By IMMAN EKPE
ALL Progressives Congress, APC, vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima is again making news after delegating the management of the economy to his supposed principal, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and taking up for himself, the role of Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces should they win the 2023 presidential election.
His assertion is against the constitutional norms that vests the president with the responsibility of commander-in-chief.
Shettima spoke during the recent Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Conference.
He said: “I have been in the theatre of conflicts for 18 years; I will lead the troops, my principal is an economy wizard who has transformed Lagos into the third largest economy in Africa. He will concentrate on the economy.
“By God’s grace, I will handle the security, and not only handle the security, I will lead the troops to battle across the length and breadth of this country.”
His assertion was initially lost in the brouhaha that followed his dressing at the conference where he appeared with an oversized suit and a pair of sneakers.
With many Nigerians now settling down to examine his speech after questioning his outer appearance, they are just as troubled. Indeed, Nigerians are as much troubled with his comments as with his dressing at the NBA conference.
First, Senator Shettima is one politician who appears not to mind whose ox is gored by his speeches.
Senator Shettima’s assertion to be C-in-C is a shock to many as it has never been heard of before in Nigeria or in any other democracy where the vice-president takes command of the military ahead of the president.
Indeed, Section 130(2) of the 1999 Constitution indeed confers on the president the exclusive and sole right as the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.
Indeed, the only constitutional role for the Vice President in Nigeria is chairman of the National Economic Council, NEC.
What Shettima has now suggested in taking up the role of C-in-C and delegating to Tinubu the responsibility of the economy is that he has reversed the roles as stipulated in the Constitution.
What is even more shocking for many is that Shettima has made this claim even before the election, telling Nigerians that they should not be shocked with the possible reversal.
Reacting to this development, Chukwunomso Ogbe, a political analyst and lawyer told a digital media and news platform that it was wrong for the vice president to have such ambition. He noted that in the case where there is a transference of power is the only premise at which the vice president can lay claim to such idea.
Ogbe said: “If you have a VP that is ready and willing to take proactive security measures to protect the citizens and then you have a president that is not comfortable with that idea, the idea of that VP will never fly because he is a constitutionally recognised commander-in-chief. That is the provision of the law.
“With due respect to what the APC vice presidential candidate said, his statement is laudable but it is still subjected to the will and caprices of the president if his party wins the election.”
Some have also questioned Shettima’s capacity given his troubling history in the fight against insurgency.
Many will not forget that he was governor of Borno State when the Chibok School Girls were kidnapped. He was informed by the Federal Ministry of Education to move the centre from Chibok but he did not, creating room for doubts on his capacity to manage defence information.
Another suspicion over Senator Shettima is the fact that Kabiru Sokoto, the man who masterminded the Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, just outside Abuja, was captured in the Borno State Governor’s lodge while Shettima was governor.
What such a high-profile terrorist was doing in the residence of the Borno governor is a question that Shettima has not answered.
It would be better for him to answer such than troubling the polity with his verbal assaults.
But surprisingly, Senator Shettima is not one unused to bombing the polity with his words.
Examples of Senator Shettima’s past verbal bombs have included his assertions on Peter Obi, whom he reduced as an ethnic champion.
“Peter Obi can only become a President in Igboland but definitely not in Nigeria. Nigeria is too big for him to handle,” Shettima said in an Arise Television interview shortly after he was named as running mate to Tinubu.
“He has no leadership ideology nor experiences like President Muhammadu (Buhari) and our incoming President in the person of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” he further affirmed.
Also at the peak of the campaigns for the APC presidential ticket last June, Shettima had in an interview on Channels Television also dismissed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as unfit for the office of president of Nigeria at this time, describing him as a good ice cream seller.
“Osinbajo is a good man; he’s a nice man. But nice men do not make good leaders, because nice men tend to be nasty. Nice men should be selling popcorn, ice cream.”
As Nigerians go forward it would be best for them to compare the attributes of the various candidates and in this respect Tinubu, should be compared with Atiku Abubakar and other leading presidential candidates, while Shettima is compared with Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and other leading vice-presidential candidates.
Ekpe, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja
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