Ruling party gladiators in the North
Sule Lamido… Thorn in the flesh of opposition
Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido is not a green horn in Nigerian politics, having started as a member of the left-of-centre, Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in the Second Republic.
He became the National Secretary of the Social Democratic Party in the aborted Third Republic and later got imprisoned by the General Sani Abacha government for criticising the late military ruler’s attempt to perpetuate himself in power.
When the General Abubakar Abdulsalam government announced a transition plan to return the nation to full democracy, Lamido joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform that he used to run for the governor of Jigawa State. He lost to the All Peoples Party candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Turaki.
A strong ally of the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, he was rewarded for his loyalty as the Foreign Affairs Minister. He later contested for the governorship seat of Jigawa in 2007 and won.
As a fall-out of the Governors’ Forum crisis in which the chairman of the forum and Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi was pitched against President Goodluck Jonathan, he was among the seven PDP rumoured to have indicated to defect to the opposition party, APC. The other governors are
The other governors are Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto; Babangida Aliyu of Niger; Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara; the then Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa; Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers. Eventually, five of the governors defected to APC leaving Lamido and Aliyu back in PDP.
On his reason for not defecting to APC, he said it would be foolhardy for him to leave PDP where he is the founding father for another party. He said he would remain in the party to help build the party.
At the beginning of the race for the general elections, he was rumoured to have interest in running for the presidency under the PDP, a situation that saw him in opposition to the second term ambition of President Jonathan.
But he dismissed this in an interview saying, “Let me correct you, and I want to underline it: I have never, ever said I am gunning for the presidency. Never. Some Nigerians just thought I was good enough to be Nigeria’s president. They started promoting the idea, and it caught on, and people thought it was me. I feel flattered that some people find me worthy of being asked to run for president, and I thank my Creator, my Allah, for giving me that standing. I thank them, but it was not me who was running for president. Secondly, as a party man, I strongly believe in party culture and party tradition.”
He added, “There is no way a governor can beat a sitting president to the presidential ticket of the party. The same thing applies in the states.”
He was later appointed to coordinate President Jonathan’s campaign in the Northwest. Initially, he was lukewarm to this assignment. But in the last two weeks he became the arrowhead of the opposition to the Gen Buhari’s ambition.
It was rumoured that his newfound love for Jonathan was informed by his plan to evade prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Speaking on APC, he said the country is too big for the party to rule. In one of his visits to Aso Villa, he described APC as an “amalgamation of desperation.”
He went further “What is this opposition in Nigeria? You must know Nigerian history. Nigeria cannot be governed by an aggregate of pain, anger and frustration.
“And I have been saying those called opposition who are now abusing us, whatever might have been our crime, it was that crime that made them.
“We created that for them to become either governors, or legislators, we created room for them to emerge. So, whatever they think is our evil, they are the manifestations of the evil. Believe me, you don’t know Nigeria.
Babangida Aliyu: A ruling party’s loyalist
Babangida Aliyu started his political career as a legislator when he was elected into the House of Representatives in 1983. His contributions on the floor of the National Assembly were the stuff by which one could measure depth in Parliamentary proceedings. The record of his articulate delivery, influence and clarity of thought made him a delight to watch on the floor and in the committees on Education and Foreign Affairs that he served on.
He joined the Federal Public Service as Acting Chief Political Affairs Officer in May, 1990. He subsequently held posts in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation and the National Council on Inter-Governmental Relations. From 1996 until April 1999 he was Director (Maritime Services) in the Ministry of Transportation. In 1999 he was appointed Federal Permanent Secretary and Chief Operating/Accounting Officer, and later served in a number of senior positions in different Federal civil service departments until 2007, when he reentered politics.
Aliyu was elected governor of Niger State in April 2007, running on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform. Soon after being sworn in as governor, he established up a Debt Verification Committee to look into a flood of claims for unpaid bills for the contracts awarded by his predecessor Abdulkadir Kure. The committee reported widespread misappropriations of the state’s resources. Speaking in October 2009 at a convention of the Association of Nigeria Authors, Aliyu said that over 90 percent of Nigerian politicians have criminal intentions, spending huge amounts to gain office for their own benefit rather than to serve the public. He was reelected on in 2011.
Now aspiring to the National Assembly, one can imagine how he would impact on the 8th National Assembly with the better education he has acquired, public service credentials and exposure to governance. Experience, they say, is the best teacher. Aliyu must have thought through the quality of representation given to his people before joining the race. Being a deliberate person, one is not in doubt that he opted for the Senate to further the interest of his people and provide nation-wide service to fatherland.
Even when he was widely touted as a presidential hopeful, the Niger State governor never acceded to pressure to run for the nation’s highest office. It is therefore unlikely that he has inordinate ambition. Yes, he has a pan-Nigerian vision of equal opportunity, welfarist existence and justice. For him the only way to bring about change is not by merely mouthing it. It is by the choice of practical platforms of action to bring them into fruition.
For sure, Aliyu has always been a nationalist. He rallies supports across a wide spectrum of issues and is not someone limited by ethnic, religious and pecuniary considerations. In and out of office, he has an idea of how to better the country and improve the circumstances of the Nigerian. A seat in the Senate will help him articulate a model of governance that will engender development in all spheres of our national life and living.
Governor Aliyu is an accomplished bureaucrat who understands the rules of public order. He has in the last seven and a half years left development imprints that are difficult to ignore. His chosen areas of priority, namely Education, Health, Agriculture, infrastructural development and social security have seen progressive achievements.