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VP Kashim Shettima @57: A heartfelt sentiment

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VP Kashim Shettima @57: A heartfelt sentiment

By: James Bwala

Today, the vice president turns 57. On September 2, 1966, this expedition began in Yerwa town, Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. Kashim Shettima is without a doubt the most perceptive, knowledgeable, and attentive person I have ever met. He is a compassionate and modest example of the kind of man I want to be. He draws attention whenever he speaks because of his contagious smile of knowledge and contagious laugh of humility. A photographic memory is something that only those who possess it can fully comprehend, and I firmly believe that Kashim Shettima is one of those lucky individuals!

I’d like to believe that all Kashim Shettima’s staff members reading this know exactly what I am talking about, and I am fairly certain most of my previous guests and avid blog followers know too. I have worked with Kashim Shettima since his days as Commissioner in Borno State, although I knew him long before now, and one can only describe my relationship with him as a life-changing experience. Having had little to no knowledge of politics or much previous political experience, I came to Shettima keen and willing to learn as much as possible about this beautiful and new platform that I now call my second home. It was difficult to be one of the least experienced trainees in Shettima’s staff (of all time), but I quickly found my feet, put my head in the books, and tried to study the vast array of flora and fauna situated in our immediate surroundings.

But my understanding of politics did not significantly increase until I teamed up with Kashim Shettima as a ranger and tracker. Shettima helped me get to where I am today by being patient and being able to share his knowledge. We were able to establish a solid and cohesive link during our first drive together, and this bond has grown over time into the friendship that we now enjoy. Our gaming drives are governed by trust, loyalty, and respect, and it is the unshakable alliance we have built that allows us to collaborate so well.

We have had the good fortune to experience some amazing political interactions together, to analyze various situations, to follow the development of political opportunities and the dynamic play of many times, and to share our individual life experiences and backgrounds with one another. He has taught me essential lessons in tracking, spent endless hours helping me set up, protected me during trying moments, and I am still in awe of his extraordinary spotting skills. I will always carry his palpable presence with me on this machine we call life. Future generations must treasure and transmit his amazing astronomical knowledge and reverence for fostering relationships.

Kashim Shettima is a truly amazing individual who has made a significant impact on many lives, as well as on everyone who has had the honor of driving with Kashim Shettima from his early years to the present. I am confident that those who have previously worked with him will share a similar attitude and appreciation for what he has accomplished. He is an exceptional person and father who is gracious, knowledgeable, giving, and humble.

While growing up in Maiduguri, Bullumkuttu, Abuja, precisely. I had the privilege of attending the same primary school as the Vice President’s relatives. We have been friends with the Usman Alkali family, and I can still remember my closeness with Salamatu Usman, Yagana Usman, and Adamu Usman, to name a few. We lived in the same neighborhood where our parents had come to know each other. That was where it all began, and I came to know him. Kashim Shettima is without a doubt one of this planet’s most precious humans. I have heard them talk about his intelligence and drive for inspiration. He is so knowledgeable and patient! He has a great sense of humor and is keen to pass on his knowledge if you are genuinely interested.

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I remember him saying to me one day, “I know you read a lot! Shettima had made the arbitrary remark while making coffee a few months earlier at his breakfast table. To my surprise, when I turned to face him, he gave me a funny smile and a quiet giggle. I returned his smile and said, “I was,” giving him a shoulder nudge in response. Without a doubt, my love of reading, but more so my modest admiration and sincere gratitude for everything I have learned from such a great man One of my favorite times with him was at that point.

The phrases you spoke at each amazing sighting, which wonderfully captured the chemistry between you and those of us who are around you, have motivated me to do much more in my efforts to increase my comprehension of the lessons we receive from you. We were fortunate to have you as our guide on our once-in-a-lifetime journey. I’m delighted that both of us were able to have such a big influence on me.

So many people in this world do not get the adulation they truly deserve. In life, the people who hold us down are very significant; their smiles when we see them every time are the greatest treasures of hope that we slowly cultivate in our hearts and minds. Kashim Shettima is a good friend. Great are those who don’t cut off the hands that feed and hold them through difficult and good times. There are so many people in this world who do not receive the praise they rightfully deserve. The individuals that hold us back in life are very important, and the smiles we see on their faces every time are the greatest treasures of hope that we gradually grow in our hearts and brains. This friend and brother, Kashim Shettima, is a good one. Those who don’t chop off the hands that support and nourish them in both good and bad times are great.

The Village Choir was a highlight of my dance, though! I hope I can once again dazzle you with my dance skills. A lovely tribute to what seems to be an amazing man! Any lesson learned from Kashim Shettima’s lifestyle will undoubtedly always be connected to the happy times and life lessons he shared with those who were close to him. When I initially met him, I was sensitive to the idea that he would “test” me before winning me over with his kind ways and sly smile. My best wishes are with you for this new chapter in your life, Your Excellency. You have the drive, so you and your family will succeed! It was nice meeting you, and I’m glad we were able to make a big difference in your day.

VP Kashim Shettima @57: A heartfelt sentiment

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Mala Kachallah: 17 years ago And Fresh On My Mind

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Mala Kachallah: 17 years ago And Fresh On My Mind

By: Inuwa Bwala

Having worked very closely with other bosses besides Mala Kachallah, people often wonder and ask me about what makes Mala Kachallah so unique that I find it difficult to forget him for close to two decades.
I often find it difficult to explain, but I know that there exists an unbroken cord, which not even death could break.
And as the date marking the seventeenth anniversary of his death approached, I knew duty beacons on me to again test my annual fidelity.
But I did not know what new thing I needed to say, seventeen years after the death of Mala Kachallah, different from what I have written before.

The more I tried to forget the events of Wednesday 18th April, 2007, the fresher everything seem to be, reminding me and indeed, many of his disciples of the sad reality of having to live in perpetual nostalgia of the times we shared with Mala Kachallah.
Every anniversary of that day gives me, in particular, cause to reminiscence.

For me, every time I think some events will make me overcome the nostalgia, every year brings with it fresh tears for Mala Kachallah.
While fewer people today remember him, every passing year, comes with fresh questions about leadership and the challenges of today.
from people who still remember him.

I am not surprised that so many people, who hitherto adore him, seldom remember him today, given the existential challenges everyone seems to be facing. But I am afraid that our quest for survival may swallow with it the history of our heroes who are not physically with us today.
Just as the grasses of time seem to overgrow our senses of remembrance, so is the cemetery getting congested, with so many tombs threatening to swallow the exact spot Mala was buried.

For the third year now, I have not been to the Gwange cemetery for the usual homage, but that has not beclouded my sense of fidelity for the man, whose real value, many people did not appreciate untill he was gone.
I woke up this morning not knowing what to write, but I dug up an older piece I wrote and tried to cannibalise some thoughts, even as a fulfilment of my onligation.

Every time I recall my days with the sage, the thought of a few people come to my mind. Some are still around, while others have joined the world beyond.
Every time I think of Mala Kachallah, some people readily come to mind: People like Ali Abubakar Jatau, Dr Shettima Mustapha, Alhaji Ahmed Ashemi, Mala Alamai, Baba Dunoma, Maina Mohamned Tar. Fati Kakeena, Bashir Dungus. Iliya Stephen, Halima Rabassa, Mohammed Monguno, Kolo Warne, Alibe Konduga, Abba Habib, Modu Ngobama, Kabiru Sai Mala, and many more.
Very often, I try to juxtapose events of Mala Kachallah’s regency, against the Birno of today. I conclude that, even if he were physically around today, it is quite possible that he may not be in the right physical frame to do much, but his presence alone could have served as a reference point in political leadership.
Christened as the Captain Of Peace, one is bound to wonder hiw he would have felt, seeing the peace he bequeathed to Borno, fast giving way.
He may not be able to hold court but he could have been the oracle around whom good students of leadership could converge.

Mala Kachallah may not be strong enough to make powerful public speeches, or visit others, but his elderly counsels, his calm and candour, could have been a take away for everyone that visit.
As for me, I still relish the rich tutelage and his fatherly guide. Some of the things he used to tell me have tended to shape and reshape my outlook in life and forever I remain indebted to him even in death.

Mala Kachallah: 17 years ago And Fresh On My Mind

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Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

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Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

By: Balami Lazarus 

I was with him in his residence in Maiduguri three weeks before he passed away, on February 18, 2024. Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya was looking fine and in good, healthy condition. There was no sign of a final good-bye this time around in my mind. 

Dr. Madu and I had a long discussion on the state of the nation and some contemporary issues and ended with Zaria/Samaru nostalgia as a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in the 1970s, where Mailafiya taught mass media. Unknowingly to us both, death was lurking around.     

On March 29th, 2024, I was again at No. 30 Bukar Dapcharima Road, Old GRA Maiduguri, his residence, for the 40th day of prayers, where prayers were offered for the repose of his gentle soul. 

Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya was born on October 12, 1942, in Gwaski, Sakwa district of Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State. Having schooled both at home and abroad, he became an ace journalist and broadcaster who had worked in various capacities in the electronic media sector and ended his career in retirement as Executive Director of News with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Abuja. 

Testimonies and tributes said of him portray him as a good man with a large heart who has contributed to the human and capital development of his community. He was 81 and survived by his children and grandchildren. 

Balami, a publisher and columnist.

Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

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Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

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Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

By: Dr. James BWALA

I saw the post on the Borno NUJ WhatsApp platform at 4:09 p.m. It was posted by the NUJ Chairman, comrade Dauda Iliya. It was not expected, as always, but it is the reality of life. stage for one at a time. This time, our elder, as we all called him, answered the call to be with his Creator. For us, it was as sad and shocking as it was for his family, friends, and associates. I immediately called on Sir Raymond Gukas, who, seeing my calls, knew it was about Elder Pam. His demise was not without shocking waves for every journalist, especially those of us who worked with him.

I recalled the first time we met. But I have heard his name. My brother, Hon. Inuwa BWALA, always called this name long before I joined their profession. I also recalled when I first went out on an assignment with him. We took a taxi from Shehu’s palace to the post office then, and as often with journalism professionals, we debated issues and happenings from our own point of view and journalistic findings. Only at that time was he having the debate with another respected elder, whom we called Gomna Mshelizza.

They were by far my seniors in age and experience, so I could not join in the debate but listen and learn from their wealth of experience. As the driver moved and pulled over to pick and drop passengers, I was listening to these two genres, expressing myself with a smile and supporting both factions when they demanded my nodding. I was a green horn but a novelty one, and these two brought me as close as possible because I was fast at learning the ropes.

At the Maiduguri Government House, we filed our stories by fax machine afterwards. We call it a day and to meet in the morning for another dutiful day. Elder Gomna Mshelizza left, and I and Elder Pam marched to the gate to catch a taxi to the post office, where we would split and move to our destinations. In between the distances we were trekking, we discovered a friendship. He was an elder and my senior brother’s friend who became my friend. He was a good man.

As journalists, sometimes we prove to be stubborn in putting superior argumentation over issues with our jobs. However, we hold Elder Pam’s decisions most superior and cases close. He became the rallying point for easing tension among colleagues. He was also an adviser and bridge builder. When I had issues with my friend and colleague, the late Isa Gusau, the Borno governor’s spokesman, Elder Pam was readily available to help me cross the obstacles placed in my way when every other person seemed to have distanced themselves, even as a chapel. He was there to advise and encourage until the issues were resolved.

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Although that move became a blessing to me, I see him as one of those who never stopped calling me while I was in the wilderness after I was declared persona non grata to the seat of government, and the “Qua or Kwa” was fully denied me when the government released such a relief cup for practicing journalists in Borno State. I survived through the woods with his advice and encouragement until the end of that struggle.

When everything was settled and friendships were rebuilt, I had already found my foot on other grounds where I was building on my career and future in the journalism profession. Elder Pam was, however, always there to check on how I was doing and keep faith. He always told me that was life, and I believe him. On February 21, 2024, we were chatting on WhatsApp, discussing issues in the country. His last text reads, “Be thankful always.”.

I had thought of him last week and also yesterday, but I could not call. I had thought I would be around Jos sometimes in April and hoped that I could have a time to visit him and shook hands since he was said to have been leading a community as a traditional leader in his community, but death doesn’t give time. All I have to say is that, Elder, we all appreciate you and hope to meet at the foot of the master when the roll call is made for us to leave this sinful world, as those on the pulpit would always remind us on a Sunday….And he would always say…”To God Be The Glory.”

James BWALA, PhD, writes from Abuja.

Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

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