Atiku, Shettima and ObiThis is a season of politics in Nigeria. Politicians can be trusted not to allow any opportunity to elude them. So, they all seized the opportunity of the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBA-AGC) in Lagos on 22 August to sell themselves to the electorate. The presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi as well as the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kassim Shettima were there to tell everyone how they would fix Nigeria if elected into office.
Shettima who represented Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu said the APC has heads to make Nigeria work. In his words: “He (Tinubu) is a city boy, I am the golden boy. In Jim Ovia’s words, competence is what people are assessed by. We have mentored men who have excelled in all aspects of human endeavours. I urged lawyers to be resolute, and firm, to make bold, informed decisions, not emotional decisions. Align with the vision of the APC candidates, we’ll create a Lagos experience all over the country. Make informed judgment, and vote for competence, and capacity. Asiwaju is the man to beat. When Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu became governor of Lagos State in 1999, there was only one ambulance in the service of the Lagos state government, now Lagos is earning N51 billion every month as its internally generated revenue. Lagos is the third largest economy in Africa and the world is in transition. What is important is for a Nigerian leader of the next dispensation must be a leader who has a mastery of financial management capabilities and someone who understands Nigerian psychology and someone who appreciates and understands the complexity of the Nigerian nation.
Shettima added: “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has established an excellent track record for performance. He has mentored men and women who are excelling in different fields of human endeavours the world is changing and the trajectory of global growth facing Africa and Nigeria will make or mar that transition. As Chinua Achebe said, the problem of Nigeria is purely and essentially that of leadership. Once we get the leadership function right, everything right, everything will fall into place. These days when others are talking of Artificial Intelligence when others are talking of nanotechnology, and biotechnology, we need a leader with the skills set, and understanding of the global economy to shepherd us in this age. If you get one, you are getting one for free. He’s the city boy, I am the golden boy. In the history of Zenith Bank, no one, I dare say, apart from the legendary Ada Umeji, grew faster in the history of Zenith than my humble self. I have mentored men who are excelling in different fields of human endeavour. As I said earlier, the world is watching us and the ultimate major measure of a man, as Martin Luther King said, is not where he stands. I urge my friends here to be rational, firm and have the boldness and courage to make informed decisions, not emotional decisions. Here we are on the threshold of making history. In the United Kingdom, a young man of Indian descent is about to become the Prime Minister.”
Atiku also said if Nigerians vote for him, he would turn Nigeria into Eldorado. As he told the audience: “Today we are more disunited as a nation. We have never experienced this level of poverty, this type of insecurity and unemployment,” Atiku declared while speaking on the theme: “Bold transitions in the 21st century as far as our country is concerned.”
He went further “we have recognised all these negative developments in our history, what is important is how do we tackle these challenges. This is where history and experience beckon us to make sure that we don’t get it wrong at this point otherwise if we get it wrong, I don’t know when we will ever get it right. I have been involved in the struggle to return this country to democracy since my military days. I can even say I was even lucky to be alive because so many of my contemporaries have been killed in this struggle but by the grace of God I survived till this point in time. In my brief introduction, I stated that there are five key areas that any leadership. Forget about the party, and leadership must confront these five issues and I enumerated them. The unity of our country is very fundamental and how we achieve the unity of our country is by making sure that we give every part of this country a sense of belonging. Somebody asked me how do you give every part of this country a sense of belonging, I referred them to the situation we found in Nigeria in 1998 and 1999. As a party, PDP won overwhelmingly. We could go on and form our government just based on our maturity, but we decided that every political party must be part of our administration. After we formed national unity, there was calm in the country, the issue of economy and security came in because we had a consensus, and we had no problem dealing with the subsequent challenges. I believe we have had an experience, and it is that experience that I said must be brought back.”
“It is only when you have this sense of belonging that you will be able to deal with the issue of security before you now talk of the economy and the devolution of more powers. I am a product of the devolution of power and I know what the regional governments achieved with those powers. So, that is why I advocated for restructuring, for the development of powers to the states and also the local government more resources, more powers to the state and local government. My five points programme was based on experience, they are based on something I have seen and participated in; I am not a trial by error leader.”
Obi presented himself also to the lawyers and, by extension, Nigerians that he could turn the situation of things around. He stated that it was important for Nigerians, “to look at where we are today, to understand the gravity of the journey we are going to take if we are going to transit.”
He said further: “Nigeria has been qualified to be a failed state, we have the two or three biggest characteristics of a failed state. One is when you are no longer in charge of your territory. Today, we are among the top terrorised countries in the world. We are among the top kidnapping countries in the world, banditry has taken over part of the country and Nigerians are being killed. Nigeria is in a mess. We got here simply because of the accumulative effect of bad leadership. The coming election is not about tribe or religion but character and competence.”
However, Nigerians have a penchant to leave the substance to pursue the shadow. That is, they started showing photographs of Shettima who wore a jacket, and a tie on top of a pair of trainers. Reno Omokri tweeted: Running mate wearing running shoes! No, be juju be that? Is that the new agbado and cassava fashion? Gym shoes on top of suit and tie? Who did this to Nigeria? And the man boldly appeared in public like this to shout emilokan? The eleyi no try at all!
Adamu Garba also tweeted to counter the uncharitable comments of many, especially on the absence of Tinubu himself. “Tinubu absent, Tinubu absent. You guys don’t understand the true meaning of inclusive leadership Unlike others, Tinubu clearly shows that he’s not planning to be a megalomaniac leader who should bury his Vice just to be everywhere, he trusts @KashimSM to deliver. No vacuum at all.”
However, Sam Omatseye answered in his tweet: “While Shettima addressed a suite of ideas, they are boiling over suits and shoes. What a people!”
True! Reading the presentations of the politicians at the conference, an objective analyst would know that Shettima beat them all. This shows that the hood does not make the monk.
If one should argue about fashion here, many analysts believe that Shettima’s appearance at the NBA conference was not out of order. This is shown in the following global photographs, shared on the web by fashionistas.