However, a sore point of the event was the conspicuous absence of the leader of defunct Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Mujaheed Asari Dokubo and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, who were expected at the rally.
Bishop Kukah was expected to deliver a keynote address at the gathering of youths from 19 northern states and Abuja.
Saturday’s rally was viewed with suspicion by many northern politicians, who are unsettled by the romance between Al-Mustapha and Dokubo, a fiery and vocal supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition. They fear the alliance between both men is part of a plot to secure the North’s support for the president’s reelection bid come 2015.
But the former Chief Security Officer to late head of state, General Sani Abacha, said the purpose of the rally was misunderstood.
While speaking at Murtala Muhammad Square in Hausa, he said: “I have been misunderstood. But I want people to know that money and power is not my concern. It is God that gives power to whoever and whenever he desires.
“Today we have over 22.5 million illiterates and unemployed youth of Northern extraction. Therefore, the teaming masses of Nigeria must be served and must be heard today. It’s God that took me to prison and not an individual. My prayer is that northern youths should know that I am a military man and I will soon retire.”
On his relationship with Dokubo, Al-Mustapha said, “When I came out of prison, the people of the South-South spoke to me on peace. Asari Dokubo’s first wife is a Fulani woman, his second wife is a Shuwa-Arab from Maiduguri, his children are from the north.
“I later understood that some few elements from the north are those planting the seed of discord against the north. Dokubo has regretted his deeds; he has apologized and has also declared his readiness to expose these elements that are bent on causing problem in the country.”
Al-Mustapha also expressed concern over the state of education in his home state of Yobe and other northern states.
“Only 30 per cent attend school in my home state, Yobe; because of poor leadership and insecurity and nobody is doing anything about it,” he lamented.