This is indeed a very wise saying: some people talk out of experience and some, out of experience, do not talk. May be the
Nigerian Government should learn to listen to Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the erstwhile university don, seer and wordy Governor of Borno State. The man can pass for a prophet, as everything he has said concerning the Boko Haram has turned out to be true, and his predictions about the daredevil Islamic sect equally come to pass always. The accuracy of his predictions would make revered seers in Nigeria like Pastor T.B. Joshua cringe with envy.
Let us recall a few of them. The banker turned politician, Governor Kashim Shettima, once stunned the plagued nation, saying to whoever cared to listen that Boko Haram terrorists were better armed and better motivated than the highly rated Nigerian Military. It turned out to be factual that these factors were chiefly responsible for why the Military could not take out a ragtag army called Boko Haram.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Military now claim there are certain weapons they are not permitted by convention and military rules of engagement to use against insurgents even when they have such in store. What this means is that the insurgents could use whatever they wish against the Nigerian military and the citizens while nation’s soldiers cannot use such weapons to counter them. A cursory instance could be the nation’s military using only AK47 that has 30 rounds capacity to chase insurgents who are armed with General Purpose Machineguns that each, has 200 round. Somebody once described the setting as taking a knife to a gunfight. If this is case, then, Kashim Shettima was right indeed.
The issue of lack of motivation is also long proved and expected in corruption-ridden Nigeria. There was even a mutiny recently in Maiduguri, where some Nigerian soldiers deployed there had the temerity to shoot at the vehicle of their own General Officer Commanding.
Governor Kashim Shettima also advised the Nigerian Government to accept prisoners’ swap with Boko Haram or the Chibok girls would be as good as gone: Deal with the devil if it means bringing back the girls, were his words. This is the third month since the insurgents audaciously raided the Chibok Government Girls Secondary school and carted away the over 250 girls with virtually no resistance from any quarter, and there is no hope of the Girls returning any time soon, if they ever would. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo also added his voice days ago, warning that half of the Chibok Girls may never return alive as the nation awaits report of Presidential Fact Finding Committee and dillydallying. Some of the girls who managed to return are reported to be either pregnant or serially raped and traumatized.
Kashim Shettima is again right.
Perhaps the most frightening should be his most recent prediction and swift manner it is has come to pass. Last week, the same Governor Kashim Shettima told Nigerians that the Boko Haram would be heading South pretty soon if they were not contained forthwith. Less than one week after, 4 bombs were waiting to detonate at a Living Faith Church in Owerri and as if that was not enough credence to Kashim Shettima’s devil-be-damned prediction, the same night the bombs were laid, around 2 am, 486 strange men including 8 women and a known terrorist kingpin on the wanted list, were arrested in a convoy of 35 buses, heading to Port Harcourt by the Military men stationed in the nearby cantonment.
These men claim they were going to Port Harcourt in search of jobs. Yes, people need greener pastures no doubt but question is: why do it in such manner? These jobless men, as they claim, had enough money to hire 35 vehicles and organize their movement as group, as no other persons from the Region of the country they were travelling to made the trip with them.
Two other buses were said to have escaped, which means the men were more than 486. People who embark on night journeys can travel in convoys no doubt, but such passengers themselves randomly arrive the parks from different locations and travel for different reasons and this will naturally mean different ethnic groups would be represented in such mass movement. But this is not the case. It is a homogenous group.
The strange travelers were said to travel all the way from the north in the same convoy and evaded detection at the Military Checkpoints in those States until they reached Abia State, where some more discerning security officers were able to ask questions. The reason no security officers asked questions as they travelled the over one thousand miles is a question for another day, suffice it to suggest that the men may have used Africa science to ward off any suspicions, which may have waned as the journey neared its end.
The clandestine journey raises more questions than answers. Even if these men were not insurgents, their mission in such a huge number is less than noble. It is no less an invasion of sorts (even if indeed they were on the journey in search of jobs), and would therefore lead to swamping of the host communities by sheer number. For the reason that also they lack qualifications, cognate knowledge and skills, they would only be fit for menial jobs and would still be susceptible to recruitment by the insurgents whenever they launch their southern operations.
So, no matter how one looks at it, Nigerian State is facing very strange times ill-prepared, and one man really positioned to help if he would is Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State. Even if Government does not want to work with him, his predictions should no longer be taken lightly since the nation has done so in the past to its own peril.
Is Governor Kashim Shettima not right once again, as always, with his prediction of Boko Haram moving South? Is this not another case of witch crying in the night and the baby dying in the morning? Shettima is either a Prophet or is deeply connected. Either way, Nigerian Government will do itself a world of good by listening to him.
Governor Kashim Shettima was a man of no mean repute before coming to power as Governor of Borno State. He made his mark in the private secotr (banking and lecturing) before venturing into politics. He was born on 2 September 1966 in Maiduguri, Borno State. He attended Government Community Secondary School, Biu (1978–1980) and then attended Government Science Secondary School Potiskum, Yobe State (1980-1983). He studied Agricultural Economics at the University of Maiduguri, graduating in 1989. For his National Youth Service he worked with the Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative Bank in Calabar (1989–1990). He then attended the University of Ibadan (1990-1991), gaining a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics. From 1991 to 1993 he was a lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the University of Maiduguri.
Shettima worked with the Commercial Bank of Africa as an Agricultural Economist at its Ikeja Office, Lagos State (1993-1997). He then became a deputy manager, later manager, at the African International Bank Limited, Kaduna Branch (1997–2001), and was appointed Deputy Manager/Branch Head of the Zenith Bank’s Maiduguri Office in 2001, becoming General Manager five years later. In mid-2007, Shettima was appointed Commissioner of the Borno State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Later he became Commissioner in the Ministries of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Education, Agriculture and later Health under his predecessor as Borno Governor Ali Modu Sheriff.
In the January 2011 ANPP primaries, Engineer Modu Fannami Gubio was selected as candidate for the governorship. However, Gubio was later shot dead by gunmen, and Shettima was selected in a second primary in February 2011.In the 26 April 2011 elections, Shettima won with 531,147 votes while the Peope’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Muhammed Goni, gained 450,140 votes.
Kashim Shettima himself told Christiane Amanpour of the CNN this May, deal with devil if it means getting back kidnapped (Chibok) girls. This should now include Federal Government dealing with him. The mutual suspicion between the Borno State Governor and the Federal Government must cease if the war on terror will ever be won.
By Law Mefor
• Law Mefor, Forensic Psychologist and Journalist, is National Coordinator, Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM) Abuja; tel.: 234-803-787-2893; email: [email protected]