Governor Kashim @ 47

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LAST Monday, September 2nd, 2013, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima clocked 47 years. I read that he had vigorously declined an offer by some friends to organize a birthday party for him in Abuja. I was not surprised that Kashim declined, because it just isn’t in his character!

I have known Kashim Shettima long enough to say, that he is one of the outstanding individuals in Nigerian political leadership today. Many of his peers who met him in the course of the politics which culminated in the formation of the APC, such as Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti state governor, have very good impressions about Kashim’s intellectual capability and genuine devotion to the cause of Borno state and Nigeria’s progress. Kashim is a very passionate individual whose modesty and sincerity mask his deep intellect and a genuine love for scholarship.

He reads avidly and follows intellectual trends passionately and over the years, he amazes me, with his down-to-earth, humane qualities.

Kashim was manager of the Maiduguri branch of Zenith Bank, when my wife was transferred there in 2002; she resumed with our very young second child.

Kashim made her stay comfortable, arranging food delivery everyday from his own house at the bank’s guests’ house where my family had lodged. The fact that she was the wife of a journalist he had read avidly over the years, was a coincidence he appreciated so much. We became family friends ever since.

When I saw the trajectory of responsibilities that he was assigned in the Ali Modu Sherriff’s administration: Finance and Economic Development; Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Education; Agriculture and Health, it seemed he was highly trusted and was actually being prepared, almost inadvertently, for the position he now occupies as governor of Borno State.

It is his fate to provide leadership in one of the most tragic phases in Borno’s history. And the fact that he has remained committed to development, peace-building and reconciliation, tell of his strength of character. I once told him that he has a historical precursor to inspire him: one of the greatest rulers of old Kanem-Borno, Mai Idris Alooma. Alooma was a superb administrator and organiser of a brilliant empire in one of the great periods of African history.

Kashim Shettima is still a very young man, but he has demonstrated intellect, wisdom and statecraft enough, for us to comfortably predict that he will make definitive marks on the future of Nigeria. Happy Birthday Governor Kashim Shettima.

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