April 15, 2024

Former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, has said without the backing of the All Progressives Congress national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), would not have picked the party’s ticket in 2015.

Shettima, who is one of the promoters of Tinubu’s presidential ambition, spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday, while introducing the aspirant to APC delegates from the state.

He stated, “The enemy of southern Nigeria is often not northern Nigeria, but men and women of its own stock, the Judas Iscariot of the southern race, who are ever ready to play the second fiddle.

“This is an informed gathering and I cannot talk to you about leadership; Yoruba, especially the Egba and Ijebu stocks, are some of the most educated people in Africa.

 

“This is the land that produced the second indigenous Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola; this is the land that produced Matthew Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo; this is the land that produced Ernest Sonekan; this is the land that produced the great MKO Abiola; I can go on and on and list the names of illustrious sons and daughters, including Bola Ajibola, so many of them, Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, but this is not the appropriate time for me to start listing those names, because as I said earlier, we are living in very interesting times and for those of us in the Asiwaju team, we are moved by forest of ideas and the realisation that what this country needs is a unifying leader, who has neither ethnic nor religious agenda, and who is not bound by toxic regional solidarity and yet known for exemplary qualitative leadership, and if you look around the contenders and the pretenders for the presidency of this country, there is no one that the cap fits better than the gentleman seated here (referring to Tinubu).

“You may like what I’m telling you; you may not like what I’m going to tell you; the truth that sets man free is often the truth that men prefer not to hear. In our current dispensation, the dynamics have changed, there is no politician in the APC with the brand name, first name recognition, with the track record, with the passion for excellence that can stand toe-to-toe and even overshadow Atiku Abubakar better than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“The Yoruba rallied round the late Obafemi Awolowo not because he was of Ijebu-Remo extraction, no; you did not rally round him as the leader of South Western Nigeria because he was a lawyer, no; you didn’t rally round him because he bore the name Jeremiah, no; you rallied round the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo fundamentally because of his penchant for excellence, the infrastructural development he brought to the South-West – the WNTV was the first coloured television station in Africa when the French were watching black and white television.

“The education and edge that he gave to the South-West are yet to be caught up with by other parts of the country and most importantly, he was a mentor of men and women, and he embraced all people, irrespective of differences in political colouration, religious participation, tribal or sectional backgrounds. He didn’t discriminate between the Ijebu and Ijesha and the Igbomina, nor did he discriminate between the Oyo and Eko.”

Shettima added, “Never in the history of Yorubaland, never in the history of the South-West, never in the history of this country have we mentored a leader greater than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a leader of leaders, a mentor of men who have reached the pinnacle of their careers.

“The roads, the paths that took us to Asiwaju did not happen by chance. This is a man who has sacrificed his own comfort and resources for the enthronement of democracy in this country. When the nation was enveloped in darkness, when we were harvesting deaths, destruction and despair, this is a man who extended the hand of fellowship to our compatriots and I believe a lot of our younger compatriots must be in the know of Asiwaju’s memory of two decades past, when he was the fulcrum of opposition to the despotic PDP-controlled Federal Government administration.

“He was viciously witch-hunted, harassed and intimidated by the PDP-controlled Federal Government and that was the time he laid the foundation for a modern Lagos.

“I dare say that when his own contemporaries were trading their principles, when the Judas Iscariots of this world were trading their principles for some pieces of silver and a sit-at-the-table in Abuja, he was building an alternative platform for the nation.

“When others see division to exploit, he sees opportunities to build bridges, cooperation and understanding. When Atiku Abubakar, the man that Asiwaju will insha Allahu flog next year, was harassed, intimidated, dehumanised and chased out of the PDP, it was Asiwaju who provided him with a sanctuary and a platform to contest the presidency of this country in 2007. Four years later, he provided the platform to another northern Nigerian, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, to contest the presidency of Nigeria.”

He stated, “I dare say that without the support of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President Buhari couldn’t have clinched the ticket of the APC; he (Tinubu) supported him (Buhari).

“Those of us from the North – I’m part of the northern establishment – the man that will come to the convention with the highest quantum of delegates, all states are equal, but some are more equal than others; he is coming to the convention with 136 delegates, he is with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the whole of the North, forget about the charlatans; in the whole of the North, I can tell you without any fear or contradiction that apart from Prof Zulum, there is no governor, no leader in the APC that has the capacity to generate two million votes on his own accord, none; I dare anyone to contradict me.

“So, I call on you in the spirit of oneness and for the collective interest of the South-West, who supported us when we needed that support, prevail on your sons, who are hell-bent on becoming spoilers, it is better and more honourable (to pull out of the race).

“Ogun, you are presenting four presidential candidates and you and I know that some cannot get more than 10 votes, but they are going to be spoilers, but I can assure you that on his (Tinubu) mandate we are going to stand.”

Shettima said the aspirants under the platform of the All Progressives Congress in the southern part of Nigeria, who he did not mention, were working against the realisation of power shift to the region in 2023.

He said there had been agitation for zoning of the presidency to the South upon the completion of the tenure of Buhari in 2023.

Nobody can take credit for Buhari’s victory in 2015, says BMO

Meanwhile, the Head, Buhari Media Organisation, Mr Niyi Akinsuyi, reacting, said Buhari’s emergence as President of the country was attributable to God and no human.

He noted that Tinubu did a “little bit just like many other people in the South-West, but the victory at the election was secured because of the groundswell of positive public sentiments in favour of the national movement for change led by Buhari himself.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Akinsuyi noted, “Triumph in any political contest is attributable only to God, the Almighty and no human can share that credit or glory with Him.

“Without doubt, Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) did his little bit just like many other people in the South-West to rally support for Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, but the victory at that election was secured because of the groundswell of positive public sentiments in favour of a national movement for change led by Buhari who had then become the rallying figure for a new Nigeria driven by a man who had established a history of the discipline, anti-corruption and capacity to deliver on critical infrastructure.”

Some northern leaders and serving governors like Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Babagana Zulum of Borno State have openly thrown their weights behind the emergence of Nigeria’s next President from the South.

Shettima expressed concerns that some “Judas Iscariot” from the South were “hell-bent on becoming spoilers” by scuttling the chances of the region in producing the next President.

He declared that the enemy of southern Nigeria was often not the North, but men and women from the region.

According to him, the Judas Iscariot of the southern part of the country are ever ready to play the second fiddle.

The senator also berated some presidential aspirants from Ogun State, who he said could not garner more than 10 votes, maintaining that they would end up becoming spoilers.

As of the last count, no fewer than four aspirants from Ogun State are eyeing the APC presidential ticket. They are Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole; and a clergyman, Pastor Tunde Bakare.

Shettima urged the South-West to back Tinubu to pick the ruling party’s ticket, saying he remained the only man that could confront the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

PUNCH.

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