Alhaji Yerima Shettima, president of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), has stated that the 2019 election which returned President Muhammadu Buhari for second term was ‘massively’ rigged by a combination of the country’s security apparatus and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Shettima who spoke in an interview with The Tribune, said the 2019 polls was the most rigged in recent history.

“The election was massively rigged. In the history of this country, I have never witnessed an election that was so openly rigged, where an incumbent government and the ruling party used state apparatus against the opposition to rig an election,” he said.

“It was brazenly done in the presence of the international election monitors and their local counterparts. The best adjective to describe the 2019 general election is ‘sham’. And as far as I am concerned, it was not an election at all. Instead, it was one of those jokes that have ever happened in the history of Nigeria. It is very unfortunate that it is going to become part of the history of this nation. It’s really sad and bad.”

The AYCF leader said the 2019 election witnessed more rigging than the election organised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, noting that the late Umaru Musa Ya’Adua had acknowledged that there were irregularities in the election and embarked on reforms.

“Everybody knows that the election was not free and fair. In the 2007 general election conducted in this country, Olusegun Obasanjo rigged that poll, though that election cannot be described as worse than the one conducted in 2019,” he noted.

“The winner of the 2007 election, the late Umaru Yar’Adua, was humble enough to admit that the election that brought him into power was massively rigged, that the poll was characterised by a lot of irregularities and that because Nigeria came first, he promised to carry out an electoral reform and that was what he did before he died.

“That was a man of honour; that’s part of what the man will always be remembered for. There cannot be a vacuum in government; somebody must take responsibility. Yar’Adua took responsibility that we should have the electoral reform and that exercise was what produced Buhari today, as former President Goodluck Jonathan stood by the reform.

“He (Jonathan) is a gentleman who believed it was unnecessary for people to lose their lives because he wanted to remain in power. He did not see the whole thing as do-or-die. He bowed out quietly. Ordinarily, he had the opportunity to manoeuvre things and say, ‘you can go to court, if you have anything to prove that the election of 2015 had issues, but I remain the president. The election has been in my favour.’ But he didn’t do that. Even before the final announcement of the results, he had put a call through to the present president to congratulate him on the outcome of the election and conceded defeat. That is one of the things for which he will be remembered forever.”

Yerima said the Buhari government has failed Nigerians in all ramifications and particularly neglected the North in favour of the South West. He said none of the President’s promises has been kept.

“If you would be honest with yourself, is any of those promises fulfilled? Do they actually tackle corruption? Does fighting corruption mean that you should only go after those who are not close to you, that those who are your friends and cronies should be exempted or even encouraged to commit crimes as we are witnessing now?” he queried.

“Does fighting corruption mean those who are in the opposition or who do not agree with you be treated as villains or enemies, simply because they share different political views and beliefs? Is that what they mean by fighting corruption? And if you talk about conviction, how many people have been convicted by the administration over corruption charges? Probably one; the case involving former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, was started by the Obasanjo-led government; ditto that of Jolly Nyame. The APC government inherited those cases.

“Therefore, nobody should take the glory of another person. Their war against corruption is meaningless. Today, if you loot the central bank and become a member of the APC and have total access to the powers-that-be, your slate is clean.

“So, a lot of the few of such individuals that are talking today were smart enough to understand the body language of the APC-led government and declared for the party and their sins were washed away.

“On the economic front, I thank God you are not only a Nigerian, but also one who lives and plies your trade in the country. If the economy is doing well, you should know and be proud of the boom. Nigerians know that nothing is happening, as far as the economy is concerned. I believe there is no family in the country today that is not groaning because of the worsening state of the economy and the attendant excruciating pain and frustration. The economy is in ruins, as the gains and progress that were achieved before the APC came to power have been frittered away. Nigerians are worse off today than ever.

“So, the question I keep asking everyone is: Have we been treated well by the APC-led government in any sphere of life? The answer is no. Nigerians have become poorer and more despondent.”