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The Coalition of Northern Youths has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice-President Abubakar not to contest the 2019 presidential election.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their summit in Kaduna Monday, the group urged the two leaders to leave the stage for younger people between the ages of 18 and 60.
The communiqué, which was read by Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said they had previously advised Buhari to leave the stage for younger people.
“We had advised him (Buhari) to look for a younger person who has the integrity like him to run for the presidency. Anybody above 70 years of age should give way to the younger generation,” the group, which last year issued an ultimatum to Nigerians of South-east origin to leave the North, said.
The Northern youth coalition explained that the advice became imperative in view of the fact that Buhari and Abubakar who are both in their 70s “participated in debates that gave birth to the current national arrangement that is largely acknowledged as having failed our national aspirations”.
The group maintained that Nigerians are worried that older people who have dominated the political stage since independence have not moved the country forward.
The communiqué called on Nigerians to insist on a generational change in the leadership of the country.
“Frustrated young Nigerians, having paid their dues in the national development efforts, have been manifestly left to suffer from the suffocating consequences of the prevailing exclusive and defeatist leadership selection process that has been imposed on the country over the years, by succeeding ruling elite.
“It is time they formed a rallying point from which younger Nigerians can make a strong demand for a new political order to usher in a generational power shift as reparation for past marginalisation in the nation's political leadership,” the group said.
It also frowned on what it described as “the seeming endorsement by some Northern leaders of a brand of restructuring that clearly places the region at a disadvantage”, declaring that it was unacceptable and must be discountenanced.
The group said the North will “not settle for any restructuring plan that is not total, comprehensive and holistic…”
nPDP's Grievances
The push for the generational shift in Nigeria's leadership came just as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) acknowledged Monday that the issues raised by its aggrieved members, who form the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) bloc of the ruling party, were genuine and needed to be addressed.
The group, which left the then ruling PDP at the height of its crisis in 2013 to fuse with the APC coalition, had accused the latter and the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of marginalising and maltreating their members, despite the role they played in bringing APC to power in 2015.
Specifically, they complained of being treated as outsiders in a party they helped to build and sustain.
The group also lamented that while some of their members had been denied security cover to visit their constituencies, others were being prosecuted and faced a witch-hunt by agents of the government.
The members led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje issued a seven-day ultimatum to the leadership of the party to arrange a meeting with them in order to address their complaints.
The group's ultimatum elapsed last week, fuelling fears that the APC may have called their bluff.
However, addressing reporters Monday shortly after an hour-long meeting with the aggrieved group at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, the Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Senator Shauib Lawan, said the party considered their grievances legitimate and something that should be looked into.
He said although the matter was yet to be resolved, the party was taking it very seriously.
“We have not yet resolved the issues. They wrote a letter to us, they are party men, they have grievances, we have looked at the letter and their grievances are genuine,” he said.
While explaining the apparent delay in addressing their grievances, Lawan said: “They requested a meeting within seven days and before the seven days expired, I called them and they were not ready to come, they said we should shift the meeting till today, which we did.
“So, we are listening to them, we have listened to them and we are taking up their matter seriously, we will address it. We don't ignore our people except if you don't send your grievances to the party. But if you send them, we will always address your grievances.”
Speaking on the outcome of the much-anticipated peace talks, Baraje said his group will remain with the ruling APC, but discussions were still at their infancy, noting however that the nPDP was satisfied with the response of the APC leadership.
According to him, “So far so good. We have just started. And when you start a race, you don't say whether somebody wants to see you until you get to the middle or to the end. But it's a good start, it's a good beginning.
“As you are aware, we requested that we wanted to see the party, and the party, very sensitive party, very responsible party, responded to our requests adequately and we think it was a very encouraging thing.
“Since last week, they got across to us, but because of one logistic or the other, we couldn't come until today. We begged the party to shift the date until today, and today we have seen our party leadership.
“We are party members, this office is our office, we have only come home to discuss those observations we wrote in our letter. The meeting was very beautiful.”
When asked in specific terms what was discussed, Baraje said: “We have not concluded and the discussions will continue.”
Baraje also dismissed the splinter group led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, saying that as far as he was concerned, 99.5 per cent of the members of the nPDP were in support of the demands he made.
Earlier, Senator Lawan had said the APC leadership did not receive any letter from the Senator Adamu-led group.
Members with Common Ideals
Meanwhile, former Edo State governor and aspirant for the position of the national chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has declared that the ruling party should only admit people who share its ideology and who will add value to the party, going forward.
Oshiomhole, who spoke Monday during a visit to former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu, said political parties are not an all-comers affair but for those that are ready to add value to their activities.
He said as a party, the APC should be able to tell some people whose beliefs run counter to the ideals of the party to look elsewhere for membership of a political party.
He said political parties ought to be governed by a set of value-adding ideals that members must subscribe to, “otherwise you are not supposed to be a member”.
Oshiomhole, who expressed concern over the continued feud between the executive and legislative arms of government, said that the party could not afford to be an onlooker in the current rift between both arms of government.
He said as chairman of the party, he would make sure that all party organs are made to function as constitutionally mandated, adding that “when the party organs are not functioning, then we are just a collection of people”.
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