The frenzied attacks on the recently-announced Vice Presidential candidate of the APC, Senator Kassim Shettima, over an old photo purportedly showing him dining with members of a terror group has been revealed as false, following the emergence of facts on the real events behind the image by those present.
A media aide of Senator Shettima whilst he was Governor of Borno, Ahmed Ishaq Ningi, who took the photo being circulated clarified on his Twitter page that contrary to the negative and malicious interpretations given to the image, the former Governor was actually dining with Mbororo parents, a nomadic Fulani group, whose children were beneficiaries of his education investments.
Senator Shettima, as part of his transformation of education in Borno, had built a modern and fully-equipped primary and secondary school in New GRA, Maiduguri.
In a bid to drive enrollment, particularly among the Mbororos who, having lost their livelihoods and homes to terror attacks, were displaced with their children largely out-of-school, the Governor introduced free meals and enabled easy access through the provision of bicycles and buses to convey pupils to and fro the school.
His visit and dining with the parents captured in the image making the rounds, was part of his tour of the area to persuade parents on the benefits of formal education and to promote enrollment of their kids.
The move, according to former aide Ningi, “paid off as the enrollment which initially stood at 50 when the programme started, sky rocketed to thousands. Many of the Mbororo pupils can now read and write.”
The enrollment benefits and government facilitated access through free meals and transportation continues in Borno as a towering legacy of Senator Kassim Shettima to boost literacy rate in the state, carefully integrate children into the society, and raise a generation of skilled citizens with the right tools to leverage attracted investments and join the formal workforce and strengthen the economy.
The sad twisting of the photo, however, speaks to the malicious strategy of those who, seeing no reasonable ground to challenge the selection of Senator Kassim Shettima as running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have settled on the reckless exploitation of Nigeria’s fault lines through deliberate distortions and reiteration of negative profiling built on ignorance and bigotry.
The false recasting of an innocent Mbororo family who were victims of terrorist activities as terrorists themselves, thus subjecting the poor individuals to undeserved abuse and suspicion that could result in bodily harm, is one of the many dangers of this reckless strategy and why Nigerians must carry out due diligence, especially at this time, before amplifying false tropes deliberately put out to inflame and divide.