Governor Sule Lamido Of Jigawa State Has Been In The News For Various Reasons And Most Recently, For Allegedly Pursuing A Joint Presidential Ticket With Governor Rotimi Amaechi Of Rivers State For 2015. He However Denies Declaring Any Ambition Saying It Signifies Greed To Go For Public Positions When You Are Not Chosen In A Group To Lead. He Also Justified A Strong Governors Forum As Well As Touched On The Philosophy That Guides His Style Of Governance. He Spoke To Roland Ogbonnaya And Ahamefula Ogbu
What is your political philosophy or ideology?
You see, in political science, when you talk about ideologies, obviously it means you are giving it your own interpretation vis-avis what it was adjudged during the cold war era, which were socialism and capitalism. Obviously these two compartments. Everything else around us also revolves around these two compartments. That is why in this new era where the emphasis is now on what I may call political development and other economic needs. So it means you cannot be very rigid with any philosophy because you have to take from the East and West to be able to deliver your goals and objectives. Again if the Americans and Chinese are talking, they obviously know that you cannot have all within a given philosophy; so philosophy really is what helps you achieve your aims as defined based on my current responsibility.
So my philosophy is how do I do it to give my people the best in terms of services, the best in everything, in education, in health, in environment in food security, you know, to make my people decent, dignified human beings, that is all. So if one is a conservative and comes to assist me it is okay or someone from the liberal camp comes to assist me achieve that, that will be all right. I can extract something from them to see what to do to achieve my own goal in relation to my mandate. So today, the socialism, capitalism, welfarism or this compartments or philosophies are giving way to more pragmatic kind of world where there is much huge contest in terms of giving your people the best when you are talking about human rights, transparency, accountability, good governance which all support institutions for self delivery. So, in my own case I prefer to go to each basket to get my own cocktail to be able to achieve my interest.
That means you fashion your philosophy along the best way you think you can achieve your goals and not lean on any ready made philosophy? What has been your vision for Jigawa State?
Before I became governor, our development partners, UNDP and others like the World Bank, took stock of Jigawa State and the report was very damning. They classed Jigawa as a failed State. Failed State is a kind of near zero human situation in other words, human zoo. Because it was a failed State, it therefore had no strong; in fact it had no institution. Its service delivery was very weak, that was why we had the highest infant mortality, the highest maternal mortality, the lowest performance in schools in WAEC and NECO, in virtually everything that aggregates what you call a normal human environment, Jigawa State was below that level. At that time we were below sea level.
My main task really was to exhume or excavate or whatever to bring it out first to the fore, to a kind of stable position which will then give us the room to look across the wider horizon and see how do we then begin to address our people as people who are just now by the sea level, which means according to education, according to health and everything has to be holistic. Each one has to be supportive of the other, a kind of synergy whereby in everything we do either in education or health really reflect on the greater percentage of the citizen which, means our barometer, our indices is the Jigawa citizen. Therefore whatever we do in education has to be also similar to health and also to food security so that the effect of all these will become manifest to Jigawa citizens. Really, while we are working to be able to address the basic needs, which are under emergency in terms of their status, we are also trying to see how to execute long term programmes, what we call building on what we have been able to achieve.
So when you are burdened with difficulties, when you are overwhelmed, you will like adopting a kind of fire brigade approach; what do you save? After saving what you are able to save, you then sit down to begin to chart your way forward, which is what we did. For instance when I came in first time as a Governor, the primary school I attended in 1960, I went there, what I found was so shocking I could not believe it. Having this in my own locality, in my local government and I have been so much around but somehow it was an irony that I had no idea what was happening right under my own nose.
I found out that in the very class where I sat, we were 30 pupils in a class, I found more than 40 pupils squatting on the ground, some of them even hanging on the windows like butterflies. So you could imagine in all these, it was right under my nose and I had no idea until I became Governor. I presume it is the same with you and most of Nigerians. By the time we leave school, we don’t even try to find out how the school we left is; and I found out that if I cannot improve on what I met, the least I could do is just to maintain it. Now in Nigeria we do not maintain and it is a serious problem because there is just no way a nation can grow with this kind of approach. If we don’t even know our own backyard, you therefore cannot address what you don’t know.
Were you overwhelmed by what you saw in Jigawa State when you took over?
I was distressed, terribly distressed and that was the main challenge.
Did you inherit debt?
About N30 billion.
Are you paying now?
I have a very simple approach to political office. You see, if you find a political party and you promote it and campaign with the political party programmes and manifesto and people accept you and give you their mandate, which means they have given their trust to you. You know by our constitution you have only a four year time period and you can only go twice; so what this is telling you is that your authority is only for those four years including the accruing resources for those four years; so you have no authority to leap out and begin to borrow money which will go beyond your tenure and therefore outside your income as a legitimate government.
So I said fair enough, now if any money was spent and spent the entire resource of the State and borrow so when I come in as a governor, what do I do? Pay debt? So we must be very clear, what is the duty of a governor, what are his constraints and what area is he confined and what is the intention of the constitution by saying that you have a period of four years as a mandate. So I said fair enough, I came in as a PDP governor, to implement PDP programmes and manifesto, I inherited an ANPP Government so I set up a committee to verify the various debts I found in place and what I was able to ascertain which I think is verifiable was only N3 billion.
But there are also some loans taken from the treasury based on what they call 30 per cent revenue mobilisation. For instance, there is a road we call Eastern bypass somewhere in northern part of Hadeija and it was given for N21 billion contract and 30 per cent was taken out of that money upfront from N7 billion, nothing was done. There is also another project, which is ‘water for all’ and I think it was for about N18 billion and they took N5 billion upfront, they only left about N950 million out of the N5 billion. There was also an overdraft from the bank, which was about N14 billion and another money taken in buying accessories to escort and that one took about N9 million. So these are monies that were taken by the former governor. I don’t know whether they are debts or what. I don’t know what to call them, but these are monies we are looking for things that were never done in this state and these are not what really we should call debts per se, but then the government was owed about N30 billion by the former governor and this money are not there.
The EFCC showed me one document when they came to Jigawa in 2007 to investigate the former governor. The document showed where he withdrew N12 million in one day. These are monies he could have used at that time and serve the State. The money that I recall as debt is about N3 billion, others were all taken directly from the treasury; so what do you call them? Are they debts or what? I don’t know how to term it because a job was given for feeder road, it was never done, one was for water, it was never done one was for Independent Power Plant. He ordered for some machinery from America, one guy that is from Edo or Rivers like that was given the order and it was very clear that he must import second hand machinery and it was for about N17 billion or so and he took about N4 billion or so and went to Takoradi, Ghana to buy their turbines, when they were changing their machines, he bought the machines from Ghana to Jigawa State and they are still there in crates. They were bought from Ghana and there is no way they could be used no matter what because they are already obsolete.
So you consider it not viable for the State to go into?
What I am saying is that if you say viability, you see if your business will go on; the road for example that was awarded for N21 billion, the same road which I gave for N11 billion between Hadeija, Arawa to Tubiri and the first phase is almost through. If it had been done, I wouldn’t have spent that money again in that place. N21 billion in those days is now being given for N11 billion. So it was not done and I had to do it again and this road that leads to government house, which we are following, was given for about N3 billion and when I came in I called the company and they took me to court and gave me a restraining order not to call them again and not to do anything on the job again, so I just felt that if I don’t do something the road will remain like this till I leave office so I forgot how much he was paid and did the road again. The same thing all over, so I don’t think it is indebtedness per se, it is money that was supposed to be used for something which was not done. Like I said, a governor should be able to utilise his income within his time frame to be able to address his own mandate, that has been my philosophy and that means by the time I leave here, I will not leave a single kobo burden or debt to my incoming governor. If I am building a road, a 15-kilometre road and by the time I am leaving I have done 14 kilometres, the other one is for him to go and pay which I have no problem, but also I am not going to leave a single kobo for anybody to inherit when I leave office.
So you have not borrowed up till now?
I have not borrowed, why should I borrow?
What is the internally generated revenue of the State?
Internally generated revenue (IGR) is very low. You see, as a Fulani man, if you buy a cow, which is very weak, you first try to feed it very well, give it good grass and attention and it will then bear a calf and then you can milk it. But there is no way you will milk a sick cow, unless you are going to milk the blood. So the people lacked everything and you cannot ask them to pay tax. What I want first is to nurse back my own people, we dwell so much on human welfare, on their health on their education so that they could be stabilised and when they are stabilised you will restore in them feeling of honour and pride around them, self esteem and once it is there they will start paying tax on their own because they will want to do service unto themselves and the society and if you ask them for tax then, they will give you willingly.
Today in Nigeria I don’t know how many people are paying taxes. People might have a number of houses and rent properties, but they don’t pay properties fees or tax, they don’t. To me you must first of all try and get them engaged, let them understand you that you are here for them, that the government belongs to them, that the ownership is theirs; that you are here as a partner so that together you can turn the mill round. By the time you turn the mill round, we are all sweating and because we are all sweating, whatever we produce is coming from our own effort and if you say okay pay, they will.
Would you say your exposure to the international community from your past postings rubbed off on you and enabled you imbibe a philosophy that is keeping you within your income and still achieve development?
I don’t think in terms of budget management or budget balancing it is anything that maybe derived from anything I did in the past that rubbed off on me, no. Maybe it helped to sharpen my focus in giving me a more holistic view on what I call development and what is called human decency and human development, yes of course but then you see on the aspect of the budget, it is just like you, you know your budget, you know your salary, so if you want better soup go and borrow and make better soup but if you make better soup you have to pay. It is about doing your own domestic economy right. What is my income is what matters and what are my peoples most pressing needs in their certain areas, what I will call fundamentals, you first address them, then you come to areas of lesser demands.
For instance if the money you have; I am a very local economist in understanding my role. You see if you want to make soup with only N50, now if you want to make edikaikong or Onugbu soup, you need crayfish; you also need stockfish and something like bokoto. There are a number of things you can buy but repeating the same thing to be in different flavours. You know the meat the fish, crayfish and stockfish; these are what gives a lot of flavours to the soup and if you have your money you can make the soup, that is why they say good soup is made with money make am.
So if you want good soup and you have N50 then you go and borrow N20 again to make sure you make N70 soup, fair enough. You with your children know the flavour and delicacy and have a feast that day and after three weeks you have to find a way of paying back that money and also keep on feeding them because you know your income so if you spend your income in something superfluous then be prepared to face the consequences. So what I do is simply to provide the essentials to make you function, mentally alert and stabilise you and then from there on if you want something better, you can benchmark on it and the type of efforts you shall put to get you what you want and because it is going to be collective so you have to make some contributions, you must make some sacrifices to get that.
What procurement policy is operational in the State that is enabling you achieve what you have done and what is the project delivery timeline that delivers them within time and in good quality?
We have Director General of Due Process. He was in Due Process during the last government and I think the young man was very disciplined and very rigid and I think he was sacked, so when I came in as governor, it was the procurement law on Due process that was passed first and therefore if we are embarking on any project the consultants will look at it and then they give us what we call expected cost for the project and this is advertised and those who win the bid are given time frame to deliver. We don’t usually embark on a project unless we have the money. All are based on our income and if it is going to be completed in 18 months, we know how much we are going to put into that project and once we give you the work you dare not disappoint us no matter who you are. If you disappoint us, I will simply descend on you.
If you say in the process of getting the contract you gave anybody money, you tell me who you gave the money, so you do the bidding and get the job based on your competence based on what you submitted. So if we give you the job based on your bidding and you will deliver in 24 months, it must be finished within the 24 months and if there is any unforeseen circumstances, which we see as convincing, we may give you like two, three or four months. Our rate of completion of projects is almost 90 per cent. Almost everything we embarked upon we have finished.
You are known for not travelling outside your State, there are states with more allocations and yet they borrow and still do not have much they can point to as their accomplishment, what do you think is the problem in governance that makes infrastructure lacking in Nigeria and what is the way out?
You are the problem, the cynics; you don’t see anything good in public when they are holding office. It is you people. Look at your sweeping statement of governors, very sweeping. There is no way you can have the mandate of your people and then feel unconcerned about their welfare. You cannot claim to love your people more than he loves them, so each governor is doing his best within his own environment. In Nigeria we are faced with a lot of difficulties, religiously, culturally, tribally and a lot of things. So when one becomes a governor, there are a lot of things, which come into play. Sometimes the system will suck you into it. The system whether traditional, cultural or religious will just suck you into it.
Look, it is only in Nigeria that a former governor was convicted and sentenced and by the time he came out his people were there singing and jubilating. If you talk they will say ‘after all na our money e chop, wetin concern you’. So if he is not performing why do you blame the governor? If the people there conspire and take all the money from the governor, they know that, so the governor is innocent because the system there that has simply sucked him in because they took the money from the governor that is why they are defending, saying ‘don’t worry na our money e chop’. So you see, you have to understand the Nigerian intricacies, the Nigerian system. People in government house are just people like you, we didn’t come from heaven, we were picked from the same Nigerian environment, same culture, same tradition and the same system and made into governorship. Tomorrow if you are made a governor, wait and see how you perform before you talk.
If you are excusing such non-performance why are you working for your people and State?
What am I delivering?
Infrastructure, roads, estates, health and educational facilities and without borrowing...
Each governor is trying his best to serve his own people
What was the infrastructure that you saw the need to develop when you took over power and why?
You see, to me, when you talk about development it has to start somewhere. It is not something very abstract. So what are you developing, what are they for? To me the target is human being as the basis for development. Whatever I do is the people and for the effect to manifest in them. If I am giving a road, it is for you to have a driving comfort and it is for you and therefore the time you save, a journey you used to do in four hours before, you now do it in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, then you will use about three hours to do something else.
If you are talking about education, it is supposed to bring the best of human dignity out of you, an ideal human being. Very kind, humane, responsible, appreciative, who is willing to go the extra mile for a fellow human being; it is not all about certificates, what you hang on your neck like a gold necklace. The education must redefine you as human being to make you say yes, you see your fellow human being as yourself and when you see agony it is something you will be able to understand and feel worried about that and what you have to do to address it.
If you see someone living a better life, it will make you want to rise to that point but not with envy or malice. Jealousy for improvement not for what destroys. In education, it makes you conscious of yourself and your environment and then gives you that level of humanity or human dignity. Now if we are rich in this world and we will become like an ass, it will become ornaments, so whatever I do in Jigawa State in the end must be able to reflect on the faces and lives of the people. If I provide water, it is to make you healthy and live clean. Clean your body and yourself. Even washing oneself is a culture so that is why even people who live near a river can still be very dirty; so the water has a purpose, I mean it. If I am talking about agriculture, it will give you the kind of food and energy to make sure you are able to carry out your duties. To me development is anchored on the human person. That is my parameter that is my philosophy. I build a road, yes, it is for the purpose, education is for the purpose environment, everything for a decent human being.
All these are there for the people and that is why you don’t see people vandalising power line or excavating water pipes because they know it is for them, if you destroy the power line you will not have light and if you destroy the water pipe, you won’t have water. They monitor it closely because it is for them.
What has happened to some programmes of your predecessor like the gum Arabic that was to be your black gold and the Information and Communication Technology he had in place?
If you are governor for eight years, there is no how you can fail to make something positive for the people, it is not possible. But then it is the way it was being driven that is the issue. If you talk about gum Arabic, by the time I came I should have been able to see the plantations, they were not there. If you are talking about ICT, you see of course it is a new thing in the world, what they call world software but then what we had in Kazaure was a franchised kind of thing just like the old GBO or UAC that were not owned by Nigerians.
It is just like going to open a grocery shop maybe in Niger and you send your boy there and at the end of the month he will give you the account. So the ICT was a franchise belonging to some companies in Malaysia. They came here, we gave them the building of the schools, we got the schools equipped, we pay the teachers, when they are going on leave we pay for all their facilities, they collect all the fees, and take them to their own country. There was no law in place either regulating or governing that school in Kazaure neither was it approved by the National Board for Technical Education, so it was just an enterprise, someone coming to sell his own wares here. I said look, let me see the agreement.
At the end of the day I learnt we paid about $4 million to the parent company in Malaysia whereby the students after obtaining a diploma here they will go there for a degree course but we found out that that money was really meant for something else. It is just like the sugar factory, when I came here it was just like almost 95 per cent fully paid for but it was only 10 per cent work that was on the ground. So the same thing was happening all over but where I found his programme relevant, what I did was to get it reinvigorated to give it all the effect of law and order to give it force of law and in the end it must serve Jigawa people, not only conduit pipes for siphoning money.
Now if you go to Kazaure Informatics, it has been transformed, totally transformed and recognised in Nigeria. Before now they were not recognised in Nigeria; so in every other aspect all he did maybe they were ANPP philosophy to dream things and keep them hanging. In PDP we dream things and we drop them on the ground for you to see. So I did not totally abandon all he started, there are some, which I kind of reorganised and gave them the effect of law and they have been able to serve the people of Jigawa State and for that I thank him. Before I came in they served purpose focus, just like private enterprises swindling our own money.
You are governing a State that is surrounded by Yobe, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina and an international border and we are not hearing of bomb blasts here like your neighbours, what did you to achieve that?
You know the story of that prophet that was put into the fire by the king and God made the fire to turn into a cool temperature, not too severe to be able to harm the prophet. We do pray a lot in Jigawa and we thank God for His power to preserve us. Anything I say in terms of my own personal effort is not it; it is simple by the grace of Allah and we are very grateful.
Can you trace your political trajectory to where you are today? How did you start as a politician, what were the things you encountered to be where you are?
If I tell you, you will not believe it. Between 1973 and 1977 I was in Lagos as General Manager of a company. It was during the era of Gowon and Mallam Aminu Kano was a Commissioner under Gowon and these NEPU stalwarts would go to Lagos to meet him and we happen to live near each other. My flat was near his own, there was this type of flat we used to live in Lagos and after the meetings they come to me and we talk about a lot of things. Every now and then they used to talk about Mallam Aminu Kano and politics. I was ambivalent and indifferent and I just found the topic nauseating about all those personalities. I now said what is all these about Mallam Aminu Kano, but I had no interest whatsoever. I remained unmoved, One day one Mallam Damazo, he is now dead who was very close to Mallam Aminu Kano, he said look Sule from the way you are, your behaviour and the way I look at you I foresee someone who is going to plunge into politics and that I can see a fanatic, someone who is going to be rigid when he takes a position and I said okay.
He said from your general character you are going to be extremely fanatical about it, you are going to be terribly rigid and you are going to head for crisis and I just laughed because as far as I was concerned he was just talking bunkum, so by the time I finished in Lagos in 1978 by then, the ban on politics was lifted. I later was in Kano and again my neighbour was a NEPU stalwart and they were always coming for their own meetings in his house. I will just laugh at them and then go away. He told me again and said Sule, I thought you were going to join us and I said who, join you?
Somehow, one Friday morning I woke up and felt I will go into politics. So I told my neighbour and said look, I am going into politics, and how do I do it and he said you are already doing it and that is how it started just like that. But you see, I have some ideas in life because of my background and my upbringing and there are some things, which I cannot simply stomach. There are things I cannot simply tolerate and it does not matter who you are there are so many things I cannot just tolerate, even if you have the power to persecute, I have been brought up to believe in me in what I believe in, I only submit to superior argument but if you want emotions and sentiments, you just disgust me.
I want something that can challenge me, to engage me, so when you start to engage me by emotion, by blackmail, you are taking away my human dignity, you are subordinating me into a sub human. That is all that is how I have come up to this place as a governor.
When you came in newly there was this social course you put in place for the talakawas, tell us how far you have gone about it?
Do you know the meaning of talaka? Talaka in the actual meaning of the word is somebody who is not from a ruling class. But then, its political meaning is that somebody who is subhuman, somebody who is owned by leadership, therefore has no rights and privileges, so it is a political term for use to appeal to those who are oppressed to rise and defend themselves. Talakawas is a term used to just to bring in ordinary people, the peasants, artisans, the carpenters, shoe makers the cow tenders and all kinds of trades came to narrate to me their own experiences and watched them form as the larger part of the State to say what they feel. It is just like what I may say is a watershed, governance and government is being approached arising from peoples testimonies. What we are doing here are what people came here to tell us about five years ago, narrating their own lives, how they live it as carpenters, as farmers who are trying to make a living decently and were admired by a system.
There has been this issue of vehicles with your presidential campaign poster with Amaechi for 2015, are you really looking towards the presidency in 2015?
You see, when it comes to cynics, people are being very cynical, people are being very mischievous. When I am asked this question, I take my time to answer it, you know, I don’t play into the hands of those cynics in terms of what they think I am. I have never seen those vehicles in my life, I have never seen them, so I don’t know who is behind them, that is one. Number two, I went somewhere one day I just saw one sticker in a car, so this thing I have no idea who are doing it. Now regarding my own personal ambition, my aspiration, in my political culture and in my upbringing, nothing about something which is so public if is so public and you are part of it you try to do it but it is not for you to come and say I want to because that is to show my greed and my lack of decency and courtesy by trying to say I want to take something which is for the public with or without their consent, so I don’t end up competing for it, because I think it is a bit indecent, by my culture you don’t say I want this.
Thirdly, I come from a political party called PDP which has rules and regulations, which has structures and which is created for the Nigerian people to be able to lead Nigerians and therefore it is the PDP itself which will give us a candidate whether Mr. A or B or C. Nobody who has been there, is there now knew that he would be there, including Obasanjo, so you don’t come out and say you want to be Nigerian President because in PDP we abhor that kind of thing because the party was not formed for you. The party was formed for Nigerians and Nigeria’s interest and therefore what we do is what do we give Nigeria for Nigeria. It is for the party to say.
And if they say it is you sir...?
PDP as a political party in this country was formed with a clear mission. It was not formed for any person, Nigerians, so stop making this issue of presidency personal formed it, it is not a personal thing. The PDP is a party with a system that produces leaders whether it is councillor, House of Assembly member, Chairman, Governor and by the time they say it is Mr, A, if you feel you are being denied that is your problem but at the end it is Nigeria we are giving the State to, not you.
Before one can be picked by PDP the person has to express interest...
The person has to pick form...
No. You see, as a political party, there is culture and tradition, how to do things. Late Umar Musa Yar’Adua never came out, Jonathan never came out, and Obasanjo didn’t come out. Because it is a huge party which looks at Nigeria as a country with various cultures and therefore work on a kind of consensus, what do we give Nigeria first, not what do we give you as an individual. We are not giving you, we are giving Nigerian people. We have this law of working out a consensus on who is occupying it, Mr. A or B. And by the time it is done, everybody agrees.
Unto those who are out there hoping that Alhaji Sule Lamido of Jigawa State is coming out for Presidency, what message do you have for them?
I am flattered. We are 160 million Nigerians and they are talking about me, oh it is flattering.
If PDP now gives you the power to be President what would be your area of concentration to make Nigeria work?
That is what I said, it is not Sule. When I came in Jigawa State it was in the Assembly of all Jigawa indigenes where we discussed issues. Sule is coming from a political party who know how to handle the problems, well versed in handling Nigeria’s difficulties. Being the person only makes you head the government, it doesn’t confer you any extra kind of talent or gift to make you deliver Nigeria, no, because when you are there, it is not you but a congress of the entire system of the PDP which will make you function, it is not me.
Have you suffered any form of repression based on the feelings that you want to be President, maybe due to clash of different interests?
I am simply irrepressible, nobody can repress me, nobody.
But has there been any attempt?
Feel free to attempt, to either cow me or blackmail me or harass me, that is your problem, that one na you sabi. I fear no foe in my life I fear nobody.
The governors’ forum which you are part of has been accused of becoming dictatorial and even harassing the higher executive, what is your view about it?
I just feel really sad, and do you know why? You form political party and then you campaign and in each election you put your best material in your area, correct? For councillor you put your best material in your constituency, for chairmanship you put your best, for House of Assembly same thing, for House of Representatives, for Senate and for governorship you put your best and also in the president you put your best. Now this thing you so laboured to build are things you want to destroy? What do you mean they are too powerful? You want us to be weak?
But it is being said that the Governors’ Forum is threatening the party and Presidency...
We are a creation of the party. Are you saying the party should be weak? So also are the Governors.
If you say we are too powerful, whom do you want to lead the party? And you know Governors are elected with all the powers and you say we should be weak, if we are weak would we be able to produce Jonathan? Didn’t we produce him? We assembled at Eagles Square didn’t we? We assembled there at Eagles square for a single declaration, it is the governors. Now if we are weak will people believe in us, when it came to the primaries they were all there, Atiku but the governors said vote Mr. A and they voted. You see people who have seen a system as a huge industry for them, not a system of service and because they see it as an industry they want it privatised. But let me tell you one thing, the governors are powerful and we will remain powerful. Governors are extremely powerful; we are very powerful and will remain powerful.
The Governor’s are calling for a review of the revenue sharing formula; do you agree that there is need for a review of the formula?
If there is any need to fight for more revenue, it is the present situation where the governors are virtually paying for everything. They have the armed forces with their budget, the Nigeria police with their budget, Immigration and all the paramilitary forces with their budgets but the burden is on the States. Some governors even buy helicopter gunship, some are buying armoured vehicles for the police and the army, we buy them vehicles, we fuel them to see the wisdom or rational in getting more money.
What percentage should the revenue formula be pegged at and it will be good?
To me the State government own the land and most of these heads are concurrent outside the armed forces, we do on agriculture, it should be State’ on roads it should be State. Some of these roads the federal government has spent so much money but it seems no money is spent because you can see the condition of those roads, they have been like that for the for the last 20 years. You are in Jigawa, look at the federal government roads; they are the worst in Nigeria. I have been screaming about it for the last four years. Today in Jigawa, if you see any terrible road it belongs to the federal government, not my own road so with the money I can also build it.
I cannot give you a figure; it is the consideration of what the actual things are on ground that will determine that. If you take off agriculture and if you take off a number of things. If you are devolving power to the States then they should be able to give us the resources to address it.
What of State Police?
State police is very emotive and controversial depending on where you are. Because it is so emotional, it has taken away even the rational for analysis. No point going into it.
What do you think is the strongest factor militating against development in Nigeria?
You and I
Because what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong, we know it.
So you don’t believe corruption is a problem?
You and I are doing the corruption. It is not something that works on its own, it is something that we put in our pockets, so don’t take it and don’t give.
Do you think the arrest of your son at the airport over money laundering was linked to the said ambition you were said to be nursing for 2015?
Honestly I have no view about this one. But $40,000, which they said he was laundering for me; laundering means taking money to go and hide and I don’t think it is proper for me to send my son to go and hide $40,000, I don’t think it is very profitable. How many trips of that would be able to make enough money? So to me it is very absurd thing, very absurd. I got this question from Voice of America, why are you sending your son abroad for treatment? Why can’t you do it here, is it not a mark of failure of your government? I said well you might say so, yes. But I said in the last five years people have come to me from people who are in desperate need, others for heart transplant, others for kidney transplant, a number of things and they come to my table and I sort them out for either Egypt or India, others America and some of them I spend as much as N9 million for them, so spending N5 million for my son; if I spend for others I don’t see any crime in spending for my son for treatment.
Then for whatever reason, would $40,000 restore Nigeria’s economy? Lets us see how it will do that.
What type of State would you want to bequeath to your successor?
Leave that for the person coming after me.