TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

POWER, CURSE TO THE NORTH – SHETTIMA, AREWA YOUTH LEADER

By NBF News
Listen to article

The National President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, has said that the northern domination of power is a curse rather than a blessing to the region. Shettima told Daily Sun that all the years the North was in power brought nothing to them as poverty and undevelopment are higher in the North than in the other parts of the country.

He said that all the North has to show for ruling the country is poverty, diseases and gross undevelopment

The AYCF president said other regions that are complaining of leadership marginalization have gone far in terms of education, economy and general development.

Shettima said it is against this backdrop that northern youths now seek somebody who would right the wrongs in the region without regard to where he hails from.

'All we have to show for the long time the North has been in office is abject poverty, diseases, backwardness and illiteracy .Our problem now is not where the president comes from But the one that has Nigeria at heart. The one that would be willing to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. History has not favoured our long stay in office. That is why I am ashamed when people from the other parts of the country tell me that my brother is in power. I tell them that what we are getting is the opposite of development. I tell them that only credible people can bring change and that where such people come from is not important

Power going to the North in 2011
Personally, I have never subscribed to power going to any part of the country. My opinion has always being that Nigeria is Nigeria and no particular region can do it alone. We need the South and vice versa. So, I am not rooting for a northern president, but a Nigerian president and he can come from any part of the country as long as he is credible and have the interest of the masses at heart. We need to put this issue of where somebody comes from behind us. That is what is bringing about suspicion .The only reason people are rooting for a president from their extraction is because we have a system that is not working and they feel that having their brother at the helm of affairs would give them some advantage to acquire wealth whether legally or illegally.

Way forward
We cannot run a country where there is mutual suspicion between the North and the South. We cannot run a country where people are self-centred. So, I feel that the system is wrong. Over time, we have been clamouring for a Sovereign National Conference. Free and fair election is not really the answer to our problem. Since the dawn of democracy in 1999, we have been running from one problem to the other and the problem keeps on increasing. We must sit down to discuss the Nigerian issue. There is no short cut to this. Fundamental issues are at stake. The 1999 Constitution which claims to bind us together is a fraud because it was imposed on us by the military. We cannot afford to continue with this kind of document. We must insist on the government of the people and we cannot have government of the people with a document that does not reflect their wishes.

Northern youths
Northern youths are all involved in the struggle. It started from PRONACO and now we have come of age. You will agree with me that in the past, northern youths always stood by what their leaders told them. But now, we take our time to examine the credibility of any leader that speaks on behalf of the North. Once we notice that the person that is speaking for the North has no credibility, we will come out to counter it and an example was the Adamu Ciroma committee.

Consensus candidate for the North
We are against the way and manner the issue came and went because there was no wide consultation. If they had said that it was a PDP arrangement, we would have let them be. Our grouse is that they are saying that it is northern consensus candidate while there was no wide consultation.So, there was no time we sat down to discuss the issue of a northern consensus candidate and as such, it cannot be binding on us.

Disunity in the north
Well, if what you mean by unity is that we should be allowing people that lack integrity, people that have failed their own generation to come and decide for our generation, then, to hell with it. What is unity when people that have integrity were not consulted .What is unity when people who have moral burden come together to decide for us. Let there be disunity until when we begin to do the right thing. A lot of our leaders need to truly repent before we begin to take their words

2011 general elections
My advice to northern youths is that they must be committed to the struggle ahead. We must not see it as a sectional agenda. We must see it as a national agenda. So we will do it collectively. I believe in change. The North cannot do it all alone. The South cannot do it all alone. All of us must come together to get the Nigeria of our dream. We need to build a synergy and capacity.

Are Arewa youth at loggerheads with Arewa Consultative Forum?

Well, the problem has always been there and the reasons is because sometimes, a handful of people would, without consulting with the masses, come out and say that they are speaking on behalf of the North. We the youth feel that this is not right and we have been opposing it. Before you come out with a position for a people, you need to consult them. The people need to make input. A few people cannot just wake up and say that they are speaking for the North while the agenda that they are pursuing is personal.So,the fact is that we are not rebelous.All we are saying is that everybody must be carried along.Time has gone when we were being led blindfolded. If you want to advance a position, we need to know how this position would impact on the lives of the generality of the people. So that is the problem.

Arewa ministry
Yes, as we now have Ministry of Niger Delta, we also need Arewa Ministry because ecological problem is not peculiar to the Niger Delta region. There is a serious desert encroachment in the northern part of Nigeria. Our lands are being taken over by desert and this is a very big challenge to us. If this is not checked, it could lead to famine because the land that are been taken over are farmlands. So, the North needs a special ministry to be taken care of this and since it was late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua that showed special concern to the people of Niger Delta by creating a separate ministry for them and also declaring amnesty for the militants, we also expect President Goodluck Jonathan to reciprocate this good gesture by creating a special ministry for the desertification and other ecological problems in the North. Our youths also need rehabilitation.

What is happening now is that some people take the almajiris to a kind of a camp and be feeding them without teaching them any vocation. That is why I say that they are in prison. If not they should be taken to where their future would be prepared. They should not only be given fish, they should be taught how to catch the fish. If these youths are not adequately rehabilitated and trained, it could jeopardize our future.So, I as I said; I want President Jonathan to reciprocate what the late President Yar'Adua did for the Niger Deltans.