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Quality of President Nigeria needs in 2023 –Elliot Afiyo, National President, NYLF – VELOXNEWS

By Billy Graham Abel, Yola

Comrade Elliot Afiyo is the National President of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF), unarguably the most politically influential Youth Group in Nigeria. The Forum is the umbrella body for 42 groups and is considered the Political Wing of the Northern Oligarchy and Kaduna Mafia. Comrade Afiyo who is also the Secretary-General of the Association of West African Monarchs (AWAM), the umbrella body of the West African Traditional Rulers in this interview, bares his mind on some boiling national issues.

One of the zonal coordinators of your forum, Dr. Musa Musawa surprised everyone by gifting 68 cars to your members. What was the reason for such an act and how did you get the funds?

First of all, I want to thank God for giving us the grace to carry out such a huge project. Before the presidential primaries of the PDP and APC, our forum sponsored some of our members as delegates in both PDP and APC. We had 48 of them in PDP and 20 in APC. Against all odds and despite threats and intimidations, they voted as instructed by the forum’s National Executive Council (NEC). They also brought 70 per cent of what they got from the aspirants to the forum. The forum, therefore, decided to appreciate them with cars. This was why I directed Dr. Musa Musawa, the Chairman of our Political Committee to present the cars to them on my behalf.

Are you confirming that your organisation participated and benefited in what is widely criticised as the monetisation of our internal democracy process?

There’s no gainsaying that politics in Nigeria requires money. You can’t bring somebody from his or her state to Abuja without taking care of him or her in terms of logistics, accommodation, feeding, and entertainment.

Even in our churches and mosques, we give an honorarium. We give an honorarium to Guest speakers we invite to our community festivals. Why should we avoid that in politics? I am not saying that dollarisation is good but considering the hardship in the country, if you want to win any election in Nigeria, you must spend.

But Senator Bala Mohammed was your forum’s preferred presidential aspirant and he scored 20 votes.

Actually, Senator Bala Mohammed was our choice not until two months into the primaries when I drew his attention to the negative signs coming from his campaign team and the conspiracy against his genuine intention by the same team. Also, his preference for misappropriated propaganda contributed to the forum’s decision to switch off and switch on to Atiku Abubakar who happily welcomed and embraced us.

Upon that, we wanted to direct our delegates to share the votes for Senator Mohammed and Atiku but at the Stadium, we changed our decision because Senator Mohammed’s team may claim credit for the votes.

I have to tell you the truth that personally, I was happy that Atiku won but was not happy that Senator Bala could not get a vote outside Bauchi State. Although I knew from the onset that none of his team members could guarantee or secure a vote for him, I never knew that he could not get a single vote outside his state. I must confess that I could not eat for two days because of the outcome of the primaries; nevertheless, I was happy that my elder brother, Senator Mohammed has come to terms with the reality of what I was telling him.

Senator Mohammed is and still remains my elder brother. I so much love him from my heart not because of anything. I have made sacrifices including an attempted assassination on my life, yet, I will continue to love and cherish him.

What of the APC Primaries?

Because of unassuming pressure from the powers that be, we directed our delegates to vote for Lawan but at Eagle Square, the Northern Governors insisted that they should vote for Tinubu purely because of Northern interest.

What do you mean by Northern interests?

Hmmm! I was laughing when the Southern leaders were hailing and praising the APC Northern Governors for insisting on a power shift. Morally, the APC has a burden to shift the power to the South. Justifiably too, the southern leaders especially in the APC were threatening fire and brimstone if they are not allowed to get the ticket. Therefore, to secure the Northern interest, the governors must look at some options and that was why Tinubu was voted for instead of Amaechi, the preferred candidate.

But it was publicly known and unanimously agreed that Osibanjo was the preferred candidate of the North.

Of course, initially, all the Northern power brokers and groups including President Buhari and his Cabal accepted and agreed on Osinbajo as the choice and preferred aspirant of the North not until when the Director of Politics and Governance of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Timothy Olaniran who attended the inauguration of Osinbajo’s Support Group and made an affirmative statement which was carried the following day by the Sun Newspaper on its front page that the RCCG backs Osinbajo. Till now, when I am talking to you, I am not aware of any public rebuke or rebuttal by the RCCG.

Because of this affirmative statement from Pastor Olaniran and the non-public rebuttal from the RCCG, meetings were held at Kano, Abuja, Kaduna, and Sokoto by the powers that be from the North to source for an alternative; that was how Osinbajo lost out and Amaechi came in. Amaechi also lost out when Atiku became the flag bearer of PDP and Lawan came in. The political tempest created by Tinubu in collaboration with the Southern APC Governors made the Northern interest to be shifted and altered to favour Tinubu.

But you are a senior Pastor in RCCG, how can you explain your position?

We are not playing inter-denominational politics or religious politics but Nigeria’s interest and politics. PDP, APC, and the rest are not religious parties. If you want to play religious politics, just register your religious political parties such as the Christian Party of Nigeria or the Islamic Party of Nigeria; once it is registered, all religious politicians will join the party.

It is a sin to introduce religion or ethnicity into a political party that her constitution and manifesto did not make any provision for religious or ethnic considerations because both the two Holy Books enjoined their faithfull to obey the constituted authorities. You dare not come to me to ask me to support any candidate because of his or her creed or ethnic belonging. Ironically, all those that are considering or shouting these two sentiments are not genuine adherents of their faith.

So, you are saying that you are in support of Muslim- Muslim or Christian- Christian Tickets?

I am not looking for a Christian or Muslim President or Vice President in 2023 but a leader that will recruit managers and lead them to manage my generation and the future generations. That leader may come from anywhere and from any tribe, as far as, he or she is a genuine and faithful Nigerian.

There is some grapevine information that some of your patrons are mounting pressure on you to shift to Tinubu instead of Atiku.

Definitely, some of them are yet to communicate to us their direction. I definitely know that they are yet to meet and take a common decision. Until such is done, it remains unofficial. However, any decision by our patrons must be ratified during our National Annual Delegates Conference coming up in August but they are aware that we are for Atiku for now.

One of your Forum’s Patrons, Chief Obasanjo recently said he made a mistake in choosing his running mate in 1998. What is your take on that statement?

Baba is unarguably a voice in Nigeria and whatever he says is tantamount and subject to different interpretations. Last week, I was in Abeokuta and I disguised as one of the passengers in his Keke Napep. I asked him why he made that statement, he told all of us that the reason why he made that statement was that he made the choice of his running mate subject to the party’s decision. He would have personally taken the decision of who becomes his running mate instead of the party imposing it on him. However, he concluded that it was a genuine mistake which means he made the mistake in good faith, and fortunately for him, the mistake turns out to be a genuine one. He was referring to Atiku’s decision of personally picking Okowa against the PDP’s choice. He said that was what he would have done.

Unfortunately, the press dwelt on what he said without presenting the concluding part of his statements, ‘however, it was a genuine mistake because my running mate has the capacity to unite the various factions of the party’.

Looking at the above statement and pointing out that the negative remarks that Baba made warranted or justified negative headlines in the Newspapers, this is pure politics of hate and division.

There is a new movement by the Nigerian Youths which is called the “Obedient Movement.” Do you see it as a positive political change?

It is definitely a good step in the right direction but wrongly timed or I will say, mistakenly being presented. Unfortunately, Peter Obi has been part and parcel of the political failures of the past. Peter Obi is not and will never be the Messiah as he is being touted. He will not win the 2023 Presidential elections because elections are not won on social media in Nigeria. Political opinion poll does not really or actually reflect the direction or the realities of elections in developing countries such as Nigeria.

Agreed, Peter Obi is a good manager; Nigerians are not looking for a manager but a leader who will recruit managers. We need not only a leader but a leader who possesses the required capacity, integrity, passion, administrative acumen, zeal for selfless service, sense of justice, fairness, equity, and above all, the boldness and sagacity to take tough decisions, face our problems squarely and be able to stand by it and be free to take full responsibility. This is not the time to have leaders that would take us back into another round of blame games or feign ignorance of the reality on the ground.

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