“For me as a person, I should be ever grateful to God. I’m one of the luckiest members of my generation. I became a governor after only four years in politics not because of my intellectual acumen…,” he said in an interview with Daily Trust newspaper.
Born on 2 September 1966 in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Mr Shettima will for the next four years be the occupant of Aguda House (the official residence of Nigeria’s Vice President). The 57-year-old started his working life as a university lecturer. He later became a banker before quitting in 2007 to join politics.
He attended Lamisula Primary School in Maiduguri from 1972-1978. He started secondary school at Government Community Secondary School in Biu in the southern part of Borno State from 1978 to 1980 but later transferred to Government Science Secondary School, Potiskum, where he completed his secondary education.
Mr Shettima studied Agricultural Economics for both his first and second degrees at the University of Maiduguri and the University of Ibadan respectively.
After finishing his first degree in 1989, Mr Shettima worked at the Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative Bank as a youth corp member in Cross River State. He returned to Maiduguri and started lecturing at the University of Maiduguri until 1993.
His banking years
After Mr Shettima left the university, he returned to the Commercial Bank of Africa and was posted to Lagos as the Head of Accounts. In 1997, he joined the African International Bank in Kaduna as deputy manager and rose to the position of bank manager.
In 2001, he joined Zenith Bank where he spent six years. He rose from the head of the Maiduguri main branch of the bank to a senior manager. He was also named the Zonal Head (Assistant General Manager) of the Northeast region. He left the bank as a general manager in 2007 after he was appointed commissioner by the governor of Borno at the time, Ali Modu-Sheriff.
Mr Shettima was first named the Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development but later served in four other ministries, including Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Education, Agriculture and Health.
Mr Shettima became the governor without setting out to be one. He was brought in as a replacement after the winner of the governorship candidate of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) Modu Fannami-Gubio was shot dead by Boko Haram insurgents in January 2011.
After he emerged as Mr Gubio’s replacement, he was accused of masterminding the killing of the late candidate. But the allegation did not stop him from being elected governor.
The allegation of having a hand in the death of Mr Fannami-Gubio continued even after his first term in office. He repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder.
Despite his efforts in rebuilding the state, Mr Shettima’s eight-year reign was not without controversies. Twice, his predecessor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, accused Mr Shettima of being the brain behind Boko Haram. Despite accepting that the menace began in his reign, Mr Modu-Sheriff insisted that his successor allowed it to bloom which led to the declaration of a caliphate over some local government areas of the state.
Mr Shettima denied the accusations and in return accused his predecessor of financing the terror group.
“The fact is that Sheriff allowed his ego to overcome his action and failed to settle the differences between armed forces and members of the Yusuffiya movement at the time,” he said.
The abduction of 276 pupils of Government Secondary School Chibok in 2014 almost caused Mr Shettima his integrity. The president at the time, Goodluck Jonathan, and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said Mr Shettima masterminded the abduction to help his new party the All Progressives Congress (APC) win the election.
On several occasions, Mr Shettima was also accused of not reaching out to Mr Jonathan to discuss security issues. But the former governor said it was the president who should be reaching out to governors in states battling insecurity.
Senator to VP-elect
At the end of his tenure, he contested and won the election to represent Borno Central District in the Senate. On 20 July 2022, he was appointed the running mate of the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu.
Bola Tinubu’s choice of Mr Shettima surprised many people but the former governor has always been a “Tinubu man”.
“My choice of Shettima is borne out of the urgent need to address the challenges facing the country and Shettima possesses strong leadership abilities which he exhibited when he was the governor of Borno State. I wanted a progressive government that was why I selected Shettima,” Mr Tinubu said.
But many people who know him closely know he is a close ally of Mr Tunubu. In 2017, he named a housing estate after the former Lagos governor for his support to the APC in the state.
Into the Future
Running Nigeria is not a mean feat. This is also so for the vice president. Mr Shettima has taken on a herculean task, one that will require him to dig deep to get the work done.
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