Shettima submitted that the northern elite cannot force somebody the youths do not deserve on them.
The President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), a coalition of youth groups in the 19 northern states, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, has said that the entrance of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar into the 2019 presidential contest has changed the political calculation in the country, pointing out that Atiku is the game changer.
Reacting to a question as to the conspiracy of the northern elite against his aspiration to lead the country as claimed by Atiku, Shettima submitted that the northern elite cannot force somebody the youths do not deserve on them.
He said that the North went for Buhari when in 2015 it was a race between him, a northerner and former President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, saying that the game has now changed with the entrance of Atiku into the race.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar last week emerged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What’s your view on this?
It is a welcome development because from all indications, he has the capacity to face these monsters who are against the collective interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. From all I know about him personally, he has the capacity. We will rally round him and give him all the supports he needs because this is all about democracy. It is not a fight against APC and Buhari alone, it is a fight for democracy and with his emergence democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. Election is about winning or losing, you don’t expect to win all the time.
Is that to say that the Arewa youths are in support of Atiku?
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum is not a partisan organization. But in my capacity definitely I will work for Atiku. I will also work in my capacity to ensure that el-Rufai is also shown the way out and ensure that we have a pure democrat in that system. Specifically, I have interest in Kaduna and the Federal Government. That is my interest right now and I will use anything at my disposal, my contacts, my connections.
What are those qualities you find in Atiku that informed your choice?
The only thing I find in him is that capacity, intellectually and also he is an experienced politician. He is somebody whom I have come to discover that he believes in Nigeria without taking sides, without being nepotistic. He is also creative; somebody I believe if you give him the opportunity he would turn things around for the best interest of this country. That is my conviction about him. For Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai must go and Isah Ashiru should take over. Democracy has come to stay in Nigeria.
What is your problem with el-Rufai?
He has suddenly become a dictator to the extent that he undermines the credibility and views of the Kaduna people. He thinks he is the only one who is intellectually sound. He believes he is the only one who knows everything. No one man can claim monopoly of knowledge and that is what I see is wrong with el-Rufai and that is why I don’t like him. That is what I find wrong in him. He believes in the whole of Kaduna nobody is competent except himself. That is the reason I don’t like anything about him. He was never part of those who sacrificed their lives to bring about this democracy. It pains me when this man has been given opportunity and he is behaving like a tin god because they have not paid any price. A lot of us who are supposed to be thinking that way are today left out of the game and that is the more reason I chose to participate in politics because that is worth doing and what is worth doing is worth doing well. Some of us cannot fold our arms and allow those who have not made any sacrifice, any contribution to the evolution of our democracy just because they have opportunities through godfatherism. These kind of people should not be allowed to be at the helm of affairs and oversee the affairs of this nation. This is not a good development.
If you will support Atiku as you have said what is wrong with an incumbent regarded, as someone with credibility against someone the APC alleged is corrupt?
In the case of Buhari, the incompetence is very obvious. You do not need to be told. In terms of fighting corruption, zero. In terms of tackling insecurity in the nation, it is zero. The threat to our national security today leaves much to be desired because everywhere in Nigeria today there is insecurity. If care is not taken one day we will run into anarchy. Everything about this government is not normal. Where is the capacity here? No capacity because a lot is happening and the government cannot be decisive, state what to do and stand by it. They say something today tomorrow you will hear another story. There is lack of coordination even among the security agencies. In terms of fighting corruption, if you succeed in leaving a party today, any party, if they get any information that you are corrupt and reported to the EFCC and you defect to the APC you are seen as a saint. Look at the massive corruption going on under this government. Look at those characters who succeeded in the last 16 years who have suddenly become actors in the APC. Today, they are the fate deciders. They decide the fate of over 180 million Nigerians. This is not right. This must be resisted by all Nigerians. This is a clarion call that all Nigerians must put their hands on deck and stand by democracy.
It would appear as if there is a conspiracy against Atiku by the northern elite. What do you make of that if you are talking in this manner?
Well, I do not know of those elite. But if you can mention their names I will tell you their reasons because the game is over. The game has changed. It has never happened like this. If in 2015 the assumption is that Goodluck Jonathan is from the South and a Christian and the votes went one way, this time around two of them are sons from one place and the votes will be shared. What I mean by the game is over is that people will have to decide and we have taken our position. We have decided that democracy has come to stay and we will not allow anyone to treat us like animals. It is not going to be business as usual anymore.
Are you saying the views of the elders of the North will not count this time around?
Well, I don’t know the elders you are talking about. Those who have failed our generation, who have failed themselves and also coming now to dictate to our generation? Name them and tell me which of the elders are saying Buhari must be foisted on the people. Tell me then I will give you an answer. Let me tell you the political equation in the country has changed these past few days. There is hope for Nigerians because there are alternatives now. The choice is for us and this is a moment of decision. Nigerians must take a decision now. We must save our democracy. We must save our country and democracy. We must save our history from what the international community has been fed. This embarrassment is enough.
But the analysis from some politicians does not support your view that Atiku is likely to carry the day in the 2019 presidential poll if you consider the fact that the Northwest zone where Buhari hails from always garner the highest votes and in 2015…
(Cuts in) Listen. It used to be for Buhari, but never again. The votes from the North-West will be divided. Today, people from the North-West are the direct victims of the Buhari’s administration. So, they are wise. Was it the abracadabra they did in the counting during the last election in Kano? Was it the counting they did when one person was made to represent 1,000 people? Is it the counting you are talking about where you see less than 200 people lined up and they are made to be two million? Is that what you are talking about? Okay the votes will decide. I am sure the voting will be done using PVCs this time around. The PVCs will decide. Even in the North-East, the votes will be shared. In the South-East, South-South, it will go one way. Then in the South-West…in fact, look at the drama, the abracadabra that is going on. With Afenifere’s stand recently, just watch out what will happen. You will see the game in 2019.
Your forum, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum said it would route for candidates below 60 years. Today, the two main contenders are above 70 years old. What would happen to your resolution? Has it been jettisoned?
Let me be…you know I am a realist. In the absence of desirables, if you have an alternative and that alternative becomes desirable; that is what we have now. I clamoured for a candidate that is of younger generation, but from all indications the platform for us to get it right the way it is today in Nigeria, it is either you go to APC or PDP. We have younger generation aspirants like Aminu Tambuwal and Rabiu Kwankwaso, but they were eventually knocked out at the primary election of the PDP. So, the alternative is now what is desirable. So, we must all work for the victory of democracy come 2019. Northerners must know that the time has come when we have to take our destiny into our hands. We should remember that we have been backwards and that we do not expect to do something the same way all the time and expect a different result. Going by Atiku’s antecedent, it is clear he is the alternative.