The North-East Youths and Stakeholders Forum of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have fiercely criticized the spokesman of the APC campaign council, Festus Keyamo, for accusing them of attempting to blackmail the party’s vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, after they threatened to withdraw their support for him.
The group had cited dissatisfaction with the gale of defection that hit the APC in the region as the reason for their decision, which came just 40 days before the 2023 presidential election. They had previously lobbied the presidency and the leadership of the ruling party to consider zoning the position of running mate to the North East region following the emergence of the party’s flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the presidential primary.
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The aggrieved youths have now accused the former governor of Borno State, Shettima, of being responsible for the loss of some foundational members of the structure, including the zonal women leader, Amina Manga, from Bauchi, who defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party with several other women. They have further alleged that Shettima’s snub and nonchalant attitude had continually undermined their efforts.
The group denies the allegations made by Keyamo that their decision to withdraw support is a subtle blackmail, with the acting Chairman of the group, Shaibu Tilde, releasing a statement in which he urged Keyamo to consider the total number of voters in the region released by the Independent National Electoral Commission to determine the veracity of their claim.
Tilde further stated that the group’s decision to withdraw support for Shettima still stands and that they are disappointed by Keyamo’s attack on them, calling them names such as “cheap blackmailers.” He also emphasized that the group remains committed to the success of their party and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for the upcoming election.