Lawal Bayero is the APC youths coordinator for Gombe State and member of the APC youths Presidential Campaign Council for North East.
In this interview with Sola Shittu in Gombe, Bayero said the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is the Presidential flag bearer of Peoples Democratic Party PDP cannot be a threat to Tinubu in the North East Region.
Recently the 88 members of APC Youths Presidential Campaign Council was inaugurated, as the state Coordinator how would you describe it?
I will describe it as a huge success and an indication that we are on the right path to success in 2023. You are there and can see the huge turnout of youths at the ceremony.
I am more than before convinced that APC is certain of victory for our candidate in the coming general election. There is no doubt that APC is the party to beat in this election. I cannot see any strong contender against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that I can tell you.
How sure are you of the victory of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in this coming election?
Elections are won by people who have their feet on the ground. We have the largest numbers of Governors, Senators, House Representatives members and state Assembly members across the country. All these have sworn to ensure the victory of Tinubu in the coming election.
Tinubu’s victory in the coming election means a lot to Nigerians. It means cohesion, unity and keeping to promise. This is a man that has spent almost all his life working for the emergence of a Presidential Candidate from the North.
What is is your plan as youths leader for the general election?
Our party relies on the strength youths in this country, according to reports Nigeria’s population is about 75 percent youths and we have a huge chunk of that number in our party. If you can recollect in 2015 general election, it was the youths that successfully uproot the PDP Government of Goodluck Jonathan out of office and brought in President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was the same youths that also gave him the second term and we are going to be the one to retain the party in power in 2023. The truth is without the youths their is no APC, talk of the change mantra in 2015 we are the one that champion the whole thing and we are ready to do the same thing for Tinubu and Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya in Gombe State in this general election.
With Atiku coming from this same region, how are you sure that Tinubu will hand in the North East in the election?
Atiku is not a threat to Tinubu in the North East and you can quote me on that. What has Atiku done for the region in his eight years reign as Vice President for the region. Look at Gombe-Yola road, it has been like that since Atiku’s time as Vice President. It is a shame to Atiku that the only major road that links his home state to other parts of the country is bad, unmotorable and still remains like that.
The NorthEast Region used to be Atiku’s stronghold because there was no Northeasterner on the ballot but now with the emergence of Senator Kassim Shettima on the ballot, it will no longer be so. And again, even though Atiku is coming from the region but it is the turn of the south to occupy the Aso Rock villa since the North West is about rounding up the slot of the North and it is only just and fair for power to return to the south and who is that person, a lover of the North East; someone that we have been very comfortable with and someone that we are sure we will be comfortable with when he gets to power; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
What gives you the confidence that the North East Region will leave their own son and vote for somebody outside the region?
Thank you for that question, I am so confident because I have never seen a lover of the North East Region like Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In 2007, we saw how he supported the current presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar to emerge as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress and gave him the platform. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed. In 2011, he did the same thing with our brother from the same Adamawa state as Atiku, Malam Nuhu Ribadu as the presidential candidate of the ACN in 2011.
In 2015, we all knew that without the support of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, as the biggest coalition member of the APC, a Buhari Presidency may not be possible and he repeated it again in 2019 so today for us in the North it’s only fair for us to payback this man that has been a lover of the north. This is our payback time because he is a supporter of the North East.
He has supported Atiku Abubakar from Adamawa state, supported Nuhu Ribadu from the same Adamawa state and picked Kassim Shettima from Borno state. I have never seen a bigger lover of the North East in the country than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The North East used to be the stronghold of Atiku because there was no North East person on the ballot but now with the emergence of Senator Kassim Shettima on the ballot I don’t think the North East will continue to be his stronghold. Already, Borno and Yobe are in the kitty for us. Gombe, which used to be his stronghold, is now in the hands of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya.
He is not just the Governor of the state but also the North East Regional Director of the Presidential Campaign Council for Tinubu and Senator Kassim Shettima. So already we have three states in the region, because of the woeful performance of PDP in Taraba state everybody is praying for redemption.
Already we have a very strong person in Taraba as the Governorship candidate and we are sure that he will deliver not just Taraba to himself but also to Asiwaju. Next is Adamawa and Bauchi that have been in the grasp of the PDP for four years.
We all knew that we lost Adamawa and Bauchi due to the internal wranglings in APC and we are ready to put our house in order, we have met with critical stakeholders and they have vowed to work together for the victory of Asiwaju.
What is your take on the state of the youths in Nigeria as a whole?
The youths of this country are grossly underutilized by our leaders. If you look around us, most of our industries are not working, those ones we know through the 70s, 80s and 90s are no longer there.
When I was growing up Afcot was a major company in Gombe here. Most of our youths were engaged by the company in the production of cottons and others. In my village, the Afcot officials will come to give us high yielding seeds, chemicals etc.
There were a lot of opportunities for the youths then. Similarly, we also have a tomato processing company at Kumo doing the same thing for the youths but now, the two companies are no longer there. I can tell you all these because I am a direct beneficiary of this, we cultivate the cotton farm to get money and pay for our school fees and support our parents but today Afcot is no more.
If these two companies are still working today, do you know how many youths will be engaged and making money from their sweat. If you go to Adamawa and Taraba, the same thing also happens there. Taraba is perhaps the worst among them because I used to see the youths roaming about the streets begging for money.
So our leaders need to rise up and do something about the situation because of our fragile security situation. There is an adage that an idle hand is the devil ‘s workshop. The state of our youths currently is not helping our security situation.
Are you saying the collapse of these industries fuel the secury situation of the country?
Yes, of course. What do you expect from an idle grown up man, he will find somewhere to direct his energy and he may not care whether wherever he directs his energy is having positive or negative impact on the country.
This is similar to what we are going through with regard to insurgency in the North East and banditry in the North West. It is when there is security that farmers can go to their farms, market women can go to market and the youths will also be gainfully employed. If we have security, we can invite our friends in Europe to come and invest in our country because of the massive land in the country and cheap labour.
So this time around, I don’t want the youths of this country to get it wrong, the youths must stand up and vote for Tinubu because he is a rewarder of youths. Take for example how he brought up Fashola, the Minister of works, Rauf Aregebsola, the Minister of internal Affairs, Muiz Banire, the former National Legal Adviser of our party, former Governor Ambode of Lagos State and the present Governor of the state Sanwolu who is also a youth.
I can tell you that he has been very consistent in rewarding youths for hard work. We have no doubt in Asiwaju’s capabilities to reward the youths. We have no doubt in his love for the youths, he has done it before and he is going to do it again. He is a rewarder of youths, he is a rewarder of loyalty. He is a builder of youths and we are certain that if the youths really give him their support he will surely reward them.
Let’s look at politics in your home state Gombe you’re giving support to Governor Inuwa Yahaya for a second term why?
Because he has done well. Go round the state you will see how he touched the lives of the people through infrastructural development programs. Look at the Industrial Estate at Dadinkowa, his reforms in education sector which now allows more children to go to school, the Gombe goes green project now planting more trees all over the state and the project eleven hundreds that is constructing 100 kilometers of road in all the eleven local government areas of the state. I give him kudos for that because the new road network is linking up our rural areas to the city.
However like Oliver Twist, I still want him to do more in his second term especially for my people at Gombe South. We want to feel his impact more in the area of developmental projects for Gombe South and I am speaking the minds of my people on this.
The condition they gave me is that the Governor has done well and we are still going to vote for him and his party for a second term but he has to remember us in Gombe South. The youths especially want him to engage them in a youth empowerment program that will directly touch the lives of Gombe South youths.
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