By Mansur Ahmed
It is about 132 days to next year’s presidential election. But it is less than 24 hours to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary, holding in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Owing largely to the failings of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration, which happened by accident about four years ago, Nigerians are understandably looking in the direction of the opposition PDP for succour.
If the party fails at the convention, God forbid, Nigerians and the party will have to endure another four years of pain and the bastardisation of the country’s socio-economic and political lifestyle.
There are 12 presidential aspirants. But only one man will pick the ticket. In deciding who to pick, PDP delegates must take into cognisance our heritage and our history. Where we are coming from and where we are headed.
While it is true that it is not all those who participate in a struggle that ultimately benefit from it, there is nothing wrong if a survivor of a struggle turns out to be a beneficiary, especially when such a beneficiary did not set out from day one to benefit from the struggle. It is in this context that the past struggles of Alhaji Sule Lamido and his quest for the PDP’s presidential ticket is situated.
The fact that Lamido declared his desire to govern a country on a platform that was at the time enmeshed in crisis of confidence, when other members of the party were deserting it, shows his implicit faith in the PDP. When together with Sen. lorchia Ayu, Prof. Jerry Gana late Chief Alex. Ekwueme, late Mallam Adamu Ciroma, late Chief Solomon Lar, late Chief Bola Ige, late Sen. Ellah, and late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, they confronted late Gen.Sani Abacha on the need to vacate the stage and allow democracy to flourish, Lamido, perhaps never knew a day like this will come. Himself and Rimi were picked and locked up in DSS cells, in Ilorin and Maiduguri respectively. They were only released after the sudden demise of the late Head of State.
When then President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in, in 1999, he met a country that was a pariah nation and within two years in office, with Lamido as his Foreign Minister, the status was reversed.
In Africa, Nigeria together with South Africa and Algeria formed a formidable tripod that gave Africa direction in the comity of nations. In the West African sub region, political stability was restored.
An important landmark of Lamido’s legacy that benefits the oil reproducing states in particular, and other states and the country in general, was in the areas of maritime bilateral agreements between Nigeria and the states of Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe which stopped Cameroon’s prayer before the ICJ for the maritime delimitation of its territory with Nigeria when Equatorial Guinea intervened by presenting those agreements entered into before the court. But for these agreements, maybe, part of Nigeria territorial waters would have gone to Cameroon and with it loss of hydro carbon and other economic benefits.
As governor, his works stand out! It is not possible for one to travel to Jigawa State today, without Lamido’s exploits in the place catching one’s attention. That was why he was referred to as a good “Repairer,” and that his type was needed to fix and restore Nigeria. It was to his administration’s credit that President Muhammadu Buhari was saved the stress of having to travel by road or hopping on a chopper to Dutse from Kano, during the president’s state visit recently. President Buhari landed on an airport built from the scratch by the Lamido’s administration. The runways and equipment are of international standards and are far better than most airports in the country. He also built a full-fledged state university and an academy for the gifted, whose students have been making waves in WAEC and JAMB examinations.
Talk of politics of principle, apart from him and a few others during their time in the 80’s, no politician has ever resigned his elective position in government after defecting to a party other than the one on whose platform one was first elected. Lamido, late Rimi and their group did it after defecting from PRP to the NPP.
Ironically, it is this same principle that is responsible for his criminal prosecution today. He was seen as a good material for 2015, but Lamido thinks otherwise. According to him, denying the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, a second term ticket was tantamount to passing a vote of no confidence in the president, insisting that no serious party does that. But those working for the government then were uncomfortable with him. That is why, each time he is asked about his case, he tells you it was a fallout of the ‘civil war’ within the PDP in the build up to the 2015 election. And that is the genesis of the EFCC case. Otherwise, how can a governor’s son launder just $30, 000 for the father? How can a governor’s son travelling with his wife and daughter for the daughter’s medical treatment be arrested for money laundering? I leave you to interrogate that.
Several investigations on finances of Jigawa were carried out with the sole aim of getting Lamido prosecuted, but they could not find any fault.
Disappointed, they went into forensic transactions of companies that were working for Jigawa state and found two or three that did some transactions with two or three companies whose directors are Lamido’s sons. But they would not file criminal charges against him because he stood his ground of not contesting against President Goodluck in the PDP or jumping ship to contest under a different political party. Unfortunately for Lamido, his party lost not only his state but the presidential election despite all his campaigns, to the displeasure of the APC.
The APC government not caring that during the campaigns, Sule Lamido’s factory in Kano was burnt down, took him as its number one enemy using the purported investigation reports it inherited. But none of the charges alleged that Lamido and his sons took any money from Jigawa State coffers, none of the charges alleged Lamido gave his children contracts as government’s publicity against him showed, rather the essential elements of the charges alleged that Lamido as Governor, influenced some two or three private companies to award contracts to two or three companies whose directors are himself and his sons. But they are telling Nigerians that Lamido and sons milked Jigawa dry, just to make them look like common criminals. Today, the case had gone before not less than five Judges with elaborate publicity but less evidence. If Sule Lamido and his sons indeed milked Jigawa dry, as was being insinuated, will there have been money to build the gigantic infrastructure put in place in Jigawa by his administration?
The point I am driving home, especially to the PDP delegates in particular, and Nigerians in general, is, do not be deceived, his trial, though sad, does not in any way inhibit him from flying the party’s ticket if he is found suitable, capable and courageous enough to confront the APC machinery. The APC is obviously praying for a push over as candidate. The constitutional provisions regarding a citizen’s eligibility to contest are all spelt out and Lamido has not breached any of them by his trial.
Talking prosecution, Lamido should take solace in the fact that he is not alone in this persecution and prosecution games currently going on. The list is long: Sen. Bukola Saraki, Dalhatu Bafarawa and Sen. David Mark, who shortly before he declared to run for the office of President, was a guest of the EFCC. Atiku Abubakar’s several proactive court appearances made nonsense of all efforts to persecute him. Thank God, Lamido did not collect the campaign fund, for which some are standing trial till date. Regardless, no one on earth can change destiny.
Ahmed, writes from Abuja.