10 January 2013

Nigeria: Shettima - Between Governance, Humility and Weakness


There are some persons within, around, and not too far from the corridor of power in Borno State that are desperately putting pressures through numerous ways demanding that Governor Kashim Shettima changes overnight, from being very humble to turning stubbornly arrogant; from being extremely kind to being very wicked; from being extraordinarily democratic and highly consultative to being ruthlessly autocratic and unilateral; they want him to change from being generously polite to being so mindlessly harsh.

They want every government official from top to bottom, to have running stomach on sighting the governor's face in the morning. They want him to be more feared than admired. Simply put, they quickly want a Pharaoh out of Moses.

These people are even frustrated that the governor's characters haven't changed one bit from his years as a senior banker controlling 20 branches with thousands of staff, to his years as commissioner of Finance, Education, Agriculture, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Health, at different times, to his current position as executive governor of Borno State.

To these people, though, they have their own line of argument, they feel that Governor Shettima has given so much liberty to his deputy, Zannah Umar Mustapha, making him the freest, most powerful, most honoured and most comfortable deputy governor in Nigeria.

They do not like it that the governor involves his deputy in every decision as he governs the state; they so hate it that the deputy walks in to see his boss, the governor, any where, any day, any time without the slightest fear. They feel the deputy could begin to see himself as a governor also thus abusing his bosses simplicity. For that assumption, they want the boss to put some breaks on his able deputy.

The people equally don't like it that top government officials: the Secretary to the State Government, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, the Chief of Staff, Abubakar Kyari, commissioners and some special advisers and key personal staff freely walk into the governor's office to see him with issues.

But then, these people forget how intelligent Shettima is and his style of supervising every activity he puts in motion. Beside that this is someone that is determined to change the face of politics to that of working for the common man and handing over his affairs to God. The man is simply not desperate about 2015 even though he is very particular about the stability of the ANPP at the state and local government levels and he is really popular with the party structure. He, it is, who has now accorded the highest respect by any governor, to party officials in the state.

I can say that the governor is aware that some people want him to go very tough and even ruthless. One day, I spoke to him about the issue and after his explanation, I realised that indeed, the governor thinks far ahead of most of us, from the top most officials down the line.

Isa, he said, "I believe that leadership is about being able to persuade people to work in achieving your goals, leadership is but a means to an end and not an end in itself. For me, I regard everyone from His Excellency, the Deputy Governor to the SSG, Chief of Staff, commissioners, advisers and everyone working with me as a team member while I lead that team.

I am from the banking sector, I believe in team work, that is how you get results, that is how you make people key into your goals and as you work with them you carefully pencil down those that are really ready to work towards your goals and then, you keep them with persuasion, rewards and some tactical sanctions and believe me, you get result at the end. I believe in a win-win situation, not I win, you loose, because after I get you terribly hurt, you loose even if I win by making you do what I want.

As per the deputy governor, whether one likes it or not, the deputy governor is the second in the system, if you refuse to carry him along in what you are doing while you are in charge, you can't stop him if you fall dead as a governor or if you become incapacitated.

"My elder brother, Governor Gaidam of Yobe was a deputy governor, his boss died, no one expected it, today he is a governor, the governor of Kaduna was a deputy, today he is governor, no one expected Sir Yakowa to pass on now but he did; the deputy governor of Taraba State is currently acting owing to the health of his boss; one or two governors are not feeling very fine, their deputies are handling things, so, you see, one will be foolish to maltreat his deputy just because he is the governor today.

When you maltreat him, first, he sabotages you from within, secondly, you possibly create a division in your government with some being pro-you and some pro- deputy, people come to you and use the limited time you ought to use in tackling the challenges of your state to discuss your deputy because he will become the subject and then others also go to him daily to make you the subject and by the end of the day, both you live in distractions sometimes, you do not even know you have lost focus; you end up breeding suspicion between both of you".

But while Shettima maintains his position, the people wanting him to change carry on with their campaigns, speaking to anyone that can talk the governor to make him wear emperors regalia. Funny enough, some of the advocates, actually enjoy the governor's current simplicity by having access to him when they have issues, yet they hate it when others get similar disposition.

I also believe, like many would, that Governor Shettima's style is seriously working for him given the numerous successes recorded in less than two years especially on massive job creation and skills provision to combat security challenges, aggressive agricultural programmes, the overhaul going on in the education sector, the complete transformation of the health sectors beside so many rural and urban roads infrastructures and importantly, the relative stability he brought about in the state as against what the crisis situation was, in the build up to the 2011 elections.My verdict therefore, is no to autocracy;

-Gusau is special adviser, Communications, to Governor Kashim Shettima

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