While Nigerians were still trying to come to terms with the nomination of Maryam Shetty, a young and relatively unknown politician from Kano State, as a minister, her shocking replacement few hours to her screening has set tongues wagging on the intriguing power play that precipitated the unfolding process, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
Shetty entered into national limelight when her name was one of the 19-man list submitted by President Bola Tinubu in his second batch of ministerial nominees after the conclusion of the screening of the first batch. But the president shocked Nigerians on Friday with another correspondence to the Senate, informing them of two additional ministerial nominees and the withdrawal of Maryam Shetty.
The Kano State nominee was replaced with Dr Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, a former Commissioner for Higher Education in Kano State. Also, Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former Minister of State for Labour and spokesman for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Council during the presidential election, was included among the ministerial nominees. His absence on the previous lists had also raised some dusts.
However, the scenario that played out on Friday, leading to the announcement of the withdrawal of Shetty as a ministerial nominee, shocked many. This was because few minutes before the news of her removal came through, a short video of her at the National Assembly for screening had surfaced on the social media.
Daily Trust Saturday confirmed the authenticity of the video from one of her associates, who said he was with her at the National Assembly for the screening when they heard of the development. The associate, who spoke in confidence, said Shetty was shocked with the news and immediately for her home.
Shetty could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report as calls to her known line was not connecting, while a message sent to her via iMessage was marked delivered but has not been responded to.
The power play
Daily Trust Saturday confirmed from multiple sources that the immediate past governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who on Thursday emerged as the new national chairman of the ruling APC, nominated Bunkure, his former commissioner to replace Shetty.
Ganduje’s associates told our correspondent that the real power play that led to the swapping of Shetty with Bunkure is that she does not belong to the political family of the former governor. It was suspected that her name was “smuggled” into the list by a senior member of the presidency.
It was gathered that Ganduje was informed that the slot Shetty used to make the list should have gone to him; hence he was asked to nominate a replacement. This is more so as the other nominee from Kano, Abdullahi Tijjani Gwarzo, is Tinubu’s associate from their days in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN). Thus, after Ganduje emerged as the national chairman of the party on Thursday at the party’s 12th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting and got the information that the president had been ‘misled’ in nominating Shetty, he started the process of “righting the wrongs,” his associates said.
The president was surprised that the nomination of Shetty did not come from Ganduje, one of the sources said, adding that “the people that nominated her showed a picture she took with the former Kano governor to the president to make it look like she was in his group”.
On the manner in which the replacement was communicated, one of the associates of Ganduje said it was the president’s way of communicating to those that “smuggled” Shetty’s name into the list to know that he was in charge and was not happy.
“It was also to communicate that the national chairman has the hearing ears of the president, and it is a warning to whoever smuggled her name into the list,” he said.
Kano is one of the strategic states the ruling party hopes to regain, and with the breakdown in talks with Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, whose New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) controls Kano, analysts said Tinubu may have concluded on consolidating his push for the state through the Ganduje camp.
However, sources close to Shetty said that aside the insinuation that the young politician was reportedly nominated by the chief of staff to the president, another reason Ganduje sought and secured her replacement was because she had been vocal in the past against some of his policies when he held sway as governor, including the controversial deposition of former Emir Muhammadu Sanusi.
“Perhaps the insinuation that she was nominated by the chief of staff gained momentum because Shetty is Abuja-based although she is from Kano. This might be the reason the Kano APC family was not happy with her nomination.
“Another reason is that she is close with former Emir Muhammadu Sanusi and she was very vocal against his removal. You know she is very popular on social media, where she champions several causes, including women’s rights,” one of her associates in Kano who asked not to be named, told Daily Trust Saturday.
How Bunkure got the nod ahead of other bigwigs
While Bunkure served in the Ganduje administration, Daily Trust Saturday gathered that she was not among top contenders for the ministerial list. She got the nod ahead of other strong contenders because Tinubu made his intention to have a certain number of females in his cabinet clear.
“Oga (Ganduje) was informed by the president that he would prefer the replacement of Shetty to be a woman so as to meet his target number for female representation in his cabinet. This is why Bunkure got the nod at the last minute. Although she is close to the family, there were stronger contenders, but all of them are male, so oga picked her,” an associate of the APC national chairman said.
Bunkure is a medical doctor and contemporary of Shetty. Some of their associates also said both could be described as friends as they were classmates throughout junior secondary school and were both at Bayero University’s Faculty of Medicine at the same time, where Bunkure read Medicine and Surgery and Shetty read Physiotherapy.
While Shetty made name for herself through her social activism, Bunkure became popular as a commissioner in the second term of Ganduje. She is a friend to Amina Ganduje, one of the daughters of the former governor. It was believed that Amina influenced her appointment as commissioner.
Shetty’s nomination, replacement set social media agog
Daily Trust Saturday reports that since her nomination on Wednesday, Shetty’s name has been one of the most mentioned across the social media like Facebook and Twitter (X). While many were querying her choice based on her youthfulness and political power play in Kano, others celebrated her nomination as a hope for youths in the Tinubu administration. But on Friday after her name was withdrawn, Twitter users more or less queued behind her to register their shock.
Sanusi Dantata wrote, “This situation is sad. She doesn’t deserve this emotional roller coaster. I had not heard her name until her nomination; I pity her. May this be the best for her and our country, Ameen!”
A former aide to Ganduje and gubernatorial candidate in the last election, Salihu Tanko Yakasai wrote, “I pity Maryam Shetty, irrespective of whether she is qualified to be a minister or not. I blame the process that nominated her and withdrew her name. This is embarrassing. She might never recover from this humiliation.”
A supporter of the NNPP in Kano, Hassan Sani (Noble Hassan) tweeted, “This is disappointing. Irrespective of party differences and what we thought of Maryam Shetty’s nomination, I think it is vile to subject her to this national embarrassment. I hope she gets something good.”
Akin Akinwale also tweeted, “The removal of Maryam Shetty’s name shares the top spot for worst political heartbreaks, along with David Lyon’s disqualification.”
Dawood Abubakar tweeted, “The youths’ response to Maryam Shetty’s ministerial nomination indicates that we might not be prepared for the change we claim to seek. Although we advocate more youth and women in the system, the narrative quickly shifts when someone unfamiliar to us is nominated.”
A social commentator, Gimba Kakanda also tweeted, “Maryam Shetty is a dedicated frontline party loyalist. The decision that led to her replacement had absolutely nothing to do with social media outrage in some quarters.
“This change is likely for the best for her, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”
Japhet Omojuwa (JJ Omojuwa) wrote, “The president shouldn’t have called her to withdraw the nomination, anyone else could have done that on his behalf. She now deserves his personally delivered apology. She didn’t nominate herself. No one deserves to be so humiliated.” (Daily Trust)