G9: REASON FOR NIGERIA'S STABLE DEMOCRACY — GOV LAMIDO
As part of activities marking Democracy Day, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, granted an interview to some visiting journalists at the Government House, Dutse. GARBA MUHAMMAD was there for Daily Sun as the governor spoke on national issues, his political ideologies and his development projects in the state.
Secret behind achievements
'What we are doing here in Jigawa State is in line with the mandate given by the people because they believe in the tenets of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This is also in line with the commitments of the PDP governors, LG chairmen, LG councilors and all parliamentarians of the party who were given the mandate and trust by the people.
'We will live up to their expectations by doing that which they expect from us based on the income given to us. The ownership of this government is the people and since they own this government, they have the right to get the best from it.'
Developing the agricultural sector
'The issue of getting involved in agricultural development is a very huge investment that requires great discipline and focus. It has to be something that clearly defines direction and a more holistic approach by leaders of this country. 'When you are talking about national economy, to be honest, we should not single out the action and the activity of a state. The Nigerian economy is government regulated; whatever effort anybody will do in a state can be consumed by the activities of the Federal Government.
'We need to do something more holistic as a kind of programme and policy of the Federal Government. The world over, before a country develops and attains any stable economy and political stability, government must heavily invest in infrastructure and in sectors which will later on develop not only the North but also the entire country.
'Irrigation agriculture will begin to put Nigeria on the path of economic stability. We have over a half million hectares of very fertile land for irrigation. At least, N15 billion is required to bring it to a level where people will be working round the clock. Half a million hectares of irrigation farm can as well employ at least one million families. When they produce more than their normal needs, the excess can be sold out to local and international markets. Of course, this could also lead to establishment of cottage industries.'
How will you assess your three years of steering the affairs of Jigawa State with the eight years of your predecessor?
'I have never seen where a student marks his papers. I think it is the people of Jigawa State, whom I have the honour and privilege to be their governor who should be marking my performance.'
How will you compare politics during the NEPU days with what is obtainable today?
'You do not advise people to honour their own political, social and cultural history. So there is no way I can begin to deliver lecture on how to begin to respect history because of our different family, cultural, and traditional systems. We all have a background and all these institutions in the past have worked hard to develop Nigeria. If we do not reflect and appreciate those institutions, how can we plan and appreciate tomorrow?'
Are you satisfied with the electoral system that produced the present crop of leaders?
'It is now that we can acknowledge that Nigeria exists after 11 years of uninterrupted democracy. That is why we can even freely talk about election malpractices. Before 1999, Nigeria had been confronted with military dictatorship and abuse of power to an extent that opposition to policies of those in government are viewed as enemies of the system. This led to the incarceration of most of us especially the G9 that comprises Chief Alex Ekwueme, Chief Solomon Lar, Bola Ige, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Adamu Chiroma, Prof. Jerry Gana, Senator Francis Ella, Chief Iorchia Ayu and I, Sule Lamido. That is why I commissioned housing complex named after them, as G9 on Democracy Day.'
Do you see a better Nigeria?
'You will agree with me that Nigeria is better now that we know of election malpractices and the value of democracy. Nobody had the impetus to challenge the juntas before 1999. The late Abubakar Rimi and I were incarcerated when we challenged the system then. What those that pride themselves as democrats today could not attempt to do. Therefore, we the G9, have made tremendous sacrifices for the peaceful and stable democracy we all are enjoying today.'