A former minister of Environment and deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, on Wednesday, February 12, joined scores of Nigerians to celebrate Kole Shettima, the Africa director of the MacArthur Foundation. At a dinner which was hosted by the Centre for Democracy and Development took place in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Mohammed while speaking at the event, described Shettima as a friend and colleague every individual need in their lives.
She said: “We thank God for Kole, he makes you believe that there is always hope and that there is always a solution to every challenge.”
“And today is just reminding us how important that for all of us; the quality of the friendships of our lives and what we all stand for,” Mohammed added.
She also wished the celebrant good health and more wisdom more capacity to improve more people especially the youths.
A citation by the Signature TV and read at the occasion by Saddatu Mahdi of WRAPA described Shettima as “a study in humility.”
Shettima studied Political Science at the University of Maiduguri, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and the University of Toronto.
He taught at the University of Maiduguri, University of Toronto and Ohio University before joining the MacArthur Foundation in 1999.
Having been published in several academic journals including Africa Development, Shettima is on the board of several civil society organizations including Center for Democracy and Development, CUSO International and Speakers Corner, and a current Visiting Professor at Yobe State University, Damaturu.
He was state coordinator, and the national education coordinator of Women in Nigeria; Coordinator of the Working Group on Nigeria, Toronto among many others.
In his keynote address, Professor Adele Jinadu, a lecturer of Political Science and a former executive director of the Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS) said Dr Shettima believes in the collective intellect of the Nigerian populace to bring about the desired change in the country.
Jinadu said having a strong passion for democracy and good governance, Shettima has ever remained supportive of scholarships for the improvement of the society.
“Kole has never shied away from pushing and encouraging us towards a united and a better society. The second thing that he has done or that he represents is his passion for democracy and democratic governance” Jinadu said.
Further wishing the celebrant more fruitful years ahead, Jinadu urged Shettima to continue being a great man of intellect and hope to the younger generation.
Also, eulogising the celebrant, the country director of Action Aid, Ene Obi, said Shettima’s steadfastness and dedication to the working-class people and to the less privileged are unprecedented.
“Dr. Kole has been a strong pillar of support for all of us and I can attest to that,” Obi said.
The deputy director of the MacArthur Foundation, Dayo Olaide, said Shettima is an outstanding human being.
Olaide said there is no kind of challenge you take to the celebrant without getting a solution from him.
“You can’t approach Kole with a problem and leave that office without a solution or at least a hope that, yes, it can be solved.”
“And I think for all the young people that are here with us today, this is a message for you. The world has enough bankers, enough economists, what the world is looking for are solution providers,” Olaide said.
In his address, the celebrant said it is really difficult for him to respond to all the love and felicitation he has received so far.
Shettima said: “It is really difficult to say anything in this kind of occasion because when I got a text that this was going to happen, I immediately said, no because the governor of my state has asked me to go to Damaturu.”
Shettima said the executive director for the Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, had called to inform him of his needed presence at the dinner.
“And of course, Idayat said she has cancelled the governor and I said Idayat, you simple director is cancelling a governor. I definitely never anticipated that this was going to happen,” an all grinning Shettima said.
“In fact, what we planned was for Amina’s birthday. I’m really privileged to be hosted by these wonderful Nigerians who believe in the country, humanity and service to the ordinary citizens of this country,” he added.