‘I was misquoted’, Shettima clarifies Tinubu-Abacha comparison

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THE Vice Presidential Candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Kashim Shettima, has clarified that he did not describe the late head of state, Sani Abacha, in terms that were reported in the Media.

Abacha was Nigeria’s Head of State between November 1993 and 1998.

But speaking in Lagos on Thursday, at the 95th Anniversary Lecture of the Yoruba Tennis Club, held at the club’s Greeting Hall in Lagos, Shettima was reported to have said Nigeria needs the “hospitality” of Abacha, adding that the country needs a president with “a dose of ruthlessness and taciturnity” of Abacha.

The APC vice-presidential candidate had also listed some qualities of past leaders, as well as current president, Muhammadu Buhari, and said Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, has such qualities.

“We need a leader with the patience and sense of responsibility and commitment, and somebody who understands the national psyche and mood of the nation of an Abdulsalami Abubakar, and in applicable circumstances, we need a leader with a dose of ruthlessness and taciturnity of General Sani Abacha.

“Nice men do not make leaders. We need a leader with intellectual acumen, with the passion to catapult this nation to a higher pedestal. 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 better than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu”, he said.

The former Borno State governor had come under fire for the statement with critics saying his praise of the dictator insulted the sensibilities of Nigerians, including his party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was among those forced into exile.

But clarifying his statement on Friday, in a short statement on his Twitter handle, Shettima expressed disgust at how his statements are always taken out of context.

In a series of tweets, the former Borno governor said he did not attribute hospitality to Abacha, adding that he meant Nigeria needs a president, who is ruthless like the late military ruler, to address insecurity.

The tweets read: “The obsession with distorting one’s views to settle partisan scores brings to mind a certain WBC Commentary. ‘The trouble with deliberate bias,’ it says, ‘is that it cannot be erased by a sound education. The video of my speech in Lagos is out there for those sincerely curious.

“I never attributed hospitality to Abacha in my speech. I did a rundown of our past Presidents and played up ‘the taciturnity and a dose of the ruthlessness of a Sani Abacha’ to show we need strongmen to deal with the non-state actors who’ve turned Nigeria into a vast killing field.

“I was quick to tease the audience, appreciating the humour hovering around the hall, with the familiar jibe that nice men don’t make good leaders.

“By nice men I meant those who get easily manipulated and pressured to divert state resources to appeal to private expectations.”