By Abdulhamid Al-Gazali
The alleged appointment of hundreds of aides including those who are specialized in the area of media fundamentalism by the Borno state governor, ‘Mal’ Kashim Shettima, two years into his second and last tenure is seen among his ardent critics as an outrageous jamboree. Much as it is, however, many, including myself, see it differently: obviously it is the unstated declaration of the opening of 2019 politics. Because most of us do not pay attention to trends, we are easily startled and surprised by these things, including those that have done nothing to unfollow their ‘fixed’ laws and timing.
Rewarding party loyalists as it is called, though it comes, typical of it, honestly a bit late, a misnomer to beat, most of these appointees are recruited for an exercise or job they don’t know its real intricacies–not that they are inexperienced (in an exercise that requires no any specialty) alone, they are, and ordinarily will not, be told what they are sincerely recruited to do and most will not discern at all.
They are recruited–let me, to say, commit myself to a contract of MADR (mutually assured destructive ‘reaction’)–to form part of, or, as the first contingent for 2019 political scheming! Like this one, because of NCFA (no clear future ambition) and PFAA (possible future appointment as an aide), they will in anticipation and aspiring anticipation for those who do not enjoy patronage yet, work round the clock–to dig, fight and drag anyone to the mud–so that they get similar ‘rewards’. In the next few weeks, they will be handed down scripts that are not really in consonance with their designations for those who have but none will still discern the political underlining. For instance, the roving in social media platforms by some of them to mob and unleash cyber militancy against those who dare take to ‘contrarian escapades’–those, withal, unfortunately unbeknownst, with whose wealth they are paid will go wild. It will be a big show: and for me, the first I will now have to suffer is rebukes and literary mortal Kombat for this piece even by simpletons who cannot adequately digest it–that it is borne out of envy! The sudden surge in the temperature of our social media weather recently is a fact I don’t have to break down–it has already sent a signal of the new vigor.
But this is not the concern. The most important note to make out of it is that it marks, officially or unofficially, the opening of 2019 politics! Those who understand Nigeria’s politics know when it starts. It starts, in stages, immediately winners are declared in the immediate past elections. It starts right from victory speech, transition committee, first appointments and setting up of cabinets. Once those we now have to deal with as aides are ‘remembered’ as deserving ‘reward’, which ordinarily always comes around this time, (notice:) preparations are peaking.
Because these almost natural developments are not stated or written, incumbents always beat their opposition in terms of preparation. By the time the opposition gets its senses and start, incumbents have already dominated the political machinery to the exclusion of almost everyone having started planning years earlier.
Let us therefore not be left behind in discussing fundamental things about who governs our state especially in this region where leadership failure has formed part of its long-time characteristics, causing poverty, illiteracy, etcetera, culminating in violence and war in their extreme forms. Such engagements will eventually create a fundamental framework that at the end determines who becomes this or that.
Borno with good leadership is supposed to take the leadership role of the North Eastern region, most of which were previously part of its geographical abundance. As a matter of fact, what affects Borno will certainly reflect as it currently does in the whole of the region. It is in the spirit of this fact that the case of who takes charge of the affairs of the state matters to all and sundry.
In view of the circumstances at hand, it is incumbent upon commentators to begin and peremptorily so, asking questions that matter about the current state of affairs and how to get out of their conundrum. If as many have said, this government has performed below expectation, and does not show any signs to redeem itself in the next two years, while we uneasily manage the remaining time to walk her out, it is very basic to ensure that we install a better configuration by 2019.
Questions must begin to be thrown up about who succeeds Shettima in terms of professional background, moral rectitude, statecraft and other key issues. In essence, a tough time must be created for those who may wish to try their luck in 2019 such that opportunists are not even afforded a chance. Only when such a machinery, which will come out from this and similar engagements are put on the table, that we can enthrone a government that we can dare sleep our two eyes closed resting on our confidence that it will not trade our peace, common wealth, collective future and dignity; when opportunistic illiterates and dropouts and corrupt drug worshippers will be lumped together and hurled into where they rightly belong to regretfully enjoy the ‘luxury’ of the consequences of their trademark and track record–not anywhere close to power. And this is serious because we have seen the ills of a government turned into conglomeration of friends and associates involved in shameful social traits.
As noted above, Kashim Shettima has begun scheming on who succeeds him and who gets what in 2019. But who succeeds him is more a concern of all well meaning people of Borno than his alone–and this is not a way to rob him of his legimate indigenous or his right to waste of personal time and resources. The argument has always been, and I really think we are now familiar with it enough to be misled, that the government is bringing in capable hands that can complete the master plan of the outgoing gang. But this should not be its business as much as it is of the people of the state whose lives are stuck around it.
With illiteracy at its peak and what is an almost complete blackout in our education sector, do we shop for an educationist, we have to begin asking. With poverty at an alarming rate, businesses crashing, markets slimming and economy receding, is a businessman or woman the right person to turn things around in a state that used to and still has the potential to deal in trade and commerce at export level?
In view of the seven year war that has crippled not only the state, but the country and West African subcontinent, do we begin to shop for capable hands in the security line–a retired military officer, policeman, local vigilante, civilian JTF, others? In a number of discussions, since people, with the gift of mouth and speech, can talk anything–such as one which suggests an expert in bursting kidnapping gangs, of all security experts and for, of all things, governorship of the state–I have heard such proposals rammed into shoddy arguments.
Away from this, the case is not any dissimilar in the area of health and as such: a medic to the rescue? Others see, a little to the extreme we are trying to avoid, the need to shop a politician-extraordinaire because they hold the opinion that special expertise borne out of long-standing experience in politics particularly on making right compromises is needed to pilot the affairs of the state; for, the argument goes, inexperienced people are easily hijacked by the political machinery. Do we therefore, succumb to their argument to shop from among this class? We should be reminded here that the only merit is time spent in politics, which can give us any babbanriga wearing tout–like one with a no-impact-career that starts from political aide-ism and errandry, if they exist in English, to ‘giant slayers’, aka big politicians.
While we contemplate on it, especially the aspect of levelheaded compromises, we should also consider if the suggestion that uncompromising non-politician should be brought in is anything to go by; such a person who strips political toga off on election day and shuts out even the most hard working associate the next day. But whether either of the two should double as a civil servant, a public office holder or a career at national level, is another factor to thoroughly dissect. Or do we abandon all the above and rotate power to the south?
Indeed, in the course of our engagements, a robust machinery with which to test suitabilities will emerge–to which anyone who carries the hardheadedness to dare aspiring for such posts must be subjected.
In the long run, we will be discussing these issues on weekly basis in my new column YERWA CHATROOM. Our IT Head, Mohammed Ali has done a gesture to the new column by developing a chatroom on www.yerwaexpress.new/chatx which provides readers the ability to join the discussion right on our site.
From next week, readers can join the discussion as we will be taking some of the possible people that are, I have gathered, likely to replace the governor and test their suitability against the backdrop of their background, ideas and even level of preparations.
Al-Gazali is the Editor-In-Chief of Yerwa Express, Maiduguri.