Comrade Elliot Afiyo is the current President of the Arewa Youth Congress of Nigeria, Chairman, Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF), the Secretary-General, Association of West African Monarchs (AWAM) and a Senior Pastor with The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Elliot has undoubtedly been around the political turf for a very long time and has been influential in influencing the making of presidents, governors and some key political leaders in the country.
In this down-to-earth, revealing and explosive interview, Afiyo, takes off by telling the first lady to hand-off the Dauras and Kyaris. He then in his characteristically blunt nature, accused the former president Jonathan of breeding the killer Herdsmen in his quest to hold unto power heading into the 2015 elections.
Q: Hello sir, what do you make of the rumble and the feud between the first lady and Mamman Daura’s family, she was said to have allegedly attacked them at the Villa?
To be sincere, I would want to advise my elder Sister Mrs. Aisha Buhari not only to apologise to Mamman Daura and seek for family resolution to whatever issue is causing the trouble but to also back it up with respect for him.
There is no gainsaying that President Buhari is just appreciating Daura’s family and returning the favour extended to him. Many people don’t know or appreciate the fact as to why President Buhari might never be separated from Daura and Abba Kyari.
When the goings became tough for President Buhari after he was released from detention, many friends and close associates were scared of coming closer to him, as a matter of fact, no one dares to come close to him let alone talk of helping or assisting him.
Mamman Daura, was one of the brave people then that against all odds dared to identify with him at his own risk and also placed him on a monthly salary. Mamman Daura was a divine helper to President Buhari and his family to the detriment of his life in particular and that of his family.
So, no matter what the problem between them, Mrs.Buhari should think deep and twice before she takes any action against the Dauras and Kyaris knowing fully that her husband will never let go of them because he is not an ingrate.
I always laugh when I hear people say Buhari should let go of Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari. Where were they when things were totally bad and rough for the Buharis?
Q: But the people asking Buhari to let Daura, Kyari go, are not doing so out of spite but in the interest of the country. Most of them claimed that since the coming of president Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, there has been rumours of cabals calling the shots at Aso Rock besides Buhari and that most of the anti-Nigerian policies taken by the Buhari government have been hurled at them?
There is not a single government either in Nigeria or in any part of the world that has no cabal. There are two types of cabals. Cabal within the government and cabal outside the government. There is no king without titleholders. Either you call them cabal or inner caucus. What are the anti-people’s policies that were imposed on the masses? When a policy favours some people, they say it is a good policy but if the policy does not favour them, they call it anti- masses policy. I challenge you to mention just one policy that favours the cabal at the detriment of the masses.
Q: You are one of the advocates for northern presidency in 2023 after years of the north holding unto power, don’t you think it is insulting on other Nigerians, Why do you insist on a Northern President in 2023?
I don’t know what you mean for the North holding to power. Since the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999, the South ruled for 14 years (Obasanjo=8 and Jonathan =6) while the North may rule for 10 years (Yar’adua =2 and Buhari =8). Which region is then holding unto power?
As I said two months ago, it is none negotiable. It is a settled matter by the Northerners. Anybody from any geopolitical zone can come out and contest.
The arrangement for power rotation is a PDP affair which was discarded by the PDP in 2011 and 2015.
It is never a constitutional arrangement. Even when it was agreed that the South should rule for two terms, President Buhari contested in 2003. In 2007, when it was agreed by the PDP that it was the turn of the North to produce the president, that did not stop Peter Odili from gunning for it. Again in 2011, when we insisted for the completion of the North’s turn, we were told that Jonathan should be allowed for one term.
Controversially when in 2015, we met and insisted on power rotation to the North, the then president Jonathan denied the existence of such arrangement and when the agreement was produced, the Southerners argued that it was a photocopy. They insisted on producing the original copy knowing fully that the original copy was with a former Governor of Delta State.
My Brother, that was the end and death of power rotation in PDP. I stand boldly to tell you that there will be nothing like power rotation again and it will not happen in 2023.
The South can only produce a President through persuasion and peaceful negotiation not by threats or violence. As far as democracy is enthroned in Nigeria, the majority will always have their way and the minority must have their say. That is the beauty of democracy,
If PDP and APC present Southerners as their Presidential flagbearers and APGA or Labour party present a Northerner as their flagbearers, the North will vote massively for APGA and of course, you know what it means.
Personally, I know for sure that if Tinubu is presented as the flag bearer, he will surely pick my brother as his running mate, but I am an advance citizen, the collective interest must supersede the individual interest.
Q: It’s like the north has this Oliver twist syndrome, always asking for, without considering other regions, would it not just make common sense that the north supports a region of the country for 2023 and your Organisation, the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) could be instrumental to that?
The Northerners and indeed the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF). Stand and will always stand for justice, equity and fairness. We supported Obasanjo in 2003 against Buhari who is a Northerner. We voted for Jonathan in 2011 against Buhari. It was the attitude and behavior of the Southerners in 2014 that united the entire North to vote massively for Buhari in 2015.
As I said earlier, the South ruled for 14 years and the North may rule for 10 years. We are therefore demanding for our right and also justice and fairness not begging for it. God in His infinite mercy has put us in a position of political advantage to the South and so we have no reason at all to beg.
Any southerner that wants to be president in 2023 is free to form his or her Northern Youth Organisation or Elders forum as Jonathan did and as it is happening now. But when it comes to presidential election proper, we all know who to vote for.
Q: In view of your position on 2023 presidency, who does your organisation, the Northern Youth Leaders Forum, have in mind for 2023 Presidency, it is a known fact that you have been influential in the emergence of presidents since 2003?
Because President Buhari said he has nobody in mind, we have to do some political investigations between now and March 2021 to come out with possible names that we feel will not destroy whatever good policies or legacy the President has initiated or will leave behind. I strongly believe and think that either a non-active politician or a serving governor either from North-East or North-West, irrespective of political party, will get our endorsement and subsequent clearance by our elders and elites.
All the forty-two affiliated youth groups tend to subscribe to this idea. If that is achieved, then we will source the vice president among the governors from the South. But you know power belongs to God and He gives to whoever He so wished.
Q: But you are from the Middle Belt, why are you making a case that seems to negates what your leaders from that area are saying especially since they seem to claim that the Middle Belt is not part of the North?
Laughs. Middle Belt is part and parcel of the North and it will remain so. It’s unfortunate that people who have become what they are today because they are Northerners, are the ones trying to align with the Southerners. Just take a look at the group of people that are saying that middle belt is not part of the North.
All of them are known in Nigeria today because they are Northerners. If they were Southerners, they wouldn’t have been known or occupy the positions they occupied.
The fact that there are killings going on in the middle belt region, is not an excuse for them to claim that they are not part of the North.
Some of these people are expired or unpopular personalities who took to ethnicity and religion as their sources and means of livelihood and popularity.
There were massive killings in Zamfara than any other state, does that mean that the people of Zamfara are not Northerners? What of the ongoing killings between the Tivs and the Jukuns in Taraba state? Would the Tivs or the Jukuns come out to say that they are no more middle belters?
Q: Are you saying Nigerians should be comfortable with being killed and continue to be allies with perceived perpetrators of their nightmare?
By no Means please. The killings are condemnable and every reasonable Nigerian should stand up and say no to it until we see the end of it and we will sure see the end of it very soon. But we cannot use it as an excuse to drive a wedge between brothers and cause unnecessary divisions.
As a matter of fact, this was the seed Jonathan’s administration sowed among the northerners in 2014 which boomerang in 2015 and it would not work in 2023.
The North is one and will continue to be one regardless of what is happening. We will iron out our differences. Despite all these killings, we are still politically more united than other geopolitical regions.
Q: But the killings by the killer herdsmen became more deadly and pronounced during president Buhari’s first term and that agitated several Nigerians, what do you think sparked it and what in your opinion was responsible for the weak response from the president compared to the fierce response of operation “python dance” unleashed on IPOB?
Yes, I totally agree with you that the killings and attacks spiked during Buhari’s tenure. The simple fact is that it was a seed sowed by Jonathan in 2014 as I said earlier.
The former President Jonathan was responsible for the empowerment of the so-called herdsmen.
In his desire to get the support of the north through the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and the Northern Elders Forum, President Jonathan through some Northern elements lobbied these groups to no avail because of the north’s resolve to return the power to the region. These two groups rejected his offers. Jonathan did not stop at that, he went ahead to create Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Northern Elders Council THROUGH THE SAME Northern elements and empowered them.
Unfortunately, the money entered the wrong hands. It was these funds that were used to purchase arms and unfortunately, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore was hijacked and turned into a militant organization to fight their perceived enemies whom they claimed have been killing their members.
Q: This seems to be a weighty accusation against a former president. If this is a known fact, why is the government of president Buhari slow in proscribing the organization and tag it a Terrorist group as it did IPOB?
What for? Take for instance, we have fishermen in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Bayelsa, Ondo, etc. Would you proscribe fishermen organization because fishermen in Benue and Akwa-Ibom are killing people?
Forget the fact that President Buhari is a Fulani man. If the government proscribes herdsmen today, you can’t imagine the number of innocent herdsmen that may be killed by the security agencies.
Mind you, it is only a fraction of the fulanis that are involved in this criminal acts.
There is a gang-up against the government that the president and security agencies cannot do anything about it. That is why you see some governors negotiating with the bandits.
As a security expert, I have no option than to support their actions even though it is unethical and unconventional.
It is a universally agreed protocol within the security parlance that unconventional situations or crisis, may require some unconventional approaches and solutions in order to attain the ultimate goal which is peace.
Definitely, I am not in support of banning or proscribing herdsmen after all, not all herdsmen are fulanis
Q: Nobody is asking for the proscription of all fulanis but the Kautal Hore, in view of their activities that seems more deadly than the actions of IPOB?
Again, you cannot compare Herdsmen with IPOB. IPOB has an organizational structure with Kanu as the Leader/President with the members taking orders from him even if it is against the State laws. IPOB has her police, Army and Secret police. IPOB has her coat of arms and her National Anthem. IPOB has her National radio and the name of her country is called Biafra. No government would tolerate this kind of organization.
As I said earlier, Kyautal Hore wasn’t a violent organization. Some people hijacked few of the state chapters and turned them into militant groups. Kautal Hore as a national body has not come out and claim responsibility for any acts of violence although they may not be innocent. There is no concrete or tangible evidence that may warrant its proscription as a National Organisation. Would you proscribe the NURTW because the Oyo and Lagos State Chapters are killing people?
Q: You are a senior pastor with the RCCG, What do you make of supposedly Islamization Agenda?
Look my Brother, Christians should stop lamenting and face the truth and realities. Who stop Christians from Christianising Nigeria? Who stopped us from evangelism and mission works?
The Quran talks about Allah as the Creator of Heaven and the Earth. It talks about Allah as the God of Abraham. It talks about Aljana and Lahira (Heaven and hell). It condemns in totality, any form of unrighteousness.
The same thing the Bible talks about God (Jehovah) as the Creator of heaven and the earth; it talks about God as the God of Abraham. It talks about heaven and hell and it condemns in totality, all forms of unrighteousness. So whether you call Him Allah, God, Oluwa, Eze or Homon Pwa, He still remains the Creator of Heaven and the Earth and unchangeable. Atimes I wonder when I hear Muslims calling Christians Unbelievers and Christians calling Muslims Unbelievers and the two Holy Books talks about the same God who created Adam and Eve. This Unbeliever of a thing was created by the Arabs and the Europeans to divide us in order to easily put us under perpetual control.
The two Holy Books clearly stated that whosoever commits any form of unrighteousness will end his or her eternity in hell and vice versa.
What shall it then profit a Muslim, if he or she kills people or converts all Nigerians, turn Nigeria to an Islamic State and then end up in hell? What shall it profit a Christian if he or she converts all Nigerians, make Nigeria a Christian State and then ends up in hell?
Killing or shedding of blood in the name of Allah or God is never a ticket to heaven but rather a passport to hell fire. Therefore, if Nigeria is fully Islamised and Christianised indeed by genuine and born again Muslims and Christians, this Country will be heaven on earth.
We have a mental and moral burden. If these Bandits killed people in Adamawa, Benue or Plateau, we call them fulani herdsmen and if they kill people in Zamfara, Sokoto or Katsina, we call them Bandits, if the herdsmen are carrying out Islamization agenda, what is the agenda of the Bandits?
Who told you that if a Muslim is in power, he will stop the killing of Muslims? And who told you that if a Christian is in position of power, he will stop the persecution of Christians? Were Christians not persecuted during Jonathan’s regime? Are Muslims not being killed daily in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara under Buhari’s administration? Both the Quaran and the Bible say if a righteous man is in power, the people rejoice because there will be peace.
The persecution of Christians did not start now neither would it end now. If you are evangelising or refused to evangelise, you will be persecuted. Jesus had already told us that we will be persecuted. It is during the persecution that we are strengthened. We should not blame Buhari or his Fulani kins for Christian persecution.
Ironically, those that are shouting persecution are those Christians who do not fast, pray or understand the word of God. If you believe in Islamization agenda, prepare your Christianisation agenda and execute it, period.
If Muslims are killed, the Muslim Umah will pray and generally concluded that it is the will of God, but if Christians are killed, the Christian Community will start shouting persecution, Islamization agenda or herdsmen attack. Some will even blame God. Who has bewitched us? Let’s stop the blame game and do the needful.
Q: On a personal note now, you and your organisation have since 2003, been involved in the making of Nigeria’s Presidents, some governors and even Ministers, there is a rumour that Atiku gave you One Hundred Million Naira when you reconciled him with Obasanjo in 2014, Is it true that you are super rich?
Oh my Brother, I am not rich and I am not poor but for sure I have been involved at the background since 2001. God had used me to make presidents, governors and ministers, but I have not begged for any favour from any of them except one person whom I erroneously considered and called my elder brother.
I do make myself poor before them so as to know them better. It is part of intelligence gathering and reporting. You make yourself what you are not to know what he or she is or what he or she is not. Thus far, God has been helping me.
I want to say categorically that I have not gotten a dime from Atiku despite risking my life and family for him. What I did in 2003, 2007 and 2014 was borne out of my genuine love for him because of his attitude towards the down trodden and his impeccable records.
Atiku has not or would never betray anybody despite the fact that many have betrayed and are still betraying him. I lost four of my houses because of Atiku in 2007 and 2011 but I have no regret at all.
It was only the last presidential election that I did not support Atiku because of my desire to do away with the outside cabal which I consider more dangerous than the cabal within.
The gang-up by the retired generals against President Buhari was a major source of concern to me. That was the only reason why I supported President Buhari. I will only advise Atiku to be careful of his advisers and Associates so that he will not fall into the mistakes of Abiola and Abacha.