Buhari Is Politically Naive – Sule Lamido
…Says APC Is Fraud
In an interview with journalists in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, the state Governor Sule Lamido, spoke on issues bordering on 2015 elections, his rumoured presidential ambition; the various crises in the Peoples Democratic Party and the Nigeria Governors Forum as well as on the All Progressives Congress, amongst others. Excerpts
Your administration is obviously not doing badly. But how have you survived this far with your meager resources?
Are you saying Nigeria is poor? Do you think Nigeria is poor? If the nation is poor is the country poor? The nation is the people. People like you and I; do we appear poor? Ask yourself. Why are you like this while others are like they are? The country is well endowed. The country is very rich but the nation is poor. It is as simple as that. Is the poverty in our faces? Aren’t we Nigerians? You see, Nigerian poverty should be a common feature but are we poor? Do we appear poor?
Are you suggesting that the Nigerian problem is that of leadership?
Whatever, you should know because it is you and I; all of us. Because when you say leadership, it is the people willing to be led. Three things which define a state are missing: Nigerians don’t believe in law and order, which means we do not believe in due process. The way you drive, the way you beat the traffic, the way you attempt to maneuver past others. They are also Nigerians like you going to the same destination but then you are in a hurry and then you drive on the pavement ignoring the feeling of other people. They are also like you. They are also in a hurry.
In the ports, in the customs, in government houses, presidency, even in the bank today where Okada man, taxi driver or vulcanizer somewhere in Ibadan or somewhere in Sokoto who left his own family at home to eke out a living because the government is not there for him. He would save his own money. And he has got a wife.
May be a father or mother, but the money he makes, he goes to a bank to lodge it and he would never want his father to know how much he lodged in the bank, nor his wife, mother or child. Then by the time he stays about three years trying to buy either a new vehicle or machine, send his son to the university or whatever and he goes to the bank and they say the money is missing. There is no money! Is that not so in Nigeria? It is not a government house. Where is the money? It's gone.
Gone to where? We don’t know. That is Nigeria for you.
This means we do not know what is called law, order and procedure. Number two, it is a country of people who are not patriotic. Nobody wants to make sacrifice for this country. You are looking to take out of it. You keep on taking out of it. So we are not patriotic.
Number three, we are terribly inpatient. You put in a government today and tomorrow you want result and yet you are not law abiding. You will be looking for an advantage to exploit. For a Nigerian to get what he wants, he can deploy anything. These form the character of a nation. We must make sure all of us submit ourselves to the law of the land.
This is a country where people in the National Assembly who will make laws for you are on bail. It's a party where somebody who has gone to jail would come out of jail and say he is still a member of the party. Isn’t it? That is Nigeria for you. It is a country where people who have taken money through subsidy can take the money out and nobody can question them.
This is where the issue is.
So, in spite of these limitations, how did you comeby your developmental strides?
I’m being very honest, I feel very sad that we have lost the basics. The role of a person in office is to perform the functions of that office.
Because of distortions and aberrations we have literarily submitted that we are hopeless. That is my pain. Why should you be surprised? What is there that any other country can do that we cannot do in Nigeria? It is people; I mean in any human endeavour. In the sciences, Nigerians can compete with anybody in the world; with any professor, anywhere. The Nigerian is a very hard-working person. We as people are very industrious.
How can we continue to evoke this kind of emotion in seeing something being done right, must we do the wrong thing as a people?
Now that there is some kind of clamour for leadership change, would you put yourself forward?
This country is applying democracy with idiosyncrasies and our own peculiarities. That it is not the turn of the person yet. It is the Nigerian chemistry you have to look into, which has been hijacked by people who manipulate it with differences. Today, if you go to somebody in the South-south, he would say ‘my son is there, he must be!’ It would not matter whether that man is killing him. So, first and foremost, the Nigerian chemistry, is it thoroughly healed? The elites, are they honest enough? Are the people courageous enough to do the right thing?
If you fall into our own compartment like South-south, South-east, Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani; when before election somebody was saying our son must serve a second term and second tern comes after election. It is when you win election.
But Edwin Clark would say our son must have a second term. If he said he must get the PDP ticket, you can say so but second term is a factor of election. When you say he is our son, he must have it, what you are saying is a factor of election. If you are saying his party must give him the ticket it is okay. They can say so. But it doesn’t mean he is going to win the election. But when you say he must win the election, then, what are you talking about?
Why then is democracy? And this old man…in 2011, the name Edwin Clark was not part of PDP vocabulary. And then look at it today, it has become the main vocabulary. And what is the qualification? Emotion and sentiments! And Nigeria made him to grow till 86 and secure; is he giving Nigerians the same hope for them to be 80? Those who are ten and twenty now, by his pronouncements? Is he giving them hope to be what he is to Nigeria, because Nigeria made him and dignified him? He was a minister.
Would you have preferred that Nigerians ignore him?
No. You see, there are some people who have acquired a kind of status- statesman. They should be circumspect in whatever they say. There are some things they should not say.
You seem disappointed in him?
Absolutely! Because it is about politics and about PDP and he (Clark) had no input in making the president. He met Jonathan as a finished product, not as a raw material. That was why I said Edwin Clark was never part of the PDP vocabulary in 2011. Was he? Absolutely not!
Beyond sentiments, anyway, it should be part of sentiment, because of your proximity to the man in power, you now begin to carry his fights and wars and all that- ethnicity kind of it, is it part of the problem?
There is something called sobering character- something which encapsulates what you call the Nigerian mission; the Nigerian interest, the Nigerian collective interest, which will unify us and then define us so that we hold it very dear; we would cherish it. We can defend it with our lives.
With the likes of Clark and Asari Dokubo, who have taken up the Jonathan fight, what are your fears for Nigeria?
It is just like Bola Ige of blessed memory and others in Afenifere and NADECO. When we talk about June 12, they were not anywhere near it on June 11. That is my worry- that people don’t reckon with history- people who take advantage of a national effort and kind of appropriate it. Where were they on June 11? It is the same thing we are going through! Asari Dokubo and Clark, where were they in 2010? Where were they when PDP held their primaries? They were not there. So you must not diminish Nigeria.
It is true that a Nigerian president must come from a tribe, a village and a zone but by the time you get there, you are absolutely a Nigerian. That is why in 1999, in trying to heal the wounds of June 11, we said fair enough, let us locate the presidency in the South-west. Truly, it is not the preserve of northerners only but then, in taking it to the South-west; we are looking for Yoruba Nigerian President and we decided on former President Olusegun Obasanjo. We were looking for Yoruba Nigerian president and not just because of the agenda of the Yoruba. And that was why we picked Obasanjo and the Yorubas didn’t want him. So, what I'm saying is that today, coming to your question, it is not about my aspiration, but are we cured? Are the emotions gone; the sentiments, are they all gone?
Are they ready to melt into what you call a genuine effort to be able to restore Nigeria as the leader of Africa, leader of the black race?
So, my aspiration, to me, is not a big deal. As far as I’m concerned, by my upbringing, there are some ideals I cherish and once they are being followed by anybody there is no problem. The entire thing is not about personal ambition, it is about working for the larger picture- how to address the Nigerian problems; the poverty, under-development, nepotism and all these kind of things. We are working around something, to bring some changes fundamentally, so that the Nigerian person, for once, will learn to know what is called dignity.
For once, he knows there is honour around him. When poverty has taken away your pride, you don't feel honourable anymore because you are diminished; you are debased. To me, if the person in place is doing the right thing, I have no problem. Let him remain there forever. Now it is left to us to sort out what we want.
Emotions, sentiments, appropriation of power and of course, we will remain where we are. The richer will be getting richer while the poor will be getting poorer.
The aftermath of the NGF election has painted a different picture of the governors and it is that of disappointment. Aren't you disappointed too?
You see, despite what you have said, you are also dealing with human institutions which cannot claim perfection. The NGF is an informal forum; you don't have to belong to it. It is just for our own convenience and issues we discuss are just purely economic and security, that is all. We don't discuss politics at that place.
Really, the NGF is not a very big issue that you should be worried about. It is nothing for God’s sake. But in Nigeria, everything is for entertainment.
But isn't it about 2015 like some of your colleagues have said?
Sometimes, while the mind can leap out and begin to invite imaginations, I as a person, Sule Lamido, I’m a Muslim and there is something called destiny in my religion, which is God’s template where before the beginning of the beginning to the end of the end with millions of billions of years, everything has been put in that template and by the time the time comes then it becomes what it is. Now, who has that guarantee that he is going to live till 2015? Why are we wasting our energy and steam over it?
The APC publicity secretary recently said some governors would soon defect to the party by mid-July, is that true?
I'm highly amused. Do you know what they call self-wish? These are local propaganda which is terribly elementary. When you look at the party called PDP, I've been saying it since 1999- 14 years in 2013- it is PDP only that has remained. AD had gone from AD into AC, into ACN, into something else and now going to APC. APP had gone into ANPP and then, later on they are going to something. They are going to APC. Now, CPC is a one-man party. It is not so lost out on us of some parties that see Buhari as their industry. So they hang unto him and because he is very naÃ¯ve, he thinks they are serious.
Do you think Buhari is naÃ¯ve?
Absolutely! He is politically naÃ¯ve. Yes, he is politically naÃ¯ve.
Can you be more explicit sir?
I would say he should be walking with his eyes wide open because those around him in 1999 were somewhere else. Were they with him? Our people will say if you see a horse fully dressed walking alone in the forest, it must have thrown the owner off. Don’t ride it because it threw somebody away. I have been wondering; they abused the PDP that we are murderers, party of riggers, a party of whatever – it is evil. Fine! Why do they want murderer governors in their midst? Why do they want us to be there? Number two, this so called APC is again what you call political fraud because you may change the nomenclature – change it ten times over, did the people come from heaven? They are the same old people. You see, to me, I laugh at it more because the entire contraption is a creation of pain and anger. It is not about Nigeria. They are people who failed to make it in their political parties who think by coming together they can make it.
If you input one PDP governor in APC, they will collapse, it will collapse. You don’t simply say because of some misunderstanding and destroy yourself. The PDP has attained a level in Nigeria. Renegade governors, yes, whatever they call us. Today who is there in PDP who is older than me in the party that I should leave the party for him? Who is that person? So, there is no way you will say because there is heat wave in your house, you leave your house. Where would you go? To someone else’s house? I laugh when they say that because who will change and go to them; to do what?