Alhaji Yerima Shettima is the National Chairman of the Nigerian Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum (NENYLF). He is also the President of Arewa Consultative Youth Forum. In this interview with Seyi Taiwo- Oguntuase, he speaks on just concluded elections and other salient issues. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the 2019 general elections?
It is full of flops; this is not what we envisage. Democracy has been threatened already from all indications. Well-meaning Nigerians must come onboard now for us to begin to see things and face reality. Some of us feel very painful because we have paid our dues on the struggle.
This is not the kind of democracy we envisaged; we thought by now we would have gone to another level of this our young democracy; but from all indications we are backward more under this administration of All Progressive Congress (APC), under the leadership of President Muhamammdu Buhari and that is why some of us feel strongly that we need to put attention and tell Nigerians the consequences of this recent elections both and the Presidential and the Governorship. The election is nothing to write home about; mass rigging and abuse of sensibility of Nigerians.
You just mention rigging, in specific terms what other areas do you feel we get it wrong in the election?
Let me start from the Presidential, if you look very well you will see that the people came out enmasse and voted for what they wanted and the people have actually spoken, but from all indications we could also see that the second elections has justify what has happened in the first election because there is poor turnout.
It is a clear indication that Nigerians are not happy. Some of us forestall this coming when we draw attention of Nigerians, some people thought we are just talking because we want to talk but we also know that even from inception the INEC has compromised the election. I do not also see the business of military playing a major role in a democratically constitutionally election such as ours as a country. So, you could see in terms of integrity, there is no integrity. In terms of flops, there are flops seriously and we are happy that the flag bearer of the PDP Atiku Abubakar went to court to fight for it. We will give necessary support and I hope also that the court being the last hope of the common man will also do justice to this matter; otherwise we will all be in a big mess.
We felt strongly that people are undermining democracy; we felt strongly that if this continues we are likely going to wake up and face the angers of Nigerians and some of us have a lot to lose because we have paid our dues. We have been part and parcel of those that fought against military dictatorship and bring about democracy.
The demonstration today was as a result of what we felt was not just on the part of Nigerian people so we need to also put people on notice that this must not be allowed to continue.
What is the issue?
The issue is that; there was an election where people actually came out en-masse and they spoke and what they did was to undermine the will of the people by subverting the true reflection of what the people wanted and they did what they want to do.
For us we felt strongly that elections have been massively rigged, it was good thing that the opposition party have actually went to court to challenge the result of the Presidential elections. Also you could see the body language of the people after the last Saturday’s election.
One is total poor turnout by people because they felt their vote no longer count, so that propelled a danger for the country. Also with the recent maneuvering from some of these states where some states were announced to be inconclusive some were even suspended results, it is a clear indication that we are playing with fire.
This is our home, we are Nigerians and if Nigerians cannot speak and draw the attention of government on the consequences that is likely going to happen then we will not be fair to the country.
What is your take about the elections that were declared inconclusive?
It is the handover of what happened in the Presidential elections that brought about this. Where the PDP won elections it has been declared as inconclusive. Kano, there is no two ways about it people have spoken, Rivers state, there is no two ways about it, people have spoken thank God they released Imo because they could not help. Places like Jos, places like Adamawa were won by the PDP, the people have spoken and we expect them to respect the wills of the people.
The Kaduna state where I come from today was massively rigged and the PDP are going to challenge it in court and I expect that they do the right thing.
We cannot encourage one party system in the country where we run a constitutional democracy. It portends a danger to kill opposition party completely by hook or crook. So for us it is strongly a bad omen and it is dangerous for our democracy to conclude that where PDP won elections like Rivers, Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Benue where PDP won elections is become inconclusive. It is only where the APC you now announce that those places elections have been fairly announced, this is not right.
The electoral law says that if the margin between the two parties is not up to voided votes…
(Cuts in) it was deliberate where you have large votes of people something went wrong and at the end of the day they maneuver the result, press down some of these results and come up with these analysis that where wasted votes came out if it becomes higher than what you have as margin, automatically it becomes inconclusive. It was deliberate, it was artificial. Why did those things happen in only PDP wining areas? Why should it be so, is it coincidence? Why should it be coincidence in areas where PDP won elections?
What type of solution can you proffer to this?
For us as activist and social crusaders, we would mobile and rally people around; we will ensure that Nigerians feel and have a sense of reasoning. We will not just fold our hands to allow people to run the country as if the country is been ruled by an emperor. We won’t sit down and allow Nigerians to be treated as if we are in banana republic. No this is a country, so this is a clarion call that all Nigerians must respond and ensure that the right things is been done.
A lot of Nigerians has called for a change in our electoral process going forward and have recommended e-voting, do you also share in that view?
I do, apart from the leadership of the country who all of a sudden refuse to sign the electoral act into law. If that was done, perhaps we would have seen better things than what we are experiencing now. It is deliberate because it is a calculated attempt to undermine Nigerians that is exactly why President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign it.