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The South-East Is Not Prepared For Presidency – Shettima Yerima

Yerima Shettima

Yerima Shettima

National President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shetima Yerima has come out to say the South East have been clamouring for presidency lately in a very wrong manner.

Shettima believes that the region cannot claim power by threatening the peace of the country when they should be lobbying and seeking for votes peacefully.

According to him, the politicians in that region should stop saying they have been brushed aside because other regions are scared since that is far from the truth and they scare no one.

He added that South-East should, instead, call their people to order and participate politically with no threats to Nigeria’s unity to be considered for Presidency.

You cannot look us in the face and abuse the sensibility of all Nigerians and undermine the government and now say because they are scared of you

On Amotekun, “Yes, it is worth doing because the situation in which we have found ourselves is such that people must begin to see how they can survive, protect themselves. I am an advocate of restructuring and, within that context, I don’t really think it is right for us to over-concentrate at the centre. The way the country is right now, the centre cannot hold anymore; it is clear unless we choose to deceive ourselves. The major issues are security, economy and infrastructure. On security, there is the need for state police to complement the efforts at the centre. You cannot just be waiting for IG’s instruction to protect your people.

If you have community policing and state police, the governor will oversee insecurity unlike the situation now whereby a governor, according to the Constitution is in charge of his own state but when he instructs the Commissioner of Police to do something, the commissioner needs approval from the IG. So you can see he’s overbearing at the centre.

So, for me, Amotekun is welcome. In fact, the region that needed Amotekun most is the North. It needed it more than even the South-West because the South-West is living in peace. The rate of crime in the South-West is nothing compared to what we have in the North. But, probably, they initiated Amotekun as a proactive measure unlike our place that we are reactionary because we are only reacting now, we are being consumed already by banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and all forms of social vices, robbery on a daily basis and we count casualties, deaths on a daily basis in every part of the northern states.

I do not think there is a particular state that you will mention today that has no problem. So, for me, we need Amotekun than even the South-West.”

On the Northern version, “Like I said, it is a thing we should do even before the South-West. We are into the advocacy but good enough the South-West have their way of doing their own thing. They are faster, more proactive in thinking and doing things.

Their governors brought up the idea; they united unlike us in the North where the governors are not active. So we felt strongly that there is the need for us to also have community policing to complement the central police and I am happy that the IG came out recently after their meeting with the Presidency with the same idea that there is the need for community policing. So, we only set the template and unveiled it and also seek the support of the governors.

If they cannot initiate anything, let us set a template for them to see reason why it is important. They should move because, in our case, we must push them unlike the South-West who are the ones initiating it, calling their people because they value lives in the South-West compared to the governors in the North. On a daily basis, they see people dying but they don’t care. So we put it for them so that they can also take the advantage and do the needful like it has been done in the South-West.”

On if the South East should produce the next president, “The North will continue and that is our position. We will come up with our candidate and we will lobby the South-East, the South-South and the South-West. We will ensure that we have the required number to succeed.

If we are talking about equity, former President Jonathan shouldn’t have contested in 2011. If we are talking about equity and justice, we couldn’t have had former President Obasanjo who had eight years of uninterrupted tenure and subsequently there was an election in 2007 that brought the late President Yar’ Adua, and he was only in power for just one year and some months and he fell sick, and then there was an acting President who later became President and had almost two years and a half in power. And, subsequently, there was an election in 2011, and there was an advocacy because some of us saw this coming and we said, ‘look, they should have allowed a northerner going by the party arrangement at that time to still cede power to the North’ but people said blindly that the Constitution is supreme, Jonathan can contest and he did. With the power of incumbency, he had his way and came back in 2011.

Where is this justice? If you put Obasanjo’s eight years and Jonathan’s almost six years and a half together, it is close to 15 years in favour of the South. We only had our own Buhari who just came for four years and another four years now. If you put Yar’ Adua’s one year and few months together with Buhari’s eight years, we have less than 10 years in power. Where is justice and equity? Where is fairness in the whole of this? And as a country, if we truly believe in the spirit of oneness, what is wrong in bringing an understanding that, “since Jonathan allowed this to happen, let us cede power to the North without even contesting it in the spirit of fairness and equity, let them have at least a shot after 2023 so that things can be a bit stabilized?”

Then any other government that comes after 2023, they can complement the efforts of the previous government that would likely put a template so that at least we can reduce this issue of unemployment in the country, we can reduce this issue of daily threats to our lives in terms of banditry, kidnapping and so on. Going by this same principle of equity, justice and fairness, the South-East would be crying for having not been given a chance at the presidency at all.

What would you say of the South-East in this whole arrangement? The South-East is not prepared for presidency. If they are prepared, they couldn’t have allowed one of their loose sons to be going about threatening the unity of this country. You cannot ask for two things at the same time. If you truly want people to trust you and allow your own to do it, then you could not have allowed somebody to go about threatening the peace of this country, calling for the disintegration of this country and they are watching.

You cannot continue to be threatening the unity of this country because time has come that you cannot threaten people because you want power, you need to lobby. You cannot look us in the face and abuse the sensibility of all Nigerians and undermine the government and now say because they are scared of you; this is primitive, who is afraid of you? Some person will really think that the group of persons you are referring to is actually calling for justice, equity and fairness in the political governance of the country instead of calling for secession. How about that because when you have a section or region that is allegedly left out in the scheme of things, not made to be part of a system at the centre or the Federal Government except what is statutory like the ministers or so, they have a right to agitate? How do you situate that?

Their approach is wrong. If you are seeking for attention; you demand for equity and justice and not threaten the entire country, it is not a good approach and if that is what the South-East is thinking, it is a wrong approach. They should call their own to order and see the way they can also participate politically without threatening the unity of this country then they can get the presidency on a platter of gold. But when it comes to threat, Nigeria has overcome that; those are primitive ideas that don’t work anymore.

The South-East should have a rethink and change their method. They should re-strategize and work with the Federal Government, work with Nigerians and let us build the country together and that is how it is done anywhere.

Earlier you talked about the need for the country to restructure and the South-East has been in the vanguard of this idea too; do you support it? I support restructuring strongly because the centre cannot hold anymore; because we cannot continue to sit down, the government is run at the centre where people only sit down, the state governors are not productive, they cannot initiate something and begin to harness their resources within their states, they only look at the centre to produce money for them and allocate. Within them they cannot generate their IGR and make good use of it and probably if we run a government that is decentralized, maybe there will be a constitutional amendment that will allow states or regions to begin to pay tax to the Federal Government and then they will begin to harness their resources without waiting for federal allocation.”

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