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Published On: Fri, Jan 19th, 2018

2019: Borno Gov. Shettima contemplates senatorial election

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Days after appearing on a TV show, where he said he would not be seeking elective office in 2019, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, has recanted as some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, insist he must run for a senatorial seat.
Mr. Shettima was recently on a TV programme, The Osasu Show, where he was featured answering questions about his next political move.
Before now, there were rumours that should President Buhari choose not to recontest in 2019, Mr. Shettima may be going for the presidential or vice presidential slot.
The governor had, however, denied such claims.
“I think I am doing a great disservice to humanity and to the God we worship if I start clamouring to contest even for a senatorial seat,”
Mr. Shettima said when asked if he would seek elective office in 2019.
“My concern at the moment is let me fix the rot in the system; let me fix the educational system in the state; let fix the healthcare delivery system. We have two million IDPs in Borno. At least let me make efforts to return these IDPs to their homes.
“Personally I have no desire to contest for any position; not even a senatorial seat. I want to go back to school.”
The video of the interview went viral on social media especially amongst residents of the state. And it apparently got the APC members worried.
A large number of APC officials and supporters in Maiduguri under the aegis of Borno Unity Forum stormed the government house to register their worry concerning the governor’s stance on 2019.
They were also there to persuade him to seek an elective post as a mark of their appreciation for the “qualitative leadership he has so far given the party and the state in general.”
The chairman of the Forum, Audu Umar, said the party’s spirit would be dampened if the governor refused to go for the senatorial seat.
“We are all worried by what we are seeing on the internet concerning what you said about your ambition in 2019,” he said.
“It will be fair on our part to you if after all that you have achieved for the state, you do not move ahead to the Senate. We the entire members of the BUF are hereby insisting that you must contest the Borno Central Senatorial seat.”
Mr. Umar said the call on the governor to seek another election after his eight years term “is a unanimous stand of the forum and of course the majority of the constituents of Borno Central Senatorial district.”
In his response, Mr. Shettima said the media misquoted him concerning the issue of going for the Senatorial seat come 2019.
“I have never said I won’t be contesting the Senate election in 2019; it was the media that misquoted me” he said.
“All I said was that while I was yet to make decision on that, I would rather concentrate on fixing the rots in the state and on seeing that our IDPs return to their communities. If I had said I was going to contest, it would have diverted our focus on the job. Certainly, on the issue of my aenatorial ambition, I would soon make my position known. All the same, I have heard your call and insha Allah I will get back to you all.”
Whether Mr. Shettima goes for the Senate or not, the move by the APC loyalists was a clear sign that all may not be well within the state’s ruling party.
The Borno Central Senatorial seat to which he is being urged to contest is currently being occupied by one of the governor’s main ally, and a former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Baba Garbai.
Mr. Garbai was until late 2015 one of the most powerful cabinet members of the Shettima administration.
He got the chance to go to the Senate after the sudden death of the then senator-elect, Ahmed Zannah. Mr. Shettima played major role in seeing that Mr. Garbai emerged in the keenly contested bye-election.
Should Mr. Shettima bow to supporters’ pressure, Mr. Garbai’s political fate may hang in the balance, even though there are rumours that Mr. Garbai may be holding unto the senatorial seat for the governor who might likely consider him as his successor. But recent happenings, politically, in the state seemed to have faulted such permutations.
Though Mr. Shettima had in a media interview last year said he would not be disclosing his successor so soon, as doing so might derail his government’s focus, political pundits within the party still rule out a Mr. Garbai candidature when the chips are down.
“The issue of who succeeds his Excellency Governor Shettima isn’t a matter of dark horse”, said a party chieftain who pleaded not to be named on this report.
“We all know who the governor might later settle for; and it might not be those everyone one is pointing at but it is certainly one of his cabinet members.
The chieftain said if Mr. Shettima eventually heads for the Senate, Mr. Garbai may be left high and dry.
“When you see people clamouring for a replacement of an incumbent office holder it is either the incumbent is to be elevated to a bigger office for living up to expectations, or he has not performed well at all,” he said. (PREMIUM TIMES)

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