I got the news in the afternoon of Sunday July 10, 2022. Another great Nigerian has been announced as the Vice-Presidential Candidate of one of the leading political parties in our match to the general election next year. Ordinarily, I would not comment on political decisions of this nature, but against my usual disposition, at this hour, fate has bestowed on me the duty of coming out to identify with a true Nigerian and an ardent believer in the unity of Nigeria. It is, therefore, my pleasure to write about an uncommon, highly cerebral, detribalized, non-bigot, and kind gentleman called Kashim Shettima. This piece is about a relationship spanning 31 years plus drawing from my personal experience and relationship with His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Kashim Shettima.
Our paths first crossed in October 1991 as a corps member on resumption of my primary assignment at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, University of Maiduguri, Borno State. On my first day at work, Professor Bankole Oluwafemi Ogunbameru (then HOD) introduced me as the corps member from the University of Ibadan posted to serve his fatherland in the Department. Seated with others at the meeting that day were two gentlemen who just returned from Ibadan after completing their Master’s programme in Agricultural Economics from UI. The duo, Sabo Mohammed and Kashim Shettima (both Assistant Lecturers) were elated to have someone from Ibadan joining the Department as youth corp member. Though, I was in my final year of my undergraduate programme while he was in the Master’s class; we never had the opportunity to interact in Ibadan. Kashim, took special interest and chatted me up after the meeting to know more about me. We instantly struck a chord of friendship which has been waxing stronger over the years despite distance, our different callings and belonging to different tribes (He is Kanuri and I am Yoruba). I cut my teaching teeth under Kashim as he trusted me with supporting him in delivering Farm Management course at 300 Level then. My stay in Maiduguri was very memorable courtesy of Kashim Shettima. Then, he would come in his Volkswagen Beetle to take me round the city. He also would come with foodstuffs and provisions at no cost to me.
Kashim Shettima could have been a renown Professor of Agricultural Economics if he had remained in academics. He however decided to move to the banking industry consequent upon the protracted ASUU strike of 1993 that lasted for six months. Notwithstanding, we kept the line of communication open and followed each other’s northeasterly trajectory in our development. Kashim is an avid and consummate reader whose knowledge traverses his immediate area of specialization. He is versatile and very comfortable with statistics on any topic of interest.
He is a very accommodating person. Two of my former students who worked with him, at my instance during their service year, at various times attested to this. My mentors and senior colleagues who have had the opportunity of teaching him also subscribed to his neutral but meritocracy outlook in his approach to dealing with anyone that comes his way.
Kashim believes in delegated responsibility and authority. Most of those that worked with him agreed that he would give them assignments with necessary enablers and leave them to deliver without any let or hinderance. He is also someone that is not arrogant with his level of achievement and erudition. He is humble enough to accept that he doesn’t know it all. He searches for the best-fit (as we say in econometrics) for any activity of interest to him. He does this purely on merit and qualification for the job. He is a team player who provides clear instruction and guidance as a team lead; while as team member, he effectively discharges his responsibilities with absolute loyalty.
He believes in empowering people especially the masses as a way of curbing societal vices. He doesn’t care if his subordinates take glory for an achievement that is duly his. His human-relation is per excellence. He doesn’t underrate anyone. He is one person that cherishes long-standing relationship. Despite his tight schedules and executive positions, he would find time out to see his friends and dine with them. He came all the way from Maiduguri to Ibadan in 2010 to see me. He requested to eat amala at ‘Inastraite ’ . Upon his election in 2011, a public relation outfit came to Ibadan to interview his lecturer and my humble self about this quintessential gentle man. He commiserated with me and specially visited me upon the transition of my dad to the great beyond on January 30, 2018. Kashim is a benevolent and cheerful giver. He has to my knowledge assisted individuals and corporate entities without expectation of any returns except from his maker.
My summation of Kashim Shettima is that of a man of the people who cherishes progress of all and harbours no ill-feelings against anyone. The choice of Kashim Shettima as the vice-presidential candidate of his party is a testimony to his all-round sound mind with focus on improving the system for the betterment of all. I thank all that contributed to his emergence, and I wish him success as he moves into election proper.
Prof Sulaiman Adesina Yusuf
Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Ibadan, Ibadan