• Says he’s available for the presidency • PDP fixes fresh convention for August 17 in Port Harcourt
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos
Former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, has said the reason the All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by President Muhamadu Buhari is unable to function properly is because the formation of the ruling party was not based on any sound ideology, but out of frustration, bitterness and divisive politics.
The former governor, who made this assertion when he visited THISDAY’s corporate head office in Apapa, Lagos, yesterday also did not conceal his desire to contest for the presidency in 2019, when he said he would not say no to such an offer should his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), deem it fit to field him for the nation’s top job.
Insisting that the APC was not designed to function properly, Lamido described the party as an amalgam of strange bedfellows, cautioning that the crisis currently plaguing it could undo the Buhari government soon.
Asked if his current trial would not stand between him and his aspiration, the former Jigawa governor said as long as God wills, no man, no matter how hard he tries, can stop God from doing that which he chooses to do.
“The APC has failed woefully and miserably,” he proclaimed, adding that though the Buhari government was prosecuting those it likes, “in the next three years, those being sheltered, protected and favoured against those who are now being seen as human things instead of human beings – their activities would be looked into by another government”.
He insisted that no government was clean and that after four years in government, the Buhari government might not be found to be too clean if searchlights are beamed on the activities of the government while in power.
He said contrary to the impression being created by the president, corruption was endemic in the country by the military, adding that most of the stupendously rich Nigerians are either retired or serving military officers.
Lamido, who traced the history of corruption in the country to the time of the military interregnum, reiterated that no government in Nigeria was clean, “even this government, after four years and you go through what they did, you will be surprised”.
He said it was the reason most of the mind boggling amounts of money stolen during civilian governments were perpetrated by serving or ex-military men.
“Yet, we the politicians are the ones maligned as corrupt. Corruption is not a civilian culture, it is a culture instituted by the military,” he said.
Lamido, who fielded question from THISDAY Board of Editors, insisted that whosoever is found to be corrupt should face the music, but cautioned that not all monies used by government could be accounted for or was corruptly diverted.
The former governor traced the problem of the PDP to discontent among the party leadership over the way it is being run, a situation he claimed led to the exit of the party’s five governors in 2013, who later played pivotal roles in the emergence of the APC and the Buhari government.
Lamido disclosed that the crisis that led to the exit of the governors was based purely on principle, but “I didn’t leave the PDP because it was not right to do so. It is like renouncing myself, even if I want to, I couldn’t”.
“The party and the country have dignified me. How do I renounce my history?” he asked.
Lamido said the crisis currently rocking the PDP would soon be over, saying if the APC goes through one per cent of the problems that the PDP had been through, it would collapse.
Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP has fixed August 17 as the date to hold a fresh national convention to elect new national officers of the party.
The party, which is making some progress at ending the crisis that has engulfed it, said the venue of the fresh national convention would still be Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
However, just as the national caucus meeting of the party got underway yesterday, one of the major members of the factional group and a chieftain of the PDP from the South-west, Senator Buruji Kashamu, stormed the venue to declare his support for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led committee.
The chairman of the committee, Makarfi, who addressed journalists shortly after the end of the national caucus meeting held at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, said the party leaders had also resolved that since the next presidential candidate was to come from the north, the national chairmanship position would now be zoned to the south.
He said the caretaker committee would within the next 48 hours constitute a zoning committee to further handle the zoning of other national offices of the party in line with the constitution of party.
“We discussed some programmes leading to the convention, meaning that the national convention will hold on August 17 where we will elect new national executive officers of the party,” he said.
Makarfi also said that the meeting resolved to propose four different amendments to the party’s constitution to align with recent court judgments.
“We have also discussed and agreed on new amendments to the constitution in view of recent court judgments in order to align the constitution with the judgments that have been delivered by courts of competent jurisdiction.
“Equally, we received reports of reconciliation. You can see by yourself our brothers, friends and associates, Senator Buruji Kashamu.
“That is evidence of the reconciliation making progress and I can assure you that we will never foreclose full reconciliation with Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and any other person that may still be associated with him.
“What we want is an all inclusive PDP. An equitable, fair and just system in the PDP, where the rights of everyone commensurate with their own level is protected and preserved.
“We equally have set up a special committee led by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to further cement the reconciliation within the South-west so that all issues that must have led to the division in the zone would be resolved accordingly,” he explained.
On the new zoning arrangement, Makarfi said: “We also discussed about zoning. Within the next few days, a committee will be set up on zoning.
“The (last) convention had set aside the previous zoning arrangement, so a new zoning arrangement is required and we have agreed that within the next 48 hours, this committee should be put in place and given a week to come up with a new zoning arrangement.
“But of course taking a cue from the decision taken at the last Port Harcourt convention that the president will come from the north is incontrovertible and that the chairman of the party will come from the south, and these will be open to all and not confined to any geopolitical zone or state in the south.”
The chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin, who also spoke to journalists after the meeting, said that as part of efforts at reconciliation, he and some other leaders of the party spent the better part of Wednesday night and up till 4 a.m. yesterday discussing reconciliation with Sheriff.
He said that the fact that a member of the Sheriff camp and someone of Senator Buruji’s stature accepted to rejoin the mainstream PDP and support the caretaker committee was a clear sign that the crisis in the party was coming to an end.
Among those who attended the meeting were Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Dairus Ishaku (Taraba), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Deputy Senate President Ekwerenmadu, Senators Andy Uba and Jonah Jang, Jerry Gana, Adolph Wagbara, Tom Ikimi and Atanatius Achaleonu.
Others included a former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Uche Secondus, Prof. Rufai Akali, Bode George, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Amassador Wilberforce Juta, Senator Kashamu and Senator Ibrahim Mantu.