The introduction to the book of Jeremiah writes on change: Is it ever too late to change? No. But sometimes, it is too late to avoid punishment. You can say you are sorry and you will never do it again, but you will probably be punished. And if you refuse to change, well, then you can be sure there is more trouble.
Jeremiah’s contemporaries refused to change. For 40 years, God’s prophet urged the people of Judah to turn back to God. If they didn’t change, God was going to destroy the nation. Instead of changing, the people of Judah got mad with Jeremiah. Finally, what Jeremiah predicted happened. Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed by Babylon and the people were taken captive.
Jeremiah was never liked by the people because as a messenger of God, his messages always conveyed serious warnings and severe consequences in default. He was tagged prophet of doom or weeping prophet. While other fake prophets predicted rosy life for all and sundry in Judah, in spite of their idolatry and sins, Jeremiah was the opposite.
His message was that of brutal frankness, condemnation of the unrighteousness and rebellion of the people against God, and the prediction of ultimate destruction should the people refuse to amend. His utterances put the people in perpetual state of nightmare. At the end, Jeremiah was vindicated as Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed and the inhabitants made captives for their iniquities.
Since inception of his administration, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who inherited a troubled state in manifestations of socio-economic problems with unmitigated security challenges, had made several statements that centred on inept and poor leadership, self-centeredness, obsessive ambition of the elite, politics of bitterness, corruption, impunity and others that have impacted negatively on the life of people and the state.
The utterances of the governor among others indicted the people, especially the elite, of self-centeredness and evil design against the people and demanded amends to avert unpleasant consequences, including the revolt of the down trodden. He reminded the people of the popular saying, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent one inevitable”.
As a result of the relentless accusation of the elite on the predicament and insolvency of the north, especially Borno, and Shettima’s insistence on the need for them to have a rethink, he stirred the hornet’s nest as he has touched the elite’s interest and provoked their anger.
“Underneath the nihilism of Boko Haram lays the underlying cause, which is social exclusivity and extreme poverty. Once we engage the youth, once we create jobs, this nihilism, this madness will evaporate”
Now, they are fighting back to undermine his person and his administration. Notwithstanding, he has remained undaunted in his message of sting and soul searching for the northern stakeholders. In this game, Shettima has the backing of the masses through his mass-oriented programme and poverty alleviation scheme. Hence, the question: Is Shettima the Jeremiah of his time?
As pointed out earlier, right from the onset of his administration, the Governor was battle ready to call the elite to order. With about six and half years into his eight year tenure, Shettima’s colour remains the same in this disposition and he repeats his stand on various issues at different fora.
For example, the governor’s stand on poor leadership in the north and the need to make amends goes, “The hottest place in the hell fire will be reserved for the northern elite who are living in the islands of affluence and extravagance in an unending ocean of poverty and deprivation where over 80 percent of our people are extremely poor. We take our wards to posh private schools, abandoning the children of the poor, only to be used during electioneering campaigns. The youths are angry. We have few years, five to 10 years to make amends or these young men will descend upon us”.
On self centeredness of most Nigerian leaders, he reiterates, “What do we care? Most of us leaders are mostly concerned about this election and the next one. We do not care what happens in between the elections. Funny enough, our economy as a nation, has direct effect on our democracy on which basis we are carried away by elections”.
With regards the ultimate defeat of the insurgency, Shettima says, “Underneath the nihilism of Boko Haram lays the underlying cause, which is social exclusivity and extreme poverty. Once we engage the youth, once we create jobs, this nihilism, this madness will evaporate”. With regards proper rehabilitation of the orphans and widows, the legacy of Boko Haram, Shettima declares, “These orphans and widows, we either take care of them or they will take care of us 15 years down the line”.