A Moment With Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, By Dahiru Mohammed Lawal
Arguably the most troubled Chief executive in recent time, Governor Kashim Shettima cuts across to a non judgmental person as a man who is subtle, meek, calm, collected, humble and highly enlightened. When you see him from inside the screen or media pages, you can’t help but imagine what exactly is going through the mind of the man presiding over a ceaselessly war thorn zone. You would yearn to have him at close quarters in order to see if you might draw from his outward disposition and a close stare in his gaze answers from the numerous questions that rocks your mind about this man that has been a center of attraction for the wrong reasons in about half a decade now. This is why when I departed with my boss unusually late from the close of work on the Monday Governor Shettima addressed the #BringBackOurGirls protesters at his Abuja lodge; I was delighted at the call that followed, offering me an opportunity I never expected to come soon.
After emerging from an annoyingly hectic traffic coupled with the stress of work, I got home with only three things on my mind; take a shower, eat and hug my bed. Barely have I even taken my phone off me than it rang. I initially thought it was my fiancé but on looking at the phone’s screen, it revealed the caller ID to be my boss. Why would he call me now especially that we have just departed? I thought to myself. It even seemed more like just a minuite ago considering that I had just returned home after departing with him, actually it was an hour plus ago. Expecting the unexpected, fearing that it shouldn’t be a compelling call to return to the office that night, I engaged nonetheless. “Mohammed.” He called with his already hidden and Russianly polished Igbo accent slightly and silently revealing itself. “Sir” I answered casually. “We have an appointment with your Governor at Asokoro by 10:00am tomorrow; make sure you come to the office early.” He revealed “yes sir.” I affirmed resisting the urge to express my excitement. So I am coming face to face with that Civilian field marshal? Those questions I would have loved to ask him one on one granted the opportunity, ran through my mind. I remember my cousin sis Ummi once telling me that she heard he usually lock himself up to cry his heart out due to the insurgency that has plagued his territory. But does he really? Mere hearing of it alone made me revere him because I so love people who humble themselves before humanity. Tellingly, the media had caught him shedding tears on some occasions. Are these tears guinine? Anyway, those were secondary.
Primarily, I really wanted to sincerely know what his efforts are towards ending this one of a kind mayhem. Are we just seeing media stunts or there are more sincere efforts behind these media stunts? I hoped it was the later, however, I would have to rely on my guts feelings to sniff out some answers for me if I got close. I had planned to greet him in local Borno parlance “alangubro,” it should make him feel at ease knowing in mind I am one of his own. I had hoped this will give me an edge to get some frank talks from him, if really he was the man I thought he was. Then I resolved to ask him irrespective of the consequence if he really had a hand in all this as some people like to think. I already know the answer to expect if he would take the question lightly but then I also wanted to know what he thinks of his predecessor and political benefactor Sen. Dr. Ali Modu Sheriff being fingered as a major sponsor of Boko Haram. Not a single drop of the blood of fanatizm throbs in me, I can be very rebellious in the face of dominance, that is why I can never and will never sing praise songs especially to people who have responsibilities to people. I don’t even fancy an encounter with them. But to every rule there is sometimes always an exception, Governor Shettima is that one exception, not because he is governor of my state nor because of his personality actually but because of the hotspot providence has placed him on. While I would never praise or even thank him for doing what he is elected and expected to do even if he laid his life on the line, I seriously fancied an encounter with him.
Located on TY Danjuma Street, in between Abia and Jigawa state Governors lodge, I and my boss arrived narrowly on schedule. We were greeted with a heavy security presence of eight gallant mobile policemen mounting the gate with one protocol officer in civie. We IDied ourselves and stated our mission. The protocol guy in civie requested us to place a call to the aide who arranged the meeting. My boss did and he assured us he’d come get us in five minuits. We had to wait for him in the pavilion. While waiting, my boss calculated the total number of his security details. He recalled reading somewhere the particular number of details a Governor is entitled to. He couldn’t remember exactly but was sure it was between sixteen and thirty two. We calculated that he had eight with him here in his lodge, they could be on shifts, assuming it was two shifts that means conservatively sixteen are with him at the moment (they could be more if its more than two shift) then we imagined how many would be attached to the government house in Maiduguri, how many will be attached to his wife, how many will be attached to his country home, how many will be attached to his deputy in all, how many to his commissioners and at the Federal level, how many will be attached to ministers, how many to the vice president and how many to the president himself. Then house of reps members and senators. Mehn! The estimate was mind blowing am even scared of stating the figure. Do the maths yourself if you are curious. No wonder we don’t often see them on the streets except when they are mounting road blocks to extort money or they feel like taking a ride in their patrol pick ups (that is even in cities and highways not towns and villages) my boss imagined what the security situation would have been like if most of these details attached to these elected officials are deployed to nooks and crannies of the country. We voted them in to secure our lives and properties but they end up securing themselves from us!
My attention was soon drawn to a call one of the mobile policemen placed to his colleague at the force headquarters. There had been a grapevine that the Inspector General had proceeded on leave and he had called his colleague to confirm. It was not true. “Ai you can never get a completely good officer in the force.” He continued to tell his colleagues after he had dropped the call, obviously continuing from where the discussion had paused before he made the call. “That is true.” His colleagues agreed with him. “It is either he pays salary and ignores promotions or gives promotions and ignores salaries or both, one way or the other he must default.” One of them noted. Well, I don’t know on which of the aforementioned scale they had placed IGP Abubakar, but my eyes strayed to a cab that has just pulled to a halt in front of the lodge across the road. Two foreigners, a lady and a gentleman obviously in their late twenties or early thirties alighted from the cab and paid the driver off. They headed towards the lodge,
identified themselves and were cleared to proceed. Perhaps they were representatives of the Israeli intelligence experts that had touched the countries soil the day before and had come to “reason things” with the Governor I thought to myself. They looked Israelish to me anyway.
Not long after another cab pulled over and a British young man alighted, struggling with a lot of baggages and camera equipments like he was going to shoot a movie. He said he was from the BBC he was made to wait a little before somebody came to usher him in. The aide that had arranged our meeting with the Governor eventually turned up after taking times five of the time he requested us to give him. He apologized, citing reasons. We were ushered into the reception.
The number and magnitude of crowd that was waiting to see the Governor soon drowned my hopes of meeting him that day. Even though we were supposed to be next on schedule, we were made to wait, and actually, I hate to wait! While waiting, I started to ponder over the whole thing. I removed my sentimental spectacles and tried to see from outside the box. Some people strongly believe that as Governor, there is no way his hands cannot be involved in this and it would just happen. Based on what I have heard and think I know of him, I have dismissed these groups of people along with whatever theories they had propounded. However, I started having my doubts when I read that he had refused to grant permition to the about 500 hunters who were battle ready to go into the forest to face Boko Haram once and for all and #BringBackOurGirls. The head of the hunters has boasted that they know BH members and BH knows them. BH also knows they (BH) can’t withstand them in battle. If I am not mistaking, he had also pointed out that there was something about Governor Kashim’s disposition in refusing to grant them permit that didn’t go down well with him. Forgive me if you see me as being short sighted here, but I thought we were exploring all possible option. Then, I also asked myself, was there no matron in the college when these girls were abducted? It also began to beat me why Governor Shettima did not over pressure the presidency to react swiftly to the kidnap for these fifteen days before social media amplified it and the world shook.
Then there was also a report posted by a facebook friend crediting it to Radio Nigeria Network news stating that the parents and some of the school girls alleged that the school authority threatened to “seize the certificate of any student that leaves the school premises after their final exams” according to them they were confused when the gate man was instructed to lock the gate. The parent’s suspects conspiracy by politicians. It was quoted. How true is this? What is the motive if true?? All these and many more allegations made me begin to wonder, is the Governor actually involved in this? Sincerely, I hope not. But if he does, it would be most disappointing for many of us who trusted him, who believed in him and his leadership style, who like to see that he is equally as troubled as most Borno citizens. My mind was drawn back to the present stay when we were approached and told that due to pressing engagements, there were changes in the Governors itinerary, we now had to wait to meet him by 4pm instead. We had other pressing engagements ourselves, so we couldn’t wait further. I never ended up meeting him anyway but I still hope to because I need to draw answers from my perspective of him, but before I do, I hope that the insurgency ends so that I’d never have to though.
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