Comrade Elliot Afiyo is the National President of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF), the umbrella body of Northern Youth Leaders that was formed by the Northern Political, Religious, Traditional and Military elites on September 26th 1994 to protect and propagate northern interest within the national interest.
He is also Secretary-General of the Association of West African Monarchs (AWAM), the umbrella body of Traditional Rulers in West Africa.
In this interview with the press in Minna, Niger state, comrade Afiyo reacted on some pressing national issues.
Comrade, you are one of the most influential northern youth leaders, what is your opinion towards the insecurity bedeviling the North, especially the North-West geopolitical zone?
Well, first of all, I will like to appreciate some of you who have been courageous and bold enough to report these challenges. I have said it times without number that I am deeply saddened with the security challenges in the country especially in the Northern Nigeria.
This APC government has woefully failed us. The three-point agenda of security, corruption and economy that they promised us was the best scam in the history of mankind that has ever recorded. This is why we have resolved and assiduously committed and determined to change the traditional and oligarchical system and process of electing our leaders in 2023.
Last week you were here and you held a press conference, calling on President Buhari to resign and form an interim government. Do you still believe that President Buhari should resign or be impeached by the National Assembly?
I have to be frank with you. I am totally in support of whatever means to remove President Buhari if that will bring peace and guarantees the security and safety of the citizenry. Just take a look at the recent happenings where our soldiers were attacked and killed. Look at the attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre despite forwarding security and intelligence reports to the Presidency by the DSS.
This is a country where an Air Force jet was brought down by a bandit. The Nigerian Air Force denied that none of their jets was brought down only to come later and celebrated the Pilot that escaped and there was not even a statement from the government no matter how senseless the statements used to be.
Last week the northern Christian leaders met and issued a directive for northern Christians to cast their votes on the bases of faith, do you agree on that opinion?
I am not only a Christian, but a senior pastor in one of the most populous Pentecostal Churches in the world. I am also very popular especially in the North. There is no local government in the North that I will visit either officially or privately that less than hundred youth will not come out to welcome me.
Look at the people that issued the directive. Are they really Christians? Are they actually protecting or propagating Christianity or securing their selfish interest? Out of all of them, I can say only Senator Abbo that I can respect because both by acts of commission or omission, he has displayed and still displaying the attributes of a Christian leader.
I have been avoiding this issue of religion but it has become absolutely necessary to make clarifications for informed and reasonable decisions to be taken by the Christians who have fallen gullible and subservient to these religious propagandists. Let me take you one by one on them.
Babachir Lawal was the chairman of the committee that made recommendations to Tinubu on the choice of his running mate. He shortlisted Dogara and Senator Manzo with Shettima and eight others.
Put yourself in the same shoe with Tinubu, would you have chosen Dogara whom the Muslims are not allowed to make a call for prayers in his town, to be your running mate or choose Senator Manzo whom the delegates from his local government rejected him and voted for his opponent? What stopped Babachir from recommending Boss Mustapha?
Secondly, Babachir claimed to have known Tinubu since 1974 as a religious bigot and the same Babachir that campaigned and ensured that Tinubu won the Primaries against Osinbajo, Umahi and Amaechi who are Christians. That time, he was the anchor man against religion. During the campaigns for primary elections, he was seen all over telling the Christian delegates that religion does not matter, let them vote for competence and necessity. Now that Tinubu went for the same competence and necessity, Babachir is saying religion matters.
Thirdly, Babachir rolled out statistics of the number of VCs, Provosts and Rectors based on religion. I then ask, why did he signed their appointment letters as the SGF when he was fully aware that the appointments were biased.
Let us be sincere and ask ourselves, if Babachir would have rolled out these statistics based on religion if a Christian was chosen by Tinubu as his running mate? When he was SGF, ask him how many Christians he appointed and how he helped Christianity. Let him show us the list of many people that he helped, then we will know whether he is after Christian, tribal or selfish interests.
Now let’s look at Dogara. This is somebody that presented himself to the Sultan and Governor Tambuwal as a Northerner to prevail on Northern Representatives to ensure his emergence as Speaker, House of Representatives. That time religion does not matter. Now that he was rejected as running mate, religion becomes a yardstick for political support, allegiance and loyalty. As Christians, let us judge fairly. If Tinubu happens to be a Christian and he decided to choose a Muslim running mate whose town does not allow Christians to worship on Sundays, what will be the reaction of Christians? Muslims are not allowed to make a call for prayers not to talk of worship in Dogara’s town and you expect Tinubu to choose him as his running mate? Haba jama’are, wala ko chemtudum na.
Sir, are you saying that Muslim-Muslim Ticket is good and the most ideal ticket?
I am not a member or supporter of APC not to talk about their ticket. Ideally, one would have advised that the sensitivity and sense of belonging through inclusive and equal participation of all people regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliations must be considered. But of course, you don’t expect that from APC. The point I want to drive home is that no religion will be able to dominate another religion in Nigeria without the active collaboration of some elements from the other religion and those that are championing the religious aspect presently are the active and succinct collaborators. We have been praying for confusion, mistakes and errors by the APC at the national level and I strongly believe that this is answered prayers.
But Governor Ortom of the PDP was present during the Northern Christians of APC’s summit.
Governor Ortom with all due respect is a floating and drowning politician who is looking for a floating piece of wood to lean on. How can you imagine a serving Governor under the PDP honouring invitation of a Christian Forum under another Party nicknamed “Association of Progressive Corruption” He is currently governing a state that comprises both Christians and Muslims. This is to show you how to know divisive and hypocritically failed politicians.
Can you imagine the same Ortom attending Governor Wike’s factional meeting of the PDP even giving conditions for his support for Atiku Abubakar.
Governor Wike and his group met yesterday in Abuja and resolved to remain in PDP but with some conditions. What do you see in that resolution?
,1Governor Wike knows very well that the only platform that can secure him is the PDP. PDP is not an option for him. Even if Rotimi Amaechi his political arch-rival is made today to fly the PDP ticket, Governor Wike has no option or better alternative than to ensure the victory of PDP for him to have peace after his second tenure. If APC wins the 2023 Presidential elections, I bet you, Governor Wike will be arrested and prosecuted even if he was the person that provided 90% of funds spent by APC to win the election.
I like what he is doing to prove a point that he is not a nonentity that can be easily pushed-over. He must be carried along and must be recognised and accorded respect for his interest and opinion. My only advice to him is that he should moderate his utterances. He called our Presidential Candidate a liar and later resolved to support the same presidential Candidate to win the election so as to produce a lying President? Upon all that, I strongly believe that there will be peace and strong unity before the start of the campaigns.
Comrade Sir, what is paramount now to your Forum?
The most important issue to us now is not even the elections, but solution to insecurity in the country. Killings, kidnappings and the rest, must be stopped by whatever means before you talk of elections. We must be alive and have assurance for our safety before casting our votes.
But there are assurances by President Buhari that his administration will end insecurity before he hands over.
Any promise or assurance from President Buhari is like what the Hausas say “Ruwan kondo”, that is to say storing water in a basket. The only thing Nigerians will believe President Buhari is when he comes out to say that the Government is going to borrow money from China or the Petroleum Products will be increased next month or at best, taxes will be increased. If President Buhari says things will be better next month, then every sane Nigerian will be prepared for the worst next month. The more we fast and pray for President Buhari, the more things get worst. It’s just a paradox. This tells you that God has rejected the APC.
Can we say then that God has prepared a replacement or a Messiah that is Peter Obi?
Which Peter Obi? I want to tell you the truth that even Peter Obi as a Politician, knows that he will not win the 2023 Presidential election. Forget about the social media brouhaha and the few Christians propaganda. Peter Obi to my sincere appraisal and optimism, is preparing for the 2027 elections. He may be the Joshua that will take us to the promised land but definitely not the Moses we are looking for to deliver us from the evil hands and grip of Pharoah and subsequently crossover the red sea in 2023.
The qualities of such a person are not seen in Peter Obi but in Atiku Abubakar because of his experience, antecedents, vision, beliefs, boldness, courage, determination and foresight.