Vice President Kashim Shettima recently came under fire for ‘mocking’ Usman Oladipo, one of his former university classmates who currently works as a deputy general manager (DGM) in a bank.
Shettima had referred to Oladipo as “languishing and working in a mediocre financial institution”.
The vice president made the statement at the 10th National Assembly retreat in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State on Friday, while addressing legislators “on utilising power for public good”.
“We are going to spend more years of our lives outside power than in power. Power to me is a humbling experience. Power should be used for the good of the people,” said Shettima during his address.
“We are the luckiest among Nigerians. We are not better than our next-door neighbour. Yesterday, I hosted my classmates from the University of Ibadan, the MSc class of 1991.
“The best graduating student in my class was Usman Oladipo. Oladipo is languishing as a DGM in one mediocre bank. He was the best graduating student, and that goes to show that we are here not because we are the best of the best.”
Although the message appeared well-intentioned, the manner in which the vice president spoke of his former colleague spurred reactions on social media. The vice president’s comments were also interpreted in some quarters as condescending. This group of Nigerians feel such remarks should not be coming from the second most powerful person in the country.
“A VP demeaning honest work tells you all you need to know,” Uncle Alex, an X user, posted.
Expressing similar sentiments, Adebayo Abdulrahman, another X user wrote, “Shettima’s disparaging remark about an honest individual whose only offense was being academically superior to his classmates underscores everything wrong with us as a people.”
‘HOW MUCH IS SHETTIMA OFFICIALLY ENTITLED TO?’
As an offshoot of the vice president’s remark, Oluseun Onigbinde, the director of civic organisation BudgIT, took to social media to question the entitlement of Shettima.
“How much is he officially entitled to from being a commissioner to the vice president if not for the power of asymmetry and abuse of privileges that has become the attribute of Nigerian leaders?” Onigbinde queried, further stating that the vice president’s comments were distasteful.
A deputy general manager is a high-ranking senior executive officer in a commercial bank. He or she oversees multiple operations and reports to the general manager and the board.
While FIJ was unable to ascertain the exact financial institution where Oladipo worked or the exact amount paid to DGMs in commercial banks, it was learnt from multiple bankers, who asked not to be named, that DGMs typically earn over a million naira, excluding incentives and bonuses that come with being in managerial positions in banks.
The vice president’s statutory salary, excluding allowances, is N1,010,524.16. However, shrouded allowances and packages offered to political office holders enlarge their coffers to such a magnitude that they are never disclosed to the public.
The vice president, in his speech, acknowledged the transient nature of power, when he told the legislators that they would spend more years of their lives outside power than in it.
Shettima also emphasised that being in power was ultimately for public service. After his remarks, however, several Nigerians noted how the vice president’s statement curiously contradicted his remark about Oladipo, his classmate.
According to them, politics was not a profession and was certainly not better than having a role as a DGM or working in any legitimate profession.
“This gets in line with the labour in vain statement during the campaign. How doe we then build a nation? Who will sweep the streets, take out the garbage, fix the sewer? When we don’t have the basic tenet of dignity of labour and honest means in the fabric of our nation,” Mkpe Kekung, another X user, wrote.
“One, entitled with the erroneous idea that politics is a profession. The phantom belief that they are better at leadership. The uncouth conclusion pinnacling an absolute disregard for hard working citizens.
“My profound respect to smart and hard working Nigerians, those who were the best in their schools and those who were not and still proud and honest with their legitimate business.”
Adetulah Tobi Daniel, yet another X user, also commented on the matter saying, “We are certainly not languishing, only waiting for the rains.”
Olusegun Elemo, the team lead of the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative also wrote: “How can a DGM of even a third generation bank be languishing? Will everyone be in politics? And why should some politicians believe better than the DGM?”