APC VP Candidate Kashim Shettima says Tinubu will Rule Nigeria like ruthless Sani Abacha

The Nigerian vice-presidential candidate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Kashim Shettima, is back on the defense with his recent Sani Abacha reference.

The VP candidate said Nigeria needed "a dose of hospitality" like the former military head of state, Sani Abacha, who was described as one of the most ruthless leaders ever to rule the country.

The APC VP running mate said his Principal, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, encompasses all the qualities of the past leaders - Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ibrahim Babangida, and the current President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Shettima made the remarks at the 96th anniversary of the Yoruba Tennis Club in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday, 15 September 2022.

Sani Abacha
Sani Abacha

A state-run media outlet, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted Shettima as saying, "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 circumstance, 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."

His comment attracted reactions from many Nigerians who criticized him on social platforms.

In his defense, Shettima said he was misunderstood in a series of tweets on Friday.

The former governor of Borno State said he compared Tinubu to ruthless Sani Abacha if elected in February 2023, adding that his comparing was misquoted for partisan scores.

He tweeted, "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 nonstate 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.

Bola Tinubu arriving yesterday
Bola Tinubu arriving yesterday

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo also came to his rescue in his tweet, saying Shettima never implied that Bola Tinubu would be hospitable to Nigerians in the likeness of Sani Abacha.

Keyamo claimed Shettima only meant that Tinubu would be ruthless, "he only played up the taciturnity and a dose of the ruthlessness of Sani Abacha," he defended.

The Federal Labour Minister claimed the ruthlessness would only be used against those trying to disrupt the country. He said, "to show we need strongmen to deal with the nonstate actors who want to disrupt our peace."

Sani Abacha was the dictatorial Head of State between 1993 and 1998 who was accused of jailing political opponents, intimidating media organizations, and jailing journalists without trials; and was responsible for looting billions of dollars from the national coffers, which are still being repatriated till dates.

For years, The APC presidential candidate was at the forefront of criticizing Abacha's regime, accusing him of the assassination of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of MKO Abiola killed while her husband, Moshood Abiola, was illegally detained in the 1990s.

His regime was laced with accusations of human rights abuses, the hanging of an activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who opposed the exploitation of resources in his region.

Abacha also jailed former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and Shettima's principal, Tinubu, an ardent critic of the dictator, went into exile and sought asylum in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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