Governor Kashim Shettima @48

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ON Tuesday, September 2nd, Kashim Shettima, the Borno state Governor turned 48. It is indicative of the disturbed tenure that he has dealt with since coming to power in 2011, that on the night of his birthday, he was in fact cutting short a trip to return to his troubled state. From the weekend, Nigerian security forces were engaged in very bloody battle with the Boko Haram insurgents attempting to capture Bama, Borno’s second largest town.

Maiduguri, the state capital, is bursting at the seams because of the influx of refugees from all areas of the state that have been suffering the scorched earth tactics of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Kashim Shettima came into power in one of the most disturbed, certainly most tragic phases, in the thousand year history of Borno. And these are times indeed that will test the faith, tenacity, staying power and leadership acumen of any individual. And because I have had the privilege of watching at close quarters as well as having extensive discussions with Governor Shettima, I can report that he has endeavoured to remain as strong as the situation in contemporary Borno demands.

Kashim Shettima has knowingly risked his own life to visit many of the communities in the state where people have been at the receiving end of Boko Haram attacks. His administration has been forced to face the resource-wasting attacks by endeavours to rebuild communities or rehabilitating people. His constant travels around the state, even with the inherent danger to his person he explained to me once, was to give people hope that in their suffering, the leadership they elected, has not abandoned them.

To give hope in a season of killings and destruction is a very central part of his leadership philosophy. And it is encouraging that he has not lost focus about the ultimate imperative of delivering a good life to the people of Borno. Governor Shettima, an agricultural economist himself, is particularly focused on the role of agriculture in the development of the state and his administration has invested heavily in the procurement of intermediate agricultural technologies that can help thousands of farming families to improve productivity.

Hundreds of young people are being trained in various aspects of agricultural developments, including fisheries. Education is also seen as central to the transformation of Borno and daily school meals have been introduced to encourage and keep children in schools, plus school buses that convey them to and fro, while school infrastructure is being radically remodeled.

Empowerment projects are also being pursued for the people. At the personal level, is the consistent effort at improving his own mind with the acquisition of knowledge. The governor reads! And that makes a lot of difference in the man’s attitude to life; his ability to understand his brief and the fact that his very cultivated mind has purged him of the delusional propensities so much at the heart of leadership in our country.


I also know that a lot of times Governor Kashim Shettima can be affected by the enormity of the crisis which the Boko Haram insurgency has wrought on society. And when we have spoken, I was wont to reminding him that in such periods, it was important to remember the history of Borno and the cycles of crest and trough associated with the development of civilizations.

This is because even this moment of crisis will pass! Kashim Shettima is one of the more impressive examples of leadership in our country today, and the crisis in his state has only enhanced his leadership qualities showing how important it is, to have the right temperament in a season of killings. A Happy 48th Birthday to my friend and brother: Kashim Shettima, Governor of Borno state.

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