Ahead of the 2019 general elections, a group of Northern Youths have shortlisted names of some northern politicians it endorsed as potential presidential candidates.
While reiterating that the north should retain the presidency in 2019, the group – the Northern Youth Leaders’ Forum (NYLF) said it was disturbed by the ‘scheming’ and ‘manoeuvres’ in the country suggesting southern interest in the 2019 presidency. Daily Post reports that the 12 persons endorsed in the list as prospective northern presidential candidates are:
- Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
- Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State
- Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto
- The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki
- Former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido
- Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State
- Former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
- Former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff
- Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State
- Governor Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara State
- Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, and
- Senator Bala Muhammed
According to the leader of the group, Comrade Elliot Afiyo, the names of the endorsed persons have been forwarded to the group’s patrons and the leadership of the 42 affiliated organisations to Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) for screening and for the endorsement of only two candidates who will be considered during its 15th Annual National Convention coming up in September, 2017, in Kano. A statement by the group reads:
“We want to reiterate and clearly warn that the North will not, and will never allow the presidency to move to the South in 2019.
“As much as we can tolerate or pay any sacrifice for the unity of this country, we remain committed to a northern president in 2019.
“We want to send a message to all political parties that may field southern presidential candidates in 2019 election that such action will amount to committing a political suicide”.
The NYLF further warned northern leaders to desist from supporting candidates from the South and insisted that such action would be counter-productive to their irreversible decision for a 2019 northern presidency.
They also called on all northern youths to embrace dialogue and peace, and not to allow themselves to be swayed by those who use religion and ethnicity to divide the north and gain political advantage.
While insisting that its actions were always guided by national interest far above any other interest, Comrade Afiyo claimed the NYLF was strongly instrumental to the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan as well as current President Muhammadu Buhari as presidents in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, respectively, without regional bias.
On the quit notice to the Igbos by some sections of the Northern youth group, Afiyo said the youths were angry members who felt they were used and abandoned by the All Progressives Congress (APC) politicians.
“We consider the quit notice as ill advised, ill-timed and uncalled for. We strongly believe the groups of northern youths were motivated, encouraged and sponsored by some individuals who felt cheated by both the federal government and some state governments controlled by the APC.
“These individuals were used and dumped; no recognition or appreciation was extended to them. They are, therefore, bent on destabilizing the government,” he said.
The forum also inferred that the coalition of northern youth’s reckless action might have been incited by “our Igbo brothers insult and abuse of other nationalities, especially the northerners, calling us cows and parasites.”
“We condemn in strongest terms, the approach of our brothers in issuing an ultimatum to the Igbos. No nation or ethnic nationality can survive on its own without the support and help of another.
“Northerners need the Igbo, the Igbo need the Yoruba, and Yoruba need the Hausa. We are totally against the balkanisation of Nigeria.
“We know the price the North paid for the unity of this country. We are more determined, committed and willing to continue to pay the price to keep this country one; not because we are afraid of our brothers from the east, west and south, nor are we afraid of the future, but for the labour of our heroes past,” the group further stated.
The forum advised all groups to operate within the ambits of the rule of law and strongly condemned the use of violence and hate speech in the country and urged the federal government and the Inspector General of Police to, “withdraw, forthwith, the directive to arrest the signatories of the Kaduna declaration.”
“We believe our brothers in the South have said more than what our brothers said and were not arrested. There is, therefore, no justification for the arrest”, the NYLF said.
They further appealed to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to call for a meeting of genuine leaders of the northern youths and southern youths to find a way forward for the country.