In what looks like a replay of the leadership crisis that dodged the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) after its elections last week, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has also been plagued with allegations and counter-allegations of underhand dealings between the presidency, ministry of Youth Affairs and a section of the umbrella youth organisation.
The congress of the NYCN, which took place in Makurdi, Benue State capital, was held in subjudice of a subsisting Federal High Court in Lagos order dated May 20, 2013, obtained by one Henry Nwabueze to stop the election of new officers.
The position of the NYCN president is now embroiled in controversy as two individuals – the incumbent, James Olawale Ajani and Yakubu Shendam who was said to have emerged at the Benue congress between May 24 and 26, 2013, now lay claims to the office.
Ajani, in an interview with a national daily, claimed that there was no election at the Benue congress, adding that it was a charade ochestrated by the Minister of Youths affairs, Mr Inuwa Abdulkadir.
He said the minister point-blank told him to forget re-election and that the order came “from above”.
Ajani further said, “The honourable minister continued to persuade me to jettison the election for his candidate claimed to have come from the presidency. He said that he had been mandated by the presidency to deliver Yakubu Shemdan, a personal assistant to the PDP chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Turkur.”
He said he was invited to a meeting at the Benue State Government House in Makurdi by the minister during the ill-fated congress where he was told to drop his ambition because his (minister’s) hands were tied.
He said while the initial congress billed to hold in Akure was cancelled because of “security reports”, the Benue congress was eventually arranged by the minister.
According to him, the decision to hold the congress in Benue was agreed in principle during a meeting with the minister.
“We arrived in Benue on May 24 only to be served with a court order to stop the election. But the minister insisted that the congress should go on. But I was advised by the incorporated trustees of the youth body to call off the congress in line with the court order. Meanwhile, at the venue they were sharing money to the people to ensure that the minister’s candidate emerged,” he said.
He said in compliance with the court order, they left the venue only for the minister and his group to suddenly announce Shendam as the new NYCN president.
Ajani also disclosed that prior to the recent schemings that produced Shendam, an ex-militant, Asari Dokubo, had been threatening him to drop his ambition and support one Henry Nwabueze, saying they couldn’t support him because he was working for ACN and Tinubu.
Meanwhile, Shendam has denied all allegations levelled by Ajani, as he maintained that there was a free and fair election in Benue.
He said Ajani was disqualified based on age discrepancies in his official documents which indicates that he is above the 35 age limit for the position.
“My brother, you know in an election the loser will always complain of malpractice. But there was an election and I won the election as the new president of the council,” Shendam said last night.
Also, the minister fingered in the plot that produced Shendam, Inuwa Abdulkadir, has denied that he was ever a party to the NYCN election just as he also debunked allegations that he unilaterally installed a stooge on “orders from above”.