Lamido: Buhari Has Failed Nigerians

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, in this  interview with Chuks Okocha, speaks about the security challenges facing the nation as well as the chances of the PDP in the forthcoming presidential election

Religion has taken over politics, instead of ideas on how to better and improve welfare of the people. I ask this question in view of the APC all Muslim ticket.

In today’s Nigeria, anything is feasible. People can conceive anything because I think we have lost our bearing. There are institutions, like religion that we hold dear which we should hold with respect as a people.

But with  the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari, everything has changed. The first time he ventured into politics, was on religion basis. This was the time he talked about religion in politics and since then, it has now become the norm,  maybe third force of our politics. Because in pursuing their desires, lust for power, they can do anything to manipulate anything and deploy anything.

Who do you blame? Why  Buhari?

I blame Buhari, Because his entire campaigns was purely religion. There was a time Buhari in Sokoto talked  about religion being the third force in Nigeria politics. Because he appeals to a particular kind of constituency, instead of ideas. Political campaign should be on national issues which appeal to the people. But for Buhari, he will use religion and insult people.

That is why in campaign, people like Pantami cry on the pulpit. He cried. PDP is everything evil. PDP are the ones that caused agony and pains to Nigeria. Muslims have been persecuted and so on. He said so. He was even crying on a national television. And even these Mallams in Sokoto, will push religion up for Buhari as a political vehicle. He said so.

Today’s political environment has become essentially an arena for political religion and anybody could do anything to promote anything. That is why Tinubu in his own drama went and hired Bishops. And you saw what happened. So when you diminish political ideology and you replace it with emotional thing like religion, then the country will not be safe. That is our problem today. Because whatever you do today would be seen from the prism of religion.

In 1979,  we went through a lot of crisis but nobody talk about tribalism. Shagari was a ticket holder for the NPN,  Awolowo had a ticket for the UPN and  Zik was a ticket holder for the NPP .. And all these were balanced. You see because we have lost our human essence and political power has become so enticing. So people can do anything to obtain political power.

So if Tinubu brought his own from Buhari and think that is enough to get him to power, he went to hire Bishops to balance what is seen as Muslim Muslim ticket, you don’t blame him. If Nigeria is united, stable and people are free, there is no hunger, no poverty, no discrimination, no nepotism, who cares what the president is doing or what you are saying with religion..

Will a Muslim-Muslim ticket for Tinubu ensure victory by 2023?

What I do know is that the ticket is a device to create impact for both. If you think you are appealing to the Muslims in the north, you will get the votes. Conversely in the south, they are saying no to it. So either way, it’s a problem. Because the whole is not about Nigeria, it’s about interest. It’s about aspiration. “It is my time, is my time”. He said so. I must have it, is mine, is my time”. It’s his aspiration, is not Nigerians aspiration. It is personal and he can now begin to look at ways in which he can get that personal aspiration by using Shettima. Shettima is an excellent person. I know him very well. But you see he is being used for a political purpose.

If it was in 2007, it could have been okay. But now, religion is being promoted as key player in politics of today. So the mallams are talking about religion, the christians are talking about religion. Nobody is talking about Nigeria any more. Whatever he may likely secure from the north, he will lose it from the south. I don’t see this working for him.

What effort is PDP making to reconcile the people of the South following Atiku’s emergence as the presidential candidate of the party?

I just gave you an insight just now. I said in 2007, Obasanjo was the President of Nigeria, and when  he was leaving office, there were a number of aspirants who emerged but Peter Odili was the frontrunner. If he had won the ticket, he would have been the President of Nigeria for another eight years. Obasanjo was a Southerner. You see that time how genuine Nigeria was, how sincere we were, how united we were as a country.

But will the PDP go for reconciliation?

What is there to reconcile?

The likes of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state who are calling the presidential candidate of the PDP a liar.

We should be very careful with the choice of one’s own language. By age, Atiku is older than Wike. So it’s politically wise to call him a liar. Culturally, traditionally it’s wrong to call an elder a liar no matter how pained you are. He should be careful with his language. He called elders attack dogs. If he calls his supporters attack dogs, therefore those who are supporting or promoting him see attack dogs. In PDP; we are a single family, where we believe in each other, love each other and we trust each other. There are no dogs in the PDP. If you begin to use attack dogs on somebody, then that should be personal. PDP is family, PDP is a vision and it’s founded on values. He should be more circumspect. He is supposed to be a leader. Calling someone an attack dog, is the reflection of himself in the mirror. There are no dogs in the PDP.

In the spirit of trying to reconcile all aggrieved members as a result of the fallout of the convention, do you think the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, should go to Wike for reconciliation?

Let me make it very clear, Atiku’s candidature is not personal to him; it’s a PDP candidature. He was produced by a process of the party based on rules and regulations in the Nigerian constitution. And the process produced him. Therefore, it is a product of the process owned by the party. So, it should not be seen as a thing for Atiku. I don’t think we are familiar with history in this country.

In 2007, there were primaries and  a day to the convention, on Friday morning, Obasanjo summoned all of us including outgoing governors and candidates who won their primaries. There and then he told us that the party would field Yar’Adua for tomorrow’s convention as its candidate and therefore all governors who are aspiring should please step down for Yar’Adua, including Peter Odili. But if we had gone to the convention, clearly Peter Odili would have won and become Nigeria president but he was forced to step down. So the point I am making is the thing about political party, is party supremacy. Odili was forced to step down. He didn’t go to the primary, neither was he given the position that he was promised.

He is a very loyal and dedicated member of the PDP, humble and mature. They promised him the Vice President, he never got it, he kept his cool. Same as others. Because all the issues were seen from national interest. Recently, in the APC, we knew who Buhari wanted to give the president, the Senate President, he lost to Tinubu. The vice president, a whole vice president was humiliated, his office was embarrassed and also the presidency was embarrassed, Lawan was embarrassed as a Senate President. They all lost. Have you heard any of them make any noise? If Wike were to be in APC, I don’t see him talking more than the Senate President or more than the vice president or more than Amaechi. If you look at the two scenario, PDP and the APC those who contested and lost to Tinubu. It’s a personal humiliation to the President and also a personal humiliation to Osinbajo’s office and also to Ahmed Lawan but they kept their cool.

The contest is not personal because you are coming to serve your country. The entire process of election or primary is to serve your country. So what are the issues? Are they personal? Are they for the party?

How would you rate President Buhari’s administration?

I am a party man. Obviously Jonathan and the PDP had their shortcomings. In spite of everything, PDP agreed to be blackmailed, propaganda, manipulation, tribalism and religion were the devices used against PDP. We were so overwhelmed because of the intensity of the propaganda. We lost the election and they took over. Now, I don’t know whether what we are seeing today is what we have before. In all issues, I think no matter how bad our government was under Jonathan, we were better, far better compare to what we have under Buhari. I am a Fulani man with my brother in the villa as a Fulani man, I don’t feel better than I was under Jonathan. Then I feel more better, more secured, I feel more Nigerian, I feel  comfortable than I am now under my fellow Fulani man in the presidency.

Talking about 2023 presidential election. I want you to be categorical, between Tinubu and Atiku, who do you think Nigerians will favour?

The election is not going to be between Tinubu and Atiku. To me, it’s going to be between PDP and APC. PDP would win hands down by whatever calculation, whatever speculations or hypothesis, by the grace of God, PDP would win the election.

What is delaying reconciliations between Wike and Atiku

Let him learn from his former boss Peter Odili. I will tell him a story that is so touching because I have never seen a person who was cheated and who was so denied like Peter Odili. The man is so humble, so tolerant. I mean he is everything good. Wike offered himself to be elected. I came from the old order that respect political party culture. His candidacy for the governorship in Rivers State was imposed by him. There are others who wanted to be governor, have they reconciled? The guy he imposed won the governorship ticket at the congress. Who offended Wike? Did the convention offend Wike?

How do you mean?

There is no reconciliation. He is a party man and after the convention he said the process was very credible. He said so. I am sorry if I may sound personal. Who is supposed to pick him?

Under the circumstances, do you see the north supporting Tinubu more than Atiku in 2023?

You see I am PDP and believe in PDP as a political party. In my strong conviction, we are going into the election. I don’t see it in terms of Tinubu the person or Atiku the person. I see in terms of PDP and APC. PDP has a very strong history, founded by people with vision; people who believe in Nigeria, people who want the best for Nigeria and people who made sacrifice for Nigeria. Unlike APC, an amalgamation of various parties. So you see, to me, it’s not about the candidates, it’s about the parties called PDP and APC. APC has failed Nigerians.

So you don’t see any threat?

Tinubu as a person can cause no threat to  PDP nor APC as threat to the PDP. So to me it’s about PDP and APC not about Tinubu and Atiku.

What effort is PDP making to reconcile the people of the South following Atiku’s emergence as the presidential candidate of the party?

I just gave you an insight just now. I said in 2007, OBJ was the president of Nigeria, and when  he was leaving office, there were number of aspirants who emerged but Peter Odili was the frontrunner. If he had won the ticket, he would have been the president of Nigeria for another eight years. Obasanjo was a Southerner. You see that time how genuine Nigeria was, how sincere we were, how united we were as a country.

But will the PDP go for reconciliation?

What is there to reconcile?

The likes of Wike who are calling the presidential candidate of the PDP a liar.

We should be very careful with the choice of one’s own language. By age, Atiku is older than Wike. So it’s political to call him a liar. Culturally, traditionally, it’s wrong to call an elder a liar, no matter how pained you are. He should be careful with his language. He called elders attack dogs. If he calls his supporters attack dogs, therefore those who are supporting or promoting him see attack dogs. In PDP we a single family, where we believe in each other, love each other and we trust each other. There are no dogs in the PDP. If you begin to use attack dogs on somebody, then that should be personal. PDP is family, PDP is a vision and it’s founded on values. He should be more circumspect. He is supposed to be a leader. Calling someone an attack dog, is the reflection of himself in the mirror. There are no dogs in the PDP.

What about Peter Obi?

Peter Obi is somebody who is so nice and polite to me. Honestly, our relationship is from his father-in-law who was my course mate in the 70s. He is a person I like so much. But then, you don’t build castle in the air, you build on the ground. No matter how good he is, if you go to the whole polling units in Nigeria, labour party is not recognized because it has no structure. There are some things that are real that you can’t run away from. Obi is very electable but then on which foundation is he going to be elected?

What about his political party

It’s a nomenclature! That is the party, there is a party. PDP is the party, Labour Party is a party. Even the APC is a party. So what I am saying is this, travel to all parts of the country, go to Lagos, go to Oyo, go to Osun. There was election in Osun State, what was the result for  Labour Party? So that’s it. You need a structure first to carry you across. I don’t how Labour Party can carry Obi across. I don’t think so. Remove Peter Obi, what do you have left in Labour? Nothing! In PDP remove any name, the party will remain, because it  is organic and it’s the people’s party. Obi would have remained in PDP. He is a good person and a good material. He would have remained in the party that catapulted him into national limelight. He was an APGA governor and nobody knew him in Nigeria.

Let me take you down to national issue again. The country is visibly divided, the economy.

First, it’s the consequences of APC’s miss rule. We have a lot of issues in the country. One is our federation a reality? Does the unity of the country mean anything to anybody? A country where others feel marginalized, others feel abandoned, others feel unsecured and others too poor. What kind of federation is this? How do we restore first what we call national trust in each other? If I don’t trust you, I can’t ask for your understanding. So for us to be able to bond as a people, we must restore trust, and confidence in each other first. Wherever people believe and trust each other, there will be peace, there will be stability and development.

The first thing the PDP would do when Atiku wins is to look at the state of the country: what has been bastardized;  what are the people’s fears; what are their own interests; what are their own drive; what do you do in terms of restructuring; constitutional amendment, devolution of power and what have you. They are very important. Atiku alone can’t do it. It will be a collective Nigeria will that will do thing sincerely and commonly to solve our own problems.

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