Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the national director of publicity of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has been appointed a special adviser on politics to Kashim Shettima, Nigeria’s vice president.
In a one-paragraphed tweet posted on his official X handle, @baba_hakeem, on Monday, Baba-Ahmed surprised many when he revealed that he had accepted the appointment, describing his selection as an opportunity to help in turning around the nation’s fortunes.
“It is time to make it public that I have accepted the call to serve as Special Adviser (Political) to the VP, @KShettim. This is not the time for fence-sitting or criticism when you can be useful in turning the country round. I am honored and humbled. Please pray for me & Nigeria,” the tweet reads.
It is time to make it public that I have accepted the call to serve as Special Adviser (Political) to the VP, @KShettim .This is not the time for fence-sitting or criticism when you can be useful in turning the country round. I am honored and humbled. Please pray for me & Nigeria— Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. (@baba_hakeem) September 18, 2023
In August, Baba-Ahmed had criticised the Bola Tinubu-led government, accusing it of plunging Nigeria and Nigerians into more problems with its economic policies.
A statement he signed purportedly on behalf of NEF stated in part, “Attempts to correct mistakes have not been very successful, and these have been made worse by the barrage of plans and policies being hinted at, which will make life even more intolerable for the Nigerian.
“Where efforts have been made to correct mistakes, they appeared too hastily decided and will, in the long term, do little to relieve the desperate challenges of daily living of Nigerians. On the whole, the first few weeks of President Tinubu will be recorded by history as the act of a leadership that made bad situations considerably worse, and fails to explain why.
“The Forum prefers to believe this is not the intention of the administration, but it shares the agony of the citizen whose life has taken a major turn for the worse in the last few weeks. The Forum wishes to advise the administration to consider taking some basic steps to improve the context in which it seeks to achieve short and long term goals.”
Baba-Ahmed also chided the government for keeping mute on what it planned to do to ameliorate the hardship brought upon Nigerians by its policies.
“The most important at this stage is to communicate with Nigerians in a manner that lets us understand why it has become necessary that we should go through major pains, including whether they are inevitable or avoidable. The citizen is entitled to know why it is now impossible for millions of families to feed; why his child may soon be out of school, and why his life has no timeline for recovery,” the statement further reads.
“Nigerians want to know how we got here, who and what was responsible for the prices we are paying for their actions, and what the administration plans to do to bring the past to book.”
However, Professor Doknan Sheni, NEF Director General, later issued a statement, dissociating the group from the views expressed by Baba-Ahmed, saying it lacked any legitimacy.
“We wish to state categorically that the write-up and the contents were not the views of the Directors of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), and therefore do not represent the views of NEF on the Administration. This was the personal opinion of Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed. NEF has a procedure for approving such press releases,” Sheni had said.
The new political aide to Shettima is the elder brother of Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the vice-presidential candidate to Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) in the last general election.
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