Former national vice-president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and military governor of Ondo State, Olabode George, has slammed a former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, for referring to former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a religious and ethnic bigot.
Speaking at his Ikoyi office in Lagos, George accused Lamido of disrespecting the former president, whom he described as a concerned nationalist over the latter’s allegation of plans by some elements to ‘fulanise and Islamise’ Nigeria and other West African countries.
Obasanjo had recently alleged that there was a grand plot by some elements to foist a Fulani and Islamic agenda on Nigeria and other West African countries. While speaking at the second session of the Synod of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, held at the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, Oleh, Delta State, he said:
“It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for youths in Nigeria which Boko Haram began as. It is now West African fulanisation, African Islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change.”
But Lamido responded to Obasanjo’s statement, saying he should not allow his displeasure with the current administration make him a religious and ethnic bigot. He said: “Please sir, don’t let your disappointment with the sitting president turn you into a bigot. You must not abandon the national stage. The cracks along the various divides in our national cohesion are already turning into huge gorges.”
However, George backed Obasanjo, saying he has the right to express his observation over the incursion and increased activities of herdsmen in the South West.
He said: “Things have never been this bad in this country and the way that we are going about it is creating unnecessary division. What is our problem as Nigerians? When Obasanjo left office as military head of state in 1979, a lot of Yoruba people blacklisted him saying he should have handed over to Pa Awolowo instead of a Fulani man. There was no name that he was not called, but Obasanjo is a straightforward person.
“Recently, he made a comment as an observation that things are not going right in this country. The incursion of herdsmen is disturbing. He is also a farmer and a lot of farmers are complaining bitterly that their farms are being ravaged. My friend, the former governor of Jigawa, Sule Lamido accused Obasanjo who has always been a nationalist of being a bigot. What Lamido said were absolute nonsense and an insult. Does he know what Obasanjo suffered? Was it not the same man who made Lamido whom he is by giving him the opportunity to become a minister? But he is now turning round to call him a bigot. Why did Lamido not find out from Obasanjo why he made that statement? Wole Soyinka made the same observation that Obasanjo made and you know that both men are not usually on the same page.
“Maybe we should reverse roles and get some Agbekoya farmers from the South West to go to Lamido’s village and start ravaging farmlands, and then we would know what he would say. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. I invite Lamido to come to the South West and I will take him around the villages so that he can see what these farmers who are losing their livelihoods are feeling. Our people are complaining about the sudden incursion and increased activities of herdsmen in the South West; why can’t Lamido see through that prism? We should be careful about some of the reckless comments that we make. Does it mean if tomorrow an Igbo man becomes the president, Igbo traders will now carry cutlasses and chase everyone away from their villages? Buhari should use his position as the President of the Fulani herdsmen in West Africa to calm these people down. It is a challenge to him.” (The Sun)
Subscribe to The Republican News. Advertise with us. Call us for press release, enquiries. Email: RepublicanNewsNetwork1@gmail.com, phone: +32466100102, +2348189650279, +32497220468.
The political tremor set off by the return of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to the Peoples Democratic Party, where, it is widely believed, he would seek the 2019 presidential ticket, may not ease off soon.
Since his defection to the party about two weeks ago, political alignments and realignments have been ongoing within the PDP and between some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and some PDP members.
Although the then PDP leadership under former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, was alleged to have provided him a “soft landing” by dissolving the Adamawa State caretaker committee, to enable Atiku’s men take over the structure of the party while still hanging on in the APC at the time, the statement from the party’s leadership shortly after his defection that there was no automatic ticket for the Adamawa-born politician is a clear indication that Atiku is not likely to get the ticket on a gold platter.
Neither would his ambition dim the light on the aspiration of other members of the party, who are also believed to be interested in seeking the presidential ticket.
Interestingly, the Makarfi was the first man who came out in the open to say that Atiku posed no threat to any of the presidential hopefuls on the platform of the PDP.
Although he has not formally signified interest in the race, Sunday Sun can authoritatively confirm that Makarfi will run.
Barely 72 hours to the PDP national convention, there had been reports in sections of the media insinuating Makarfi had interest in seeking to fly the PDP’s flag in 2019. Makarfi dismissed the insinuation in the media reports as not true.
In a statement signed on his behalf by his spokesman, Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo, the former Kaduna State governor said: “The fact is that the senator was asked what threat the return of Atiku Abubakar to the party portends to the aspirations of others who had either made their intentions known or those, who, like him were rumoured to be nursing such ambition.
“His answer was that Atiku’s return would not, in any way adversely affect the rights of any member of the party to aspire to any position, adding that there were no preconditions to the return as Atiku Abubakar did not ask for, neither did the party offer any concessions to him beforehand.
“Senator Ahmed Makarfi wishes to assure the teeming members and supporters of the PDP and indeed the entire country that his own major preoccupation at the moment is to discharge the responsibility given to him to lead the process of repositioning the party, which he hopes will culminate in the conduct of a very credible and transparent convention. This is what matters the most to him at this moment.”
After the convention penultimate Saturday, sources close to him confirmed to Sunday Sun that he would indeed run and that he would make the intention known at the appropriate time.
Asked further if Makarfi does not feel threatened by Atiku’s return to the PDP, one of the sources said that there was no way Atiku could stop Makarfi’s ambition.
“He has always believed that power belongs to God. In 2007, when PDP governors rooted for him, but someone else was chosen, he fell in line like a good party man that he is and behaved as if nothing happened. He supported the person that was chosen because he believes you cannot get something by force. So he will go into the contest with the same disposition,” the source added.On his part former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, who has since notified party stakeholders and has visited former Nigerian leaders and consulted and still consulting with prominent Nigerians, including former defence minister, General TY Danjuma (retd), told Sunday Sun that if Allah says he would be the next president after President Muhammadu Buhari, nothing can change it.
Reacting through one of his aides, Kyari Jitau, the former governor noted that from day one he knew that he would not be the only one seeking the party’s ticket and was, therefore, prepared to compete with anyone.
“Recall the event of his meeting with state chairmen of the party. He said he knew others would also join in the race, but urged the stakeholders to ensure that they choose the best for the party and for the country.
“And at the risk of sounding immodest I don’t see anyone who is capable of constituting a threat to him in the party. Historically, he started politics before all of them. Therefore, ideologically, he stands out. We have seen what he can do with his experiment in Jigawa. That is why they refer to him as a good repairer. So we need him to help repair Nigeria.
“Like some analysts say, PDP needs someone who can break the votes in Kano and Kaduna axis. Alhaji Sule Lamido looks good to make that happen. He is a party man to the core. He’s got the political capacity and sagacity to turn the tide against the APC if given the opportunity by the party. So we leave everything to God and to the party. Only God gives power,” Kyari declared.
Former Kano State governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, said he was battle ready. And like others, he also said the ultimate decision rested with God.
Speaking through his media aide, Sule Ya’u Sule, the 2011 presidential candidate on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), said: “We are battle ready. We ran in 2003 for governorship, we had no money, but we won. We ran in 2007 for a second term, and despite the odds against us, God made it possible. We have run for the presidency before and so we are not threatened by Atiku’s return to the PDP. Ultimately it is the electorate that will decide. We rely on God and not anyone else. We are in the race, there is no going back,” he said.
Long before former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he left no one in doubt that he was prepared to run for the presidency again in 2019.
Sunday Sun gathered that Atiku had sought to “seize” the structure of the party in the state to avoid a repeat of what happened to him in 2011 and 2015 at the PDP and APC presidential primaries respectively.
In 2011, Atiku lost Adamawa State delegates to the then President Goodluck Jonathan as Murtala Nyako, the then governor, ensured that all the delegates voted for Jonathan. Again in 2015, Atiku lost Adamawa delegates to his rivals. All these, it was further learnt, made him reason that once he had control of the party in the state, it would be easy to get their loyalty and votes.
Regardless, Atiku needs more than Adamawa delegates to pick the coveted PDP presidential ticket. (The Sun)
Former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido
•Says APC founders have since deserted the ruling party
In 2015, many thought he was going to challenge former President Goodluck Jonathan, even Jonathan saw him as a potential rival, but former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido did not run. He told Saturday Sun in January this year that running against Jonathan at the time was like passing a vote of no confidence on him.
Today, however, Lamido has left no one in doubt that he would be seeking his party’s ticket for the 2019 presidential contest. In this interview with ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, held at his home in Kano last Saturday, Lamido declared that Buhari was no threat to the PDP, come 2019.
He said: “What is my business if they endorse him or if he runs? Buhari came from a very small party called the CPC. Without the influence of the ACN and the governors who left the PDP, there was no way he would have won because he came from a very tiny party. If those who came together to make him what he is, are no longer in the party, then he has my sympathy for failing to understand this. Look here, Buhari is no threat to the PDP.
“In PDP, we do not give a damn on whoever the APC presents for 2019 because we are more than two-third. We know that as a party, we have made some mistakes and we apologise to Nigerians. If the likes of Tinubu and Atiku feel concerned about what is happening in APC and those who were originally in PDP leave, what will become of him? He would only be left with his tiny CPC, I don’t know how he would do it, but that is his problem, not mine. In any case, the Buhari of today is not the Buhari of 2015.
“The Buhari of today is fatigued; he is faced with what you call political party management in a democracy. It is not where you give orders; here, you have to build some consensus. You can see he cannot even relate well with the Senate President of his own party. So, the Buhari of today is not the Buhari of 2015. Before 2015, he was Buhari the puritanical. Buhari, who they saw as the only man at the helm of 20 million people that Nigerians in the APC were ready to surrender their trust, their reasoning, their honour and everything because they are so lazy. Look at what (Professor Itse) Sagay said about the APC. He said they are all thieves. So if they are calling the PDP thieves, their own man is saying they are all thieves.”
Few days ago, you wrote the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a letter where you analysed the situation in the country and said the party must take the lead in rescuing the country. What informed the approach that you took?
A political party has its own kind of authority and by my upbringing and culture, the party is very important. We need to pull Nigeria out of despondency and the first thing that I chose to do was to intimate the party faithful that I am offering myselffor the job should the party consider me worthy of flying its flag because I believe that it is time that we share the same concern for our country. PDP is the only party that can set things right in this country.
If you compare how things were in the country three years ago to what it is now, you will appreciate why things have to change. Many others may likely join the presidential race, but what is important is that in whatever we do, we should ensure that we share the same dream and aspiration and put Nigeria first. Whoever will emerge after the primary should be a PDP candidate who knows PDP very well and who is popular with the people and who can tell Nigerians this is what we are offering you. If the party brings a very good person with a common understanding, it will be very easy to make progress. We either do things right, or by 2019, there would be some problems in Nigeria and PDP is the only party with the capacity and passion for Nigeria. We have been there for 16 years and we stabilised Nigeria.
There are speculations that some of your party members that left are likely to return and some of them have presidential ambition; for instance we hear the former vice president is likely to return but that he wants the party to assure him that when he returns, he would get the ticket of the party. How true is this speculation?
Those governors who left the party at the time first raised the alarm that there was something wrong with the PDP. We went round the country and we saw other political leaders. We said then that what we were going through may likely endanger Nigeria’s stability and security in future, and we felt that the problem was even beyond the PDP. The guidelines and constitution of the party clearly states that the party must meet at least quarterly, but for a whole year, the party never met. We wanted the party to meet so that when the key players are gathered, we can push for the party to do the right thing. It was our efforts that caused things to be narrowly corrected, but in the process, five governors, some key players and some parliamentarians left the party. To me, that was a big mistake because the party you formed and you campaigned for and people gave you their trust in the rain and sunshine because you were part of the party, should not have been abandoned like that. But that is history now. They left because at the time, they felt that they were not happy about the prevailing situation, but I believe that you should not let your anger and personal mood affect your leadership position. So, it was the mood and feeling in them that made them take that decision. Having gone to where they went, have they found comfort there? Have they been consoled? Have they been rescued from what they were running away from or have their problems compounded? So naturally, they would want to come back because they are more agonised and pained where they are now. This is where naturally they belong; where they share a common history with their friends before they became what they are, and they are most welcome. They built a house, which is APC, but now, they are coming back into their home, which is the PDP and we are ready to welcome anyone who wants to come back for whatever reason.
In that house, ACN, CPC, ANPP and some parts of APGA came in, but now, that house cannot give them what they are looking for, so they want to come back to their homes. No matter where the likes of Saraki, Wammako, Kwankwaso, El-Rufai Ribadu and all of them who left go, the political blood running in their veins is that of PDP. No matter how much they try, you cannot really run away from your own soul.
About the issue of giving conditions, I do not think that my brother Atiku would give any condition because he knows that no one can give him any guarantee because the party is not owned by one person, it is owned by the people. If the people say that they want him and find him worthy of picking the ticket, then so be it. All of them are very welcome back to the PDP where they are cherished, loved, admired and on which platform they became what they are politically. It is better than where they are now, where they are humiliated every day. Every now and then Lai would abuse them calling them PDP thieves and they are there watching where they are being abused and they cannot even defend their honour. No matter what you say about the PDP, we are in charge of the APC government because it is the PDP that got APC corrugated. If you take away the PDP from the APC, the APC would collapse.
In 1999, 2003 and 2007, they tried so hard to get to power, but they couldn’t, it was only when PDP members joined them that they succeeded. I am sure that by now they are tired of the situation. It is just like running away from your family to run into another person’s family, then the members of the new family reminds you of how all the members of your family were thieves, crooks and rogues. By abusing your former family, they are also abusing you. They ran into APC for comfort; they were frustrated and were looking for a shelter, but they are being insulted every day. This is because by insulting the PDP, they are also insulting those who moved from the PDP to the APC. I’m happy that they have been there and went through what they went through in that party, so, they should come back to where they are loved because they are part of us.
President Buhari has not announced his intention to run, but some within his party have already endorsed him for 2019. Does the PDP have what it takes to defeat Buhari?
What is my business if they endorse him or if he runs? Buhari came from a very small party called the CPC. Without the influence of the ACN and the governors who left the PDP, there was no way he would have won because he came from a very tiny party. If those who came together to make him what he is are no longer in the party, then he has my sympathy for failing to understand this. Look here, Buhari is no threat to the PDP.
In PDP we do not give a damn on whoever the APC presents for 2019 because we are more than two-third. We know that as a party, we have made some mistakes and we apologised to Nigerians. If the likes of Tinubu and Atiku feel concerned about what is happening in APC and those who were originally in PDP leaves, what will become of him? He would only be left with his tiny CPC, I don’t know how he would do it, but that is his problem, not mine. In any case, the Buhari of today is not the Buhari of 2015.
How do you mean?
The Buhari of today is fatigued; he is faced with what you call political party management in a democracy. It is not where you give orders; here, you have to build some consensus. You can see he cannot even relate well with the Senate President of his own party. So, the Buhari of today is not the Buhari of 2015. Before 2015, he was Buhari the puritanical. Buhari, who they saw as the only man at the helm of 20 million people that Nigerians in the APC were ready to surrender their trust, their reasoning, their honour and everything because they are so lazy. Look at what (Professor Itse) Sagay said about the APC. He said they are all thieves. So if they are calling the PDP thieves, their own man is saying they are all thieves.
If you pick the ticket of the PDP, would you describe the state of the economy today as an added advantage to you?
There is no gain if a government makes mistakes because it is the ordinary people that would bear the consequences of the mistakes. So, do not celebrate a government’s economic mistakes because you would suffer the consequences too. I am not in any way celebrating APC’s failure in government. This government is Nigeria’s government, but unfortunately, the APC got into government unprepared and because they were unprepared, they kept on churning out lies to mask their own failure.
During the campaigns, they invented lies about PDP; they called us thieves, rogues, evil and all sort of names. Now that they are in government, they failed to metamorphose from a political party seeking election to a party in government where the culture is different. Also, because they do not have that sense of being a government in power, they keep repeating the same thing they were saying while they were in the opposition. I am a Nigerian citizen by right and not by the political party that I belong to, therefore, the government of Nigeria is my government. Unfortunately, by the apparatus and culture of the APC, they have so demonized Nigerians such that if you speak, you are mocked. For the first time in this country, we have a government mocking its own citizens. When you complain, you will be called a wailing wailer. If people are wailing because of what they feel is wrong, what a responsible government should do is to find out why they are wailing.
As a father, if your children are crying, you don’t say, ‘look, why did you steal some of the money I gave you for feeding? Shut up’, and then you start abusing your child. The APC justifies irrationality. They are suffering from ignorance of leadership. They think that you are a citizen of Nigeria by privilege, but you are a citizen by right.
Some of those in government now, what has been their contribution to the development of Nigeria? Nothing! But today, they mock Nigerians. Today, the culture of lies has become an art of governance. When Buhari was in London for treatment, Lai Mohammed and other aides kept telling Nigerians that he was perfectly healthy but when he returned, the President himself told Nigerians that he had not been that sick before in his life, but his aides were saying another thing.
It is very sad. Buhari is Nigeria’s president. When Yar’Adua was ill, the opposition wanted to know everything about him. They accused the then government of hiding the true state of Yar’Adua’s health. Now that they are in government, they are playing a far worse role than the government of Yar’Adua played. They are so overwhelmed and do not know what to do because of the power of falsehood and manipulating people with lies. Again, we are Nigerians and we have the right to talk; don’t demonise, abuse or mock Nigerians when they talk because they are asking questions that are very pertinent.
For instance, they made allocations of billions of naira for Aso Rock clinic, yet they say there is no syringe there, but if you complain, APC would say you are a wailing wailer. Aisha Buhari wailed like me, which means she is also a wailing wailer. When you wail, it is because things are being done wrongly and that is why you are wailing. PDP has been wailing, they are wailers and even some in APC have become wailing wailers too, so we are now a wailing nation.
The PDP is preparing for its convention in December, would you say that the party has learned any lesson from the crisis that rocked it before the apex court came to its rescue?
We are going into election year and the chairman that we will elect now will be symbolic. He cannot have his own authority because the election is about the will of the people where there are key players. People are not voting for him on account of his own instructions. He cannot go to Sokoto or Jigawa or Oyo and give instructions on account of his own personality; it is something collective, a family affair. Even the election of a president is only a symbol because he is going to work for the entire country. In electing a chairman, we are going to ask what the person in his own standing can do for PDP. The earlier chairmen like Solomon Lar was very symbolic because he was part of those that formed the party, but those who came after, like Audu Ogbeh, what was he? We have come a long way and by now, the election of a chairman should be less personal in our affairs over the leadership of the party. No one should say it is going to be A or B or C, because ideally, all those big names in PDP should not align with any aspirant. No stakeholder in the party should be seen taking any aspirant to anywhere, we should allow aspirants to go round and meet leaders. Bode George and Gbenga Daniel came to my house to ask for my support, and that is how it should be. If we decide that for the sake of harmony and stability of the party, we decide that we would have a consensus and support Mr. A or B, we can only do that if we are standing on a high moral ground as not been seen to align with anybody. What we want is a party chairman, whom when he wins, will be the chairman of the party in the entire PDP family and we would all give him our support. As far as I know, there is no crisis in the party.
You were in Kaduna recently to inspect your campaign office, and by the next day, we heard that there was crisis involving your supporters and some hoodlums. What really happened?
I decided to come from Abuja to Kaduna to see the level of development in the office and I went there not to campaign or open the office but to inspect it. While addressing the young people, I told them that we, who are their parents and elders in government, have made some mistakes. I told them that some of us exploited their innocence and their age to manipulate them and because we are their parents and they trust and believe us, they supported us. But now that some of us have failed them, they have every right to be angry. I told them that in the next 30 years, those under 30 will be 60 years; I asked them what will be their future? Do they want to end up as street hawkers or barrow pushers? I told them that in the next 30 years, people like me and Buhari may or may not still be alive, so I left. After I left, I saw a story in one of the national dailies written by someone who was not there at the event. When I read it, I knew that the story was not true because nothing of such happened.
It is believed that Kaduna is the traditional home of President Buhari and you went there…
(Cuts in) No, it is not his home. Kaduna is the home of all former northern governors; and all former leaders of northern extraction, it was the center of the administration during the time of Ahmadu Bello. No one can appropriate Kaduna as his home because it is for all northerners. From 1999 till date, northern elders have been meeting in Kaduna and at one point or the other; all our elders were abused by these youths. Even El-Rufai has been abused by these youths on several occasions, so, it is our failure as northern leaders because we allowed our heritage in Kaduna to be turned into a theatre of hooliganism. Every northerner should feel worried about this trend. Elections take place all the time there but somehow, the youths do not see any effort on our part as leaders to address their needs, future and frustrations. We need to restore these youths to the right path and guide them properly.
All the Mallams, pastors, political leaders and elders have a duty to guide them because in the next 25 years, if these youths are not properly guided, we will be in trouble. It is dangerous for us because the youths are disappointed; they are aggrieved because they feel that they have been shortchanged by their leaders. The first thing leaders should do is fashion out a way on how to restore the innocence and honour of our youths; exorcise the seed of evil in them and plant a seed of integrity and honesty.So my concern is not about campaigning for 2019 but how to restore the future of our youths. I watched a video of a nine-year old boy who was brutalised by cultists just before this interview and I almost shed tears because it shows the increasing rate of cultism in the country. If that boy as little as he is, was literarily brutalised, then where is the love we the parents ought to give to our children?
What are the plans of the opposition to put the economy on the right track if it wins the election?
The human mind is wired to confront challenges. I have seen people create something out of nothing through their ideas. Ideas create wealth and that is why countries like South Korea, China, Japan and other countries are prospering every day. Even if you have a thriving economy on paper, you cannot grow any economy because our chemistry is terrible. This is a country that is not stable; here, people do not have rights and the government does not have respect for its citizens. In the last two years, how much investments have entered Nigeria? Nothing! A country like Angola has been able to attract a $16 billion investment; even Egypt and Rwanda attract investments all the time because there is stability in those countries. Prosperity is not built on wars, but on love and concern for human beings.
In Nigeria, what you get depends on what you can give the political party in government and this is a breach of the oath of office. The government must make everyone feel that they are dignified citizens of their own country; they should show that they love their citizens and they believe in them. When you see that your government is protecting your rights and giving you all that you deserve, you will support it and stand by it because you know that your government is there for you. So, it is not about economic theories because we have so many of them in this country. Prof. Itse Sagay recently said that the ruling party is a party of thieves and corrupt people. Now, if this is the testimony of someone who is part of this government, who will come from Europe and invest? (The Sun)
Former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido
…Says. ‘PDP must restore Nigerias’ lost glory by 2019
From: Ahmed Abubakar, Dutse
A former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, has criticised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for “illegally” spending $25 billion that was not legally appropriated by the National assembly.
Lamido stated that the alleged $25 billion was never captured in the 2017 budget and yet was spent by an agency of government that claim to be upright.
The former governor who was speaking, on Monday, while receiving a former Ogun State governor, Chief Gbenga Daniel, who was on a campaign visit for Peoples Democratic Party Chairmanship (PDP) position to Lamido’s home town, Bamaina.
Lamido said the continued unity of Nigeirans depends largely on PDP that must take over power by 2019.
Lamido, who also blasted the All Progressives Congress (APC) party for mocking Nigerians, stated that, “it is only in this country that a government that is supposed to be for all would be mocking other Nigerians for criticising it”, he said.
“When you complain they will call you wailing wailers, government don’t mock it’s citizens no matter what, rather it should encourage you by at least explaining things to the people”, he said.
Lamido said President Buhari’s should forever be grateful to the PDP as he remains the greatest beneficiary of our misrule “, he stated.
He also called the APC party as an amalgamation of tyrannical, jealous and evil people that PDP most chase out of Nigeria come 2019.
He Said, “Nigerians most unite to revolt against slavery, hunger and starvation come 2019 and no amount of threat, intimidation, incarceration will silent me from speaking about the wrong doings of the APC Government.
Early in his remarks, Gbenga Daniel the aspirant of National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Said he came to Jigawa state to woo prospective delegates to support him in actualising his aspiration as the national chairman of the PDP. (The Sun)
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is yet to announce plans for the 2019 presidential elections. But Nigerian politicians are already getting set for the epic battle.
Interestingly, the north, the region, where the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari hails from, is also getting agitated by the day. The Professor Ango Abdullahi-led Northern Elders Forum, NEF, was the first to stir the hornet’s nest, when in October last year it declared that it would be ready to back Buhari, should he present himself again in 2019.
Specifically, former INEC Secretary, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of NEF, at the group’s summit, said: “So, those who are disposed to listen, please listen. Northern votes were not wasted in electing President Buhari. In 2019, we will also use our votes in a manner consistent with our interests as northerners. We did not make a mistake in putting up a solid, united front as northerners in spite of our ethno-religious differences.”
But barely a week after the summit, Dr. Junaid Mohammad, who though attended, declared in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun that in 2019, Buhari, was no longer going to be an option, adding that “I think those who are bothered about 2019, should please start getting alliances across, and start planning how to bring down the APC government, through constitutional means, and to also make sure they deny the PDP, a second chance of ruling the country again. APC is not doing well; I don’t think Buhari is going to do any better. The crowd around Buhari has nothing to offer.” He declared that even if Buhari was to present himself for election in 2019, he would neither campaign nor vote for him.
Since then, however, the names of two northerners, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, have dominated the media space, as possible challengers to Buhari, should he decide to run again. In fact, Adamawa State governor, Senator Jubrilla Bindow, who is of the APC, has since declared ahead of APC primary that it was either Atiku or nobody else.
But prominent northern leaders have described those angling to run against Buhari, in 2019, as enemies of Nigeria who should be stopped in the overall interest of the nation.
Those who spoke in this direction are: former Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, a chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, Senator Joseph Waku and Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, former Commissioner of Police, Lagos state.
Describing Atiku and Lamido as enemies of Nigeria, Tsav said: “What are these two men looking for again? What do they want? Surely they are pursuing personal interests and not national interests. Atiku and Lamido should realize that Nigerians can’t be deceived. These two men are pursuing personal and not national interests.”
Frowning at the timing, Tsav added that it was too early and premature to talk about 2019 now, adding that: “Politicians are very funny people. To me, 2019 is still far away, so why must they be talking about 2019 now? Although both of them have constitutional right to talk, aspire and even plan, they should remember that only God knows what will happen tomorrow. They should tread softly, softly. Anyway I don’t see any of them stopping Buhari.”
The former Lagos State Police Commissioner, further said: “These men are distracting the nation. They should go and sit down for now and allow Buhari to continue the good work that he is doing. They should not distract the President. They can’t do what Buhari is doing; they should allow the man to work”.
On his own part, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said: “I’m not saying Atiku and Lamido are not good materials, but when you talk of experience, Buhari has an edge over them. You must remember that Buhari has been there before as a military Head of State, as such, I believe that he has an edge over them’’.
The former Kaduna State governor, who sees nothing wrong about politicians talking about 2019, in 2017, also said: “The issue is not about whether it is too early or not to talk or discuss about 2019, it is the constitutional rights of every Nigerian to freely discuss and talk. But, I believe that Buhari’s experience will be a major hurdle for Atiku and Lamido to cross’’.
For Waku, he said: “Buhari is doing a fantastic job. What I expect all Nigerians, including Atiku and Lamido to do, is to have the same vision with the President. However, both are entitled to their views and plans. But left to me, I don’t see Atiku and Lamido going anywhere. They can’t stop Buhari.”
Advising Nigerian politicians to learn a lesson from what happened to the late Kogi State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Audu, Waku, again said: “Only God knows tomorrow. Why this talk about 2019 when we are still in 2017? Nigerian politicians should learn a lesson from what happened to Audu. The man was leading in the election, and was poised to win. Both he and his supporters were looking forward to collecting a Certificate of Return, but what did Audu get from God? He got a Certificate of Death. This should be a lesson for all of us. Although Atiku has not formally come out to say that he wants to contest, his supporters and his own body language seem to suggest that he wants to contest. My advice to him and Lamido is that they should take it easy. Buhari is doing well; we should all join hands with him to build a virile nation”. (The Sun)
Immediate past Jigawa State Governor and founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Sule Lamido, has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, would be shocked in 2019, insisting that if God says he (Lamido) would be President, the same God would clear the way for him.
He spoke in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, in his country home, Bamaina, last Sunday, shortly after playing host to hundreds of youths from across the country.
In the build up to the 2015 polls, many Nigerians thought you were going to run for the Presidency. What happened, why did you not run?
You are asking this question because you are not a politician. But then political parties have got history; they have traditions. In the world over, where you have your party, as the one in government, and which produced the incumbent President, it is not in tune with such political party’s tradition to sponsor a candidate against him; for the purpose of pulling him down and then replace him with another person, no matter what. If that is done, it shows lack of party unity; lack of party coherence. It is like passing a vote of no confidence on the person. So, those who are asking me to run then, fail to understand this particular background and also the peculiarity of the third world politics, where, for instance, the President is virtually the lord. The entire party system, organs, the institution of the state is under him, because, as the leader of the party, he is the symbol of authority. And therefore Mr. President is also the leader of the country, and he has all the legal institutions, reins of power also under him. So, it is simply unthinkable, amounting to personal delusion, to say you want to run against him, in the same party.
Now assuming you run with him, assuming you defeat him in your own party and he is the country’s President, you are simply passing a vote of no confidence on him as a person. And, therefore, there is no way you will do this and then expect the country and Nigerians to respect him. If his own party could formally denounce him, what do you expect other Nigerians to do? That is one.
Secondly, by the time you renounce him, it will also pose a threat condition on the election management. If you humiliate him, you embarrass him, you think he will watch and allow you win the election? These are things which are simply unthinkable. They don’t make sense. It is not fair. It is not right. It is not right to the system. It can lead to political revolution and even destabilize the country, for a party to pull out its own President. Again, if he is defeated and in the process of primaries you create your own kind of support base and he defeats you, there will be people who will feel highly aggrieved. And the resultant consequences in terms of the party acrimonies would be so difficult to manage and reconcile before the elections. And it will also cost you the election. These are realities.
Would it have been better for the party, if Jonathan had not presented himself for election?
You see, it is up to him to understand that as a leader he is also the symbol of the country’s stability and symbol of the party’s fortune. It is up to him to understand that running will either enhance the fortunes of the party or deflate it. The decision is entirely his; because there are no way you will have any other means by which you are going to check that. It is not even possible. There is no way that somebody who has the right to go for a second term can be denied. It is a very difficult thing. That is why in America there was no one that will be challenging the incumbent President; Obama was never challenged during his second tenure in the primary by anybody. It is the tradition. It is an unwritten code in terms of maintaining party discipline and cohesion. And based on the narrative I gave earlier, the decision was entirely his and that of the party. It is the responsibility of the system to decide how to deal with such a situation, where incumbents insist on running.
Still on 2015, would you say PDP was defeated or that the PDP lost that election?
Let me answer you this way, if you look at the history of the PDP and elections, from 1999 when Obasanjo ran, the margin of his victory was twice that of the person who ran against him. In 2003, when he ran against Buhari, Buhari ran under APP, the total number scored by PDP was more than 2/3 of the vote and, therefore, attracted majority. In 2007, when Yar’Adua, Buhari and Atiku ran, the total number scored by Yar’Adua was more than 2/3 of all the other contestants; so if you put Buhari’s votes to Atiku’s vote, they were not enough to beat Yar’Adua. In 2011, it was the same scenario, like it, or hate it, these are historical facts. So long as PDP is united and standing, there was no way any party could defeat it. In 2015, it is the votes of the PDP which produced the current government, simple. It was the PDP votes which went into the APC that enabled it (APC) to win the centre. From 1999 to 2003 through 2011, the votes from the South-South alone normally gives us 5million, the one from the South-East gives us 8million plus, so we have 13million votes coming from those two regions, in the last three elections. In the election of 2015, the innovation of the card reader was designed to rig PDP out, and it was very strict in the South-South and the South-East. Even some of the voters could not vote because their names were not there. So, what I may call scientific rigging denied a lot of people the opportunity to vote for the PDP. So in the end, the votes came to 3million in the South-South, in the East we got 5million so if you sum it up it is 8million, so PDP lost 5million votes through the card reader. And because we had no intention to simply create problem for the government or Nigerians, we let it be. I say so because in the entire north there was no card reader; people knew it. There was nothing like card reader in the north. The card reader was also a kind of scientific rigging which was made to blackmail PDP because the INEC had been blackmailed too, and all these, plus the governors who left the party, made it possible for the APC, to win. But even at that, the margin was only 2million votes. So, I can say it that APC won by PDP votes, otherwise by history, with the votes of all the opposition party put together, in the past, they were never able to win the PDP. So, when I hear Oyegun calling PDP the party of evil, I just laugh, because the parts of this government came from the shameless party and the evil votes. He has been saying that PDP are shameless, PDP are evil, but it is these evil votes, these shameless votes that produced this government. But then, that is now history.
PDP, from what we gathered, is trying to put its house in order and as part of the processes, some are suggesting that it should either merge or change the name of the party. As a founding member of the party what is your take on these propositions?
When you say we should merge; merge with whom? Like AC, ANPP, PDP merged to form APC? Who will PDP merge with? To merge with who? Now on changing of name, I am saying this over and over again, APC which metamorphosed from AD to AC to ACN and APC; are the members different? ANPP which transformed from APP to ANPP, to CPC and to APC, tell me in this coalition of so called small, small parties put together, the faces there, are they also changed faces? When you look at APC don’t you see Buhari? Is it the transformation from CPC to APC that will change his face? Look at Tinubu; it is the same person, from AD, to AC, ACN and APC. What I am saying is, if you change the name, what about the faces of the people representing these parties? Are you going to change the people too?
PDP might have made a lot of mistakes. There might have been a lot of things that went wrong. There might have been impunity, call it anything you want, but it is not caused by the alphabets or the letters. P and D are very innocent. I do not think it is proper for us as leaders in this country to begin to engage in some kind of relief, running away from our current pain, to seek a temporary relief; you don’t build a nation like that. You build a nation with reflection. I am this and I made some mistakes here, how do I correct what I have done wrong. Correct it, and move on.
In APC what do you find, it is same people. So, to me, maybe because I am an old man I have been very conservative. If you ask His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, he will say he is a former Vice President, but then, it was under the PDP, today, he is in APC, now why can’t he change it, and stop being addressed as Vice President, since to him, PDP is a history of shame that was why he left it. Then, the governors who are now in APC, who are ashamed of their history, ashamed of their own past, they should not be addressed as former PDP governors. If PDP is filthy and dirty as people call it, our concern should be how to clean it up, and not to abandon it, because we are the children of PDP. It is just a leprous woman, who gave birth to a child; the child suckles her breast to grow up. But after growing up, he now says he was ashamed of the milk he sucked to grow up. If he feels the mother is dirty, he should clean her up, not abandon her.
A party which had produced four Nigerian Presidents, over 45 governors, over 700 legislative members the party which restored Nigeria to stability should not be maligned, the way it is being maligned today. With due respect to Buhari, if the PDP had not restored Nigeria, there was no way Buhari would have been President today. By the time we came on board in 1999, it required extra political sagacity and strong political commitment for us to be able to stabilize the country. I have been saying it, with all respect, there is no way Buhari could run in 1999, he couldn’t have run for the office, because whatever Abacha symbolizes, Buhari was part of it. Therefore, I make bold to say that Buhari is the greatest beneficiary of the PDP’s evil. Minus PDP, the Lais and Oyeguns of this world would not have a place to speak, let alone aspire and call the shots as they are doing today. We restored Nigeria, and that is why they can talk today.
So in history, in your evolution, you look at things that you have done wrong, you don’t wish away your mistakes, they are there, and they are part of you. They are there to form part of your strength because there is no way you will build a human institution and expect perfection. It is not possible. So, we made mistakes, some of them are deliberate, some of them were selfish through impunity. Even the PDP impunity is what others benefitted from. When they crush Mr. A, for Mr. B, A, sees it as impunity. If tomorrow, B is crushed, for C to be, B too, will now shout impunity. The word impunity has been used in and out depending on who is gaining and who is losing. The greatest impunity we had was in 1999, when we shut out other parts of the country from contesting the presidency. But then, we needed it to be able to pacify, to heal wounds, because democracy should be able to address your peculiar need. That was what the PDP did. So, if you fail to see our intangible achievements, you only see our tangible failures, you are not being fair to PDP. Because the intangibles define the parameters, created the environment, stabilizes it, for the tangibles to be able to be erected.
But the PDP doesn’t seem to have its acts together, what is really happening to the party, you have Makarfi and Sheriff faction; which of the factions do you belong to?
There is no way anybody can get me into a faction. I cannot be a factional member. There is only one PDP, where there is crisis of leadership. The chunk of anything, called the PDP is under the caretaker committee put up by our convention in Rivers State. Don’t get us personalized under Makarfi or Sheriff. I am by nature a party man through-and-through. The convention put us under caretaker committee, led by Makarfi, fair enough. All the Nigerian governors, all the members of the National Assembly and all officers of the PDP in the National Assembly, all the 12 State Assemblies where PDP controls in the country, all party chairmen in the states, and everyone is part of this caretaker committee. So, there is no fear about PDP. Both Sheriff and Makarfi, as individuals, still believe in the PDP. The PDP has the internal mechanism to stand up, to say enough is enough. There is no cause for fear. I have been saying it, if you inject one per cent of PDP crisis into APC, the party will simply collapse. Right now it is gone, because it was never a party which was formed under any particular ideology or vision or mission or dream; it is a creation of hate, of anger, of malice, pain and frustration. ‘Let us demolish PDP, all for power.’ We are now out of power. They are saints, in power, commissioning PDP projects, enjoying our rail lines. If PDP has failed miserably, woefully because we are thieves, we are Boko Haram, we are everything evil, but now we have some saints, can’t they really help us?
Some Nigerian youth are already calling on you to run for the Presidency, will you run in 2019?
It is very flattering to anybody for people to see you, as worthy of doing something, and you thank your God. That call is noticed, it is heard and it is understood. Nigerian youth had been taken on the path of deception, they have been deceived. Their innocence has been used. Their anger, for being unemployed has been used and manipulated. Their ignorance has also been used. And because they are young, they are very innocent, they feel they have no jobs, they have been told so many things and all those things were nothing but rues; and they are thinking otherwise. It is not about me. It is about all of us and warning sign that danger is looming. My main worry is not about now, but about tomorrow. What are we giving to these youth, so that by the time they become 50 or 55years in the next 25years they will have cause to thank God that they grew up in this country. So, if they are coming to me asking me to run, they can go to anybody who they feel can do it, I think it should be seen as a sign of danger to all of us that things are not working the way they should. So, if they see in me a hope, I don’t blame them. I thank God for me being seen as worthy of what they are saying. And If God says I am going to be, no amount of road blocks will stop it. They will be simply shocked that it happened. If God says in 2019, it will be Sule Lamido, they are doomed, I will be, simple, there will be no impediment. God will clear the way for me to be, the same way God cleared the way for Buhari to be in 2015. (The Sun)