By DESERT HERALD
Barely 9 months to the end of his second and final mandate as governor of the Boko Haram ravaged state, Borno, Governor Kashim Shettima, had told his visitors on Tuesday that he does not have knowledge of the person that will succeed him come 2019.
His comments has confirm the views of pundits and other insiders that all is not well with the APC in Borno State. It would be recalled that despite Governor Shettima’s initial efforts to frustrate the decamping of his erstwhile political godfather, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff to the APC, the former governor demonstrated his influence through the presidency, convincing even President Muhammadu Buhari and others like a Borno elder statesman and influential member in Buhari’s inner caucus, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and the president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari that he is indeed an asset to the APC and particularly for Buhari’s second term ambition.
Certainly, to those Abuja politicians Governor Shettima repeatedly referred to during his speech, it will be a huge political blunder to ignore the relevance and political influence of Ali Sherrif in the north east ahead of 2019 and that to them, it will even be wiser to sacrifice Mr. Shettima despite his achievements as APC governor and his immense sacrifices to the Buhari presidency. As such, so much pressure was mounted on the governor by Ambassador Kingibe and Abba Kyari to accept Mr. Sheriff back to the APC fold. Prior to their pressure and intervention, Mr. Shettima had resisted and frustrated all efforts by Mr. Sheriff to come back to the party because he probably knows his former boss more than anyone of them. Efforts by Sheriff to decamp to the APC through the back door, through the national secretariat of the party in Abuja instead of starting from his Ward was successfully fought by Governor Shettima before the governor was literally forced and nearly blackmail by the Abuja politicians he was referring to, to accept Mr. Sheriff.
Keen political pundits and observers of Borno politics including an elaborate report by DESERT HERALD on the lingering imbroglio clearly suggest that the crisis and distrust between Shettima and Sheriff which was made worst by the activities of the sycophants that surrounded them has reached a limit that is irreconcilable and that the announcement of unity and reconciliation between the two political gladiators is not only cosmetic, fragile but one that will explode anytime.
While Mr. Shettima will naturally insist to have a successor from his loyalists whom are equally divided due to ambitions, the shrewd Sen. Ali Sheriff, DESERT HERALD can confirm has convinced the likes of Kingibe and Kyari on the need to have a next Borno governor that will not only be loyal to them but outside the current political structure under the embattled incumbent governor, Shettima. It seems from all indications that the ‘Abuja politicians’ are working very hard towards that by ensuring that they use maximum influence to ensure the emergence of APC gubernatorial candidate from their own. If that happens, the PDP according to credible calculations may eventually takeover Borno from APC. For Mr. Sheriff and his followers, they will certainly preferred PDP to take over the governorship seat than to have any of the loyalists from the APC camp of Shettima to succeed him in 2019.
So far, Governor Shettima’s faction of the APC is making it easy for the so called Abuja politicians, as the Borno APC under Mr. Shettima is silently in disarray and may be consumed by individual ambitions. Shettima’s seeming lack of decisiveness and inability to assert his authority and influence by deciding and concluding for a worthy successor and to ensure that every interest group(s) within his political camp becomes united towards producing a united candidate might be a big political suicide pundits averred. While Shettima had stated that Allah has already decided his successor which is very right, those familiar with the politics of Ali Sherrif said even if Allah has decided which is natural, Shettima must quickly do the needful by completing Allah’s mandate towards ensuring the emergence of a credible and popular candidate. So far, it is the view of many insiders that the successor of Mr. Shettima will be among almost five of his closed associates. Among those on top includes his bosom friend and confidant, Sen. Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai whom the governor fondly called BKB and who is considered as not only the most qualified but the most exposed. But all the five including the state party chairman, Ari Tablet are claiming that the governor who is yet to make his declaration on who to support barely one month to the APC gubernatorial primary election, has endorsed their ambition. Shettima said he leaves the decision in the hands of God.
The governor was however emphatic that his successor will definitely come from amongst politicians of the younger generation, an age bracket he said some ‘top persons’ in Abuja are not comfortable with.
“I, Kashim Shettima, cannot choose a governor for the people of Borno State. Only Allah can choose a governor for Borno,” he said.
“Whether one likes it or not, Allah has destined who the next governor of Borno will be,” he said.
Mr Shettima who said this while hosting members of his cabinet and party officials to a Sallah lunch at the Government House, spoke in a tone that betrayed the fact that all is still not well within the larger APC family in Borno State.
The governor who came to power in May 2011 is already on his last year as the chief executive of Borno State having served for over seven years now.
This year’s Sallah celebration would be the last Mr Shettima will celebrate as a sitting governor.
He chose the opportunity to deliver what he called a farewell message and also address some of the issues concerning the politics of 2019.
The governor’s speech seemed largely triggered by what he described as ongoing comments from those he tagged as ‘Abuja Politicians’ whom he said have expressed displeasure that Borno State is derailing because governance is left in the hands of “inexperience younger generation”.
“Those Abuja politicians that are saying today that Borno is in the hands of little children, should be reminded that when some of them were governors they are not up to my age,” he said.
Mr Shettima, who is currently aspiring to become a senator did not however speak on his already settled ambition which is to take over the Borno central senatorial seat from the current occupant, Baba Garbai – his political ally.
Mr Garbai was also at the event when Mr Shettima made this statement.
In Borno State, everyone, including those considered very close allies and members of Mr Shettima’s kitchen cabinet are in darkness as to who is likely going to be the governorship candidate of the APC.
When the governor decided to host his colleagues at the Borno State executive council to a luncheon on Tuesday, many who attended were expecting some form of clarity on the issue of 2019.
The only clarity they got was that it will certainly be from the new political order that is powered by the younger generation.
“This might be my last bit lunch with you, but believe me Insha Allah, life is a marathon, and in the fullness of time we will have the cause to celebrate more occasions.
“Electioneering season is around the corner. I want to assure you that Insha-Allah we shall put in our best to see that we leave behind a lasting legacy.
“Sadly, uncomfortably but truthfully, there can never be two captains in a single ship. There are quite a handful of ambitious colleagues of ours, but only one can be a governor. And that governor has been ordained by Allah.
“Kashim Shettima has not power to appoint a governor. I have not power to elect or impose a governor. It is Allah in his infinite mercy that will select the governor for us, Insha Allah. Our prayer is may that person be a symbol of our unity, a beacon of exclusivity, a symbol of a resurgent Borno.
“We are moving from a period of insurgency to that of resurgence. Borno shall rise from the ashes of defeat to greatness”
Governor Shettima inferred that with the Boko Haram insurgency coming to an end, the coming electioneering season might be heralded with what he called political insurgency.
“I call on you all, let us unite as a people; we have survived an insurgency, but we should be very careful because soon those that have lost out in the power game of political leadership are itching to reignite a political insurgency in the state. We have to say no them.
“Where were they when we are going through the harshest time in our contemporary history of Borno? Where were they when we were living under perpetual fear of being attacked; when some of our colleagues have to change three cars before getting to office, just to evade an attack?
“I know of some of us who abandoned their houses and have continued to live in three different hotels here in Maiduguri. I know of you here who could not go to the mosques for prayers except they come to the government house to pray.
“But some clowns who have abandoned Borno for ages, those that have not even given a bowl of rice to assist our displaced people, are now taking the advantage of the peace we have suffered to build by saying that it is only them that will decide and install the next governor of Borno state.”
The governor also expressed his angst with those he called Abuja-based politicians masquerading as elders.
“These Abuja based politicians kept saying Borno is in the hands of children; I finished my secondary school in 1983, some persons finished in 1979, I was in form one and that person was in form four.
“He is just my senior by three years. Some finished secondary school in 1981 and I finished in 1983. But they fail to understand that age is the function of the mind; number is nothing; maturity is in the mind.
“Any person that will not give due regard to fellow human is the one that is immature.
“It is not the matter of being rich. Even one that is elected leader, is not in any way better or more illustrious than any other person.
“Even if it comes to being who is an illustrious son or daughter of Borno, we should know that amongst us here, we have the grand children and princes of the Shehus of Borno (Senator Garbai).”
He also had kind words for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, is not from the north, he is a Christian from the western part of Nigeria and a pastor of the Redeem Church (RCCG). But he, Vice President Osinbajo, mobilised resources and builds a state-of-the-art school for the Kanuri children of Boko Haram. And 90 per cent of the children to be in that school are of Borno’s Kanuri, Shuwa, Babur and Marghi tribed. And 90 per cent of them are Muslims.
“Where are the so-called elders of Borno who are saying the state is in the hands of kids; what have they done to the state. We know some of them that have four aircraft, we know they are rich. But the wealth that does not benefit your people, we the Kanuris say, is not better than grass.”
While the Ali Sheriff camp backed by other forces in Abuja are said to be gathering as many incriminating evidences as possible and have threatened to expose what they called the many financial malfeasance of Governor Shettima’s era and to work for the prosecution of many as soon as the incumbent Governor loses his immunity, it remains to the seen how the APC government under Shettima will come out from this unpredictable quagmire.