•Former gov says ruling party has divided Nigeria
•Interim chairman explains no presidential aspiration being considered for now
•Akande dismisses membership revalidation, registration as wasteful exercise
By Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Emma Okonji and Nosa Alekhuogie in Lagos
A former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, yesterday rebuked governors of All Progressives Congress (APC) that are said to be pushing for former President Goodluck Jonathan to run in 2023 on their party’s platform, saying they are a bunch of hypocrites.
But the ruling party’s interim chairman, Yobe State Governor Mala Buni, refuted the speculation about Jonathan, explaining that the party has nothing like that on its agenda.
Lamido, a former presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, spoke yesterday while fielding questions on The Morning Show, the breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.
The subterranean moves by APC to draft the former president into the next presidential race became public in November 2020 when a delegation of APC governors, led by Buni, stormed the Abuja home of Jonathan to felicitate with him on his 63rd birthday anniversary.
Besides Buni, others on the delegation were Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, who recently defected to the APC from the PDP; Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, and a former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani.
Sources had told THISDAY that the governors used the opportunity of the birthday visit to subtly present their proposal to Jonathan to run in 2023.
Lamido accused the ruling party of entrenching the culture of hatred and divisions among Nigerians.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to choose between unity and hatred in the forthcoming elections, saying the PDP represents a united Nigeria, development, security and progress.
He said: “The years of the APC have brought hatred among Nigerians – a divided Nigeria full of insecurity – with a culture of hate. What the APC says in the North is different from what it says in the South. APC is a party of double-talks. In the North, the APC has brought divisions among father and son and families.
“Before the APC, Nigerians were united, but look at what it has done to a once united country. Before the APC, Nigerians were living in brotherly and sisterly lifestyles. Look at the level of insecurity now. Look at the hatred in the country.”
Lamido faulted the APC’s moves to draft the former president into the 2023 race, wondering why the party would be clamouring for the return of a man it had described as “weak and clueless” and has spent the better part of its years in power demonising.
“To me, I think that they are being merely hypocrites. They (APC governors) are looking for him; is it because there are no presidential materials in the APC? This is one of the heights of hypocrisy,” he stated.
On zoning in the 2023 presidential election, Lamido expressed hope that the PDP will address the matter when the time comes.
He said: “If you go for zoning, I am prepared for it. I may offer myself but I will abide by the decision of my party.
“Again, if it is for merit, I will put myself forward. If it is for merit and quality, I will wait for the decision of my party. I believe in collectivity as a party man. But for competency, let the party choose the best.”
Speaking on how to tackle the insecurity in the country, particularly the herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, Lamido urged Yoruba leaders that foisted President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians to look for solutions with the president.
He said: “I support the Northern Elders Forum that there is no need evicting the Fulani from the South as it is an evil wind that will blow the nation no good. Let those that brought Buhari on us speak to him on the solution; after all, they brought him as the president.”
When asked to name those that brought Buhari to power, Lamido said: “The Tinubus, Fasholas and the Osinbajos. They came with their propaganda. Those who brought President Buhari should speak out now.”
Reacting to the clamour for restructuring, he said he is a pan-Nigerian, explaining that the present agitation in the country is basically a product of bad governance.
He said: “PDP was in government for 16 years and they left behind good development, growth and security, but with just five years of the APC, see the mess the country is in.
“In the next general election, the choice before Nigerians is to choose between good and bad; between the APC that is sowing division and hatred and the PDP. The choice is for Nigerians to make, not me. I’m a pan-Nigerian.”
Lamido also called for collaboration from all Nigerians in order to effectively address the country’s major challenges such as insecurity and lack of trust.
He insisted that the APC has brought so much hatred and division to Nigeria, adding that the antidote for healing is trust through collective collaboration.
“Banditry in the North has caused a lot of havoc to the people and Nigerians should see the challenge of insecurity as a collective challenge that needs collaboration of all Nigerians to address,” he said.
However, the APC has denied widespread insinuations that it is planning to field Jonathan as its candidate in the 2023 presidential election.
Buni told the BBC Hausa Service yesterday that there was nothing like courtship in the matter as politics is all about actual talking.
He said: “Those peddling such information, they are afraid. But for now, there is nothing in the APC which has anything to do with the aspiration for 2023.
“Even if someone wants to base assumption on our recent visit to him during his birthday, we were there because of his capacity as a former president of Nigeria.
“Again, even if there is nothing, when we are talking of peaceful coexistence, we must give credit to former President Jonathan on the issue of peace – how he accepted defeat in 2015 and resigned to fate. That has qualified him to be a statesman and he is now among our fathers.”
Buni said it is customary to visit one another and exchange pleasantries.
He added: “Our visit to Jonathan was pronounced because of his status as a former president. That could be why some may think there was something beneath.
“There are numerous of such visits to leaders of PDP and APC. Why are others not being mentioned but Jonathan?”
When asked whether the APC would support Jonathan if he indicates interest in the 2023 race, Buni said that would be a new discussion, entirely.
“Even in America where we got this democracy, I’ve not seen where people are being confined to a limit,” he stated.
Asked whether the APC is still indecisive on Jonathan, Buni said: “You are talking of democracy and at the same time talking of giving him. Don’t forget even when President Buhari went to revalidate party membership in Daura, he said it is the people at the grassroots that will select leaders upwards. That no one should expect to be crowned from Abuja. This has shown that in APC now, it is from the lower level upwards. Not that people would be imposed from the top.
“Then who are we to say we are considering Jonathan? How? It has to be a party affair and once it is a party affair, then we are talking about the people. So, we have nothing like that on our agenda. What we have now, and is of importance to us, is to ensure peace amongst party members. Also, to bring members of other political parties, whichever party it might be, whoever wants, should come into the APC. This is our plan for now.
“We are yet to start talking about aspirants; we are not in any discussion about aspirants.”