As leader of a major youth body drumming support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election, are you not worried by the recent endorsement of the All progressives Congress presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta?
We at Jonathan Youth Vanguard, our main aim is to mobilise Nigerian youths and women in support of Mr. President’s transformation agenda and his re-election come February 2015. It’s also a platform we are using to build friendship among the youths of Nigeria since 2010. We have a very strong network of youths; I can say well over 10 million youths and women all over the country as at today.
Now remember I have said it before, President Jonathan’s numerous achievements in key sectors of the economy will surely re-elect him for second term in office, particularly, in the areas of youth and women empowerment, agricultural sector, improved education, construction of roads, housing development, rail sector, industrial revolution, the economy, oil and gas, healthcare delivery, privatisation of the power sector, fighting of insurgency with strong commitment, aviation sector, you name them. Therefore, for us, the endorsement of the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, by MEND is inconsequential. Mr. President has done very well to be re-elected by Nigerians come February 2015. Any violent group can adopt Buhari, including Book Haram; we are not going to lose sleep over that. Mr. President unfazed and is working assiduously to transform critical sectors of our economy. Nigerians are seeing the transformation of their nation, democracy and economy.
The main opposition party in the coming general election has anchored it manifesto on the areas Nigerians believe the president has not do well, like security and corruption. Don’t you think this gives the opposition an edge?
Anyway, which manifesto by the opposition party are you talking about? I am yet to see any clear-cut manifestos by the opposition party. All we hear them say is that they will fight corruption and insurgency if their party wins, even though most of those opposition elements calling the PDP corrupt are the same known corrupt people in this country. If they have the wherewithal to fight insurgency let them tell us how they are going to handle it. Terrorism today is a global issue. Most countries in the world are having their fair share. So, it is not just peculiar to us. Mr. President, to the best of my understanding, is doing his best in the fight against corruption and insurgency. He is equipping our military with modern military hardware as well as training our military personnel for the current security challenges facing us.
Many political observers have said this year’s presidential election would not be like the 2011 election. Beyond what you did in the previous election, what is your group, the Jonathan Youth Vanguard, doing to ensure Jonathan’s victory at the coming poll?
As a youth support group for Mr. President, we are working seriously to educate and enlighten Nigerian youths and women for his re-election. We have our structures in all the 36 states and the FCT, spreading from state, local government, ward down to polling unit. We have students and campus coordinators in all the higher institutions in the country, as well as collaborating with other youth groups and associations who have the same vision like ours. And because this administration has emphasised the need for votes to count, we have keyed into the one man one vote campaign of President Jonathan and have directed our coordinators to sensitise youths in their domains to register and get their voter cards, as that would be the only basis through which they can express their support for the transformation agenda in practical terms.
Our various social media platforms currently on for online campaigns is equally an additional strategy to galvanise Nigerian youths of the 21st century to vote for the man that is doing his very best, in spite of our challenges. Our campaigns are focused on real issues and as they affect us as individuals with facts and figures and not based on falsehood, as the opposition elements are doing. If you hear the opposition parties and their campaign, it’s all about falsehood and empty promises. Why haven’t they done at least some of these things they are promising to do in states they are in control now. In fact, they have nothing to offer rather than preaching violence, hatred, arrogance, pride, lies and deceit.
Do you, in all sincerity, think the Jonathan administration has done well enough to deserve re-election?
Like I said earlier, this administration has done so well, despite the security challenges currently facing us. So as for me, Mr. President deserves a second term to consolidate all the wonderful projects and programmes he has initiated to the benefit of Nigeria and all Nigerians. Take maternal healthcare, for instance, our pregnant women are now receiving free treatments, courtesy of MDG. We have Youwin and other SURE-P programmes that are positively affecting Nigerian youths and women. Is it the graduate intensive scheme or federal government scholarship for first class graduates to study in any of 25 best universities of the world? There is agricultural revolution going on now, our farmers are smiling to their banks, our roads are getting better by the day, trains are now moving in some parts of this country, providing cheaper means of transportation of goods and human beings. We no longer sleep in our filling stations before we buy fuel. Mr. President has been able to open up the democratic space for every Nigerian to express his or her self. He is fighting corruption scientifically, thereby blocking the loopholes for people to steal money. He is fighting terrorism with all sense of responsibility; our Armed Forces are being equipped with latest weapons to deal with insurgency. Under President Jonathan, Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa. I can go on and on.
What do you think is responsible for the continuous bombings in Nigeria?
The issue of terrorism has taken different dimensions today. It used to be bombs planted or concealed in public places, but today you hear children of 13 years going on a suicide mission. You hear Boko Haram attacking and killing people in towns and villages, kidnapping people, attacking schools, mosques and all that. As for me, there is an international connection in all these, there are some countries who do not wish Nigeria well, so they support and sponsor these boys just to destabilise the country. I also suspect politics in this; some persons are using this insurgency thing to run down Mr. President, which seems to be working for the main opposition party. The opposition APC celebrates whenever Boko Haram strikes and this is one of their key campaign slogans, “Jonathan is weak, he cannot fight terrorism, if they take over power insurgency will stop.” Therefore, they have succeeded in deceiving some Nigerians with it. My advice is that the fight against insurgents requires all Nigerians who mean well for this country, it is not about Jonathan and the military alone. We must all join hands to fight this evil. You don’t have to wait till you take over power or become the president before you proffer solution.
What is your advice to the youth of Nigeria ahead of the coming general election?
Like I said months back during an interview, I am a peace loving person and for that, I will advise all Nigerian youths not to take up arms against anybody in the 2015 general election. Of course, Mr President has said this on several occasions, that his ambition does not worth the blood of anybody. Why will anybody think of violence in the coming general election? We in the Jonathan Youth Vanguard are peace-loving people and we are very responsible.