Like several other political dramas, Maryam Shattima Ibrahim popularly known as Maryam Shetty was at the centre of conflicting emotions. She was in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s second list of ministerial nominees. A nomination that was greeted with sujud, an Islamic ritual, by Maryam and lauded by many Nigerians from every part of the nation. Then, like a bad dream, her name was withdrawn from the nomination moments before she was to appear before Nigeria’s Senate for screening. The withdrawal was cut so close that she was already at the National Assembly complex awaiting her turn for screening when the news wafted in. She was later replaced, as it were, by the current FCT minister of state, also a doctor and from the same Kano State as Shetty.
Strong hearted as she is, again, Maryam Shetty accepted this change in fortune with a religious candour found only in few individuals with her kind of unwavering commitment to success. Within minutes, news of her substitution went viral and Nigerians, especially on social media, reacted. Massive messages of solidarity and support lined the streets of Twitter now X and Facebook and Instagram and even pages of news dailies.
A viral and trending video will later emerge wherein erstwhile Governor of Kano State now APC national Chairman made a meal of Maryam Shetty’s misfortune. In the video, which also showed the current Minister of State for FCT, Dr. Mariya, seated amongst other women speaking Hausa, it became clear that Ganduje was behind the substitution of Shetty, but that’s not even the worst of it. The women, urged on by the APC national chairman, were not only dismissive of Maryam Shetty, but their language was also both condescending and filled with bile.
The APC chairman will later reveal in a personally recorded audio that Maryam Shetty’s substitution was as a result of social media pushback against her nomination by some people who flagged her previous social media posts which he claimed were critical of President Tinubu. And, that it was these faceless folks that raised concern about her suitability to represent Kano State in the Federal Executive Council. This claim is not only fallacious, but also bereft of any logic.
The truth is her substitution was neither the result of a pushback by some phantom social media mob nor did it have anything to do with her being unsuitable for the job. Take Dr. Bosun Tijani now at communication and Digital economy for instance, he had some of his previous social media posts, which clearly appeared critical of Nigeria, flagged. In fact, there was a vicious social media campaign against his nomination by people who feel President Tinubu will be rewarding someone who never believed in Nigeria with an appointment.
Bosun Tijani will offer a half-hearted apology during his Senate screening, and all was forgiven. But, Maryam Shetty, who received news of her substitution while awaiting her turn to be grilled by the upper legislative chamber was axed without enjoying the privilege of being screened or tell her story or even apologize like Mr. Bosun. The fact is, Maryam Shetty was axed for her daring personality. She was axed because she didn’t fit the picture of a conservative Arewa woman in the minds of some people. She was axed because some people feared the impact her rise will have on the many Arewa women that have been suppressed by traditional reasoning.
Whereas the people from Bosun Tijani’s neck of the wood stood with him and joined in placating the nation for his past indiscretions, the Arewa alliance, threatened by the audacity and free spirit of Maryam Shetty, a former physiotherapist to multiple athletics world record breaker Usain Bolt, either stood aloof or joined in condemning her. But more than a collective conservativeness being responsible for Maryam Shetty’s predicament, it was vicious politics of rancour from an individual or few individuals whose wielding of newfound power was simply deployed to thwart someone who is well on her way to breaking lots of barriers.
I’m not a member of the APC but I put myself in the shoes of Maryam whose political adversaries refuse to see or consider how she laboured for the party and subsequently the emergence of President Tinubu, and sadly viewed like an intruder. In fact, no one who watched Maryam Shetty’s commitment to the APC cause all through the electioneering campaign will not feel that the woman was simply done in by elite conspiracy. Her face was plastered in every APC event when the conservatives shielded their wives and daughters from making appearances. As the convener of #WeBelieve, a group setup to promote activities of erstwhile President Buhari’s presidency and a member of several APC presidential campaign committees, Maryam was a constant feature in every APC event. She fought shoulder to shoulder with women like Betta Edu, the delectable minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
Her #GivingBackInitiative that has led to the renovation of several schools in Kano may have contributed amongst others to land her a Honorary Degree from the ESGT University of Technology, Benin Republic. Despite the withdrawal of her ministerial nomination, Maryam has remained undaunted and steadfast in her belief in Nigeria.
Indeed, she has remained grateful to the President and his vice for even finding her worthy of nomination to begin with. Such grace from one who suffered such a mixed fate is exemplary indeed.
It seems President Bola Tinubu may have been misled by vicious, fallacious and vindictive advice to remove her name from his ministerial list. But it is my belief that the president would have had an epiphany by now.
This woman is ready and able to serve. This much cannot be overemphasized. With both international and local experience in her kitty, she can contribute in several other capacities and the president will do well to remember that. If not for anything, her appointment to a key position will reinforce the belief of young Nigerians that hard work truly pays. As it stands, she’s perhaps the only young, vibrant and dedicated member of the APC presidential campaign that has been left in a lurch. It doesn’t do justice to the elements of fairness and reward for hard work.
In spite of all the foregoing, I watched Maryam energetically and enthusiastically promoting the ideals of this administration on AIT’s political programme, ‘Democracy Today’ in commemoration of President Tinubu’s 100 days in office.
President Tinubu should remember that he’ll soon come back to the trenches in 2027 and if people like Maryam Shetty, Nasiru El-Rufai will be consumed by political bitterness, who’ll then do the next sacrifice?
Kera, a journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote from Kaduna
Support DAYLIGHT REPORTERS’ to grow in its strive and commitment to promote credible, balanced and accurate journalism.
By contributing to DAYLIGHT REPORTERS, you are helping to sustain unbiased, credible, balanced and accurate news platform that is free and accessible to all.