Those clamouring for Southern president greedy, selfish says Shettima | NN NEWS


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President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, has advised Nigerians to reject both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s general elections.

In an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Shettima described both parties as big failures, adding that Nigerians must look for an alternative in order to move the nation forward. He also spoke on other national issues.

What’s your reaction to the signing of the 2022 Electoral Act by President Muhammadu Buhari?

It is a welcome development, although its signing is coming a little bit late because he should have done so much earlier. The problem with us in this country is not about not having enough documents or even the constitution that can move us forward as a nation, but having leaders who have the will to implements those documents in such a way that it will lead to the nation’s progress.

However, the main reservation I have about the new electoral law is this issue of indirect primaries that is incorporated into the new law. I would have preferred direct primaries which allow party members to have an input or to be part of the process that will lead to the emergence of those who will preside over them, instead of just allowing a select few to determine the process. Anyway, there is always room for improvement. After Buhari, another government may come and do the needful in this regard. Again, it is one thing to have a law, it’s another thing for us to allow it to work. I humbly appeal to all stakeholders, including government and citizens, to allow it to work if we want democracy to progress.

There have been on-going debates on 2023 with some Nigerians saying that the Presidency should be zoned to the South for equity, fairness, and justice….

For me there is nothing like zoning, and there should be nothing like zoning. Zoning is not democratic, and not only that, it is not recognized in the Nigeria’s constitution. Zoning will not allow Nigeria to get the best material. It will not only deny the nation the opportunity of getting the best candidate to do the job, it will also be a big setback for our democracy. We should not have anything to do with it. Let every Nigerian that wishes to contest for the nation’s highest political office be allowed to contest. Any political party that adopts zoning should know that such a party is dead on arrival. Adoption of zoning will spell doom not only for democracy but also for any party that embraces the idea. Zoning is an infringement on the constitutional rights of people. It restricts them from aspiring for positions of their choice, and this is why some of us have been campaigning against zoning.

For us in the North, we are not for zoning, we are for the best candidate to emerge, and any party that insists on zeroing in on a Southerner under the guise of zoning should forget about getting our votes in the North. What we are for is for justice for everybody. Whether you are from the South or the North, you should be able to aspire for any political office of your choice. Zoning is undemocratic. I have been reading about some groups, and associations canvassing for Southern presidency in 2023, but what I want to say is this, there is no justification for that. Those people asking that the Presidency should be zoned to the South in 2023 are greedy and selfish. Then apart from that, it will even be very unfair to the North for the South to have the Presidency in 2023.

Why? But what Nigerians are saying is that with President Buhari, a Northerner, serving out his term next year, that power should revolve to South for equity, and justice.

What do you mean by justice? Where was this justice when former President Goodluck Jonathan decided to contest for the Presidency after President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s death, instead of allowing another northerner to contest? Yar’adua, a northerner died in office after serving for just two years. Northerners protested that time but they were ignored. Jonathan not only completed two years left of Yar’adua’s first term but also went ahead to seek re-election which he won, and  later spent another four years in office. But a Northerner was supposed to have replaced Yar’adua in order to serve out what was supposed be the North’s turn. So where is justice in that? We should be able to call a spade a spade. As Nigerians we should always be ready to tell ourselves nothing but the truth. Northerners protested against that injustice that time but nothing was done about it as the Southerners had their way.

Again since 1999, the Southerners have been in power for 14 years, while the North has only been in power for 10 years, so where is justice in that? For me, the South has been unfair to the North. To redress the injustice to the North, the North should have the presidency in 2023 so that the equation would have been balanced. We should forget whether Buhari, a Northerner, is the serving President for now or not. The South has been more than unfair to the North.

However, I still honestly believe that we should not be laying emphasis on zoning. We should allow the best candidates to emerge. When Obasanjo was in power, did he do anything spectacular to change the fortunes of the people of the South-West? Same thing for Jonathan. Did any unusual transformation take place in Niger-Delta when Jonathan was in office? No. With Buhari also in power today, what has the North benefitted? Nothing. We should canvass for the best candidate instead of expressing all these ethnic sentiments which to me are not in the nation’s best interests. They will not take us anywhere. Let everybody come out and contest. We should look at competence. Nigerians deserve nothing but the best, and zoning will deny us that opportunity if we embrace it.

With 2023 general elections fast approaching, how would you assess INEC’s preparations?

So far so good. Under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the commission has been doing a yeoman’s job. He has been showing competence. I’m very optimistic that with the man in charge, we won’t have problem with 2023 general elections. It is left for Nigerians to play their own part. It is one thing for INEC to conduct free and fair elections, it is left for Nigerians to decide how they want the process to go. If politicians also realise that 2023 should not be a do-or die affair, it will make the job of INEC easier. I commend the present leadership of INEC under Yakubu Mahmood, but I expect more from him. He is somebody that is principled, and with the national commissioners working with him, I believe that they will be able to deliver.

However, while one is talking about INEC, one should also talk about the political parties. They should allow popular candidates who are choices of people to emerge. They should not foist or impose candidates on the people. Nigerians will resist imposition. They should not take people for a ride, if they try to do so, it will have serious repercussions.

What’s your position on some of the presidential aspirants coming out?

As Nigerians, they are free to run, but it is Nigerians that will determine their fate. Someone like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu can aspire, and not only him, as many other Nigerians that want to aspire for the Presidency including former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar may aspire. But one thing I want to tell them, especially these old politicians like Tinubu, Atiku and others like them is that we  are going to retire them from politics through the ballot box. We are going to mobilise Nigerians to reject them. Enough is enough. We are tired of the old order. We want the younger generation to take over mantle of leadership.

What has Nigeria gained since these old politicians have been in charge of affairs of the country? Although the Nigerian constitution allows them to  aspire, and contest, we will use democratic means to stop them.

Concerns are being expressed by some stakeholders that the present security challenges may threaten 2023 general elections. What’s your stand on that?

We’ve never had any election without security challenges, but in the midst of all we still survive. So it is going to be the same with 2023. We are going to have the elections. I don’t foresee any crisis capable of threatening the polls.  Elections will be conducted, and we will scale through. There will be winners and losers. There must be elections. We can’t stop it. It is left for the Federal Government to do the needful. Government must do everything security wise to ensure that the elections are successfully conducted.

However, these bandits, kidnappers and insurgents that are behind the present insecurity challenges should be decisively dealt with before 2023. I have read about some people suggesting that they should be placated by offering them amnesty but I don’t subscribe to that idea. If somebody commits a crime, let him go and face the music. The Federal Government should deal once and for all with these criminals by giving them an ultimatum to lay down their arms. Thereafter, government should wield the big stick by cracking down on those who refuse to comply with the ultimatum.

The President must make it clear that everybody that is involved should surrender, that otherwise, they would face the wrath of the Federal Government. They should however be given a time frame of surrendering within one month or thereabouts. I don’t believe or share the opinion of those who have been giving one excuse or the other as reasons for people going into all these crimes. There is no excuse for committing crime before the law.

How would you assess APC administration in the last seven years?

This government has not met the expectations of Nigerians, and that is the bitter truth. They’ve performed below expectations. The yearnings of Nigerians in 2014 was to see something better than what they have been seeing in the past, and when APC came with the promise of making a change, they voted for the party but seven years down the line, the administration has been a big disappointment. APC has been a big letdown. This is not the kind of change Nigerians were expecting when they voted for APC in 2015. Supporters of the administration may say that they are making efforts, but making efforts is different from achieving the desired goals or results.

But what about the fight against corruption?

APC apologists may be saying that the party has been trying in the area of fighting corruption, but I disagree. Tell me what APC or President Buhari has done in fighting corruption? If anybody is talking about two ex-governors that were convicted, that’s talking of Jolly Nyame and David Dariye, it was not this government that initiated their trial. We can see a lot of corruption going on in this country today, and nothing is being done about it. Even when you hear cases of corruption being mentioned at all, the names they will mention are usually of those who are in opposition against the government.

A former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, and some other former governors, and their associates recently formed The National Movement (TNM) as a kind of Third Force to the APC and PDP. How do you see that development?

We should encourage more options. I expect other political movements and parties to be formed because both PDP and APC have failed Nigerians. Nigerians should have options in 2023. We’ve tested both the APC and PDP, and both have failed Nigerians. Nigerians have no hope in both parties again. Let’s have more options in order to give Nigerians a choice beyond PDP and APC. We are in a democracy and democracy encourages options. Therefore we should widen the political horizon to embrace more political parties. Neither APC nor PDP can take Nigeria to the Promised Land. We’ve tested these two parties, and they have failed us. I expect other parties and movements to come up in the days and weeks ahead to join TNM, and from these I expect a new change that will replace both APC and PDP.

How will you react to the current hardship being experienced by Nigerians as a result of fuel scarcity?

It is very unfortunate. It is an ugly development that a country that prides itself as an oil producing nation is going through this kind of situation. There is no excuse or justification for it at all. The Federal government should bring an end to the suffering of Nigerians as a result of fuel scarcity. In the midst of the crisis, some unpatriotic fellows even imported bad fuel into the country damaging people’s vehicles in the process. Those behind the importation should be brought to book. They should be sanctioned. There should be no cover-up. It is a big shame on our leaders that we have to be going through this situation as an oil producing nation.

(The Sun)

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