Ibekimi Oriamaja Reports
Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate, and Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who would succeed him, would both shake up Nigeria if they were elected president and vice president, respectively, next year. He would be overly provocative given Shettima’s innate irritability and truculence. Additionally, he would be absolutely polarizing and toxic due to his impoliteness and indiscretion. The reality is that Shettima as vice president would be unique among Nigeria’s civilian vice presidents.
But that argument rests on another crucial premise that we must first talk about, namely that Tinubu accomplished something that no other Nigerian presidential candidate had ever done. I’m not talking about his Muslim-Muslim ticket’s devilry. Instead, I’m referring to his purposeful selection of a seasoned political ally and personal friend as his running mate. None of the previous front-runners for president acted in that way.
Think about the evidence. Before choosing him as his running mate, Shehu Shagari barely knew Alex Ekwueme personally; MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe did not previously have a close political or personal relationship; Olusegun Obasanjo was not Atiku Abubakar’s friend; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua barely knew Goodluck Jonathan; Jonathan himself did not previously have a long-standing political or personal relationship with Namadi Sambo; and Muhammadu Buhari
However, Tinubu values loyalty and close friendships above all else. In his eight years as governor of Lagos State, Tinubu appointed three deputy governors, leading to the impeachment of two of them. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that he does not want to work with a vice president with whom he does not have a warm, personal relationship. He chose a trusted political associate who managed his presidential primary campaign and was intimately involved in the dirty practices that brought him victory as his running mate as a result.
This might be harmful given Tinubu’s political stance. He bases the feudalization of Lagos State politics and governance on the idea that the state should be treated as his personal fiefdom, and that he should be surrounded by fiercely devoted serfs who have all apparently sworn an oath of secrecy. There must be genuine concern that President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima will prioritize their personal allegiance over transparent governance; that their coziness will take precedence over sound policy. Sadly, the signs are not good.
Shettima recently boldly carved out roles for himself and Tinubu. He declared that if they triumphed the following year, he would be in charge of security and Tinubu, the economy. Shettima was essentially reversing the constitutionally mandated and customary duties of president and vice president. As chairman of the National Economic Council and head of the Economic Management Committee, the vice president traditionally and legally oversees the economy while yet reporting to the president. However, it is undeniably the president’s responsibility to oversee national security as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. A vice president must have authority over the security chiefs, who typically report to the Commander-in-Chief, in order to be considered “in charge” of security. A realistic proposal? No, this is a recipe for complete dysfunction!
Indeed, now that I think about it. Why would a person who, while serving as governor of his state, disregarded intelligence warnings about the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Chibok girls, some of whom are still held captive, be so conceited and callous as to declare that he would be “in charge of” security if he were to become vice president? And why would a presidential candidate who puts the needs of the country first consent to such a bizarre notion from his running mate? No vice presidential candidate in the past demonstrated such a strong and ambitious disposition.
However, there are troubling similarities between Tinubu and Shettima. Shettima made a list of Tinubu’s qualities last week. Shettima stated, among other things, that Tinubu possesses General Ibrahim Babangida’s “situational pragmatism and Maradonic talents” and General Sani Abacha’s “taciturnity and ruthlessness” while speaking at the 96th anniversary celebration of the Yoruba Tennis Club in Ikoyi, Lagos, on September 15.
Of course, no one would question Tinubu’s Maradonic or Machiavellian skills given how he maneuvered his party’s leadership, delegates, and fellow candidates to earn the presidential ticket. His cruelty is undeniable given how he converted Lagos State into a captive dominion. Taciturnity? Try to get Tinubu to talk about his past. These are the virtues Shettima extolled to the skies, yet Nigerians do not require these qualities in their leader.
And that gets us to Shettima. What distinguishes him from others? And are they suitable for the task? The former governor of Borno State, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural economics, is widely regarded as being well-read, eloquent, and fond of quoting famous authors. But knowledge is not wisdom, as Isaiah Berlin points out in his excellent essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Wisdom is the application of knowledge in a way that demonstrates sound judgment. Knowledge is having a lot of information.
Sadly, Shettima frequently lacks wisdom in both his words and deeds. He displayed this shortcoming in his aggressive management of Tinubu’s presidential primary campaign, during which he ridiculed nearly every rival, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, claiming that he “should be selling popcorn and ice cream.” He displayed it by sporting sneakers to the Nigerian Bar Association’s annual conference, later bragging that he did so “deliberately” to “mock” his critics. Vice-Presidential hardly!
If those instances were unimportant, take into account this. Restructuring is the single topic that truly defines Nigeria now. However, what did Shettima say in response? He declared: “Restructuring my foot” in a popular video. Really? Dismissing a crucial national issue in such an impolite manner?
All of this is significant because, in all honesty, Tinubu’s victory would result in greater unrest and division in Nigeria than there has been under President Buhari. A combative vice president with a propensity for irritability would make matters worse in such circumstances. Nigeria is naturally unstable and vulnerable to crises. It needs a vice president who can assist ease tension rather than one who will fuel it with careless or offensive remarks. Shettima is clearly unsuitable!
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