“Why 2023 Presidency Must Be Zoned To The North East” – National Chairman, Northern Youth Leaders Forum, Comrade Elliot Afiyo

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Comrade Elliot Afiyo is the National Chairman of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) the umbrella body of 42 Northern Youth Organizations formed by the Northern Political, Traditional, Religious and Military Elites in 1990 with a membership of over four million Youths. Comrade Afiyo is the third National Chairman of NYLF. He is also the Secretary- General of the Association of West African Monarchs and a senior Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

NYLF has been engineering the process of producing Presidents since 2003, I recall when NYLF nominated and presented Late President Yar’adua in 2006 and also in 2010 when NYLF insisted on former president Jonathan to run in 2011. In 2014, NYLF insisted on president Buhari. What is the reason for your nominations?

In 2003, there were forces from the north that for one reason or the other, wanted a change because they believed and trueiy to some extent, that the north was being marginalized economically and in terms of infrastructural development. But we felt that will be a breach of political agreement signed with Obasanjo in 1999. It was a serious issue. But thank God, former president Babangida and former head of state Abdulsalam Abubakar were able to douse the tension and brought peace and understanding. Even at that, it was a difficult task to convincing the northern youth to dump Buhari for Obasanjo in 2003 Presidential elections.

In 2006, we were able to convince Late President Yar’adua to accept to contest in 2007. He reluctantly agreed but some two terms northern governors opposed the decision and wanted to break away. They were subsequently faced with an option either to remain in PDP or decamp to ANPP. Before then, ANPP had already endorsed Buhari. They were also threatened by the Federal Government through the then Chairman of the EFCC who went to the National Assembly and told the Senators that almost all of them had one or two cases of corruption against them. Weighing the available options, they decided to remain in PDP.

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In 2010, it was Obasanjo that persuaded the Northern politicians to allow former president Jonathan to contest and serve for only one term. Based on this understanding, an agreement was reached and accepted by thirteen senior politicians. This agreement was signed and the original copy collected by one of the Governors from the south-south

In 2014, former president Jonathan reneged on this agreement and decided to contest. The north felt cheated, belittled and ignored. The attention of former president Obasanjo was drawned. Thrice Obasanjo warned Jonathan on the consequences of his action and thrice Jonathan rebuffed Obasanjo. Meetings of the Northern Political, Religious, Youth and Traditional Leaders were held in Sokoto, Kaduna and Kano. After these meetings, a final and unanimous decision was taken remove Jonathan by all means either democratically or otherwise.

A decisive awareness campaign was initiated towards the 2011 presidential elections. In order to prove the political worth, value and supremacy of the north, Buhari was supported by the entire North-West, North-East and North-Central Youth, Religious and Traditional Leaders irrespective of political, religious or ethnic leanings. Against all odds, Buhari won convincingly in all the three geopolitical zones in the North. Even Jonathan’s political field commanders from the North were involved in this political conspiracy against him. The defection of some Northern Governors to the APC was part of this conspiracy while some remained in PDP to work against the President from the inside.

Note that we supported and voted for Buhari in 2015 not because we considered him as the best candidate for the North, but because he was the only option and available best candidate to be used to politically chase out Jonathan in other to conserve, preserve, maintain and sustain our only best asset that is political supremacy and power.

In 2019, we knew quite alright that Atiku will definitely win the election but he will not be given his mandate based on the political conspiracy against him despite our efforts to uniting him with Obasanjo in 2014. We consequently decided as a Forum, not to waste our resources, time and energy to support him. We could not also campaign for Buhari because we were not happy or satisfied with the performance of his administration especially the security situation in the North. As a Forum, we directed and supported the state chapters in the areas of mobilization and election of individual candidates instead of parties. That was why PDP won in some states and APC also won in other states. Many people didn’t understand the political mathematics and scheming that resulted in these victories and defeats, but we knew what we did.

So what Bishop Kukah Said was right?

Of Course Yes. The only part of Bishop Kukah’s Christmas homily that I don’t expect from him is tagging Islam as having a pool of violence. That shouldn’t have come from any enlightened or educated elite not to talk of coming from a Bishop and a member of the peace –committee.

I am a senior Pastor in RCCG. Should I come now and say Christianity is a religion of criminals because before now, vices such as  kidnappings, rituals, cultism, armed robbery, 419 or assassinations were mostly carried out by Christians who bear the names such as Paul, Silas, Peter, Gideon, Mark and even Joseph? Nobody preached or invited me to leave my church to RCCG. Jesus personally appeared to me and asked me to leave and join RCCG because my spirit was down and discouraged as a result of the violence I witnessed in my former denomination.

Violence is carried out by both Muslims and Christians. We had witnessed violence even inside churches. Presently, we have Muslim leaders, Sheikhs and Imams that are speaking and condemning these killings and other violent acts more than Pastors and Christian leaders.

The Sultan of Sokoto is the Fulani leader and as well as the head of the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. When the conference of Bishops including Bishop Kukah visited him in the early 2020 at Sokoto, he told them point blank that he was disappointed in them because nothing was working and they said nothing. I remember vividly when the Association of Christian Traditional Rulers paid him a courtesy call in his house in Abuja, he told us that he will never be silent when people are being killed because he is a Fulani and a fellow Fulani is the President. He once said any herder found with AK47 riffle should be arrested.

How many of our Christians leaders come out to condemn the senseless killings in Nigeria? I am from Adamawa state and from Girei Local Government, all my elder brothers lived and studied in Girei. They were accommodated and fed by the Fulani who are Muslims until they completed their studies. What moral ground or right do I have now to condemn the Fulani or the Muslims that they love and practice violence?

To be sincere with you, I don’t mind what people would say, there is no religion or tribe that has no bad elements. Majority of Muslims are more tolerant than the majority of Christians. The Fulani have more regards and high standard of moral values than many other tribes in Nigeria. Before now, hardly would you see a Fulani man or woman who is an armed robber, kidnapper, fraudster or ritualist until now when we have bandits. If you take a genuine look in to the history and causes of banditry in the north, you will find it very difficult to blame them although one cannot justify shedding of innocent blood under any reason.

Between 2010 and 2014, they were being killed at will, their cows rustled, wives and children killed or abducted to be used as servants to boko haram leaders and their houses or tents destroyed. All their belongings and sources of survival were destroyed. What do you expect from such a people? Violence of course. They have to mobilize themselves and with the assistance from their kith and kin to defend themselves (and you know of an average Fulani man), vengeance is a normal and acceptable way of a living. Unfortunately, some political elites took their advantage to be used to settle old scores and also execute their agenda without any commiserate or proportional reaction from the Governments.

During your NEC meeting in Gombe, NYLF advice the PDP and APC to zone their presidency slot to North –East and South-West respectively, what is your reason for taking this decision?

From the analysis I gave you, you will realize that the decision of Jonathan to contest for the second term against the initial political agreement in the PDP, brought Buhari and by extension the APC to power and consequently all these security challenges we are witnessing and experiencing today in the country. That was what brought the alliance between the North and the South –West. If former president Jonathan had respected this agreement, APC wouldn’t have come to power because the North would have voted massively for the Northern candidate who would have come from the North-East.

In the same vein, we were told that there is an existing agreement in the APC that power should be shifted to the South –West after Buhari. We therefore insist that such agreement should be respected so as to avoid a boomerang effect and consequences.

All these agitations for restructuring, true federalism, Biafra or Odua Republic are as a result of injustices. Let’s just avoid them by ensuring justice to all. The North- East that was denied that opportunity in 2015, should first of all be pacified and the South- West that have entered into an agreement with the North in APC, whether right or wrong, should also be considered. That was our honest reason.

Remember that there were Igbos in APC when such agreement was written, signed and sealed. They did not bother to challenge that agreement when it was being sealed because of their belief then that APC could not have won the presidential election. I was shocked to see some of them gathered to demand for the APC ticket in 2023.

But the South-East is claiming that it is their turn since they haven’t produce any president in this political dispensation.

I don’t really understand how it becomes their turn. The political agreement in PDP is between the North and the South not among geopolitical Zones. It is left for the south to decide which zone to produce the president. Let the three geopolitical zones in the south decide which of them to produce the president in 2023.

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