Babachir Lawal is relatively an unknown stock to the generality of Nigerians before his ascendance to the office of the Secretary to the Federation in 2015.
Even after his emergence as the SGF, his visibility in the political sphere was still shrouded, until his involvement in that grass cutting scandal of about N258m that dominated the public sphere like wildfire. We recall that it was that inglorious scandal that led to his premature exit from the regime of the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, in 2017.
Meanwhile after a few years in political doldrums, he resurfaced with Tinubu’s presidency bid and indeed, proved to be one of those northern front liners and vanguard, mobilising and canvassing for support of Nigerians for the project till Asiwaju Tinubu eventually won the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress.
But thereafter, Lawal’s outbursts on the issue bothering on the choice of the APC vice presidential candidate has been unsavoury, combustible, volatile and indeed, largely unbecoming of any APC top political chieftain who fervently and religiously desires victory for the party during the forthcoming presidential election.
We need to unequivocally emphasise that the larger-than-life status that the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket has attracted is due to the efforts that Lawal, Abbo and their co-travelers have jointly made to attempt to derail the presidency bid.
He has bluntly failed to reckon with the fact that the choice of the vice presidential candidate is essentially the prerogative of the presidential candidate, while working on the candid advice of the major stakeholders of the party. Presently in the Nigeria political setting, the major stakeholders of the APC is the sitting President, the governors and the National Working Committee, and perhaps some few resounding voices in the party.
From the facts available to the public, majority of the stakeholders wanted Babagana Zulum to be selected for the ticket. Meanwhile, the indefatigable governor of Borno State opted to complete the rebuilding and rehabilitating exercise presently on-going in the entire state, consequent upon the devastating and destructive effects of Boko Haram.
He pointedly and passionately pleaded with the President and party hierarchy that his predecessor in office, Kashim Shettima, should be selected instead. He backed his claims with Shettima’s amazing and incredible performances in the office as former governor, the achievements which have made his own jobs as the incumbent governor to be relatively easy and seamless.
His present office as a distinguished senator is also a contributory factor to his choice as the vice presidential candidate. Of course, Shettima’s profile as a thoroughbred financial professional with a distinguished career in Zenith Bank, a top rated financial institution in the country where he exited as General Manager, as well as chequered career as university don also placed him in good stead for the plum job.
With his cognate pedigree and political antecedents, Shettima is one of the finest in the Nigerian political space. His capacity, capability, emotional and mental intelligence for the job, is also not in doubt. A key element in his candidacy is his popularity in the entire North; a factor that would significantly assist the Tinubu administration in seamlessly and conveniently establishing communication with the North and assisting in rebuilding and reigniting the trust and confidence that have almost disappeared between the North and the South.
Just like his boss, his personality and ebullient posture is also an advantage to attract honour and respect of the generality of Nigerians to the ticket, a development that would surely translate into victory at the polls.
So, where has Tinubu gone wrong in the choice of Shettima as his vice presidential candidate to have attracted loads of vituperations from Lawal and his ilk? Every presidential and governorship aspirant is looking for a deputy candidate capable of attracting mileage to his ticket. Tinubu has got one in Kashim Shettima.
What we expect from all members of the progressive family across the country is to unite behind the ticket; assiduously and religiously canvassing and mobilising support of the electorate for its eventual victory. Any other agenda other than supporting the ticket is dastardly, obstructive, self-serving and destructive.
We therefore appeal to Babachir Lawal and other mischief makers in the APC to reconsider their stand in the interest of the party, and henceforth, sheathe their sword. It’s in their best interest for the party and its candidates to be victorious at the polls. Churning out invectives and highly provocative statements based on religious sentiments would only be counterproductive to that agenda of winning.
- Kola Amzat, a financial consultant, can be reached on 09077509348