Kashim Shettima, the vice-presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), asserted on Friday that he had been misquoted on a recent remark on the late former head of state Sani Abacha.
Shettima clarified this in a statement after receiving criticism for equating Abacha with Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate.
The former governor of Borno State stated that Nigeria needs the late dictator’s “hospitality” during his speech at the Yoruba Tennis Club’s 96th anniversary celebration in Ikoyi, Lagos.
He said: “We need a leader with the patience and sense of responsibility and commitment, and somebody who understands the national psyche and mood of the nation of an Abdulsalami Abubakar, and in applicable circumstance, we need a leader with a dose of ruthlessness and taciturnity of Gen. Sani Abacha.
“Nice men do not make leaders. We need a leader with intellectual acumen, with the passion to catapult this nation to a higher pedestal. We need a leader who is not bound by regional or religious sentiment.
“We need a leader that has established such records of excellence and commitment to good governance. There is no one, with all due respect, that fits this better than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
However, in the statement, the APC vice-presidential candidate said he was not praising Abacha, saying Nigeria needed a harsh president to combat insecurity, much like the late maximum ruler.
He said: “The obsession with distorting one’s views to settle partisan scores brings to mind a certain WBC Commentary. ‘The trouble with deliberate bias,’ it says, ‘is that it cannot be erased by sound education’. The video of my speech in Lagos is out there for those sincerely curious.
“I never attributed hospitality to Abacha in my speech. I did a rundown of our past presidents and played up ‘the taciturnity and a dose of ruthlessness of a Sani Abacha’ to show we need strongmen to deal with the non-state actors who have turned Nigeria into a vast killing-field.
“I was quick to tease the audience, appreciating the humour hovering around the hall, with the familiar jibe that nice men don’t make good leaders.
“By nice men, I meant those who get easily manipulated and pressured to divert state resources to appeal to private expectations.”