By Ebun BABALOLA
Alhaji Yerima Shetima Usman, President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYC) in Lagos, speaks to Saturday VanguardÂ on the state of the nation, especially, on Northern youthsâ€™Â position on President Umaru YarÃdua. Excerpts.
Would you say there is a gap between the North and the South considering the way events are unfolding?
The question of asking Yarâ€™Adua to hand over power to Jonathan is not a privilege, it is a constitutional right. It is the duty of anyone who feels incapacitated to discharge his primary duty to handover. There is a constitutional provision for that.
And it has been provided for in sections 145, 144 and 143. And 145Â makes provision for a written document to pave way to the Vice President to act as President. Section 144 givesÂ provision to the National AssemblyÂ to oversee the incapacitation of the President and take necessary action while section 143 makes room for impeachment processÂ by the National Assembly where necessary and when sections 145 and 144Â fail.
But with our National Assembly, such courage is not there to carry out such operation. The leadership cannot be trusted and based on that, there might be a problem. So, as stakeholders, it is our civic responsibility to speak to Nigerians. We are ready to go on national protest just to ensure that government listens to us. Nigerian government hasÂ failed at various levels, be it the executive, legislature or the judiciary level.
And, if we fail to do all the necessary things, our unborn children will not forgive us. Our concern is the fact that the country is made up ofÂ over 140 million Nigerians and so, it is unfair for Yarâ€™Adua to hold us to ransom.
This particular issue has opened doors to some hidden issues in the country. The issue of electioneering, lack of sincerity in the rule of law, corruption and so on. We keep talking about due process, yet corruption is walking on the streets like aÂ monster.
Corruption is one major trend we are faced with. So based on that, Americans made their analysis and arrived at what they did. Naturally, as Nigerians, we would have felt so bad but then, we gave them the room to do that. Why didnâ€™t they do it in Kenya? Kenya had a problem, Kenya went as far as not only terrorising an individual or group of people in a plane but breaking down the entire building of an Embassy in America, attacked and killed people at the end. They were not put into the list of terrorists.
President Yarâ€™Adua talks about due process, do you think that is in practice especially in the top echelon of power?
That was why I told you that if there is due process according to what he preaches, it would have been very clear but it is a pity that his due process is lips service. He should have allowed another person to continue from where he stopped.
This is what every Nigerian is expecting but unfortunately, he didnâ€™t. And talking about Yarâ€™Adua getting support in the North, it is not true because the same North has been marginalised and suffered in the sense that the ruling by aÂ Northern elite by our analysis does not in any way favourÂ an average man in the North. The rate of poverty, backwardness, illiteracy since independence is amazing.
The Northern oligarchy directly or indirectly, the military or civilians have been in the seat of governance for over 35 years but nothing has been shown for it thanÂ poverty. So, what is the news about Yarâ€™Adua being the President? How does it affect the lives of an average man. So, it is not about Northerners and we must do away with this issue of North/South differences. Umaru wasnâ€™t there because of the North, Obasanjo wasnâ€™t there because of the South.
It is just some few gang of people who had held the country to ransom. The British that made Nigeria what it is today did not do it because they meant well for Nigerians. They did that because of their selfish interest. They are only doing business on this country and that is why they put so much pressure on Nigerians and allowedÂ us to have our independence.
It is amazing that a country of over 140 million people is governed by just a few persons. So, it is not about the North because the Northerner that pervades the life of an average NorthernerÂ is the same that pervade the life of a Southerner.
But is there any Northern Agenda to this issue?
I tell you, it is bullshit. There is nothing called Northern agenda in this issue. This is the work of PDP. It is PDP arrangement. The party is just one political party amongst 50 political parties. PDP alone cannot hold the country to ransom.
The fact that they are allowed by crooks to occupy power has subjected Nigeria to slavery. PDP wrote the 1999 constitution themselves. They brought the document and imposed it on Nigerians. And it is sad that they are not working based on the constitution.PDP is a political party but it has been hijacked by the mafia. It is either you are part of the mafia or not. If you are not, then you are considered an enemy.
How would you describe President Yar’Adua as governor in Kastina state?
Yarâ€™Adua wasnâ€™t a successful governor in Kastina. He wasnâ€™t stable. Even when he was a governor, he was running from one medical treatment to another. There was a time, when he was out of the country for 11 months. And his deputy was the one running the affairs of the state under his instruction. Right now, this same deputy is the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
That is an explicit scenario. The same man was placed there, who knows the intrigues that are involved. So, the man could have done nothing new than what he has been doing in the past. So, nobody knows the fact on theÂ issue of Umaru.
So, where would you put your blame?
Obasanjo is the countryâ€™s enemy. Looking at his antecedentsÂ from time immemorial,Â even in the second republic. He has demonstrated that in Awolowoâ€™s time, manipulating and rigging electionÂ and did it in favour ofÂ Shagari. Those things are no longer stories. He has never been on the right part. He has always been the perpetrator of evil so that anyone who comes after his tenure will not perform better than him so that people can praise him.
I wasnâ€™t mature enough to know what politics was during the second republic when Obasanjo was the President (Head of State). I was young but at least I was able to go through his record and from the record, he was never good to this country.
Even against the wishes of the people, Nigerians and UmaruÂ as a personÂ who despite his physical inability was imposed on Nigerians. And today, the same Obasanjo is going about trying to impose another bad product on Nigeria in the person ofÂ Sule Lamido as replacement in case there is a change of government. So, he can become the Vice President of Nigeria. That is suicide.
Now that Yarâ€™Adua is not back after about 68 days, whatÂ does it portend for the polity?
The country has never had a head. The only challenge here is that there could be emergence of army to come to power. Although we pray for Yarâ€™Adua,Â we cannot continue to wait forÂ him. And I pray Jonathan is safe. But, we will not allow any military to come to power. If the military takes power, then, we will be forced to go on the streets. We have done it in the past, we will still do it again.
Nigeria has been listed amongst the terrorist countries in the world. Would you say the US government was right in itsÂ judgement?
Nigerians can never be terrorists. It is just unfortunate that the people who are supposed to address the ills in the country are busy taking their children abroad. And on the issue of Abdul Mutallab, I believe the boy doesnâ€™t know what he wanted.
And for the other man who intended to blow off a TV station in Lagos, he should be taken to the psychiatric hospital. This issue is not about Islam. It is not an act of Islam because the religion is not known for that and there was no reason for that. If anyone says, he is acting under the directives of Islam, he is insane because terrorism does not conform with any law in Islam. Terrorism is never part of Islam.