Shettima as Tinubu .’s chief de-marketer

I have never physically met APC’s vice presidential candidate Kashim Shettima, but I have communicated with him for an extended period of time over the past seven years. I have come to know him as a man of enormous and versatile erudition and a bibliophile who is charmed by his own rhetorical and expressive delights. It is precisely this quality that can be his downfall in national politics.

Nowhere has this become more evident than in his much-discussed September 15 speech at the 96th anniversary of the Yoruba Tennis Club in Ikoyi, Lagos, where he credited Bola Ahmed Tinubu with commendable qualities that he isolated in past Nigerian presidents and heads of state.

The Nigeria news agency quoted Shettima as saying that Nigeria needs a leader with the “humility and generosity of spirit” of Yakubu Gowon, the “work ethic and open-mindedness” of Olusegun Obasanjo, the “situational pragmatism and … Maradonian skill” of Ibrahim Babangida, “the hospitality” of Sani Abacha, “the vision and sense of responsibility” of Abdulsalami Abubakar and the “self-denial and devotion” of Muhammadu Buhari.

Shettima clarified in a Sept. 16 tweet that he “never attributed hospitality to Abacha” in his speech. “I’ve made an overview of our previous presidents and played out the taciturnity and dose of ruthlessness of a Sani Abacha to show that we need strong men to deal with the non-state actors who have turned Nigeria into a huge killing field “, he said. tweeted.

Shettima’s speech was clearly a case of sacrificing substance on the altar of stylistic ease. In other words, Shettima seemed more preoccupied with lyrical bravado than with meaning, more enamored with verbal exuberance than with the correctness or appropriateness of the assertions of his words.

But the general public isn’t as nice to him in their interpretive rendition of his speech as I am. And for good reason. Using the sources of basic logic and contemporary history, many – perhaps most – Nigerians understood his speech as a threat of existential destruction to them if he and Tinubu were elected vice presidents and presidents. This is why.

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Yes, compared to other former presidents and heads of state, Obasanjo has an admirable work ethic and is open-minded. And yes, Gowon is undeniably humble and generous in spirit. But it stretches credulity to the elastic limit to even remotely suggest that Tinubu embodies or shares these qualities. Like every human being, Tinubu has his good qualities, but he is anything but humble and generous in spirit. And in his current state, he’s anything but a workaholic.

More importantly, though, the other qualities Shettima associated with other former presidents and heads of state are either demonstrably flawed or not worth celebrating. Take, for example, the notion of Buhari’s ‘self-denial and devotion’. No claim could be more dishonest than that.

Self-denial means “to give up one’s own interests in favor of the interests of others.” There has been no more selfish, selfish, self-centered leader in the entire history of Nigeria than Muhammadu Buhari. He is a classic, brash, sadistic narcissist.

Buhari’s first major project when he became president in 2015 was to build a multimillion naira vanity helipad for exclusive use in his hometown of Daura, which would be useless as of May 2023. Not even Goodluck Jonathan, who got a lot of trouble from civil society organizations for corruption, built a helipad for himself in his hometown of Otueke.

In addition, Buhari’s penchant for going to London to treat even his tiniest illnesses (including an ear infection already treated in Nigeria), his expensive sartorial splurges, and his penchant for inordinately elaborate red-carpet ceremonies every time he crosses the country and returns to it. , does not fit the profile of a person who embodies “self-denial”.

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Let’s not even talk about the presidential air fleet that unnecessarily and avoidably consumes Nigeria’s national resources, which Buhari had promised to get rid of, but which he spends billions on maintenance.

And Buhari’s “dedication”? Seriously? Which bet? I’ve argued in several previous columns that Buhari’s inexplicably frenzied world travel, even after his government promulgated a new policy that reduced the frequency and duration of foreign travel by government officials, reportedly as a “cost-cutting measure,” shows his wanderlust is being fueled. by his resentment of Nigeria. A man devoted to Nigeria will not have the obsessive-compulsive impulse to leave the country at the slightest opportunity.

To suggest that Tinubu is the personification of Buhari’s “self-denial and devotion” is inadvertently taking Tinubu off the market and threatening Nigerians.

But it gets worse. The quality of “situational pragmatism and … Maradonian skill” that Shettima associated with Babangida – and implicitly possesses Tinubu – is a negative trait. Situational pragmatism is little more than a sophisticated euphemism for opportunism, and when people called Babangida “Maradona” or “Maradonic” in the Lagos-Ibadan press in the 1990s, they did so with an unmistakable tone of disapproval.

Maradona was notorious for his intricate dribbling and for his occasional, unfair, magic goals, such as his infamous 1986 FIFA World Cup ‘the-hand-of-God’ goal against England, where he illegally used his hand to score, but the referee’s sanction for not being caught – or his illegal interception of a shot by the former USSR during the 1990 World Cup with “the hand of God” without the referee seeing him.

So, Maradona and “Maradonic” symbolize elaborate deception and Machiavellianism. Babangida, like Maradona, dribbled the nation through his dizzyingly endless transition to nowhere, his endless banning and undoing of politicians, his “settlement” of critics, and finally scored a handy goal against politicians – and Nigeria – when he made the results invalid from the June 12, 1993 election that MKO Abiola was about to win.

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People have a right to be alarmed if this is the quality Shettima admires in Babangida and says that Tinubu is an example.

Perhaps more worryingly, Shettima thinks Sani Abacha’s “taciturnity” and “ruthlessness” are virtues to be cherished, celebrated, and expected in a president in 2023. Being communicative is a central quality of successful Democratic leaders. Silence, i.e. being non-communicative, is an abhorrent vice in a democracy, and we see it in Buhari that Nigerians usually ignore.

Given that Tinubu has come to avoid the media spotlight he once jealously embraced — apparently to hide his all-too-obvious mental and physical flaws — Shettima’s embrace of taciturnity sounds like a quality we should expect from a president. , to me as a threat. to continue the listlessness that has defined Buhari’s leadership for the past seven years.

And ‘ruthlessness’ in a democracy? What was Shettima thinking? I understand that the bandits who have made life in Nigeria precarious and cruel deserve to be crushed with relentless violence. But you don’t have to embody Abacha’s ruthlessness to do that. You just need to be a decisive leader who cares about the people – unlike Buhari – to address and tame the insecurity that plagues Nigeria. Relentlessness is not a quality that a democratic leader should possess.

Given what I know about Shettima, I’m sure he had no intention of selling or selling his boss. He just seems to love the display of erudition and bibliophilia that comes from his exhibitionistic verbal swagger. It may excite its admirers and perhaps even be cherished by Nigerian rhetorical scholars, but it is a treacherous political minefield.


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