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‘North Won’t Succumb To Blackmail On 2023’ – Yerima Shettima

Political leaders in the southern part of the country have been urged to
stop canvassing rotation of power to the region at the end of President
Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in 2023.

President, Arewa Youth
Consultative Forum, Comrade Yerima Shettima who gave the advice warned
southern leaders to stop dissipating their energies on such calls adding
that it is the North’s turn to produce Buhari’s successor. He also
spoke further on this and other national issues with TUNDE THOMAS.

has become of the ultimatum you and your group, the Arewa Youth
Consultative Forum gave to northern governors over the suspended RUGA
project, have you been settled as it is being rumoured?

can anybody say that I have been settled? Settled for what? The fact
that we have been keeping quiet doesn’t mean that we have jettisoned our
ultimatum to the northern governors, we’ve only suspended our ultimatum
to the governors in order to allow them work out a solution which will
be acceptable to us.

If you remember, after we gave the ultimatum
to the governors, the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum who is
also the Plateau State governor, Mr Simon Lalong invited members of the
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, which I lead to a meeting and we went

During that meeting with Governor Lalong, Adamawa State
governor, Mr Umaru Fintiri was also in attendance and both of them
appealed to us to allow the National Livestock Transforma- tion
Plan(NLTP) which the Federal Government has brought up to replace the
suspended RUGA project to work. We had extensive discussion with the two
governors over the issue.

Governor Lalong told us the advantages
of the new NLTP. He added that the new project will bring a lot of
benefits not only to the herdsmen but also to farmers and other

With his extensive explanations, we then decided to
suspend our ultimatum to the governors. We suspended our ultimatum for
now because we want to give the governors, and the Federal Government
benefit of doubt.

What we are doing now is to watch the
government to see whether it will keep faith with its promises. We don’t
want to be seen as being antagonistic. We are also interested in peace
and unity of Nigeria.

What we are against is injustice and
oppression. So, for know, we are watching. We will give Federal
Government and the state governors enough time to see whether they will
keep their promise or not.

On the issue of 2023, some
Nigerians have accused the North of being greedy as a result of the
recent insistence by some groups and individuals that the region will
not relinquish power after President Buhari, a northerner must have
completed his second term in 2023–

(Cuts in) It is
unfortunate that many Nigerians are not being fair to the North. The
North is presently seriously marginalized. Forget that President Buhari,
a northerner is in power. Although Buhari is in power but under him,
North is being marginalized. North is really suffering under Buhari

Today in Nigeria, a northerner is in power, but the
truth is this, it is the southerners that are enjoying. Buhari’s
government is a government of the southerners, especially the Southwest.
Everything in Nigeria today favours the Southwest, the economy, the
infrastructure, just mention anything, it is only the Southwest that it

For us in the North, we can’t continue to fold our
hands, and that’s one of the reasons we believe that after Buhari, the
next President should also come from the North.

Then apart from
that, between 1999 and now, the South has ruled for 15 years, but by the
time Buhari would finish his second term in 2023, the North would have
just about nine years. Let me break it down to make it easy for
Nigerians to understand my logic. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a
southerner and Yoruba man spent eight years, former President Goodluck
Jonathan spent six years plus. Before he became President, he was first
Acting President of Nigeria but later had to complete late President
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure when Yar’Adua, a northerner died in office.
So in the spirit of justice, equity and fairness, is it not clear that
it is supposed to be the turn of the North in 2023? By insisting on
2023,the North is not asking for too much.

Other Nigerians should
be fair to the North. It is the North’s turn in 2023, and any political
party that fails to have a northerner as its presidential candidate in
2023 will fail. Any party that presents any presidential candidate that
is not from the North is doomed. Enough is enough. The North is
suffering already under Buhari, we should not again be denied 2023

Those Nigerians that are saying that the North is greedy
are actually the greedy ones. They are the ones that don’t believe in
equity and justice. After the South has spent 15 years with Obasanjo and
Jonathan, and the North only nine years by the time Buhari would have
completed his second term in 2023, it is fair and logical that the North
should produce the president in 2023. The North is taking this issue
seriously, and the North is not asking for anything extraordinary by
insisting that it is our turn in 2023. Any political party that fails to
pick a northerner as its presidential candidate in 2023 will fail.

you not contradicting the zoning arrangement by what you are saying
because the expectation is that under the arrangement that power will
return to the South in 2023?

Is zoning in the Nigerian
constitution? No. Nigerian constitution doesn’t recognize or recommend
zoning. And if anybody is talking about any gentleman agreement, that is
not to my knowledge.

North will field a presidential candidate
in 2023 and I have no apology for saying that. If some people are
talking about equity and justice, it is the North that is being denied
justice. Since 1999, the South has been having it. They have spent 15
years and the North only nine years––and where is the justice in that?
If Nigerians truly believe in equity, then it is the turn of the North
to produce the next president after Buhari must have completed his
tenure in 2023, and the northern candidate will be there between 2023
and 2027, then power can now rotate to the South. To me that is what is
equity and justice. It is unfortunate that some people criticize and
condemn the North without being fair-minded.

Nothing will stop
the North from fielding a presidential candidate in 2023. It is the turn
of the North going by all the facts I earlier stated. What can only
prevent that is if we have proper debates and discussions over the
issue. But left to me, I believe it will be very unfair to deny North
2023 presidential ticket.

Many prominent Nigerians including
elder statesmen Chief Edwin Clark, and Chief Ayo Adebanjo are saying
that it should be the turn of Igbo in 2023 since it is only the
Southeast that is yet to have it since 1999, what’s your take on that?

have no quarrel with that but my position still remains the same. It is
the North’s turn in 2023.The Igbos can wait till 2027. Igbos should
wait till 2027 after the North must have had its turn between 2023 and

This issue is not about sentiments, and I also strongly
believe that Igbo should stop threatening Nigeria’s unity over this
issue. Igbo leaders should call Nnamdi Kanu and members of his IPOB
group to order. Kanu and his group should stop undermining the
government. Kanu and his IPOB through their unpatriotic actions are
hurting Igbo interests. Kanu is doing more harm than good to Igbo
interests. Kanu is not a patriot. He should show more patriotism and
commitment to Nigeria. He should stop all these madness. If Kanu and
IPOB continue like this, other Nigerians will not trust Igbo. Nnamdi
Kanu has become a loose dog, Igbo leaders must restrain him. A lot of
Nigerians have sympathy for Igbos on the issue but people like Kanu and
his IPOB members are causing trouble, and doing more damage to Igbo
interests. Igbo elders and leaders should find ways to call him to

What’s your reaction to recent declaration by Chief Ayo
Adebanjo that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria breaking up since the
North is not allowing the country to work?

I was shocked when I
read that interview by Papa Adebanjo. I have a lot of respect for him.
I’ve worked with him before, and ordinarily, I will not like to join
issues with him. But my own position is that breaking up Nigeria is not
the best.

Adebanjo has had his good time in Nigeria, he enjoyed
Nigeria, and it was during his time that he and others didn’t do it very
well. If they had done the needful that time, nobody will have reason
to be complaining today.

Adebanjo should not be shifting blames.
He should let Nigeria be. I believe that there is no problem without a
solution. I even see silver lining in the cloud for Nigeria – all hope
is not lost. Nigeria will still be great – I believe that we should
remain together as one nation. Break-up will have negative consequences,
it will be catastrophic, and no nation survives two civil wars.

if those who insist on breaking up of Nigeria still persist, then we
can have a referendum over the matter. The North is not afraid of a
break-up. Nobody can blackmail the North. If we have the referendum, I
believe that those who want Nigeria to stay together as one nation will
be in majority. Those people clamouring for break-up are in the
minority. The North can’t be put in a tight corner. Some people should
not think that they can use break-up as a weapon to intimidate or
threaten the North. I believe in one Nigeria, and I also believe that it
is our collective responsibility as patriotic citizens to make Nigeria

You were saying earlier that President Buhari’s government
is that of the South, especially the Southwest, and that the North has
not in any way benefitted from his government, but some Nigerians–

in) Except we want to run away from saying the truth, the North is
suffering under Buhari. The North has been seriously marginalized by
Buhari’s administration and this is very painful. This is why some of us
are not keeping quiet. The North will not keep quiet in order to please
others. We won’t please others to hurt ourselves. Buhari’s government
has failed North.

What is the North enjoying under Buhari? We are
enjoying nothing but hardship, hunger and suffering. That is what
Buhari is giving the North. Under Buhari’s leadership, what is thriving
in the North is banditry, kidnapping, and abductions. Hundreds of people
are dying daily in the North due to banditry, kidnappings and
insurgency. In the North, people are now afraid of travelling by road.
People now, including big men, army generals and even police officers,
now travel using train. You see army generals and top police officers in
railway stations with their escorts ready to board train for their
trips. They are also afraid of bandits and kidnappers. If army generals
and top police officers are afraid of bandits and kidnappers, then what
is the hope of ordinary citizens? It is these generals and top police
officers that people look up to for protection but these uniformed men
now are themselves afraid for their own lives.

This is what
Buhari’s administration has turned the North into.The North is really
feeling the brunt of Buhari’s administration & everybody in the
North is tired. We are all worried.

You need to travel to the
North to really see that people are suffering. Nobody feels secure and
safe again in the North. Is this what some people call enjoyment by the
North under Buhari?

Let those people saying that the
Buhari’s administration favours the North endeavour to come down to
North to have an experience of what northerners are passing through.

prominent Nigerians have canvassed the need to organize a national
conference to discuss how to move Nigeria forward, what’s your take on

Well, it is not a bad idea, and it won’t be out of
place if we organize another national conference. But my position is
that we should not just be organizing national conferences just for the
sake of organizing it.

For instance, when former President
Olusegun Obasanjo was there, he organized one. When Goodluck Jonathan
was in office, he also organized another national conference.

was in 2014, but that conference was nothing but a political jamboree.
It was a charade. It was seriously flawed, and this is why some
Nigerians have been kicking against its implementation.

clamouring for the implementation of 2014 Jonathan confab are those that
I consider as beneficiaries of that conference. They were the people
that took allowances and collected millions of naira for participating
in that sham called national conference.

Patriotic Nigerians will
continue to resist the implementation of 2014 confab reports and
recommendations. That was not a confab but a caricature.

people from the North that attended the conference were not genuine
representatives of the North.They attended the conference on their own
because of the allowances they were to collect.

The North wasnt
represented at that conference by our best eleven.Rhe confab on its own
was a charade and that’s why its reports and recommendations will never
see the light of the day.

It will continue to gather dust. Even
if Goodluck Jonathan came back as President of Nigeria, 2014 confab
reports and recommendations will never be implemented.

The 2014
confab report should be considered dead. That conference is not in the
best interest of Nigeria. So if we are going to organize a national
conference, it must be purposeful. Not only that, it must accommodate
the interests of every section in Nigeria.

We even advised the
northern delegates that attended the conference to stay away from it,
but they ignored us. Some of us were not even consulted before they left
for Abuja to attend the conference. Anybody talking about the
implementation of 2014 confab is wasting his time.

Some state
governors in the North including Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State,
and his counterpart in Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle have been
negotiating with bandits as part of efforts to tackle insecurity but
their action

That is foolishness. It is not only foolishness
but also counter-productive. It is not the best approach.This is very
shameful.It is even embarrassing that these governors are making fanfare
of their negotiation with bandits.

They invite television
stations and other media organisations to cover the event. What are they
celebrating? Celebrating criminality? This is a big shame.

of negotiating with bandits, the governors should have provided police
with the necessary logistics & equipment which help the police to
tackle crime.The governors should stop it, and take the right step which
is for them to equip the police.

What’s your take on the
recent declaration by the leaders of the Middle Belt Forum that the
region is no longer part of the North?

Middle Belt remains an
integral part of the North. Those Middle Belt Forum leaders including
Dogo Isuwa and Bitrus Pogbu are rabble-rousers. They are noisemakers who
should be ignored. These people don’t have knowledge of history.

are speaking for themselves.Who even know them? They are creation of
the media.They are looking for cheap publicity.They have no followers.
We need to examine Isuwa and Pogbu if they are psychologically alright
because they are talking as if they are confused.

I laugh when I
see Isuwa, Pogbu and others who parade themselves as Middle Belt
leaders when they attend meetings with Southern leaders. What they
should realize is that when the chips are down, they will be on their
own.Neither the Southeast, nor South-south, or Southwest will ever
accept them.

I even blame the media for giving them attention
the Middle Belt will ever remain an integral part of the North.Dogo
Isuwa, Pogbu and others are having illusions.They are going nowhere.

Some Nigerians claim that whenever calls for restructuring of Nigeria comes up, the North is always opposed to it, why?

a wrong assertion or declaration. North is not against restructuring.
I’m a northerner and I’ve always been an advocate of restructuring of
Nigeria. I have been clamouring for restructuring of Nigeria since over
15 years ago.

However, North will always oppose any hidden agenda
against the interest of the region. I believe in restructuring because
restructuring will lead to devolution of power which in a way will
reduce struggle for power at the centre.

Devolution of power
will make state governors to look inward to explore ways to harness
resource in their domain instead of depending on the monthly allocations
from Abuja.

Our dependence on oil revenue is not helping. We
need to revert to a true practice of federalism like it was done in the
First Republic.

In the First Republic,there was healthy
competition among the regions as each region was harnessing mineral
resources in its domain to develop its area.That was the golden era of
groundnut pyramid in Kano.That time groundnut, and cotton export was
fetching the North a lot of money.

The Southwest and the
Southeast were also making money from cocoa, rubber, coal & other
mineral resources. Nobody then depended on revenue from crude oil sale
because sale of crude oil in large quantity has not started that time.

was the discovery of oil that made everybody to become lazy.At a time,
North was sustaining the entire country with its resources. It is sad
that today some of us from the North are being called all sorts of names
because of overdependence and reliance on oil revenues.

state in the country is richly blessed. What we need to do is to harness
those resources for the well-being of the people, and this will be made
possible if we restructure. We need to embrace true federalism for
Nigeria to move forward.

Source:- Sunnewsonline

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Last Updated: October 20, 2019

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