President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Shettima Yerima, has said that President Muhammdu Buhari, who has declared his interest to run for a second term, will be humiliated at the poll.
Speaking with VINCENT KALU, Alhaji Yerima noted that some failed governors, ministers and Buhari’s kitchen cabinet are mounting pressure on him to go on in order for them to be relevant and be in control of the nation.
Buhari has declared to re-contest in 2019, what is your reaction to this?
We have expected this and we have already prepared for him. We are ensuring that every Nigerian youth obtains his or her voter’s card. We will ensure that we secure our votes and our votes count. We didn’t expect him to say that he was not going to contest. This is democracy and no one can deny him the right to contest.
He had admitted that he ought to have been doing something better than he is doing, but age and ill health have actually overtaken a lot of things in him. So, we were thinking that, as a man with integrity; a man who had said he would only go for one term, should understand that he would be under pressure put on him by his cabinet members and governors, who have failed and want to use him to be relevant.
Because of the president’s age, and health, these people want to control Nigeria, and they have to pressure him in order for them to remain in power. Since he has made up his mind, there is no problem, but we are going to ensure that he fails when the time comes.
You are sounding as if you have an axe to grind with him, is this because, as you have said in the past that he has not empowered the Northern youths?
It has nothing to do with appointments. Anybody who knows me from the onset will testify that I have never looked for an appointment, I’m not a government contractor, but I stand on the path of righteousness, and that I would be remembered for even after death. If something is right, it is right and if it is wrong, it is wrong. I don’t have grudges against the president. One, he is a father to me, I have known him personally; I have worked with him and we have a relationship like father and son for a long time from 2003, and there is no doubt that he is like a father to me.
My position doesn’t have any personal grudge against him, it is about Nigeria, and I do not imagine that after all the years we have spent in the trenches, and putting my life in the fight against injustice, and all of a sudden, we have some characters, who have not paid any dues or made any sacrifices trying to undermine our democracy we have fought for. I’m worried about that.
If for instance, President Buhari has a cabinet made up of patriotic Nigerians, who are ready to work, and he dictates what goes on, we wouldn’t have problems, but not when he is not in charge of the government and some people took advantage of his weaknesses and start mismanaging Nigeria. This is deceitful and it can’t be allowed to continue. I have nothing personal against the president. Anybody who knows my record from Obasanjo’s regime, to Yar’Adua and to Jonathan will attest that I have been consistent. I criticise any government that implements anti-people policy in the best interest of the country. Where the government does well, I commend it.
We know he is under pressure by some governors, ministers and kitchen cabinet, we are also mindful that some of these governors have failed woefully and don’t have anything to show to their people, especially, the governors of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, they are calamitous to our society. They have nothing to offer. If Buhari is not contesting, they are finished because they have allegedly amassed public funds. They cannot explain what they did with the Paris refund loan. Many of them are in a mess and to them, it is a do or die, but for us, it is not so. The tenet of democracy must come to play and all of us must ensure that we insist, advocate and sensitise Nigerian youths to get their PVC.
The battle line will be between the old generation, the failed governors, and the youths. I sympathise with him because the pressure is so much on him, but I would have wished that he shouldn’t have succumbed to their blackmail and pressure because he is a man we respect and a man we are proud of as a father. I wish him to retire with more honour than the humiliation he is going to face. With him, these governors, ministers and kitchen cabinet are finished.
There are crises everywhere, and the country has turned to a killing field, we have not had it so bad, why is it so?
It is unfortunate. Every government comes with its own challenges, and everybody should be worried about the situation we are in this country. Insecurity has become an order of the day where life is no more guaranteed. It is either you have the problem of herdsmen with the farmers, kidnapping, robbery, etc, or you have Boko Haram that is at its advanced level, as it is not only in Borno State but also almost everywhere. It is worrisome.
One of the challenges has to do with the lack of coordination among the security agencies. We have never had a situation where the security agencies are not in harmony. There is a problem between the DSS and the EFCC; there is also a problem between the army and police; DSS and NIA, etc. if these security agencies are not working as a team, there wouldn’t be anything meaningful in carrying out their responsibilities. The earlier they realized this the better for the country because it is not about them, but about Nigeria, which comes first.
How can Nigeria come out of these problems?
Like I said if the security agencies should reorganize themselves properly; put their houses in order and agree to collectively work together, and with the cooperation of the citizens, then this insecurity will end.
Is there any political undertone to the killings going on, especially in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Taraba?
Like I said earlier, every government comes with its own challenges. Sad enough that in the game of politics, it is so unfortunate that some people can take away the lives of innocent people in the name of playing politics. Just like Boko Haram that has been politicised, and serving the interest of some people, this one cannot be ruled out. It is not good for us as a country to take the life of anybody just to prove a political point or distract somebody at the seat of power. This is not the best time for the country. The challenges are getting overwhelming.