The vice presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kashim Shettima, yesterday, said the failure of the elite to build consensus was at the heart of Nigeria’s challenge.
Shettima said the Emi lo kan slogan, coined by the presidential candidate of the party, Bola Tinubu, was an idea, whose time had come.
Speaking at the 95+1 anniversary lecture of the Yoruba Tennis Club, at the club’s Greeting Hall in Lagos, Shettima described Tinubu as an excellent example of a nationalist.
The former Borno State governor added that with Tinubu’s commitment to the Nigerian project, it would only be fair to elect him as the next president of the country.
In his own remarks, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Tinubu was the most qualified to lead Nigeria among the presidential candidates contesting to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari next year.
Speaking on the theme, “Social Club and the Search for National Cohesion,” Shettima lamented that the greatest challenge facing Nigeria’s nationhood was the inability to build elite consensus on the best way to organise and jointly chart a path to progressive development appropriate to the country’s varied populace.
He stated, “Our diversity, which should be a strength, has been exploited and the constant bickering over access to power, has stoked the basest instincts, amongst our elite, in the pursuit of political power. So divisive has this been that politics has been more like warfare, where every weapon of mass destruction has been deployed, rather than a civic engagement.
“It is imperative that all of us must begin the process of a rethink of the content, values and modus operandi of politicking. We must imbue politics with unquestionable patriotic content, which speaks to the development of our nation and the advancement of the welfare of the Nigerian people, underscored by national cohesion.”
Shettima boasted that with the “emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the APC, we are convinced that the general political situation in Nigeria needs the competencies of a detribalised and committed Nigerian, like ABAT, to re-ignite the requisite values that can help us rededicate ourselves and all Nigerians to collectively tackle the challenges of national cohesion.”
According to him, even though the 2023 general election is a few months away, “Nigerians have a choice to make in the determination of our destiny. Our ticket is dedicated to the building of that progressive and united country that will allow us to harness the very best that our country has to offer.
“We will rekindle the spirit of patriotism and draw on all the positive lessons from the commendable history of the Yoruba Tennis Club. We trust that we can count on your support in the days and months ahead and God willing, when we assume power, we will ensure that stakeholder groups such as yours are constantly engaged in the continuous development of our nation building plans.
“In 2023, we need a Nigerian leader that has the humility and generosity of spirit of General Yakubu Gowon. We need a leader that has the commitment of a Muhammadu Buhari. We need a leader that has the work ethic and broad-mindedness of an Olusegun Obasanjo. We need a leader that has the situational pragmatism and understanding of Nigeria’s security, the maradonic skill of an Ibrahim Babangida.
“We need a leader with a vision and sense of responsibility and commitment and somebody who understand the nation like an Abdulsalami Abubakar and in our systemic circumstances, we need a leader with a dose of the hospitality of a Sani Abacha.
“We need a leader with the intellectual acumen, with the action to catapult this nation to a higher pedestrian. We need a leader, who is not bound by regional or religious sentiment.
“We need a leader that has established such records of excellence and commitment to good governance. There is no one, with all due respect, that fits this than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
Shettima maintained that Tinubu had shown commitment to the peace and cohesion of the country. He added,”Asiwaju is an idea whose time has come, and Emilokan is for real. We must get our politics right, in the same patriotic manner that the Founding Fathers of the Yoruba Tennis Club, and their successors, got it right, and have kept it going for 96 years.
“Social clubs play a vital role in the process of national cohesion. Social groups, exist in every nook and cranny of this country and even abroad, where Nigerians in the diaspora have found themselves, bringing together groups with a common purpose, identity, and culture.”
Shettima said social clubs were credible examples of appreciable governance systems, “where periodic elections are often held in a generally open and transparent manner. Clubs, such as this, have been more committed to national cohesion, in practice, than our political structure. In recent times, we have witnessed increasingly alarming tendencies towards a loss of belief in the idea of our national cohesion.
“The truth, however, is that nation-building is a continuous work-in-progress, and we must always maintain optimism. When the Founding Fathers launched this prestigious Club, they could not have envisaged all the problems of the past 96 years. But filled with the optimism that their Club would not only come to be but that it would also survive every form of turbulence. It is a lesson we must imbibe in politics and in our endeavour to strengthen national cohesion in Nigeria gathering and also for your attention.”
Sanwo-Olu, who insisted Tinubu was the most qualified candidate with the capacity to lead Nigeria, urged Nigerians not to allow religious division, especially with respect to the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, to be an obstacle to the blessings that would come with the team.
The governor said the election of the next president of Nigeria should be about leadership, character, and audacity to think deeply and solve problems.
“There is nothing in the issue of a Muslim-Muslim Ticket,” Sanwo-Olu said. He added, “I am a Christian and my wife is a Christian but we know too well that it is not about religion. We have forgotten that in 2011, when the Action Congress of Nigeria at that time gave a platform to Malam Nuhu Ribadu and his vice presidential candidate then was Mr. Fola Adeola. It was a joint Muslim-Muslim ticket and we did not see any problem at that time.
“But suddenly because there is a likelihood of this ticket (Tinubu-Shettima) emerging as a winner, people now want to divide us. We will say no because that is not who we are. It is about leadership. It is about character. It is about the audacity to think. It is about the ability to be able to think deeply and solve problems.
“We do not want to despair other candidates. We all know too well what their antecedents are. We all know too what their credentials are. But we know that as a nation, we need a strong launch pad. We need to think out of the box and be able to put our best foot forward.
“I want to thank the leadership of the Yoruba Tennis Club again for making the right choice by inviting Senator Kashim Shettima to deliver the anniversary lecture. We are celebrating 96 years now and let it be on record that by 2026, during our centenary celebration, by the grace of God, we will have Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu coming here to celebrate with us as president on our centenary and, of course, by your grace and your support, I will still remain your 15th governor, coming here and celebrate in four years’ time and all of you will be here.”
The Lagos State governor charged Yoruba people and residents of Lagos State to work towards the emergence of Tinubu as the next president of Nigeria, saying, “We deserve to produce the next president. In Lagos, we deserve it. Lagos requires it and it would be, by the grace of God, a bigger, better and stronger nation and state that all of you would be truly proud to have been part of.”
In his address, Chairman of the Yoruba Tennis Club, Chief Babajide Damazio, said the club, since its existence in 1926, had witnessed many seasons of bloom and gloom, and therefore enjoined members to continuously celebrate the essence of their togetherness.