“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” – E. B. White
The furore generated over the remarks of the Vice President, His Excellency Kashim Shettima, GCON is a consequence of a combination of several intricacies not unconnected with our diversity as a nation.
During his interaction with senators-elect prompted by the intransigence of some senators aspiring to the leadership of the Senate to concede to the party’s zoning formula, Shettima, being a staunch nationalist and inclusivist, opined that, “…under the current dispensation, the most incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the Presidency of the Senate.”
Some sections of the press went haywire and deliberately distorted and misquoted the vice president to the effect that “he insulted Muslim Northerners” and went ahead to present that distortion to the public.
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The instant desire for mischief and chaos by the purveyors of the distortion was noticeable by all right-thinking faculties. It’s a political gimmick and a trademark of some notorious politicians.
The focus of this write-up is on three issues emanating from the speech and a fourth one to be read together with the first three.
- We have to understand that the words -”under the current dispensation” – used by the vice president from the beginning of his statement is the context in which he spoke. They were very relevant to the effect that we must juxtapose our own current situation to – whatever crucial decision that would be made – with respect to our cohesion and progress as a diverse nation.
In other words, we must build trust and confidence between ourselves as God Almighty has already decreed our nationhood as a melting point of different cultures, ethnicities and religions.
The ownership of this land called Nigeria is vested in us as citizens and it is incumbent upon us as responsible people to organise our affairs in such a way that every citizen feels not only carried along but also respected and protected.
The key to peaceful and progressive existence as a member of the human race rests on understanding and respect for these diverse values. Therefore, his words “in the current dispensation” must not be divorced from the rest of the statement. Any other interpretation could mean seeking mischief and chicanery. In politics, these abound.
- Since the victory of the progressives in 2015, efforts have been made by the federal government, party stakeholders and other patriots to convince the South South states and indeed the rest of the country that APC is a nationalistic party.
Consequently, in the 2023 elections, the emergence of the party as a very strong alternative meant that the zone is ripe for leadership posts within the party. This is a development that requires an appraisal and official appreciation.
As faithful, we are truly thrilled with the performance of the party in that zone. Ordinarily, this calls for celebration and it was in consideration of these realities that the party wisely decided to cede the Presidency of the Senate to the South South.
“What binds us together,” in Shettima’s words, “is stronger than whatever divides us as a nation”, he said.
This is classic patriotism and our reaction as fellow patriots is to celebrate this posture.
In a nutshell, the statement he made in that gathering of the distinguished senators is a simple summation of the mindset of the APC as a party and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under our current dispensation.
- The need to puncture the diabolic machinations of the Labour Party’s sore losers and extremists to falsely present Nigeria as a state where Christians are marginalised.
In a democracy, elections are conducted at specific intervals where leaders of the community are chosen by the people. The overall objective is to provide good governance for the community. Those not chosen by the people would usually try their luck another time.
This is not the case with the Obidients’ as their failed objective, after losing, was and still is to cause chaos and anarchy and to place hurdles for the new APC government including instigating the international community to disparage Nigeria.
It is viewed that the occupation of the top three positions of the Nigerian government by Muslims will aid them greatly in their unholy propaganda. The leadership of the nation and party are conscious of this evil plot. The VP’s posture was simply to convey this message – under the current dispensation.
- Kashim Shettima was Governor of Borno State (2011-2019). Without controversy, his tenure was the most traumatised of a chief executive of a state in Nigeria. The tragic insurgency during that time has afforded him a fair knowledge of how conflicts are inflamed and peace and stability attained and maintained.
From the foregoing, we have to concede to him that his experience has afforded him the capacity to sense trouble at a distance. The gyration by the Labour Party in the run-up to the elections of the new Senate leadership was aimed at brewing trouble or difficulty for the young APC administration.
The Vice President simply wanted to nip this in the bud and deny them of any oxygen of relevance.
We, as true patriotic Nigerians, are bound to assist our own situation for peace, progress and prosperity of our nation, always and under the current dispensation.
Bashir Maidugu is a chieftain of APC and former National Legal Adviser of PDP