The Arewa Youth Integrity Forum has promised to mobilise 20 million votes across the 19 northern states for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition.
The group in a statement signed by its National President, Hamid Usman, described Jonathan as a statesman who is sympathetic to the plight of his followers.
Usman also lauded Jonathan for the courage and bravery demonstrated in visiting Nigerian troops in Maiduguri’s, describing it as a bold step.
“Travelling to Maiduguri which is seen as a hotbed for crisis as not only commendable but exemplary for all intending leaders,” he said.
While expressing support for President Jonathan, Usman said the candidate of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had proven his worth and deserves support from every Nigerian.
“He has what it takes to drive Nigeria to the next level, having defeated the local content of insurgency and ready to fight the foreign elements that have joined insurgents to make Nigeria ungovernable for the citizenry.
“The president had proved wrong a section of northern elders who said the president can not campaign in the North. We are confident that Mr. President will campaign anywhere in Nigeria even the north where it has been proven that he is popular against the propaganda advanced by spent horses.”
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has made a public declaration to massively support President Jonathan in the February 14 presidential poll, assuring that millions of students, who are solidly behind him for re-election and will not let him down.
The declaration came just as the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, accused some key opposition leaders of being hypocritical and sympathetic to corruption based on their pedigree, even as he stated that force alone cannot resolve the current insurgency in some parts of the North.
Kuku said political, traditional, religious leaders and other elite from the north hold the key to resolving the puzzle associated with insurgency, challenging them to borrow a leaf from their compatriots from the Niger Delta who took up the gauntlet in the heydays of militancy in that region, culminating in a truce and the eventual granting of amnesty by the federal, which ushered in the extant peace in the area.
Led by its current President, Tijani Usman Shehu, current executive members as well as past leaders of NANS at the weekend thronged the Maitama, Abuja office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta in their numbers from all the zones in the country, to convey their support for Jonathan.
Present and past leaders of NANS took turns to express their resolve to rally millions of students across the country to ensure Jonathan’s victory at the polls, citing what they described as his laudable record of achievements and disposition towards upholding the rule of law.
Presenting the letter conveying NANS’ decision to support Jonathan at the February 14 poll to Kuku for onward transmission to the president, NANS President, Tijani Usman Shehu, who read out the content said “the choices facing the country today in the course of nationhood are simple: To move forward or to recede backward.
“We want to continue on the path of genuine democratic process, building institutions that guarantee qualitative change in terms of addressing and meeting the basic socio-economic and cultural needs of our people.”
According to the association, Nigerians have been able to see that Jonathan is a great leader and not a draconian ruler, adding that his “unrelenting zeal in initiating and executing people-oriented programmes with direct impact on the welfare of the people stand you out as the best president so far, hence, Nigerian students will forever prefer democracy to dictatorship.”
“Hence, we call on Your Excellency to match forward with assurance that over 40 million Nigerian students are solidly behind you. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the good triumph over evil. When the bad people conspire against you, we have decided to combine to support you with our vote,” the letter read.
NANS thanked Jonathan for building schools for ‘us and not prisons”, noting that “we have decided to match forward with Your Excellency in your quest to continue piloting the affairs of our nation till 2019”.
In the light of its decision to support Jonathan at the poll, NANS disclosed that it is set to formally endorse the president across its four zones, with the grand finale in Abuja.
Receiving the letter, Kuku, who thanked the association for its famed progressive antecedents, recalled his active days as a member of NANS’ executive body, admitting that he had not related well with his constituency for, but promised to identify with his ‘constituency’ henceforth.
Kuku, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, regretted that Jonathan’s record of achievements in office has been under-reported, chiding those who consistently refused to acknowledge the president’s patriotic efforts.
He said many of those who accuse the president of not doing enough to fight corruption were themselves everything but clean, adding that Jonathan is the only Nigerian leader whose children are all schooling within the country.
Noting that the president’s critics have been grossly unfair to him whenever issues of fighting corruption are concerned, Kuku regretted that when other arms of government like the judiciary fail to carry out their function effectively, the president was made the scapegoat.
He cited the case of an individual who was arraigned before a competent court for misappropriating billions of naira in pension fund, but was merely given what was at best a slap in the wrist by a judge, querying whether that was Jonathan’s fault.
Kuku alleged that the All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) national leader,
Senator Ahmed Tinubu; the APC presidential running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola were not the best Nigerians to accuse Jonathan of not fighting corruption, considering their antecedents.
“I am not saying that Ahmed Tinubu is corrupt, but he knows the odour of corruption. He is my leader, but I know he knows the odour of corruption. I know Fashola, he has done well in Lagos, but he was the Chief of Staff to Tinubu,” Kuku said.
According to him, Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (San) was the Chief of Staff to Tinubu when he was the latter was the governor of Lagos State, adding that together with Osinbajo, who was the then Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the state at that time, they drafted the legal papers that allegedly handed over the heritage of Lagos to Alpha Beta, a company alleged to be owned by Tinubu.
He said it was regrettable that such people today were vociferous in condemning Jonathan for not fighting corruption.
On Boko Haram, Kuku challenged northern political, traditional and religious leaders, among others, to rise to the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the insurgency ravaging parts of the north.
He said force alone was not enough to resolve the problem, admonishing leaders from the north to adopt the kind of approach by leaders from the South-south, including president Goodluck Jonathan—the then vice president, who braved the odds to reach out to the militant leaders at that time to extract peace from them.