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2015 Presidential Election: My conditions to campaign for Jonathan — Gov Sule Lamido

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*’Why President must call Edwin Clark, others to order’

By Ochereome Nnanna

Congresses for the nomination of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates for the Houses of Assembly election in 2015 took place nationwide on Saturday, November 29, 2014. Governor Sule Lamido joined his fellow delegates to participate in the exercise in Birnin Kudu, Jigawa State. Lamido later spoke to Sunday Vanguard on some political issues. Excerpts:

 

Your contemporaries – some governors finishing their second terms in about six months – are heading to the Senate and you have decided not to. What is your political future?

I have been around for a long time.  In all modesty, I think I have acquired the status of a father who should be guiding the children  in this very difficult period of our history. I am in the last group of public office holders linked to the old order playing roles in the new generation. I am like a bridge with which people can cross over to the new generation of leaders in Nigeria. The old order fought for Nigeria’s independence which we got in 1960. Then there was military intervention and an unfortunate civil war. In 1979, we returned to civil rule and the founding fathers were again part of our democracy.  That  was when I came into politics. Those  who plotted the military coup against our country  in 1983, psychologically, did not see themselves as leaders.  It was a defining moment in our history. They tried to wipe out our history. They sought  to literally destroy,  rubbish, terrorise, distort and obliterate  the vision of our forefathers.

Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido to endorse the presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

They felt that was the only way they could stand. While some of us remained with the founding fathers, the rest of them who went to the military college and fought the civil war decided to topple the very institutions that made them. For them to be seen as leaders they must wipe out the legacies they met in place.

I do not think there is anyone who was in office in 1983 still occupying elective office today.  I was in the House of Representatives in 1979. I was a very young man, but I enjoyed the mentoring and support of the founding fathers. Being the last man standing from that generation, I think the best I can do is to help the younger generation to capture some values one of which is the value of seeing public office not as an industry but service.  So, I am going to be much more in the political arena than the government arena. I will be active, politically, in my ward after I leave office. I will also be very active in Jigawa State.

I will be vigorously active at the national level in the party. I will be mentoring, influencing, guiding and advising. I will add more value outside government. My involvement in politics will not be seen as a means of employment or a sanctuary for me. I must not occupy a political office to be seen to be relevant.  I am already relevant. I don’t need to be in the Senate to be relevant.  I don’t need to be in an office for protection. So, it is only fair for me to allow the younger generation to play their roles in government while I act as a guide.  I will be seen as father to all. I  will be seen as the property of the people, whom they own.  They will be coming to me as a father, friend, brother and mentor.

 

You were running for president. You were warming up for it. Then suddenly  you  withdrew for President Jonathan. What made you withdraw? And what role will you play in your party? Will you be active or merely passive during the presidential campaign of the PDP?

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.  I have to take cognisance of the peculiar political culture of Nigeria, where  occupiers of political office tend to transform into political leaders.

A councillor who was nobody before being elected becomes the political leader of that ward while in office. He begins to lord it over the ward chairman and executives. The same thing happens at the state level. A governor who was not being noticed before as an individual uses that office  to also become political leader  of his state.  At the federal level, a president who was not even known before uses the huge office he occupies… the aura of the office, the power of the office distorts his thinking, and therefore the person becomes the political leader not only of his party but also of the whole country.

But these are public offices, under certain rules and regulations, conferred with some powers to function within a defined period. When President Obasanjo was in office, he radiated the power and glory of the presidential office. But when he left and handed over to the late President Umar Yar’ Adua, he was almost eclipsed by the new man on seat.  That public office, from top to the bottom, should not be confused for leadership. It is transient. Leadership is not transient, but political office, within its powers, is.  But in Nigeria, elected office now combines the power of service and leadership in the hands of the current occupant of the office.  So if I run against such an incumbent, with the enormous powers he wields under our constitution and political culture, he will certainly defeat me.

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. There is no way in a party arrangement that an outsider can come and defeat a governor seeking re-election at the party primaries. He can go to another party, collect his ticket and he can win at the general elections, but certainly not within the party.  If, for instance,  I  go with the yearnings of my supporters, I will only cause them more heartache and pain because I will be defeated by the president. There are some facts which cannot be ignored.

It will also give my  opponent some  credibility  and legitimacy  because he will say: ‘I contested with Sule Lamido and I defeated him’. I will end up becoming frustrated because the process is not going to be transparent. If I want to hurt my party, or perhaps hurt Nigeria, I will say I will run.  They will bring EFCC, ICPC after me, but no problem. I will raise all the sentiments, North, South and what have you. I know the areas I can touch if I mean my party and my country ill-will. At the end of it, I will be defeated.

Then, I will refuse to concede defeat;  I will say there were no level grounds. I will storm out and address a press conference… I refuse to do that. I love my party, PDP. And I love my country, Nigeria. I can never allow my personal aspiration to blind me to the dangers it can bring on my party and my country.  I will ruin my party, I will put my country in danger, but I will also be crippled politically. Why should I willingly go through that? A country that made me what I am, gave me space to grow? I will do everything in my power to pay back Nigeria for what Nigeria has made me. I will work hard to see that Nigeria is stable, united and strong, so that as Nigeria has enabled me to grow, other Nigerians will also have the opportunity to grow to the best of their potentials, to be governors, ministers, parliamentarians, academicians, captains of industry, scientists, professionals and what have you.

To answer your question, it was people who felt I had the qualities that were promoting the idea that I should run. Having opted out of the race, it should not in any way dilute my commitment to my party and the progress of the country. It will not.

 

Will you support the president fully during the campaigns, or will you play ‘siddon look?’

What we are going through today in  Nigeria  should go beyond partisan politics.  Only yesterday, there were bomb blasts in Kano. How many people died?  How many were injured? People in their place of worship. No matter how you see it, sometimes there are difficult situations.  My party and my Federal Government must assist me in  ensuring my safety. Right now, we are overwhelmed by grief.

Government must be seen to have the political will and commitment to confront this insurgency. Even though I believe in Nigeria, I am also coming from a political environment.  And when a certain arrangement seems to be undermining me, ignoring the circumstances under which I live in my environment, it becomes very,  very difficult for me to give the required political support.  Government should also be  willing and able to encourage me to support it.  It should be able to provide me the comfort I need.  Immediately after the Kano mosque bombing, text messages began to  circulate.People are saying, ‘the North should not forgive Murtala Nyako, Shehu Shema, Sule Lamido and Isa Yuguda’, they listed four governors for supporting President Goodluck Jonathan to be president in 2011.

 

Are they saying that the president is connected with the bomb blasts?

You see, as human beings, when you are going through frustration, and you are literally overwhelmed, you can get disoriented and over-react. Otherwise, what do the bomb blasts have to do with the 2011 election? I am coming from a tribe, from a region and from an environment, and these types of things drain me of all moral authority, all political authority. And, therefore, when things are not working very well, I am one of those people hold accountable.  I am part of the leadership of the country and so my people hold me accountable.

When  people like Edwin Clark say  people of the South-South are angry with the North for being against their son, it diminishes my contribution to the making of the Jonathan presidency. When people are overwhelmed by hopelessness, they can take it out on anybody who is around, and people will now be making reckless statements. I  must be given the moral authority, and things must be decisively checked. And people should not be making reckless statements. We need to work towards a Nigeria for all Nigerians, not northern Nigeria or southern Nigeria. People should be defending the interests of Nigeria, not just the interests of their regions and abusing people who are from the other side.

 

There seems to be a slow descent to anarchy as we move towards the 2015 general elections. What is the way out?

The way out is to give Nigerians security. The insurgency in the North should not be seen as a northern thing but as a challenge facing the whole nation.  It should not be seen as a gang-up of the North against the Federal Government or the President. There has to be a clear political will to confront this thing head-on. Every Nigerian, from North or South, must come together to confront this problem. Today, if you go to the bus station to travel to Enugu, you could become a victim of bomb blast. Even though it is happening in the North, the victims can be from anywhere, they could even be expatriates. We are living by the second.

How can you feel happy living in a country where you don’t know what will happen to you the next second? We must live in a secured country. That is the principal reason for having a  government. This notion that Boko Haram is something being used to undermine someone, as being posited by people like Edwin Clark and the  others,  will not solve the problem. He must be publicly admonished. We should restore confidence in the citizens. Nigeria must be seen to belong to all Nigerians. When you see government as ours and not theirs; ours as in tribe or group, not as the whole nation, as the whole citizenry of Nigeria, then you are part of the problem.

 

Recently, the police invaded the National Assembly. I am putting this question to you as a former member of the House of Representatives. When the legislators managed to get into the chambers, some of them started signing impeachment notice against the president. How do you see that  incident?  Were  the  police action and  impeachment move justified?

What is the National Assembly? How do you get there? It is an assembly of political leaders elected from their constituencies.  It is not an assembly where you always pat each other’s back and hug each.  It is a place to contend and canvass interests, so conflicts will naturally arise from time to time.  It is not unusual to have fisticuffs there, and this happens in every parliament. It is not the business of government that there could be anarchy there.  They created the impression that some people were allowed to get in while the gate was shut on some people. That was wrong. It is their office. It is not for the police to begin to anticipate that there could be crisis.  It  is an assembly of disharmony and  harmony, of crises and peace, of idiocy and anything.  It all depends on the issue in discussion.  That is not the police business. So  the police were  wrong. Even if the police had reasons to take action, the way they went about it created the

problem. They should have closed the gate, allow members to get in and keep away non-members, even if it means keeping away some categories of staff, at least for that day. Let them go in there, fight and box, it is not the business of  the  police.

So, you are saying they can be lawless on the floor, they can kill each other and police will just watch?

I was once a parliamentarian, and the late Edwin Ume-Ezeoke was our Speaker.  A fight erupted when we were trying to unseat the Speaker.  It happens in every legislature, even in America, Russia, everywhere. It is a human institution, and there is no perfection. It is an assembly of contending interest, values,  and cultures  and not to mention political camps. So, what the police did was wrong. And it was also wrong for the House members to say they are impeaching the president because two wrongs cannot make a right.

 

We witnessed the congress for the election of the PDP candidate for the House of Assembly in your ward in Birnin Kudu today. We saw you queue up like other delegates and you voted. What was the significance of the way the process was conducted?

Parties have processes and traditions. There is a difference between a party function and a government function. Government functions are full of officialdom and red tape. When you are in a party function, such as congresses and conventions, whether you are the president, vice president, senator, member of the legislature or governor, you are there first and foremost as a party man. Therefore, you should be able to bring the power, aura and charisma of the office down to the level of the other party men and women and youth, the party grassroots, in such a way as to make them feel this is mine. The party grassroots must feel today is my day.

You must connect to them because it was from there that they sent you to your high office, and when you finish your tenure, you must return to them. When you appear among them they feel elated, that that thing which is up there, which I sent up there is now among us today. It gives the party a lot of cohesion. Many people make the mistake of erecting too  many barriers and subject the ordinary party members to hardship just because the people they produced in public office are around. That is wrong.

If you annoy the people, they can walk away. In fact, they should walk away if they are harassed too much. I make sure that fellow party members are respected. I give them their due courtesy, and I give them a sense of belonging to the party and to me. I see it as a family reunion. And that is why at the end of the function, there was no rancour. Rather, everybody went home happy and feeling part and parcel of their party. What you saw today was part of the tradition of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), and that is what we have entrenched here in Jigawa State.

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/12/2015-presidential-election-conditions-campaign-jonathan-gov-sule-lamido/#sthash.evyZEUW5.dpuf

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Posted by on Dec 6 2014. Filed under General Politics, Jigawa, Latest Politics, State News, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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