Arewa, Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Ijaw Youths Endorse Atiku

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Atiku Abubakar
  •   Threaten to drag el-Rufai to ICC

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

A coalition of all ethnic nationalities’ youth bodies, made up of Arewa, Afenefere, Ohanaeze and Ijaw Youth Councils have resolved to support the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the February 16 election.

The youths operating under the coalition of Nigeria’s Ethnic Nationalities Youths Organisation, has also condemned the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, over his alleged hate speech against foreign observers, threatening to drag him before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Regarding the forthcoming election, the group said they are in full support of an earlier stand by the leadership of the various ethnic nationalities to endorse Atiku’s candidacy.

Addressing journalists at a joint press conference in Abuja yesterday, the leaders of the coalition, said they were in support of Atiku’s position to restructure Nigeria if elected.

The youth leaders also berated el-Rufai over his statement threatening the international community.

While reading out the resolution of the coalition, the President of Ijaw Youths Council, Worldwide, Mr. Owellami Peretubo, said they were concerned about disturbing developments regarding the conduct of those in the corridors of power who have been making statements that tends to create tension and disgust ahead of the forthcoming elections.

“ As members of the Ethnic Nationalities Forum, we shall resist any attempt to short-change the electorate in the forthcoming elections. We expect nothing short of free, fair and non-violent elections in 2019 and we have since commenced the mobilisation of our members to support only a presidential candidate genuinely concerned about restructuring of our nation.

Peretubo said they were urging Nigerian youths to support a leader who understands the link between national development and harmonious blending of the diverse ethnic nationalities across the various geopolitical zones of the country.

The coalition also said they were aware of the deep-rooted fears among the electorate about a possible manipulation of the election, adding that the concerns became more rife with the attempt to emasculate the judiciary.

“This unwarranted, Gestapo-style expectedly drew the anger of the international community, notably the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and African Union. The move has ridiculed our international image, creating more doubts about our sincerity regarding the second leg of a civilian-to-civilian transition.

“ We will no longer support any leader with less clear understanding of his responsibility to our national currency that will keep the Naira at an embarrassingly weak value level for whole four years, without any sense of remorse.

“ We wish to reiterate that the above positions were borne out of genuine concern over the worrisome levels of under development and stagnation of our nation, “the coalition said.

Speaking at the press conference, the leader of the Arewa Youth group that once issued the controversial quit notice to the Igbos in the north, Shettima Yerima, said members of the coalition are bent on ensuring that voters’ right of choice is unequivocally respected during and after the forthcoming elections, adding that they will work with all relevant stakeholders to pre-empt any undue interference from whatever quarters.

He also said the youths were united behind the leadership of the ethnic nationalities in the decision to endorse Atiku.

On the hate statement credited to the governor of Kaduna State, the Arewa youth leader described it as unwarranted outburst capable of igniting violence during the elections.

He said that as far as the Arewa youths body is concerned, nobody will be allowed to use the young people to perpetrate violence during the election in the north.

Also, the President, Yoruba Council of Youths, Aremo Oladotun, said the coalition will drag the Kaduna governor to the ICC over hate speech.

“The statement credited to el-Rufai is highly seditious, treasonable and capable of throwing the entire nation into chaos and we are not going to allow that one man to bring the country into collision with the outside world. We, on our part, will take adequate legal action to report el-Rufai to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and we will not watch him stir the country into crisis with this careless statement,” he said.