The tears of Kashim Shettima
The recent visit to the President by a team of elders and community leaders of Borno state led by Governor Kashim Shettima where a ten point demand was submitted, as the search continues for a way out of the Boko Haram insurgency has, not surprisingly at all, elicited angry and somewhat desperate reactions from, quite expectedly, the same quarters of people whose incompetence and apparent complicity in the mismanagement of the gains recorded earlier, is beginning to attract global condemnation and calls around the world for a shakeup.
A number of newspapers have, in the last few days published what appeared to be opinion articles by supposedly concerned citizens who have picked holes in the submission made to the president and which they sought to twist and skew in order to, not just to malign Governor Kashim Shettima, but to pitch him against both the President and the Nigerian people. His offence, in the view of the paymasters of the hack writers, was his boldness to host a summit of all segments of the Borno society in Maiduguri where far-reaching observations which addressed the recent resurgence of Boko Haram activities as well as the urgent need to make submissions to the President were unanimously and innocently taken.
Although allegations have ceaselessly been made and fingers pointed at the direction of these people on the growing suspicion of the existence of a cartel that is feeding fat on the ‘’spoils’’ of war, none of the ten point demands ever made reference to that to warrant the declaration of war on Shettima. So, why are they up in arms against genuine efforts to bring the war to an end? What exactly are the arguments they put forward that would invalidate the points raised in the demands?
What are the points anyway? It seems to me that the authors of the articles had worked hard to get a leak but ended up either not getting it altogether or deliberately twisting it to serve an ulterior motive of cashing in on the situation to wage a war against the people of Borno state to cover up for their glaring incompetence and their desire to swim out of the currents of worldwide calls on the President to rejig the command structure at all levels of the war in order to arrest the manifest slide back to the era of the insurgents taking land and keeping it. So much noise, in the articles, was dedicated to Kashim Shettima’s shedding of tears while making his presentation to the President as if that was the first time he ever got overwhelmed by the emotions and reality of the bloodbath, destruction and loss of lives as a result of the activities of the insurgents.
At several places and events where the Boko Haram issue was either a subject, or at instances where he was on condolence visits to victims of the countless attacks on communities, the Governor had been awed and burdened by the enormity of destruction that tears naturally flow freely from him. It is in his nature and it is unfortunate that instead of seeing the positives and the message it sends to those in power and the international community, the enemies of Borno state decided to make jest and mock the situation and dance on the graves of the thousands who lost their lives over the years. It is rather sad that while people of goodwill are busy coming up with suggestions of how to end it, those who make capital out of it are defining it in Naira and Kobo even when lives of innocent people are at stake.
Those who misinterpret Shettima’s desire to have more of the young men and women who have sacrificed their lives as much as any soldier even without the arms to effectively fight, to mean that the Governor wished to establish a private army have indeed not worn their thinking caps. Was it at the point when he was contesting to become Governor for a possible eight year reign that he will need a private army or at the nadir of his quitting the office when no army will be of any use to him? Governor Shettima is a lettered person and one of the egg heads in the group of state governors in history. To quote him as suggesting that only servicemen of Borno state origin should be deployed to fight the war on terrorism is to say the least very uncomplimentary to a man who has, since assuming office, worked under the stress of having to deal with, almost on a daily basis, a frequency of bomb blasts, gun attacks, blood spilling and mindless destructions on a large scale throughout his state.
The last assignment he performed before he led the elders to the presidency was to visit Monguno where he spent a night trying to comfort the thousands of displaced people who were forced out of Baga by the insurgents days earlier. It is curious that the positives and the courage of such visit were lost at a time everyone was wary of Boko Haram’s likely daredevilry attack from Baga, some forty kilometers away. The story of the Governor risking his life to be where many governors dare not tread has been legion. It was on record that he offered much more help to the armed forces in the prosecution of the war and this had been acknowledged by almost every service chief and every war commander since he assumed office.
It is disheartening that an innocent act of suggestions on how to change the narratives of the war in order to stop a reenactment of the Jonathan era of losing grounds to the insurgents has been misinterpreted, politicized and needlessly misunderstood. It is more heartbreaking that this campaign to reduce it to politics is coming from quarters that should be held accountable for the mismanagement of the war.
Ahmed-BK, wrote this piece from Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.