Yerima Shettima: The making of an activist
By Adamu Kochilla
Activist Yerima Abbas Shettima has literally seen it all, in the fierce battle to consign military to the barracks, and to pave the way for the current democratic dispensation .
He has on many occasions been a guest to the State Security Services and police cells for standing up to democracy, equal rights, freedom and justice in Nigeria. Along the line, many other prisoners of conscience like Yerima, who were detained by the junta died in incarceration. Few, including Yerima, survived this onslaught by the military, in the form caging the voice of reason.
His contributions to democratic change started with his involvement in the fiery democracy groups like NADECO.
When the push came to shove, he played leading role in the Campaign for Democracy, founded by the late legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi.
By 1999, Yerima felt that since the war for civil rule had already been won, there was the urgent need to tackle the challenge of some divisive political forces, who were working underground to undermine the political bond between the people of the North and their Southern neighbours at that time. He made the swift move of establishing the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum(AYCF), which he used to build bridges of understanding, political harmony and unity of purpose. This has earned the AYCF local and international recognition, as a platform for cooling the embers of political crisis across the nation. This effort was also evident in cementing cordial relationship between Southwest political pressure groups like the then OPC and Northern Nigeria. From then on, he has devised various democratic means of promoting equal rights and freedom, taking this advocacy a notch further, to far away United States and the United Kingdom. He has marketed Nigeria’s democratic milestones abroad as a strategy for boosting it’s international image.
Between the year 2004 and 2006 Yerima joined the firebrand team of progressives like Professor Wole Soyinka, Anthony Enahoro and Beko Ransom-kuti, popularly known as PRONACO. It was at this point he sharpened his skills in the democracy struggle, when he emerged Director for youth affairs of the formidable and radical group. He remained in the forefront of major national political events, including the revolutionary Save Nigeria Group that gallantry fought against impunity in governance.
He was also instrumental to the series of efforts towards successful dialogue between leaders of the Hausa Community in Lagos and their Yoruba neighbours.
As a mark of recognition for his sterling contributions to the development of Lagos State, he bagged the title of Jarman Lagos ( which literally means legend) of Lagos. The title was conferred on the young democract by Chairman Arewa Council of Chiefs, Lagos State, Aminu Yaro Dogara.
He has also bagged a number of national and international awards for being in the front-line of the struggle for justice, freedom and equity under a democratic dispensation. He has been an icon of honor and political integrity. The awards of recognition came in torrents because Yerima’s impact was (and still is) being felt all over the country.
The number of awards and honors Yerima got are so many. However, we can list a few as follwings:
1.Honorary Award – Ijaw YOUTH DEVELOP ASSOCIALTION ( 4th March, 2006)
2. CENTRE FOR RESOLUTION AND NGO Promoting Peace and Unity.
3. ICON OF PEACE AND CONFLICT ( 14th December, 2012)
4. GLOBAL FORUM FOR PEACE JUSTIFICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS- Ambassador for peace
5. PER ASPERAAD ASTRA CERTIFICATE OF HONOUR, LEGION OF EMINENT PERSONALITIES IN AFRICA (12th February, 2011)
6. INTERNATIONAL YOUTH PEACE TOURISM AMBASSADOR
IJAW MONITORING GROUP (IMG)
7. HERO OF DEMOCRACY (12th June, 2010)
8. PRONACO (Peoples National Conference) (PNC) (2005 – 2006) A MERIT AWARD – in recognition of your effective contribution in the quest for a New Nigeria
9. JUAURAT HAMMOWIYAT OF NIGERIA ISLAMIC MERIT AWARD from the EL MUSTAPHA EL MUBARAK ASHILE ILERO ISLAMIC FOUNDATION (27th September, 2009)
10. Institute of Strategic Managers, Ghana as GRAND PATRON
10. PSF/ NDPVF(Niger Delta peoples Volunteer force) Award for showing Unbridled and consistent solidarity to the cause of the oppressed people of the Niger Delta Region
11. Africa MOUTH PEACE INTERNATIONAL – A role model Award (2011 – 2012). In recognition of your peace ambassadorial role in making Nigeria a United country and a philanthropist life style to the needy.
12. NAPAS Member of parliamentary council. NATIONAL Association of public Administration students, Lagos State University (20th September, 2007)
12. CITY PRIDE Achievers Award – MOST HUMAN Rights/ peace Ambassador of the year 2012
13. Beacon of HOPE Award by project Africa – Empowered Africa for Change (9th October, 2010)
14. 1st National Vice Chairman (North East) Democratic party for a people federation DPPF Lead by Wole Soyinka
15. V/Presidential Candidate of liberal democratic party of Nigeria 20011 Election (LDPN)
The Lagos University graduate of Public Administration was born into the family of Alhaji Shafiu Abbas Mohammed of Zaria City in Kaduna State. The young democracy icon is happily married to two wives, namely Hajiya Halima Shettima and Hajiya Fatima Shettima and blessed with kids.
Yerima will definitely go down in history as a fearless advocate of telling the truth to power whenever the need arises. History will remember his enormous sacrifices in the course of fighting for justice, freedom and democracy at a time some of his contemporaries went underground.
- Yerima has already become a household name in the struggle for a just and egalitarian society, for which he will always be remembered for.