over him to replace him as the governor of Borno. I think he has paid his dues.
But then comes Kaka Shehu, who is so far one of the longest serving members of the state executive council. As a person, I don't know anything about him. I met none of them--Adamu Lawan and Shehu--in the past. What I however know is simple: KSL is one of the people who have worked the hardest for Borno in the last 10 years. Besides being the attorney general and commissioner of justice for all these years, he was at various times called upon to oversee the operations of other ministries.
The most notable of these was in 2017 when he was assigned the ministry of environment. As the overseeing commissioner, his insistence to reopen almost all intracity roads and dismantle roadblocks erected by the military as a result of Boko Haram endeared him to many. The decision was very swift and one of the most important in the restoration of the then battered state. It would appear as though it was a simple matter; but those who understand Nigeria's complex bureaucracy, as well as our military's unnecessary and unyielding ground standing, would have to give that to him. What helped him was, among other things, his background as a lawyer; for, without a sufficient understanding of the laws of the land, such a feat, I still believe, would not have been easily achieved.
I have similarly noticed that Kaka Shehu has served in almost every important committee set up by the state government either as the chairman or secretary since 2012--and at least a member. He led some of the most difficult tasks the government had executed under Shettima, especially those that brought him face to face against the people. He went ahead to pull them off, without minding about what dents they cause to his relationship with the people. Public servants in Nigeria naturally shy away from anything that pits them against the people as it may have great consequences on their political career. What helps Kaka Shehu to execute those difficult tasks, I think, is his indifference to whatever anyone thinks about him, which is perhaps also why he probably may have had the full trust of his principals. There is no compensation too big for such a loyalty!
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16 October 2021