Former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, was last week at THISDAY’s Corporate Head Office in Apapa, Lagos, where he fielded questions from the Board of Editors. Segun James presents the excerpts:
You have been out of power for over one year now. Give us your view of the last one year and what happened to the PDP after 16 years in government?
You tell me. The PDP governed Nigeria for 16 years, and as you said; why was it defeated? It is you that should tell us.
Maybe you failed the country that is why you were defeated?
Then why are you asking me?
Tell us why you failed
We thought we were doing the right thing in government for 16 years, but the people thought otherwise. What do you think we have done wrong? You tell me. I was there as a governor. You have judged me. I was striving for you, but you think otherwise, so what do you think has gone wrong?
The people believed you didn’t perform as expected and they needed a change, so they voted you out?
Now that you have gotten the change, can now compare and contrast? Compare what you were then and what you are now.
In the last one year, another government has been in power what is your opinion of the government?
It wasn’t for me to. I was in government. It is not for me to assess the government now in power. It is you the people that must make that assessment. Tell me, how do I assess somebody, who removed me? How? It is not my duty to assess my successor. It is the duty of Nigerians.
But you are also a Nigerian?
I am a Nigerian, who was given the opportunity to run the country for 16 years. Now, I am out of power. That is my position for now.
You have participated in politics for many years, what is your opinion of the state of the political parties in Nigeria.
Well, this is a very important question. I belong to the traditional old school of politics. Politics that is anchored on tradition and culture, that started from the time of Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Zik. However, over the years, there has been some truncation in the process, especially in the process of political party formation and management.
Our founding fathers had visions for this country but since the 1966 coup, we have moved from one crisis to crisis including a civil war. The coming of the military created some disconnect between the old school of political thinking and the new system. Today, in Nigeria, politics is a bit different. It is more like an industry. There is difficulty in really saying what has gone wrong. My thinking maybe a little bit different, I may not be in sync with the modern generation. I am old vision and analogue. I am just trying to see if I can fit in.
In the run up to the presidential election, you did describe the APC as a fraud and you pointedly said the party was going nowhere. Do you still mean it?
Is it going anywhere now? I am asking you, is it?
But now, the party that was going nowhere and an amalgamation of strange bedfellows is able to get you out of power, and it appears to be very popular right now?
Well, it is the change, isn’t it? But, and I’m being very honest with you, APC is not a political party. It’s a party that does not have a history and was formed only for specific history. The key APC players today had no role in this democracy. In 1999, they were nowhere in Nigeria. They could not even speak. Anybody in APC today is harvesting on what the PDP has been able to produce in the last 17 years.
When the PDP was formed in 1998, we assessed the situation. We asked ourselves and asked the question: what do we do to give Nigerians a sense of belonging and heal the wound of the past? We said our president must come from the South-west because the Yoruba people have been aggrieved since the annulment of the June 12 election. Even the APP and the AD did the same thing. It was meant to heal our wounds. So, those who are now in the APC, where were they at the beginning? We have made our mistakes and realised it.
What I think is that a formation called the APC, which I call a formation of hate, envy and frustration should not be in government, but today they are now in government. From all indications, the APC was not prepared. Without the five governors that joined the APC from PDP, they couldn’t have won. The five governors joined the APC after it has been formed. They cross-fertilised and produced a PDP child. If Chief Oyegun said PDP is a part of sinners, then, the APC is a creation of sinners.
Minus the PDP members in the APC, they couldn’t have won the last election. Since 1999, no other party could remove the PDP. It was after the APC had been formed and they realised that they could not remove the PDP that they came to cross-fertilise with the PDP. But today, the APC is more divided than even the PDP. They are divided along religion and ethnic lines.
So, I don’t the APC which is a child of the PDP can function properly. Because its formation was has no root. It is a formation which has no particular political philosophy. It has no appeal beyond assuaging the Nigerian anger. By the time you use the anger in blackmail and then it is over, what next?
You were part of the new PDP…
There was no new PDP my friend.
Okay, you were part of the governors that left the PDP. Also, at that time, you had problems with President Jonathan towards the end of his government, is the level of corruption in that government as great as it is being portrayed now by the new government and what led to the crisis in the PDP?
The seven governors were worried that the PDP was being run as a personal estate by Bamanga Tukur. The national executive committee of the party was supposed to hold quarterly, but under Tukur, it was never held for a whole year. That was the beginning of the problems. What we were saying was that the PDP has a constitution and that it should be run based on that. But if someone is trying to manipulate it and he emerges wrongly, the PDP will have problems. So, we went to our leaders including Obasanjo and Gen. Gowon to come and save us because the way the party was going, the government was going to crash.
And if it crashes, the alternative is going to be different for Nigerians. We had been on this before the APC was formed and after they were formed, they came to meet us and said they wanted us to join them. Then I called on my fellow governors and said look, why are we fighting? What are the issues that we cannot solve that we must join the APC? So, I said I was not going. I don’t think it was right for us to join the APC.
Tell me, how do we move to a party that has been accusing and vilifying you? They moved. To me, they were pursuing something ephemeral. It is not based on principle. So, I stayed back in the PDP despite the persecution. I was a member of the G-9 and later the G-34 that formed the PDP. So, where do I go? How do I renounce myself? How do I crawl out of my skin for you to confer your skin on me? How do I renounce my history? Why would I go to a party that is vilifying me, abusing me, and calling me a thief? This party and country has dignified me. It has given me a chance to grow, how do I denounce my history to move to a party that has vilified me and calling me a thief?
You have only answered one leg of the question. Were you aware of the monumental corruption that typified the Jonathan government, including the atrocities that were perpetrated with subsidy?
On the issue of corruption, have you heard my name called? It automatically means that I am not aware. But the truth is this: there was this money they called excess fund, which they claimed for subsidy. We said no to subsidy because by Nigerian constitution, all monies made by the country must be shared monthly. The word excess was a misnomer.
What I think is that a formation called the APC, which I call a formation of hate, envy and frustration should not be in government, but today they are now in government. From all indications, the APC was not prepared. Without the five governors that joined the APC from PDP, they couldn’t have won. The five governors joined the APC after it has been formed. They cross-fertilised and produced a PDP child. If Chief Oyegun said PDP is a part of sinners, then, the APC is a creation of sinners