By James Bwala
…And they shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free. I believe
Reverend Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, Director General of the Centre for Justice on Religious and Ethnicity In Nigeria knows this scripture from the Book of John 8:32 as quoted in the beginning of this piece of writing. Indeed he has raised a weighty issue that many Christians would sit up to read from his lines of argument. But is Reverend Kallamu Musa saying the fact, especially about the former Borno state governor and APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Kashim Shettima?
I know that few people are magnifying the issues of religion in the ongoing campaign in the build up for 2023. However, the few still are rediculing themselves for choosing to attack the former Borno state governor over his choice as the running mate for the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I have told many people before and I am saying it again that no Borno state governor in history has favour the Christians than Kashim Shettima and he is still doing more. There are alot of Nigerians, who are very powerful and standing in the corridors of power. For many years they dictates what happen in the country and call the shots. They have caged many Presidents because their second in commands are weak however, now they are seeing a different ball game coming.
Kashim Shettima is both intelligent and powerful figure they cannot tow with. His coming as Nigeria’s Vice President will deflect the power of the courtiers in the centre. So, much focus was on him and the many reasons for the attacks. But if they failed to impress their pay masters for attacking Shettima in the past, how sure are they that if they continue to attack him, they will not end up praising him? Reverend Kallamu Musa was the next parrot available to use but he was never armed with facts. Again, they have failed and Sahara Reporters has failed to do the digging and fetched the facts from the statement they published. They have failed to ask to know when did Christian Religious Knowledge was stopped in public schools in Borno state. If they do, they would have known that it was far beyond the administration of Kashim Shettima, which lasted between 2011 and 2019.
I will take Reverend Kallamu Musa’s issue raised on the teachings of CRK in both primary and secondary school in Borno state. As a journalist in Borno state, many who reads my bylines on the pages of the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers knows that I wrote with brave fingers and standing for the truth of what I know. It was on that premise that the late Bishop of Maiduguri, Emmanuel Kana Mani appointed me as the Diocese Director of Press Affairs even though I was coming from another Church. He (late) Emmanuel Kana Mani also gave me the award and honour as the defender of faith. When I write I do so as a journalist and nothing more. My pen to this day is neither Christian or Muslim but I stand for Justice where I stand. I read the publication by the Sahara Reporters with the title: “Former Borno Governor, Shettima Will Show He’s Anti-Christian At National Level If Voted In As Nigerian Vice President.” A statement to which it alleged in that report.
For a fact I know that Senator Kashim Shettima was not the governor of Borno state when the stoppage of teachings of Christian Religious Knowledge was hatched, planned and executed in Borno. Kashim Shettima was still a Banker seeking accounts to raise his cabals during the 1999 and 2003 reigns of late Borno state governor, Mala Abdulsalam Kachallah. So, I don’t know how this relates to his (Shettima’s) administration, which came between 2011 and 2019. I had the opportunity to sit in a group to chat with those who pushed for the removal of CRK in the school curriculum. And I understand what happened and how they force the government of late Mala Kachallah to succumb. This is certainly not about government policy but the inroad to Islamic fundamentalism in the buildup to Boko Haram insurgency in the state. It happened during the administration of late Kachallah and I got to know this during the Modu Sheriff administration where one Malam Buni, a former foot soldiers in the rank of the Yusufia Movement began the discussion on how they fought the Late Mala Kachallah’s government to stop the teachings of Christian Religious Knowledge in government schools in Borno state. That was the period between 2003 and 2011. Kashim Shettima was not the governor of Borno state at that time.
All those who had lived in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital between 1999 and 2003 are aware of the spiritual movement by a section of the Islamic group that later metamorphosis into what is now known as BOKO HARAM. Before then, those who could recalled would agree with me that, these group of people forces the government to remove the Eagle status infront of the Maiduguri Government House. They force the removal of the status of a Horse and it’s rider at the biggest roundabout which leads routes to Post Office Area, GRA and Kashim Ibrahim way. They force the government to remove the status of the Fish at Baga road roundabout leading also to Galadima side.
They also force the removal of the status of Camels on the Custom House roundabout to mention few base on the knowledge of the believe that on the last day Allah will ask them to breath on these status life or face his wrath. These were some of their reasons. When all these was happening, the APC Vice Presidential Candidate Senator Kashim Shettima was still a Banker. So, where did Reverend Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, Director General of the Centre for Justice on Religious and Ethnicity In Nigeria missed out on his analysis to say in his statement that Kashim Shettima was the governor of Borno state when these attrocities were happening?
On February 18,2006 there was a coordinated attacks on Christians and Churches in Borno state, which gave birth to a reprisal attack on Hausas and Northeners in Anambra state in southeast Nigeria. Fifty-Seven Churches were bunrt down and Christians bleeds. Kashim Shettima was not the governor of Borno state at that time. These are facts and those who keeps history have the dates. Indeed, the Boko Haram conflict NOT it’s establishment started in 2008 and snowball into a major riot in 2009. Majority of the people in Borno state especially Muslims never believed a time would come when they had to flee their homes in mass Exodus because many were relaxed, they never saw the conflict as a flood that would wash away their homes and livelihoods until it happened.
Kashim Shettima took the leadership of Borno state at the time the conflict was at the height of bleeding from everyside. The period between 2011 and 2019 when he leads Borno state, it was full of stories of laughter and pain for every citizen of Borno state who remains at the home front or those who had fled to hibernate or relocated completely. Several time, governor Kashim Shettima appeared frustrated with much that is bleeding inside. There was bashing from all sides that at a point he had to be restrained because he got to a point that he told the media that if he opens his mouth to speak, heads would roll. It goes to show that the pressure was too high on him in the occasion of what transpired and the government at the centre is not will to give a listening ears but are looking for a scarecrow to blame on the politics of human-hodding, the result of which has ended the Jonathan’s administration in the wave of the Buhari emergence.
To blame Kashim Shettima on the abduction of the Chibok School Girls was dramatic given the number of soldiers and other security agencies in the state at that time. The rights of the Federal government to assert it’s powers to prevent such unfortunate occurance that give birth to many other conflict that engulf not only the northeast but the entire northern region, the southeast and some part of the southwest and south-south of Nigerian states was not because the governors were too powerful that they could stop the federal might. So was the case with Borno state during the April 14, 2014 episode.
Reverend Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, Director General of the Centre for Justice on Religious and Ethnicity In Nigeria probably knew nothing or very little of what has transpired between 1999 and 2023 Or between 2023 and 2011 to have been running and chasing goose in trying to link Kashim Shettima with happenings around that time in Borno state. Kashim Shettima came at the time of trouble, as a governor he tries to heal the wound by reconstructing Churches hitherto bunrt down by Boko Haram in many villages across Borno state. He should approach the former CAN Chairman, Reverend Titus Pona and the likes Bishop Naga to speak about what the government did or did not do for Christians in the state. He should approach other clargy-men who were there to speak on what the government do on behalf of the Christian communities at that time. They have books and records.
The struggle to stop the teachings of CRK dates back to military era but it could not be achieved. According to Malam Buni, they got the final order to completely implement their plans when democracy returns in 1999 with the coming of the late Mala Kachallah’s government. For peace to reign, he (late Mala Kachallah) reluctantly agreed to their request and they move out as of the Biblical Saul with the zeal to do as they please. Malam Buni is still alive. I recently saw him in Abuja. This has no place in history to do with Kashim Shettima as governor of Borno state as Reverend Kallamu Dikwa would want people to believe from his theories of falsehood.
While politics must come to play, in society like ours, it should be played with the decency of facts especially from so called religious people who are throwing bad theories as historical facts. Reverend Kallamu Dikwa should go back and search the books. On other issues I shall remind him of facts tested by fire. Kashim Shettima would have barbicue the Christians in Borno where he had all the powers as a governor if he has an Anti-Christian policy. But Reverend Kallamu Dikwa should know that religion is bigger than any government especially in a country like Nigeria.