It’s A Sin To Introduce Religion, Ethnicity To Political Parties – NYLF President (Interview)

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*frowns against Muslim-Muslim, Christian-Christian tickets

*says Osinbajo lost primaries because  of RCCG statement

Comrade Elliot Afiyo is the National President of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF), unarguably the most politically influential Youth Group in Nigeria. NYLF was formed in 1994 by Northern Political, Military and Traditional Leaders. The Forum is the umbrella body of 42 groups and is considered as the Political Wing of the Northern Oligarchy and Kaduna Mafia. The Forum has been active and playing major roles in the emergence of Presidents since 1999 till date. The Forum is also grounded at the rural North where 70% of Northern votes come from. Comrade Afiyo 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 with newsmen, Comrade Afiyo bares his mind on pressing national issues.

Excerpts:

Comrade Sir, one of the Zonal Coordinators of your Forum, Dr. Musa Musawa distributed 68 cars to your members on behalf of the Forum. 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. 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% 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.

But Senator Bala Mohammed was your Forum’s Aspirant and he scored 20 votes.

Actually, Senator Bala Mohammed was our choice not until two months to 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 Alh. 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 of the votes.

I have to tell you the truth that personally, I was happy that Atiku won but was not happy that Senator Bala couldn’t get a vote outside Bauchi State. 

Though 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 couldn’t 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 and 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 paid sacrificial 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 the Eagle Square, the Northern Governors insisted that they should vote for Tinubu purely because of Northern interest.

Sir, what do you mean by Northern interest?

Hmmm! I was laughing when the Southern leaders were hailing and praising the APC Northern Governors for insisting on 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 were 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 that 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 flagbearer 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 the RCCG.

We are not playing interdenominational politics nor religious politics but Nigeria’s politics. PDP, APC and the rest are not religious Parties. If you want to play religious politics, just register your religious political party such as Christian Party of Nigeria or Islamic Party of Nigeria. Once it is registered, all religious politicians will join your 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 faithful 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 are 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 on 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 this 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 imposing on him by the party.

 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 and I quote ‘However, it was a genuine mistake because my running mate has the capacity to unite the various factions of the Party’ off quote.

Looking at the above statement and point out what the negative remarks that Baba made that warranted or justifies negative headlines of the Newspapers? This is purely politics of hate and division.

There is a new movement by the Nigerian youth which is called 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 doesn’t 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 possess the required capacity, integrity, passion, administrative acumen, zeal for selfless service, sense of justice, fairness, equity and above all, has the boldness and sagacity to take tough decision and be able to stand by it and be free to take full responsibility. We don’t need a Leader that will introduce blame game or feign ignorance of the reality on ground.

Thank you Sir.

Comrade Afiyo: You are very welcome.

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