NYCN, the umbrella body for Nigerian Youths had been polarized since its election in May to produce a new president ended up in a leadership tussle between the then incumbent, James Olawale Ajani and Yakubu Shendam, who was said to have emerged at the Benue congress between May 24 and 26, 2013.
The follow-up election which held in Minna weekend, as a result of the flood of petitions which questioned the credibility of the Makurdi congress, Yakubu Shendam, a candidate widely believed to be favoured for the exalted position by the disgraced minister and the presidency, was again floored by Abdullahi Abdulmajeed.
But the presidency in a statement issued on Wednesday by special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati absolved President Goodluck Jonathan of having vested interest in the NYCN elections or sacking the minister because of his perceived closeness to a governor deemed anti-Jonathan.
The statement read: “While many media outlets erroneously attributed the Minister’s sacking to his disloyalty or closeness to a particular governor or governors said to be opposed to the President, the most disingenuous and malicious speculation was by a national newspaper, which claimed that Alhaji Abdulkadir was fired for “failing to ensure that a Pro-Jonathan candidate emerged as President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN.
“We wish to assure the general public that nothing could be further from the truth. President Jonathan regards all Nigerian youths as his wards and constituents.
“Claims that he had a preferred candidate in the NYCN elections are completely baseless and without justification as there was absolutely no reason for him to prefer one candidate over others.
“President Jonathan remains sincerely and unwaveringly committed to doing all within his powers to promote the credibility and integrity of the electoral process at all levels in the country.
“He firmly believes that a culture of free, fair and credible election must be constantly nurtured and encouraged amongst Nigerian youths and all other sections of the country.
“In point of fact, it was Alhaji Abdulkadir’s regrettable deviation from this presidential commitment in the management of the NYCN elections that led to the decision to relieve him of his appointment as Minister of Youth Development.
“President Jonathan was very displeased with the mishandling of the NYCN elections in Makurdi and Minna by the Ministry of Youth Development, which resulted in the unfortunate fractionalisation of the youth council.
“The President found the Ministry’s failure to provide appropriate leadership towards open and transparent youth council elections unacceptable.
“President Jonathan is sincerely committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the Nigerian youth, on whom the country’s aspirations for a bright and prosperous future depend, are given the best possible upbringing and orientation.
“The President, therefore, expects all officials of his administration to exhibit greater rectitude and sensitivity on issues related to youth development, and comport themselves at all times in a manner worthy of emulation by Nigerian youth.”