The serenity of Abuja, the administrative seat of power was again jolted on Thursday as thousands of youths under the aegis of National Youth Council of Nigeria(NYCN) thronged the popular Shehu Shagari express way , other adjoining streets in the federal capital in a rally in support of President Mohammadu Buhari’ s anti corruption war.
The Katsina state governor, Aminu Bello Masari represented at the event by his Deputy Alhaji Mannir Yakubu and the former Deputy senate president senator Ibrahim Mantu, officially inaugurated the rally.
The rally which started at about 12pm from the popular unity fountain, near the federal secretariat Abuja, also attracted the attention of some members of the National Assembly and other anti -corruption crusaders. The rally took the youths up to the National Assembly, the office of the Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and terminated at the highly restricted entrance gate to the presidential village, (Aso Rock). On the display by the youths was a coffin with the inscription R.I.P to corruption and other anti corruption placards. The youths under the leadership of Mr Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere were seen chanting anti -corruption songs . The youths who defied the early morning rain in Abuja insisted that president must be allowed to fight corruption unhindered.
The president of the NYCN had earlier asked the president to release the names of the corrupt Nigerian leaders and prosecute them to serve as a deterrent to others who may still be wallowing in corruption.
Some notable leaders including the governor of Bauchi state, Mohammed Abubakar, senators and members of the House of Representatives had earlier signed the register of the NYCN in support of president Buhari’s anti corruption war. There are indications that other state governors may be signing the said register any moment from now. The scramble by governors and other leaders to sign the anti- corruption register followed the perceived presidential support for the newly elected leadership of the NYCN.
The atmosphere became charged when Senator Mantu confirmed the ruling of the FCT High court, which upheld the election of Ugochinyere as the president of the NYCN.
The FCT High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja presided over by Justice Valentine Ashi had confirmed Ugochinyere as the President of the council. The judge, while setting aside his earlier judgment obtained by one Mr. Akor of Peace Corps against Ikenga, declared that Ikenga is and still remains the elected President and should assume and exercise his powers uninterrupted. Ironically , it was the same judge who had earlier quashed election of Ikenga Ugochinyere that restated him last week in Abuja.
The U-turn by the court came upon the discovery that the earlier judgment was obtained by deceit with forged documents and manipulated facts .The much advertised rally was to drum support for the president’s anti corruption campaign. The President had earlier at a news briefing urged Nigerians to support the current crusade. According to him creation of job for the youths and economic recovery can only be achieved if corruption is tackled in our system. But the Katsina state governor who declared the rally open in Abuja told Nigerians that it was no longer business as usual in the country. He said that the president was determined to fight the cankerworm head on. Governor Masari declared that he would stop at nothing to ensure that his predecessors who looted the treasury of the state were adequately prosecuted.
Masari, who said he had already initiated processes that would bring those who tempered with the state resources to book, insisted that nobody in the previous administrations in the state would be spared.
“We have instituted enquiries into past government activities with a view to bringing to book all culprits that have looted government resources,” he emphasised. He charged youths to fully support the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, given that they were the “greatest beneficiaries of a corruptionfree Nigeria.”
He however advised the youths to be peaceful in their support and not allow those he referred to as “fifth columnists to infiltrate” their ranks just as he urged them to shun corruption and indiscipline in all their daily lives.
Also, speaking at the occasion, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu called on the youth to realise that they were the conscience of the nation by resolving to support every efforts aimed at moving the country forward.” They should know that it is the youth that we use for virtually everything even the corruption we are talking about.
“ It is the youth that elect corrupt officials, corrupt leaders and these corrupt leaders use the youth corruptly to retain themselves in office. “It is the youth that is used to destroy electoral process.
It is the youth that is used in rigging election and carry ballot boxes. It is the youth that we use in carrying out mayhem and it is the youth that is used in executing virtually everything that is bad.
“ The youth should know that they are actually destroying their tomorrow and not destroying anybody’s tomorrow for peanut,” he added.” I have come to identify with the youth on the war against corruption. Mr president has fought this war before against indiscipline as head of state and I feel the youths are doing the right thing because they are the leaders of tomorrow and if they allow corruption to destroy tomorrow, there will be no tomorrow for them to lead. That is why some of us who are already in positions of leadership should also identify with this noble course. So we will encourage them to know that they are the conscience of the nation and it is their duty to join in fighting corruption in this nation,” he stated.
Senator Mantu tasked the leadership of the National Youth Council of Nigeria to continually educate the youth, organize symposia, seminars and workshops to entrench ethics and orientation in the minds of the youth to enable them grow up as good people that the nation would be proud of.
Convener of the rally and National President of the youth council, Barrister Ikenga Ugochinyere, in an address earlier, expressed the resolved of his leadership to wipe away corruption in the country through unwavering support to President Buhari. He said his organisation was looking forward to having one million signatures in support of the antcorruption war of President Buhari.
No fewer than 100 security operatives besieged Agura Hotel in Abuja, the venue of election of new leadership of the National Youth Council of Nigeria(NYCN) on weekend as Barrister Ikenga Ugochinyere emerged as the National President of the Council. A combined team of police men, the Director of Security Service (DSS) the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) the Army had taken over the venue of the hotel apparently to stall the election of the new officials of the council.
Source alleged that security operatives were drafted to the venue following a purported petition by the outgoing president of the council Hon Henry Nwabueze who claimed that about 409 youths were in Abuja to cause possible breach of peace. Delegates for the election were restrained from going in and out of the hotel premises according to the council officials.
Though the delegates for the election were said to have concluded accreditation Thursday night at the same venue , but the election could not take place in the said hotel following the heavy presence of the security operatives.
The delegates were seen in their groups discussing the development. Leading contestant Mr Ugochinyere and the electoral officers were earlier invited by the FCT command for questioning.
But the youths who vowed to resist any attempt by any body to impose any candidate on them rather moved to another location in Area 11 Abuja and elected officials of the council. The twist was to avoid possible arrest.
Chairman of the Electoral Committee for the Council, Comrade John Nwakama who declared Barrister Ikenga as the winner of the election , said that the ear of imposition of candidate for the council was over .
He said that youths have decided to elect a president of their choice and would do every thing possible to support president Mohammed Buhari on his anti corruption crusade.
Chairman of the election committee Comrade Nwakama however lamented intimidation the electorates suffered under security agencies at Agura hotel alleging that Security agencies put delegates and electoral committees under tension at the venue of the election.
In his own comment after, he was declared winner of the election, Barrister Ikenga vowed to protect the interest of Nigeria assuring that Nigerian youths will not regret confidence repose in him.
The youths also urged the president to probe the reported intimidation and harassment of the youths during the election of the council officials at the Agura hotel last weekend. A combined team of police, DSS and Army at the weekend took over the Agura hotel ‘ the venue of the council election apparently to stall the exercise.
Already the council in a resolution to mark the World Youth Day said it has concluded plan to present to the Senate a bill titled ‘ Assets Verification Bill which when passed into law will empower the federal government to take over asset of any Nigerian who under declared its assets.
Comrade Ugochinyere urged the president to consider more young people in his appointment, saying that consideration should be given to people between the age of 18 and 35 years to help his administration function better. According to him the youths have suffered huge neglect due to the prolong crisis that rocked the council.
– Emeka Ekpunobi (Abuja)