Different groups from major regional blocs in the country have come together under the auspices of Joint Progressive Action Group (JPAG) to demand that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, include a former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in his campaign arrangements, “as we hope Atiku assembles a formidable campaign team that includes such individuals who are not only fearless but that also have a history of having stood with the people in their darkest hours and spoken for them even at the risk of their own personal safety, that of their families and their comfort when many were quiet and hid in fear in the face of tyranny”.
The groups in a statement signed by Chief Kola Adepoju for the Yoruba Alliance Group (YAG), Alhaji Abdullahi Shehu for Arewa Renewal Mandate Group (ARMG), Chief Obioma Okereafor for South East Peoples’ Union (SEPU) and Apostle Horyen Pwajok for the Middle Belt Coalition for Progress (MBCP), respectively, and released to the media earlier today, urged Atiku “to ignore the threat of this paperweight and faceless group which calls itself Arewa Youth Integrity Forum (AYIF) wherein they said Atiku risked losing their support if he associates his campaign with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode”.
The statement in full:
“Our attention has been drawn to the call of a certain group calling on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar not to associate himself with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, as he embarks on his presidential campaign, and wish to state that such a call does not only show how low the group has descended, if they ever existed, but also their mindset of hate for fellow citizens, and therefore, does not deserve to be listened to as they are most likely going to pitch Atiku on a collision course with the mass of reasonable citizens and people of goodwill everywhere who see Fani-Kayode as the voice of the voiceless. We therefore call on him to ignore the threat of this paperweight and faceless group which calls itself Arewa Youth Integrity Forum (AYIF) wherein they said Atiku risked losing their support if he associates his campaign with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode”.
“As we enter into the season of high wire politicking, the experience of Nigerians in the hands of the current government at the centre is something that makes citizens look up to Atiku and his team to rescue us from the tyranny and economic woes of the day even as we hope he assembles a formidable campaign team that includes such individuals who are not only fearless but that also have a history of standing with the people in their darkest hours even at the risk of their own personal safety, that of their families and their comfort when many were quiet and hid in fear in the face of tyranny”.
“We, therefore, call on Atiku to be highly sensitive of the fact that the ruling party is already setting up a very ferocious campaign team that would need to be matched facts for facts and figures for figures without fear. Atiku’s team would not need to be afraid of showing in factual analysis the failure of the current government in curtailing the orgy of carnage that has become a daily affair in our national life but also sell his (Atiku) agenda to the citizens effortlessly.
“Following the well-documented history of harassment of political opponents and institutions by government of the day, it will be wise for Atiku to go for those who have proved that they cannot be silenced, intimidated or even run away should the heat become unbearable at any point during the campaign, as may be expected.
“It is on record that while Fani-Kayode has stood with the oppressed and victims of tyranny everywhere in the country irrespective of their ethnic background or religious beliefs, the likes of AYIF and their leaders have never been known to speak up when it mattered most.
“May we even ask AYIF where they were when Fani-Kayode stoutly defended Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), a prince of the Fulani stock, who is being held in illegal detention after several court judgements granted him bail, and fought against the oppressive treatment being meted out to him?
“Where was AYIF that claimed to love the citizens more than Fani-Kayode when FFK stood with the leader and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as the Shiites when death and cruel repression was visited upon the group by people alleged to be agents of government? Or are the Shiites no longer Muslims and Hausa/Fulani in the warped estimation of AYIF?
“Who heard the voice of this self-exalting AYIF when FFK stood with victims of Southern Kaduna crises who are both Christians and Muslims; or victims of the continued carnage in Plateau State, Benue, Taraba, Borno and everywhere else? Where was AYIF when young unarmed Igbo sons and daughters were allegedly killed last year September?
“It is worrisome that such a group that has no single history of speaking up for good governance and against tyranny would be making attempts to vitiate the important roles Fani-Kayode and his likes have played in checking official oppression in the nation.
“Following on the above, we sincerely believe that AYIF is being sponsored by politicians who are afraid of the political capital the likes of Fani-Kayode would bring to Atiku’s campaign team and have therefore made themselves easy tool of calumny in the hands of such politicians who cannot stand Fani-Kayode’s towering status among the mass of ordinary citizens who see him as their voice in their helpless state.
“We therefore strongly urge, AYIF and such other ‘emergency’ groups to desist from allowing themselves to be used to scuttle the best chance Nigeria has now to effect a positive change that would usher in a season of rebuilding Nigeria!”