Yerima Shettima, leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, has said people of Igbo extraction anticipating the emergence of Nigeria’s next president from their region should extinguish such thoughts as 2023 is not the right time for the region.
Speaking in an interview, Shettima claimed that the Northern part of the country must be allowed to seek justice as had their leaders had spent shorter years in the presidency than those from the Southern part of the country.
He also stated that contrary to popular opinion, the South-East has actually been partly represented in the presidency by former president Goodluck Jonathan due to his Igbo name.
He stated that the Igbo would get the presidency “when the time comes” but stated that the region’s leaders would have to keep in check their fellow individuals who are “threatening the unity of the country”.
“They (Igbo) can’t claim to be marginalised; after all by extension, Jonathan is from South-East as his name is also Azikiwe. The fact that he adopted Edwin Clark as his father does not make him a complete Ijaw man. The South-East even benefited more from his regime than any other region so they can’t claim to be marginalised,” Shettima told the Punch.
“However, I’m sure they are saying they need someone directly from the South-East. If that’s what they are asking for, can they have it? Yes, with time, they can have it. I will be one of those who will support and also work to have a President from the South-East when the time comes but it’s not yet time; they must be able to put their house in order first and control the excesses of some of their children who go about abusing the sensibilities of Nigerians by threatening the unity of the country.
“When that is done, they will be trusted and when there’s trust, people will support them. You cannot threaten people over and over and think it can be done by threatening and blackmailing them.”
Shettima added that no individual or geopolitical zone can stop Northern Nigeria for demanding for justice by having a politician from the region beyond 2023.
Asked whether a northern presidency would threaten the existence of the country, he said: “That’s not true. Why should justice become a threat to the unity of the country? From 1999 till date, how many years have we (northerners) been in power? Southerners have been in power for almost 16 years, from 1999 till date. We’ll have only about nine years if Buhari successfully finishes his tenure, so where is justice in that? We only demand justice; we are not asking for too much.”
The Arewa Youth leader also insisted that Jonathan should not have contested the 2011 presidential election following the death of his then principal, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, noting that the former president violated “the spirit of rotational presidency”.