By Inuwa Bwala
As a student of International politics, I strongly believe that Nigeria’s quest for good leadership can never be complete without the involvement of our avalanche of intellectuals and technocrats in politics.
It is always pleasing when I see intellectuals display their best, whenever they are given responsibilities in political or public offices. It is a good omen seeing politics in Nigeria fast assuming intellectual dimensions with the coming on board of intellectuals in real politics.
Seeing the quality of intellectuals now showing interest in occupying political offices or public service positions, one can safely say that Nigerian democracy is fast maturing.
My mind goes to people like, but not limited to, Professor Mahmud Jega, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Professor Pat Utomi, Professor Charles Soludo, Professor Babagana Zulum, Senator Kashim Shettima, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Professor Isa Panami, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, and many others, now occupying or seeking to occupy political positions.
Talking of real politics brings to my mind the fact that, while the opposition People’s Democratic Party, may be singing victory songs having concluded their national convention, without the usual rancour, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is still gropping: hoping to surpass what many felt was PDP’s best, in terms of the choice of leaders for their party.
Political observers note, that the new leadership of the PDP is highly intellectually studded.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, will be playing the ostrich, to think that, the emergence of former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu, as National Chairman of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, does not portend serious challenges in its own choice of the chairman.
Even the worst critics of the PDP concur that, Iyorchia Ayu parades intimidating intellectual and political credentials, and it will take an equally sound intellectual and politically sagacious person for the ruling party, to give Ayu and his team the run for their money.
Any attempt by the APC to play to the gallery by trusting the so-called power of incumbency in pursuing the next round of elections, may be her greatest undoing.
So many people, who still believe in the old way of doing things, mostly relying on crooked approaches, do not seem to reckon with the fact that Nigerian politics has assumed sophistication and has moved ahead.
My sincere advice to the APC, at this point is to go for a sound intellectual, politically sagacious, comparatively youthful and well connected and one who has no blemish but enjoys wide acceptability, as its next National Chairman.
Without prejudice to the aspirations of all those who have publically declared intentions to lead the party, I suggest that the party think tank should look for a dark horse who may not have publically declared, but who posseses no less intimidating credentials as the chair of the main opposition.
I had earlier suggested the likes of former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, as a more likely candidate.
As I carefully look through the credentials of others, some of who I have known or worked with, and whose pedigrees are public knowledge, I remain convinced, that the APC’s best bet is Senator Shettima.
I make this suggestion without any form of contact with Shettima, who many people know has been at daggers drawn with me on some local issues.
I have however discussed this issue with many political pundits, most of whom seem to be on the same page with me on the choice of Shettima.
Besides being a sound intellectual, a political go getter and humble and humane personality, Kashim Shettima, is a team player and does not have the tendency to monopolize knowledge.
Northern Governor’s who worked with him while he was the Chairman of the Northern Governor’s Forum, may be in a better position to testify to his awesome leadership qualities, which endeared him to all.
Those who worked with him, including Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum can also attest to Senator Kashim Shettima’s often sound intellectual and political dispositions.
Comparatively younger compared to others, Kashim Shettima is a bridge between the old and the young, the north and the south, Christians and Muslims and above all, a statesman par excellence.
Those who hope to unseat the APC in 2023, know very well, that, with Kashim Shettima as National Chairman of the APC, the hopes will become a day dream.
Having delayed its national convention for too long, the APC should look more critically, as I believe, that, the quality of the National Chairman they are looking for is available within its fold, and requires just a little push, to get it.