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.

Sunday Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From An­drew Agbese, who was in Ba­maina, Ji­gawa State

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

Sule Lamido

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