I ‘ll Not Lie to Win PDP Ticket – Lamido
Whoever wins PDP ticket will determine Nigeria’s future of PDP Sule Lamido bares his mind on issues surrounding the party’s presidential primary and stated his fears for the country after 2019.
The issues of whether to hold the primary in Rivers State or not has become an issue. What is the significance of venue in the convention and where do you stand?
Where you hold a convention is not a big deal. It doesn’t matter, a venue is a venue, and it’s party thing and the PDP is a family where there should be no acrimony, no bitterness; where there should be a strong bond of brotherhood.
So the controversy surrounding the issue of venue is very unnecessary. I believe for all of us wherever the venue, is whether it’s Port Harcourt or Asaba or Lagos or Abuja or Taraba or anywhere, so long as the election commands the respect of all the aspirants, that’s all. The party should make sure the election is transparent, and credible. So each aspirant would feel a sense of fairness. The convention of the PDP is very crucial, very critical, because the outcome will not matter only to the PDP because there are expectations from Nigerians. If you’re having an election to elect party officials, it is a different thing because the people elected are only going to manage the affairs of the party, therefore it is a party affair. But when you talk about picking a candidate for the presidency, then it means it is a process towards a particular end that will lead to the general elections.
So what we do in the PDP or fail to do, affects Nigeria. We are supposed to give Nigeria a candidate who they can trust, who will be able to frontally confront the myriad of problems in the country. And the problems are many, lack of trust, insecurity, failed infrastructure, bad economy . So what we do or fail to do is going to determine whether Nigeria will survive in 2019. I’ve been saying it’s going to be a turning point and all of us in the PDP we are conscious of this and are aware of Nigerians expectations and so we’ll try to minimize the acrimony and tension. So by the time we get there it will be a PDP family converging and we’ll sit down and look at the aspirants. We are producing a president for Nigeria in PDP and therefore we should be more matured about this. So it is the process that matters, not the venue.
So to you any venue is okay?
Any venue is okay by me and I don’t think any person has a problem with that. All of us have been saying so, Makarfi, Saraki Kwankwaso have been saying where it is we will go there because it is the decision of the party and not that of the aspirants. And if the aspirants don’t believe in the party then you’ll have a problem. The aspirants are unanimous that we will go anywhere the convention is organized by the party.
But how far is the talk among the aspirants towards having a consensus candidate?
You see in any election, the problem is not the aspirants, it is the followership which is normally charged up. So we keep on meeting, so our followers would see that within us there is understanding and unity. The purpose of our meeting is to maintain our friendship, so our followers should also see that we are not enemies but a family, because whoever wins the primary will need the others. So our meeting is also so that the process of the primary should be properly guided and crisis free and devoid of bitterness.
But what would prefer, for the election to hold or you, the aspirants pick a candidate from among yourselves.
To me, any process which would minimize acrimony, I will go by it, if we are able to do so by a consensus, so be it. By the time we go to the convention only one person will win and whoever wins we will rally round him.
But that is easier said than done, do you see that happening?
Don’t confine the whole thing to us. It affects everybody. It affects you, your photographer and even your publisher. Nigeria is currently at crossroads. I have been saying that if you find people who are 90 years old still converging from the various divides, the Niger Delta, Middle Belt, Afenifire, Ndigbo to talk politics then that means something is wrong with us and there no indicator that Nigeria is safe. Ideally by now they should be in their various homes enjoying their retirement, if Nigeria had followed the path of what they fought for, a stable country, it would have made them feel happy. But if they are now coming to the scene talking about unity, security, economy then there’s problem. They are doing that because the younger generation has failed because the legacy upon which Nigeria was founded, the value they worked hard to build they are seeing it crashing. So they want to come back and what this means is that what we do in the PDP will determine how we go into the future. It is the failure of the APC government that is causing all these anxiety.
With what happened in Osun and Ekiti states, do you think there’s hope for the PDP and how do you rate INEc in terms of fairness?
What happened in Osun is not about INEC, it is about the character of our leaders. Some due to personal pursuits can destroy an entire nation. Omisore one time won election on the platform of the PDP while in prison. His people voted for him in PDP. So it means the PDP is there but due to local rivalry, certain things happened. It is not about INEC it about us as a people. INEC can only give you what you give them. Blame our leaders who on account of personal interests can destroy that which they built. We won the election on the first ballot but to due to some technical problems, they started making deals. That is corruption but they said they are fighting corruption. What happened in Osun is the expression of the will and the character of our leaders.
If you win the ticket of your party, you will be facing President Muhammadu Buhari who has a fanatical support in the North, how do you think it will pan out?
Nigeria has been there before Buhari and it will remain there after Buhari. In the typical northern tradition, an elder symbolizes probity, integrity, honesty and everything ideal. But if the elder takes advantage of the innocence of the young, their lack of exposure and poverty, illiteracy, then that leader should not be called a leader. It means he is blackmailer, because in leadership there should be benchmark, even at the family level there are some things which we tolerate because of the future of the child, so there are some things which an elder should not say in terms of what he tries to inspire and I feel in the last 10 years, the north in particular has been taken hostage.
A region of values, a region of leadership has been remodeled. Today in the north, there is no Tafawa Balewa, no Ahmadu Bello, no Aminu Kano, no kashim Ibrahim. The north has no hero. It is only the ascendance of Buhari that the north became noticeable which means there’s a pure distortion of our history and because Buhari has been able to weaponise poverty, by blackmailing everybody and the most difficult thing in leadership is human development, what
So our meeting is also so that the process of the primary should be properly guided and crisis free and devoid of bitterness
you do in terms of your policies on the economy, education to raise the level of human development?
How do you give people contentment?
On the other hand to crush is very easy and because the APC government of Buhari has no capacity to address our human needs to higher level of security and prosperity, you are telling your audience that you, the younger ones, the poor ones that look your sufferings, your pains are caused by people who are fairly wealthy; so let me bring them down to your own level. So you’ll be at the same level. Prosperity would be removed and people would live in poverty and because it is something that people experience, it is catching on. They are told that all they are suffering are caused by ‘a’ or ‘B; it doesn’t matter what you do whether your are selling at the market or you’re a tanker driver, even if you’re not in government, so long as you are able to make it, the envy would be there.
But do not build by giving poverty you build by eradicating poverty. If you say Buhari is popular in the north it is because as a father and eleder, he has been able to exploit this language of the youth who are very poor. The mindset of the younger generation has been taken hostage and redefined by the archaic philosophy, by the time he is not around what would happen to the north? They have been manipulated to believe the abuse of success is the cat of leadership, when he goes what happens because they are also going to be leaders tomorrow.
But my approach is to tell them that life is not as it is being painted, we will mould you, we will guide you, you should excise from your minds this culture of envy and malice. This is happening because in trying to secure votes, some leaders have lied. For instance when you said ‘subsidy is a fraud; and you are talking to this younger generation, you know that is not true but you said it giving the impression that people were just stealing billions. That is a former head of state and former petroleum minister yet has no understanding of the dynamics of the petroleum industry. He said something about controlling Boko Haram within six months. But now they are asking for more money. And another dimension has been added to it which is the Hunger Haram and kidnapping and the violence especially in the north.
So we have a north in his own image; a north of violence and hate. In 2015 after the elections, in Zamfara, they went to the house of PDP members and gave them 50- lashes each saying they are purging them of PDP and people died as a result. My factory was burnt in kano, they went to my house to kill my family.
So what is the message you are bringing to change this narrative?
The message is that life is not as easy as is being portrayed by those who want your votes. Secondly, that those that are wealthy are not responsible for your agony and pains. I heard of a preacher in kebbi attacking Dangote. Dangote is not in government, he is doing business and helping our economy to grow but because of this idea of envy and seeing prosperity as evil, a cleric would preach against him. You can see how evil minded we have become. Which means to Buhari and his supporters prosperity is evil but in Islam, God says he made the entire world for humanity and he says worship me and I’ll give you everything, that means comfort is Islam, it s religion. In Islam if you’re wealthy, you pay Zakkat, but to Buhari’s followers every wealth is evil. So it’s very easy to identify that level of people. You remind them of their poverty but you do nothing to help them. In the last three years they said they created half a million jobs, so it is now a game while 3 million are out of employment.
But is that to say corruption is not a problem in Nigeria?
No sane person anywhere in the world would condone corruption, because it destroys society but when you are fighting corruption, for people to believe you and stand by you, you have to be honest, fair and just. Don’t be selective. If around you, you are accepting thieves all over but hunting those who refuse to come to you, there’s a problem. You don’t shield corrupt people inviting them into your own territory to achieve political gains.
The fight against corruption is selective, it is unjust because there are people in this government who have been accused of doing the wrong thing but he’s doing nothing about it. In fighting corruption there should be defined laws and rules and whoever is caught should be dealt with and this will give people hope and he will be seen as fair.
Yu are talking about failures of leadership, corruption is part of it, when you go negotiate with political parties to give you votes, it is part of corruption, when you act in desperation to win election you condone people with questionable character, it is corruption. When you’re going to go for election you released money to a state it is corruption, when your vice president is going about giving N10,000 in the name of loan, that is also corruption. The entire process of governance must be transparent and corruption-free. It is not about accusing somebody who has been a governor or minister of taking money during an election, the same government is also spending money in election.
We need to be very honest as leaders, we have lived a good life, this country has been fair to us why can’t we leave a good legacy?.
But you were also once seen as a talakawa, is it that you committed class suicide along the way?
It all depends on if you knew my class before you begin to talk like that. At the risk of sounding immodest let me say this, you can’t give what you don’t have. If you look at the history of NEPU in the 1940s and 1950s, the pioneers were from the same ruling class. Based on their own struggle they reach out to the talakawas so the mobilization began with the elites, the ruling class of those days. Aminu Kano was from a Royal family so the inspiration was defined by a class of elites within the ruling class who had their own civil war, one won and one lost and one aligned with the talakawas.
Before I joined the PRP, I had my one company but I don’t want to sound immodest, but sometimes in trying to make a point one is compelled to say what he does not want to say.
But there’s nothing that suggests I committed class suicide. But look at the current environment, those who are there now, what were they? All the wealthy men in Nigeria today, were they born wealthy?
So it means because I am NEPU then I should renounce my personal comfort, as a former governor I was out in prison only some six months ago, I have been humiliated and maligned.
Being NEPU is not poverty, it is standing for some principles, having concern for fellow human beings and when you see poverty, you feel offended.
What would do in differently in handling some of the challenges facing the country?
The institutions we have today are very weak, we rely on personalities. We need strong institutions, very strong bureaucracies. A civil service which is fearless, which should be there and working for Nigeria; strong agencies which would not be used for anybody. We need to build confidence because to be able to save ourselves, we must first of all believe in ourselves and then we must work hard to build the economy. We must de-emphasize this culture of personalities. That is why the first thing I will renounce is GCFR for the president because it doesn’t make sense. The highest honour the people can confer on you is to be Nigeria’s president, its a big honor from the people, then you start calling yourself GCFR, what for? That kind of honor should be for people who have made their contributions in their own way and in their chosen fields, it should be for captains of industries, scientists, those who have made huge impact in terms of enhancing the quality and wellbeing of our country, people like Wole Soyinka; so that it becomes an encouragement for others to work hard and attain that. But when a president is competing with others for honors, it doesn’t make sense.
We will do those things which will encourage the restoration of confidence in institutions and then be a leader who will lead with the fear of God, who will be there for all Nigerians, whether they gave you 5 percent votes, you stand by your oath of office. Nigerian needs somebody who will be a symbol of unity and hope.
Because you cannot build the other sectors like health, education if you don’t have a country that is united. All these indices of failure, kidnappings, Boko Haram are because there’s so much poverty in the country. There will be unity if the people realize the resources are for all Nigerians. But we center on personalities because of weak institutions, look at what Rochas is trying to do...trying to put his son-in-law . But we need to differentiate between personalities and the office. When you get to the office, don’t impose your own, let the office develop you and make you responsible for the country. Don’t try to manipulate. So I will send a message of hope that I’m there for all Nigerians, to do the right thing.
When you mentioned the case of Rochas something came to my mind; is it different from the support you’re giving your son to run for Senate while you want to be president?
You see, you will not believe it, but I swear to the Almighty, I swear! That I have no idea when my son went for this! We never discussed it. One day I was coming from a journey and I saw his posters, I said ‘what!’ About two years back when he was doing his Phd he said he wanted to run but I said ‘no’ face your studies. When you get your Phd then fine, only for me to see his posters now and I have not asked him about it up till now. I have not sat him down like father and son to discuss the matter. So I’m not the one imposing him, people are free to either accept him or not I have no hand in it.
What is your opinion about those who left the party in its trying moments and are now coming back to vie for the presidential ticket?
I do things on principles and beliefs and based on my strong convictions. As a leader
No matter the pain we are going through, we should absorb all the pains because it acting in anger can hurt.
So those who felt what they felt, left. It’s their right to come back even if they want to contest. It’s the people who are going to make the choice, if the people like them so be it.
Alhaji Sule Lamido, PDP presidential aspirant