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Lamido: What we have so far is government of terror, fear

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Former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido.

• PDP Was Formed In Nigeria’s Interest, For Unity And Stability
• Without PDP, APC Could Not Have Been In Power
• APC Implementing PDP’s Programmes On Power, Railway

Former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido in this interview with LEO SOBECHI, says the crisis in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is not beyond resolution, stressing that the culture of blackmail and lies from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is harming governance in the country.

Former CBN governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo recently observed that Nigeria has never been divided as it is within the past two years; what is your perspective to the state of the country?
I think he is qualified to say so, being a key player in the Nigeria project by virtue of his profession and having overseen the economy as governor of the Central bank. I think he has the qualification to look at every segment of the country and then make an assessment. So I think he is right. And when you look at the country; the vision of the founding fathers, particularly in 1960, those patriots who knew Nigeria very well and formed a government and who were worried by the state of the black person; and how they were able to unite across all divides, you know late Awolowo, late Azikiwe, late Okpara, late Akintola, late Ahmadu Bello, late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, late Aminu Kanu, late Joseph Tarka a number of our founding fathers; how they were able to forge a single Nigerian family, a single Nigerian vision, a single Nigerian dream. That was in 1960, we are now in 2017, which means fifty seven years after, is that dream, is that vision of our founding fathers available? I give you some instances, in the last three years in this country, if you go to the north, you look at family divides, brother and brother are fighting each other, the level of hate and enmity and destruction, where a father can hold grudges against son for political views, where villagers are fighting along political lines, the communities are tearing one another everywhere you go. So within the families people are fighting themselves for political and religious reasons, where this culture of hate are right down to the family level and when you come to the Nigeria environment, look at the religious margin, the level of distrust  and lack of respect for one another, the way we vilify each other, malign each other.

Why are northern progressives not united, do those that defected from PDP to APC in 2014 represent the idea of progressive or reactionary politics?
The idea of progressive was to differentiate politicians who were for the progress of the country and those that do not recognise the growth of the nation. Nigeria has progressed politically and education has removed the barriers. I was in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with Bola Tinubu and the current national Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun. We used to hold our meetings in the Government House at Benin. Now Oyegun could open his mouth and say we are shameless. Imagine that. Is it not ridiculous that these people will go and join Buhari? The idea of progressive seems to be outdated and lost its essence.

What factors do you think are militating against PDP’s reconciliation?
I want to assure Nigerians that the PDP formation in 1998 took a hard stock of Nigeria as a sovereign country from 1960 to 1998. You learn from history how our country was founded on love by our founding fathers from different regions: Sir Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Belewa, Aminu Kano, Pa Obafemi Awolowo, Ladoke Akintola, Richard Akinjide, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara, Mbadiwe, Dennis Osadebe; all these were our founding fathers, who sacrificed to get Nigeria’s independence. And they had a common vision for Nigeria and a federation of people from the north, south, east and west; a single Nigerian family. Even in our anthem they stated that though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.

  
So there was this profound love for Nigeria. And then, this country, which suffered coups in 1966 and a civil war; where brothers killed brothers, something unthinkable in 1960 during the independence. Then after the civil war, our trial and error in democracy and the injuries within the nation, which PDP decided to confront.
 
So at its formation in 1998, PDP set to work, to put in place a political party, which will be owned by Nigerians, a party for all Nigerians throughout the federation. As such, PDP is organic, it has history, it has vision, and it has a mission. And when the party was formed, we won elections and in fulfillment of our commitment to Nigerians we set up modalities on how to get the country properly reconciled, because the past political injuries had to be addressed. So on arrival, the government in 1999 under Obasanjo we talked about the economy. It was not just about infrastructure alone, but the reconciliation of the Nigerian people in the federation, restoring trust and having faith in each other. And the country was thoroughly reconciled and we put up the programmes up to where we are.
 
Yes, we have made some mistakes, but then as a human institution we cannot claim perfection. So PDP, which the ruling party has found as a punching bag, vilified every now and then; its programme on power and railway cannot be faulted by anybody. That is why APC after all the lies, is not able to come out with any single programme. It is PDP programmes that they are pursuing, the very party they vilify, they demonize and when they fail to meet up they blame PDP even though they are PDP programmes, because they do not show that kind of commitment and passion for Nigeria to do the right thing. So when they fail because they lack the political skill to do the job right, they say it is PDP. And I think that no matter what anybody may say, the biggest mistake of PDP in Nigeria was to please APC for Nigeria to be stabilized and reconciled. There is no making a noise, they cannot talk, when the country needed stability most, they were not seen anywhere, they were unseen, unnoticed, unfounded and un-invented.
 
So I want to assure Nigerians that PDP is a commitment to Nigeria and has passion for Nigeria. It has the same dream for Nigeria and exists for Nigeria. And those of us in PDP, all of us in spite of our differences in terms of aspirations, are more than willing to bury our personal interests for the bigger picture, called Nigeria. Whatever you say, whether factions or no factions, Amodu Sheriff, Ahmed Makarfi, bigger names, bigger personalities, more phenomenal persons have been there, but the party survived them.
 
The party was led by Alex Ekwueme, a seasoned personality, he left we survived him, he is old now. Solomon Lar, led the party to victory; he is dead now the party is still there. Obasanjo became the president of the country, because it is a sovereign thing, a Nigerian thing. So, bigger names than Makarfi or Sheriff have had their days and the party survived them. Nobody is invited into the party because of Makarfi or Sheriff, nobody! We are there for Nigeria first. Those that are following Sheriff are following him through PDP into Nigeria; they are not for Sheriff, but for Nigeria. Those who are for Makarfi are with him because of Nigeria and not for him as a person. You can see their personalities are immaterial. Therefore we would unite, all of them would make sacrifice, because they love Nigeria, PDP is Nigeria. And nothing is too big for them to sacrifice for Nigeria. So Nigerians should rest assured that PDP will not disappear or die.

What about talks of floating alternative mega party?
You see again, these are the things you see in the social media. Have you ever heard Makarfi or Sheriff or any leading member of the party, including the highest elective office holder, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu talk of mega party? It means it is part of the APC effort to weaken PDP and if you notice this emphasis on faction is part of the frustration, because APC found out that since APC came in 2014 right to the 2015 election, and its government in the last two years, they have been able to elevate the culture of lies as an art of governance. Lies! Because to them it is either they lie or they are out. If they tell one lie today, say it tomorrow, you must tell two lies and the more days they spend, the more lies they churn out. Lies have become the culture of governance in Nigeria today. Those who dish out those lies in the social media are people who engage in wishful thinking. Because that is what they wish PDP, but it would not happen; PDP is one, it would remain one and would be there for Nigeria. And Nigerians actually know which party has passion for them that would return their land to glory.  

Why did the governors not insist then that former President Jonathan was subjected to a primary election if they believed that his second term was dividing the party?
You know Nigeria’s democracy is evolving. We have not come to the level where institutions are strong enough to define political behaviour. Remember that at one point we went round talking to some of our founding fathers. We tried to draw their attention to the problems within PDP and to alert them of what could befall the country if the party fails to continue holding the country together. Like I said, PDP was founded in the interest of the country with deep understanding of the challenges. Our plan was not to defect. It was just to draw attention to the shift in the party’s founding vision and mission to serve as the common platform of all Nigerians from North, South, East and West. But some people took it personal. APC knows that given the political dynamics of the country, that without the help of PDP it cannot win election in Nigeria. They started talking to governors in PDP. They said governors that join the party should take over the party structure in the states.  You remember in the second republic when we left PRP (Peoples Redemption Party), I resigned from the House of Representatives. I told the late Abubakar Rimi that it was not right for us to leave the party without leaving the post we won. Rimi also resigned. But in this case, these governors joined APC without resigning from the offices they won on the platform of PDP. I reminded our colleagues that some of these people went to court against us and PDP stood by us, why then joining the same people that fought against us at the tribunals.

Given the parlous state of the economy, do you think you would have recorded similar achievements in office?
I am out of the place, therefore there is no way I should know what the governor is facing. I believe every person has his style. I was the governor of Jigawa State for eight years, so I did my best and left for another person to carry on. APC likes to blame PDP, but it is clear that they have no programme for Nigeria. You malign PDP in the name of fighting corruption. Yet President Goodluck Jonathan’s programmes in the area of power and railway you cannot equal. It is just government by lies and fear.

But your travails with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission predated this administration…
My son and his family were traveling to Egypt, he disclosed that forty thousand dollars on him was for the five of them and they disclosed that they have been there before. It was because some people felt I was preparing to run for the Presidency and they wanted to curry favour. That was why I told Mohammed Bello Adoke off; I said do you mean forty thousand dollars will sink Nigeria’s economy? Well, the same Adoke and (Ibrahim) Lamorde are embroiled in their own travails.  

Two years on, how do you summarize the APC administration?
What have they achieved in the past two years? By February 2019 Nigeria will have a president-elect. Today, government has lost its essence where government is not owned by those who gave it support in a country of 200 million Nigerians. And the number of votes scored in the last election was under 35 million, the ruling party got about sixteen million and then the government would claim to be there for only 16 million Nigerians who gave them votes. And running the government privately even though the oath of office made it clear that you should do right to all manner of persons as their sovereign head of state. And you say you are there for only those who gave you 95 percent of the votes. Where is five percent? So it means the country is not there anymore. The government has been privatized, government that should be for all Nigerians, for every Nigerian; north, south, east and west! And yet, each citizen has the right to criticize, but when you talk against this government you see how you are being demonized and how you are being abused. If you read the newspapers, you see how people abuse Balarabe Musa, Tanko Yakassai, for simply expressing their views as citizens of Nigeria. It is their right and yet that right is being denied.

Therefore the culture of blackmail has now become the art of governance. You are terrorized and those in government malign you, they smear you and take you to the basement. So it is worrisome, it is dangerous, it is divisive and so, when people begin to show concern like Soludo, they should be believed, because I come from the north and am a Muslim, for holding my own personal opinion politically, I am being called a Christian. A citizen of this country has rights and privileges. It is my right to hold an opinion, it if my right to fight for you, it is my right to say my belief about things that happen in the country. And then for standing for what I believe is my belief, my own personal opinion and view, I am being blackmailed, I have been demonized and called a Christian, anti-Islam and anti-north. So you see when you look at the Nigerian environment, you notice the various agitations and flash points, the country is not united; the country is only there just in name. I am sorry, but I am being honest, because I am old enough to know much about Nigeria. When you don’t have that kind of cohesion internally, you carry out separation of human beings with rights and privileges; you can be a southerner that is how God made you. I should be able to understand you and then to appreciate you. And mutual respect for whatever we are; you are Christian, southerner, northerner, whatever. I am from the north, a Muslim; I am not asking you for patronage, but respect first.

And when there is respect so mutual, or there is love there will be unity; and when there is unity there would be peace and then, there will be development. Today, the Nigeria environment is internally divided and completely divided and overheated. People have turned government into a private enterprise, where if you don’t belong to the party, you have no right to exist. Like you say, if you are not in APC you have no right as a citizen, you are not respected, you are smeared, you are demonized and you are left at the level of a human thing not a human being.
  
Conversely, if you are in APC and in government, you have all the rights as a citizen and respect of a human being. And because of this the country is divided along political party lines, where there is so much hate and so much animosity. Of course, people begin to lose interest in the country; people begin to manifest symptoms, which are very worrisome, because leadership should be respected not feared. Government exists for all Nigerians the leadership should be able to earn the respect of all Nigerians, not to be feared. But today, it is government by fear. And so, when the internal environment is not even united and organised, naturally we lose authority in West Africa and the world, we lose our authority as leader. Nigeria has been a leader historically for the entire Africa and that is why when there is crisis within the sub region, we go out of our own way to sacrifice our people, our soldiers; we spend so much of our resources to restore peace. Because that internal chemistry is being destroyed today we have no voice in West Africa. The ECOWAS parliament is in Nigeria, the secretariat is in Nigeria, we find that over sixty percent of the funding is done by Nigeria. But today we have no voice and countries we restored and stabilized and gave them leadership no longer respect us.      

With the health issues of President Buhari, there seems to be a new dimension to political stability…
The President said he was sick, that was very honest of him, because anybody can fall sick. But one thing I find very worrisome with the government is the culture of lies. And it is surprising that nobody has come out to apologize to Nigerians for the deceit from the government. Lai Mohammed kept on telling us that the President is hale and hearty, yet the President came back to say he has never been that sick. It all boils down to the culture of lies. You hear some of them saying we should praise God for Buhari, not praising God for being God. And when you privatise government, you end up heating up the polity. Why are Nigerians not entitled to know the whereabouts of their president?


In this article:
Sule Lamido
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