2023: Arewa youths speak on youth succeeding Buhari, godfatherism, Igbos push for presidency



The President General of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, AYCF, Yerima Shettima, has advocated for a youth president in 2023.


Shettima said youths should use the opportunity of 2023 to wrestle power from the old generation who have always controlled power in Nigeria.


In an interview with Dailypost, Shettima pointed out qualities Nigerians should look out for in picking the next President.


The AYCF President-General also stated his position on godfatherism, ahead of 2023, claim for Southeast presidency, how best to tackle Boko Haram menace and the Southern Kaduna crisis.


Mamman Daura’s remark on rotational presidency:


I agree with Daura on this not because I believe in the things he say, but because we need competency so that opportunities will be there. Leadership can emerge from any part of the country. My thoughts in the past have been that we must retain power but considering the facts that there is suspicion everywhere, I now think we should consider competency. Suppose we find one in the North fine, in the South, good as long as it would protect the interest and image of the country. It won’t be out of place to save the country by rallying around somebody competent so that we have good leadership.


Should there be an age limit for Presidency?


Well, if globally there is no standard on age limit for the Presidency, then I don’t think we should. I give you an example of the United States, US. If they didn’t place an age limit for the Presidency, then I do not think it’s right for us. However, it’s a challenge for the younger generations as you can see that we contribute more to elections than these older people, so what is wrong in making one of our own President so that for once we can do things the way we want.


We play a major role when it comes to the issue of decision, especially under a democratic setting, which has to do with voting and voting has to do with numbers and we are more. These same youths are the ones often used for good or bad during elections. I think we have a stake. So for me, we have learnt a lot of lessons from these octogenarians which we should use to create more opportunities within the political space. The present generation should take the mantle of leadership and work harder as it won’t be an issue of rhetorics but determination. Though we can’t rule out the place of sabotage, who feels younger generations can’t deliver. This is why we need to build a national movement where we can unanimously agree on something, and everybody will be adequately represented in the project Nigeria.


Do you see a youth emerging as President in 2023?


It is possible only if youths are determined. If we can collectively agree that let’s once work as partners not minding where we come from and our religion so that nothing will be a yardstick to why we can’t achieve that. But where there are divisions, suspicions, where some youths are carried away, it would be impossible. Of course, don’t forget that some of these leaders who are not committed to project Nigeria would always enjoy this divide and rule system. If these youths continue to work in such line, then the older generations will continue to control our destinies, I pray it doesn’t work this time around.


Southeast elites are threatening to join Nnamdi Kanu to demand Biafra if Igbo presidency fails in 2023


I do not think that these so-called elites are speaking for the generality of the Southeast, but a few individuals who have lost relevance within the political scene are making it look like it’s their right and a must. They forget that people have come of age and they can’t intimidate anybody, especially those of us from the North.


I’m of the view that if they mean well for the Southeast, then they should reach out except if they are talking only to go behind the scene and negotiate for the collective interest of their people. Even some of us from the other parts of the country who believe we have more numbers lobby, politics is about lobbying, we agree to disagree. But when you start making statements issuing threats, then it’s uncalled for. If they want to leave, they are free as long as they don’t drag us into a war when leaving.


I believe based on my consultation, those of them who speak about balkanizing Nigeria are just a few and can’t override the collective interest of the Southeast. I believe Southeast has people thinking straight and they are more in number.


If the chips are down and they keep balkanizing Nigeria, then the government should conduct a referendum and let’s see their number and do away with these few voices threatening the unity of this country. Their number is not up to one percent of Igbo sons who believe in the unity of Nigeria.


Based on my consultations, I have come to believe that the Igbos are interested in the unity and peace of Nigeria, as against the impression out there. Some of these rhetorics and comments are making some of us see them as not being serious. They need to bring down their head, form an alliance and lobby people to show they are prepared and not issuing threats.


Like it or not, the Southeast had a fair share, to a large extent, the government of Jonathan can be considered to be more in favour of the Southeast, look at jobs, the major benefactors are those from the Southeast. It got to the point that an image was created then, I never knew Jonathan to be Azikiwe but the name had appeared. So in extension, it’s as good as power in their hand, they had the Finance Minister, Chief of Army Staff, Ihejirika.


How can Southeast produce Nigeria’s President?


They should be diplomatic about it, and nobody is saying they would never but they should do the right thing. Don’t forget that most of them are not serious, even within themselves they are not united, they are divided on issues and that is why the North is exceptional. When we make a decision everybody queues and goes all out, so if they want it that way they should fish out the rotten eggs among them like those threatening the unity of Nigeria because they are not doing any good to the Southeast. They are doing more harm and damage to the region. They are diminishing the opportunities before them. How can you threaten me that if you don’t get this I won’t sleep with my two eyes and you expect me to trust you with leadership? Gone are those days you threaten people.


What are the qualities Nigerians should look out for picking the next President


Now it has shown that it’s not about political parties anymore. The evil we accused PDP of doing the APC has done more harm. What we should be looking at now is not political parties but competency. I remember recently saying any political party that wants to take Nigerians for a ride by zoning its Presidency to a particular zone will have themselves to blame because Nigerians won’t take that. The issue of zoning was what brought us to the suffering we are today, and we won’t take it anymore. Every region should come with their champion then Nigerians would decide.


Also, we will look at people’s antecedents, capacities and competency because we can’t afford any corrupt leader. Though the system encourages such corrupt leaders to emerge but we will ensure they don’t find their foot this time around and that is why some of us are of the view that we must build something that would decentralize the federal government. Reduce the power at the centre where people have to go through processes at their zone or constituencies only to emerge at the centre.


Under this system, people who are not qualified to be local government chairman or Councillors in their communities are hoisted on people as governor, senators, House of Representatives members and even President by somebody in Abuja. The system is so powerful that once you have the blessing of somebody at the centre even if you are wallowing in corruption by embezzling millions of dollars daily, a godfather somewhere will ask you to be a leader. If we reduce the power at the centre, economically governors would become more viable, productive and harness their resources within their states so they can pay tax to the centre. At this level, we won’t be relying on Rivers or Bayelsa States to produce oil for the country to survive. At this level, people would decide how they want to leave as people.


Do you see the godfatherism factor coming to play in picking Nigeria’s leaders in 2023

We still have a bit of it in politics, but it’s becoming very unpopular. Today Adams Oshiomhole who is portraying himself as godfather to somebody, had fought against an established godfather, Tony Anineh, why is he now making himself a demigod against somebody that succeeded him?

I, however, commend Obaseki because he stood against godfatherism, Oshiomhole and for that he has my sympathy and even if he loses the election, he would be remembered for fighting godfatherism, so he remains a hero and a rallying point for the next generation, which will use him as a reference point. Whether Obaseki wins or loses, he remains on the positive side of history.


The issue of godfatherism must be fought with tooth and nail; this same issue of godfatherism was what led Ambode to where he is today. For only losing the courage to stand his ground like Obaseki is doing was what led him to where he is today. I think due to consciousness and awareness, people are beginning to resist this issue of godfatherism. This issue will always come up because governors would want to impose a stooge who will manage their mess so they will save and enjoy their loot. This is why I commend the ex-governor of Borno State, if he had not allowed Zulum, we might not be getting the kind of good work from that state now, he’s doing it his way.


What’s the best way to do away with the godfatherism factor in politics

This is what is before the present generation to resist vehemently, we must fight against this and that is why we talk about competency. Once we identify competent people coming into the fore, we would ensure we use everything at our disposal to propagate, support and give them all the necessary backing to ensure they get it right. We need a government that has a human face and not any godfather’s face. If we perceive godfatherism’s influence over a candidate, such a person should be disqualified. If this is the last battle to ensure Nigerians feels good governance, then we are watching and ready.


Call for change of Security chiefs amid Al-Qaeda warning by the US


In the past I canvassed for the sack of Security Chiefs but if they are sacked and the right thing is not done, insecurity will still be an issue, even worse. Recently the Presidency said security was underfunded due to this issue of COVID-19 so you see he has taken responsibility that things have not been done properly. Also beyond funding and equipment, these security chiefs have overstayed and some of their subordinates may be working against them to sabotage them. They have done their best so some other people should be given the opportunity to come up with fresh ideas.


How best to tackle the issue of Boko Haram

It’s doable and possible. It was done somewhere with results feasible for all to see. For Nigeria, it’s possible when the right things are done. The government must have the political will to deal with these issues permanently and it must show determination to boost the morale of soldiers through improved welfare. The government must put the right people in the right place with fresh ideas. With these, I’m sure this issue will be a thing of the past. Recent happening has shown that Boko Haram is not the problem and this is coming from a man who is at the centre of it all, governor of Borno State who said there is more to it as it’s not about Boko Haram anymore. Rather than building things around individuals, why not strengthen the institutions. The security agency must be encouraged with the right things done like proper funding.


Why has El-Rufai’s government not been able to resolve the crisis in Southern Kaduna

If you look at El-Rufai’s approach to issues, you will see he always believes he knows it all, and that is his problem. I think he should have a rethink and bring in stakeholders. Contrary to some opinions, I don’t think he is comfortable with the fact that people are dying, but he has to widen his scope. For him to succeed, he has to expand his scope and convince people of Southern Kaduna that he is with them on this so they won’t feel isolated.

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