‘I think this issue of Obasanjo has been overflogged’ – Governor Lamido...

‘I think this issue of Obasanjo has been overflogged’ – Governor Lamido [INTERVIEW]

By News Desk | The Trent on March 8, 2015
Governor Lamido

Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, who is the a Campaign Coordinator for President Goodluck Jonathan recently granted an interview in which he bared his mind on a range of national issues.

Speaking with Thisday, Governor Lamido addresses the issue of his recent meeting with governor of Rivers State and cmpaign director of the opposition All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation.

He also had some things to say about former President Olusegun Obasanjo leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the forthcoming election, among others.

Read excerpts from the interview below:

In December you were quoted to have said you were not aware of your appointment as the Campaign Coordinator for Jonathan and just recently the National Chairman equally said he has no confidence in INEC only to turn full circle moments later and say the party has confidence in the electoral body, don’t you think this underscores a terrible disconnect in the ruling party which is costing it the loyalty of many prominent members?

It all depends on how factual your narration and references are. If they are facts then your question becomes relevant. If they are not then they are irrelevant because when I said so at that time I had no idea I had been so appointed. I saw it on the papers my name was listed. There was no formal communication from anybody from either the National Chairman of the party or the National Working Committee of the party or the President or the Vice- President or anybody in PDP. I was not aware of this development at that time, because there was no formal communication and if you are talking about a party  which is serious you don’t simply go about publishing names on the newspapers. After I made that statement, the President formally wrote me, I have the letter with me. I don’t think there is any particular contradiction which will cause party members having a feeling of uncertainty that there is something happening which may cause that kind of worry and concern based on disconnect. There is no disconnect on my own part.

You had a closed door meeting with River State Governor who is incidentally the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organisation fuelling speculation that you are contemplating a defection. Did you ever plan to leave PDP?

I think I have addressed that issue severally. On many occasions I have been confronted by many journalists like you making their own assumptions about what they thought about the meeting and I made the point to clearly define whatever might have brought about those misconceptions. For the sake of those who did not hear me,  it pays to know that in today’s Nigeria where there is so much tension and division along regional, religion and tribal lines, there is need for leaders to be seen talking and I think from the authority of the office we are privileged to occupy, I don’t see anything wrong if a person from the North as a governor is talking to a person from the South so that anything that might have caused this divisions is addressed.  It is soothing, pacifying and reassuring to know that we are talking. Already, you know there is this mass exodus of people from the North who live in the South who are moving. Most of them have lived there for thirty or forty years, some of them were even born there in Abia, Enugu, Rivers and have been here for a very long time but today’s political temperature has created fear in them. They are leaving a place where they have lived all their lives for fear of the consequence of the outcome of the election.  Similarly, people who are from the South who have been in the North for how many years and some of them were born here are going back.

If you go to Jos, Kano, Sokoto and Kaduna, anywhere you go in the North, there are people who had been  living there  for several years, they were born there, their friends were born there and have assimilated the culture but this political tension is creating fear in their mind that they are running back to their origin and when they go back to the South they go and find local governments, towns and villages they are not familiar with and encounter a way of life they are not used to… I feel really worried that this political divide is taking a dangerous dimension and this should not be so. Last week I was with Amaechi we talked and laugh and I said look Amaechi I feel relief today you are Buhari’s Campaign Director as much as I am doing the same for Jonathan in the North because, even though for two different reasons, because I reason like a family man., even though we are, but then for different reasons mine is because there is a larger picture called Nigeria. Yours is maybe because it has catapulted you into a political profile and therefore you are now basking in that kind of glory being a big man from the South.

It means we are playing these roles for two different reasons. Mine is different from yours but to me it is symbolic. It is very important, at least, you are here from the South working for Buhari that makes it a very significant relationship and here in the North I am working for Jonathan even though the consequences on my own part is more. The collateral consequences on me for working for Jonathan is more because I am being abused and people are saying, ‘Look Sule this man has jailed your children, he has done this and that, why are you still working with him?’ I tell them that it is not about Jonathan, it is about something bigger. We should be able to give Nigerians hope by standing with people who are from different cultures, traditions and religion because this is the main division in Nigeria.

There are people in the centre who could be looked upon because for many years back the centre has been very empty and it is supposed to be a huge rich sandwich   but it has turned into a doughnut and the centre is very empty, because all of us have taken flight to our various locations: North – Hausa/ Fulani, Islam and the like; South – Igbo, Christians and therefore the centre is very empty. If destiny is propelling some people to play a role in the centre for the country I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. That is my feeling, for me it is not about Jonathan per se, it is about the bigger picture called Nigeria, more than anything else. That is why I say me and Amaechi may be playing this role for different reasons.

PDP is apparently seriously challenged ahead of the stiffest electoral contest since 1999. When and where did the rain start beating PDP?

I always refer to history, in the first instance, when our founding fathers were trying to fight for our independence, what has been their dream or vision for the country? I am sure they were fighting for a country which is a federation of many cultures, traditions, religions and tribes but united by God as one single country with this internally generated chemistry and therefore even our old National Anthem saw our differences clearly and used those differences as our source of strength: Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand. That is part of the stanza of the first National Anthem. If the vision of the founding fathers is to have a country which is a federation of a number of things, those difference should be our source of strength whereby we unite. That was how Nigeria was founded and somehow along the way as we evolved into a united country after the independence we went through a crisis with a very sad experience, we even fought a civil war where brothers were killing brothers while the anthem was saying though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand in the National Anthem, but then here brothers are killing brothers and sisters killing sisters and that was a very terrible experience. It is about time we reflect seriously and see as a nation rather than wasting our time, energy, resources and our lives for ephemeral reasons or for differences with ephemeral and mercantile reasons, because if you look at Nigeria North or South, Christian or Muslim, poverty is everywhere. To me and I have been saying so, you cannot be a Nigerian until you are a human being first.  As a Nigerian cannot be also an Ijaw, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani or Yoruba unless you are a human being, same goes with being a Christian or Muslim. It is the human essence in you to go for something important and in my religion God say if I confer my power on you, lead my servant with justice. He did not say lead either the blacks or the whites or the Christians or the Muslims or the Ijaws or the Hausas, lead my creations, my servants wherever they are. If you are opportuned to be a leader of my servants lead them with justice. Give them security, protection and work for their wellbeing. This is the injunction and it is to humanity first. In our effort to sort ourselves in the last fifty years as a country we have had a number of difficulties and I think these things we went through should give us the proper understanding of what we were so that for once and for all we will begin to unite around the country and the people and see how we can face development so that we can give human essence the decency and dignity it deserves. Your being human has an essence and has to be first protected. Along the line PDP came in, of course, faced with some difficulties, the party made many mistakes but then whatever could have been the mistakes made by PDP leadership and followership in the last sixteen years, it is not a reason why you will leave the party and join the opposition because I don’t think it is the alternative. If the cause of the crisis or the problem is a united conspiracy against ourselves as people, if all of us in the party in the last sixteen years having benefited from the party in various positions either as legislators, governors, ambassadors or presidents whatever  might have been our … we made some good benefits and maybe in trying to secure those benefits we made some mistakes in the process, if they become very glaring, what is the alternative? Going to a system or political setting which is inorganic because there is no way the opposition can really solve the problem of Nigeria because it is not an organic formation and it is very inorganic, they have nothing in common beyond the hatred they have for the PDP, because PDP has been winning elections over the years or have been having monopoly of power. It is this hatred of the PDP that is the main reason propelling the opposition. Beyond the hate for the PDP, what can they offer? On the issue of corruption, I understand his zeal, but I don’t appreciate him because when he was Head of State he came under the Military when you decide who goes out and who stays indoors, when he can just clamp you for nothing . . . where there was nothing called civilised process of doing things under democracy. You can look at Mr A in the face and say you are coming to prison, you can create a tribunal because as a Commander-in-Chief under Military System if you are in front of your subordinates and you say Mr A is guilty try him what kind of verdict do you think they are going to give there? Guilty because how can they after being placed in the tribunal by their Commander-in-Chief and be told to prosecute Mr A, how can they say he is innocent? They can’t! But under democracy, like EFCC, they can investigate and then arraign in the court of laws. The President or the National Assembly or anybody has no power to interfere, only the courts, even if you are the Commander-in-Chief because you are under a process which is under democracy you cannot do anything there, the courts take over. And in the courts what do you see, the same Nigerians will go and hire the best lawyers and they will keep dragging for about five years. What will the President do about that? But under Buhari, in two weeks, you are arraigned and sentenced, but in this process EFCC or other bodies which are supposed to check this abuse of trust they can only investigate and arraign. What is going on there is beyond them, it is the courts that decide no matter the facts they have as evidence it is the lawyers and the courts and they ask for frivolous adjournments, interlocutory injunctions, a number of things and file away a case for five years. Today how many people are being arraigned under EFCC? There are many of them. And how many of them are being convicted? If you are fighting corruption you can only fight it under a process which is democratic which have separation of powers whereby no matter your zeal in killing it you cannot go to a court and say convict Mr A. You cannot because it is beyond you, unlike a former Head of State who could call for a tribunal of misfits who are his subordinates and he their Commander-in-Chief and ask them to prosecute him, what do they do? In two days they will say he is guilty because they will say it is an order from their Commander-in-Chief no amount of lawyers will go there and save you. There are things which work under some norms which no matter how one get it fast tracked they are beyond you. PDP made so many mistakes, there is so much corruption, this is true, but then where is there in the world where there is no corruption? There is corruption everywhere, even in courts. Some judges are being removed by the NJC, some lawyers are also involved and you could see it. You will see a lawyer going to defend a crook and because he is so well versed and versatile he will go there talk and talk, before you know it one kind of injunction will come up and adjournments upon adjournments.  What I am saying is that it doesn’t matter who is there, today in Nigeria, the fight or the desire or the commitment to fight corruption must be a national resolve. All of us should unite to know that there are some things we should not do and this include the courts, lawyers and the prosecutors so that clear cases which are very clear cannot find sanctuary under this kind of procedures and this beautiful English in the courts. Today, if you say because of our crime as a party or what we did… is the other party not having the same contamination? To me it is not about castigating or finding faults. All of us as a people must realise that it is the right time we did the right thing and therefore which ever level you find yourself either in the executive, legislature or judiciary, we should be able to do the right thing. In Nigeria we love freedom and the process we try to vandalise it….

How badly do you think Obasanjo’s exit will affect PDP’s electoral strength?

Most of the questions you asked are not for the purposes of creating a nation, they are for the purpose of writing a story, which sensationalism is the issue. When an issue is sensationalised it becomes diminished and the issues are beyond that for God’s sake. We have said so over and over again that a father has a right to be angry with his children, but then you say the son will say I don’t agree with the father for being angry with me. If the father abuses, you can only just look at him and say am sorry dad. To me it is a serious development in terms of the organic sense of the party, but when you talk of political power. God transfers power to whosoever he desires. I know he makes human beings instruments but ultimately the power is given to make you what you are even though you are the instrument of that power.  I think this issue of Obasanjo has been over flogged and we have all expressed our concern publicly . . . and even though he has left, his heart is still with us.

Don’t you think his leaving will affect the electoral strength of the PDP?

Has he joined APC?


Is he declaring?

He hasn’t declared yet.

Then why are you talking about election? If he left the party like other governors maybe one can react, but he hasn’t.  If that is the case why do you keep exploiting this story?

Because of the political value of Obasanjo.

I just admire and love Nigerians, because they can be very hypocritical at times. The same Obasanjo who was abused and maligned in Nigeria today he is being seen as a value to everybody, oh, common on! There was no leader who would be more vilified than Obasanjo in this country, in 2003 before he picked the ticket for the Presidency the way he was being perceived and maligned and scandalized. These same people are now seeing him as champion despite the way they hated him then.  All these manifest in our desire to indulge in caressing our desires to exploit any situation to our advantage. Today’s villain will become tomorrow’s saint or hero depending on whatever name you want to call it. And all over Nigeria you could see it. Look at everybody changing depending on our circumstances, changing our colours and nomenclatures of political parties, sometimes even changing our dresses. You find somebody who wants to become Nigeria’s President, he begins to wear beads and hat with a feather on it because he wants to defraud. Nigerians can do anything for money. Today you wear beads, next time you wear a hat and next you even wear lion skin. It is what can make us gain the best advantage that matters to us. Today, some Muslims are even going to churches, they say I love Christians or I am not against them. How far are you going to carry this hypocrisy?    It is high time we sat down and think of how we build our nation, because our attitude, action and conduct affects the upbringing of our own children, because our parents are our role models and as national parents or leaders there are some things we should not do because they are veritable influence to the young generation.

There is this controversial advertorial by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, where he listed the trend of deaths of Heads of State of Northern extraction, though the Presidency said Fayose wasn’t speaking for it but the PDP said Fayose is a respected party member and yet the governor has not stopped… . .

You see there are some things I will not get entangled into and in my religion the right of life is under God. That is why you find that a foetus will kick the bucket, a very young child will die while a ninety year old man will be there walking. Somebody on a sick bed will be there breathing while somebody walking healthy will simply fall and die. That is not in the domain of any human being, it is in the domain of God. It is He who gives life and it is He who also takes life and your age or state of health is immaterial to God. I think I will not go beyond that.

What is your response to the rumour that Jonathan is offering you a proposal to support his re-election bid in return for backing you to become PDP’s Presidential Candidate in 2019?

Shouldn’t we as people have something we call standards, even standard of speeches . . . Must we have no level that the Nigerian mind can really absorb and perceive anything? Who has the guarantee of life between now and the next one hour, not even 2019? Please I think we should grow up, we should not be insinuating things on any issue which is political. It is just terrible. It is just very, very terrible, honestly. Now if Jonathan can make me President why can’t he make himself a President? Why is he campaigning? If he can make me a President in 2019, why can’t he make himself President? Why is he campaigning going over the place asking people to vote for him? We are now going into election, why can’t he make himself? If you give him the choice between Lamido and Jonathan he will choose Jonathan. Please this are just typical idle talks in beer parlour and motor parks coming from people who spend so much time doing nothing.

Considering the stand offs between some Police Commissioners and their State Governors, ordinarily, governors have the statutory portfolio of being the Chief Security Officer of the State, if you look at some states there are always some stand offs between the Police Commissioners and the governor will you support the call for state police?

All of us are reacting based on our current mood in terms of either conveniences or inconveniences or our experiences as governors – what we go through.  It is very difficult to have a very fair balanced position here. It all depends on what your experience is. If you ask Rotimi Amaechi, because of his experience with Mbu, if I go through what Amaechi has gone through under Mbu I will also ask for state police. It’s as simple as that. But the question is if they are being abused by the power here how will having your own police not going to be abused? What I am saying is if the call for state police is out of your own experience or you feel that someone is using the police against you and therefore you need state police, what is the guarantee that by the time you have your own state police you are not going to use the police for the same purpose?  The debate has two sides and it all depends on which side you stand.  To me, what we want is a fair society where institutions function based on their assigned duties and responsibilities that is all I want.

PDP used to enjoy some strength before the walkout during your mini convention in which you participated in, how do you think PDP can regain its position?

The strength of the opposition today is made up of PDP, minus PDP members of the ACN not to talk of the AC, CPC or ANPP . . . in which way a change of nomenclature will bring new entrants to the party not on principles or convictions but on pure anger. How can you have a country of aggrieved people? A country of people, who as far as they are concerned, it is their personal mood that should be the national direction. It is true we lost some elections but I don’t see that association under APC as Nigeria’s best alternative, I don’t see it that way.

There is so much division in the land that is threatening the nation’s unity, if you are given the responsibility to bring the various divides together what will you do?

Give it to me first and then I will work on it. If you have the authority give it to me.

It is as if there is apprehension in the land,  people are no longer comfortable, some are even saying the party (PDP) has failed the nation, do you subscribe to that?

I am PDP, we have some difficulties, we made some mistakes but I don’t think there is any party better than PDP, no matter what you say, because when you are talking about anger, by the time you are through with your anger you will wake up. The country is too serious to be simply assigned into the hands of people who have no organic structure or history. It is not possible, my plea is vote PDP.


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