The Return of ‘The Home Boy’
Ibrahim Kadafir Mshelia, pilot, airline and flight school proprietor storms Borno State and promises to create an upset in the 2019 governorship election
Ibrahim Kadafir Mshelia is a pilot with assets that represent the yearnings of many Nigerians for those seeking political office. Beyond being an accomplished personality in the air navigation profession, he peaked as a airline operator. Kadafir owns Mish Aviation, a fledgling chartered airline concern with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria and a flight school that has over the years been shunning out pilots to boost the trade, oxygenate the profession and enhance the aviation sector he belongs.
At 55, he still looks very young and energetic. And he is passionate about reinventing Borno, his home state, so he is deploying his abilities to this project.
But Mshelia is also liberal, articulate, accommodating and detribalized. Though a Muslim, his mother and wife are both Christians. In fact, his wife, Ann Nkem Mshelia, Nee Tolefe hails from Asaba, an Igbo speaking town in Delta State.
Since his declaration to run for the office of governor, the pilot has been making waves, converting new members to Labour Party, smashing long-held views and redrawing the political map of Borno State.
Mshelia’s magic lies in the fact that he is fully prepared and ready to square up with anybody confident enough to challenge him ideas for ideas, particularly on issues of government and development. Recently, he told a gathering of Borno State professionals in Lagos and Maiduguri that he has all it takes to rescue his state from the grip of extreme poverty, joblessness, idleness, extremism, underdevelopment and maladministration.
He also spoke on his understanding of power and his strategy for optimum utilization of the authority that comes naturally to the office of a governor. “Power gives resources, mobility, energy, security, opportunities and more. As a student of power, I know the limitless opportunities and the impact I will make in my state if given the opportunity to serve”, he revealed.
According to him, “our major problem is that people are not just prepared and ready for leadership. It takes determination, and I have the will. I have the passion, I have the training and exposure. And I also have the temperament. I will turn Borno State around because leadership is essentially our problem”.
The governorship aspirant also decried the decrepit state of public infrastructure in the state, describing it as unacceptable. He revealed that the roads, buildings and public utilities he knew as a young boy in primary school many years ago are still the way they are: neglected, abandoned and dilapidated.
But he is promising his people a new life even as he remains confident of victory. He revealed that before now, he did not fully appreciate the meaning of political structures because according to him, ‘I am not your politician next door”. All that is now changing, a development he links with his regular visits to Borno State and interaction with his people.
For the pilot, airline and flight school proprietor turned politician, the most interesting part is the overwhelming acceptance and the daily decamping exercise from other political parties by those who believe in his mission.
However, part of Mshelia’s success political story which is still unfolding in leaps and bounds is also connected to his father, a man well known for his compassion and good nature. The elder Mshelia who was fondly called Mai yi Don Gobe, meaning: “the man who does things for the sake of tomorrow” was a staunch follower of Mallam Aminu Kano and a strong member of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party, PRP.
Today, Ibrahim is reaping bountifully from the legacies of a devoted and considerate father who saw good in people, no matter their social status. But the governorship aspirant is always quick to remind people around him that aside his father’s good name, he is also bringing to table, his integrity, consistency, unblemished record as a pilot and manager of people.
“I was pleasantly surprised and shocked to discover that I was being scrutinized. I never really knew that I was monitored. They said I never worked for government and that I am consistent and true to the things I believe in. The numerous groups that interfaced with me in the last couple of weeks harped on the fact that they are tired of people without principles and pedigree. They said they have tried many politicians who failed them, so they are staying with me because I promised hope and a new beginning. They are therefore dumping their parties for a better and all-encompassing future that guarantees hope and a better tomorrow for them and their children,” he said.
So far, the dissenting voices, mainly from the camp of his opponents and those threatened by his dramatic entry into Borno politics focus on his so-called long absence from home.
But Mshelia is providing answers and countering their deliberate falsehood and diversionary narratives. “I retired last year for the service of my people. They say I don’t come home regularly and I asked them: what is my profession? They said piloting. And I asked, where is the airport in Biu that will make it possible for them to see me all the time?
“I work in airports. In my entire working career of 35 years, I took vacations twice, and for less than a month because I was always recalled in-between. So how could I have visited home regularly even if I had wanted,” he asked.
As the countdown begins, Mshelia obviously has advantages that would yield instant dividends especially in a country like Nigeria where leaders are largely ignorant about religion and culture. With part of his education in the South, a wife who is a Catholic and a wide network of friends across various divides, the aspirant knows he is already on course.
By Gboyega Adeoye