His people oriented traits and commitment to any given cause usually endear him to the masses of Jigawa state, hence the level of support enjoyed by Governor Sule Lamido. In this interview with a select group of journalists in Dutse, the state capital, Lamido speaks on the challenges of his administration and the controversial 2015 presidential election among others. ABDULRAHMAN ABDULRAUF was there.
Dividends of democracy
If we all campaigned as political parties in our various constituencies and asked them for support, vote and mandate, and they see us as people they can trust under whatever party platform and you are voted into the office, so what next do you do when you get into that office? It becomes easy to execute your dreams because they put you in the office as per your obligations. The people gave you the mandate, the authority and the legitimacy to run their affairs, with the power and the constitution to back you up. So, what else do you want? So, I want to know why you should be celebrated for doing that you are supposed to be doing. So, I don’t understand why anybody should be grateful to you for doing what is expected of you with their own resources. What else do you do if you don’t do that? There should be some expectations from the leaders so that when they don’t perform, some demands are made by the people. But deriving from the conquered or appropriated psyche of the masses of this country, you begin to feel privileged to have been given what rightfully belongs to the people. To me, it means there is something wrong with us.
Right from the day I got to the office, I had a clear vision of what I wanted because I am coming from a political clime where politics is not mercantile or something that is a kind of industry but by our political philosophy, it is about service to my people, to humanity. That government and governance have no meaning may be because of military distortion of so many years, and their coming had destroyed so many things and all our values. The system lacked due process and made the laws the way they wanted to suit their purpose.
This means that a lacuna had been created and anything you do in the direction of service is celebrated. So, our efforts since 1999, is to restore the rule of law, tradition and culture of government because the operators are elected. I know it will take time to change the psyche of Nigerians in the orientation of a system that has been so embedded and so engrained in people’s minds. So what I am doing here is to first ensure that there is voter education because there is no way we can properly function without the people knowing about voting and the power that goes with it. Believe it, people look at governance abstractly, like it is your government and not mine. So the first thing I did was to reconnect with my people, and on our first anniversary in 2008, I went on air from the 1st of May to 29th to address the people through all the state actors and operators of government to give account of their stewardship in all areas of their jurisdiction. This is just to remind the people that this is the party that asked for your vote last year because we need to know, as a people where we were before then and where we are now. All government operators took part and there were live broadcasts with people from around the state participating, asking questions and disputing in some cases.
For me, being elected is not enough, it is just part of the process. They did not abandon me, so I have to be there for them too but I can only function when they are following me in what I am doing. This goes on until it is capped by lectures whose topics were carefully chosen to impact on governance and on our government. It is a yearly ritual and there is no way that lessons were not derived from each edition.
For instance, the summit on talakawas (the poor masses) threw up realities of those that were really concerned. These are people we have been talking on behalf of, shaving their heads behind their backs in symposium, seminars and all kinds of meetings discussing poverty, hunger and diseases. But in that year, we were able to feel the reality because they said it as it was. So, the talakawa summit opened our eyes to the Nigeria story that it is common to us all. Story of poverty is the same in Umuahia, Enugu, Borno, Sokoto or Ibadan and it reflects our failure in terms of improving the wellbeing of the other person. So, every year we pick a theme and it is supposed to be our own contribution to broaden the frontiers of democracy because it (democracy) cannot flourish on its own, it has to be developed. We have to realise that we should do what we are supposed to do to make it work by paying our taxes, rates and levies, obey the law, encourage our own local industries by patronizing our own goods. We must have some standards and stop lamenting. Are we animals that cannot reason?
This is why I say we have to be cautious and stop talking bad about ourselves and that if something did not happen, heaven will fall. Heaven will not fall and if it falls, it will fall on Nigeria, not on another country. So, if you say there is going to be war in Nigeria because you lose an election, it will only affect Nigerians who will be killing themselves. Whatever we say about ourselves, whether on election or whatever, we must think about our culture and discipline and think about how to support it. And if Buhari(General Muhammadu) says there would be war in Nigeria in 2015 because of one thing or the other. Fair enough, the war can only affect Nigerians who will be killing themselves and the northerners in particular. I know there is no way people from the other regions will be killing each other because of Buhari, it is only Hausa man who will be killing his own brother because of him. Why all this talk about war, bloodbath? We just have to be cautious and I get worried when people, who were honoured and elevated by God to lead us as Head of State, make grave statements that can adversely affect the greater majority. Come to think of it. At one time, we were all Buhari citizens because he was privileged by God to lead us. So, no matter how pained he is, being one time leader of this country, he must feel worried that majority of us are going to die.
In essence, former leaders must exhibit characters of leaders at all times guided by our culture because when you make unguided statements, it is the same people whom you led or want to lead that will be affected and it is these same people that gave you relevance and made you important in the first place. As a leader, there are things that you don’t do or say no matter how pained you are because of the consequences for the people you were so privileged to lead. I don’t think any Igbo man will die for Buhari, not even his deputy, Tunde Bakare would die for him or kill another or burn houses for him. It is only an Hausa man who can kill another Hausa man or burn houses or destroy property of one another in the north for Buhari. The rest will just watch us destroy ourselves. What I am saying is that we need serious political education to raise the level of our human behaviour, culture of political parties, what we expect from government and in turn what do we do as citizens.
First, I am PDP and I took over from an ANPP (All Nigeria Peoples Party) governor, so obviously there are two different approaches to issues. In other words, what I am doing is PDP programme and whatever I do must certainly be at variance with that of my predecessor. Secondly, on development, who are we developing in abstract or holistic term? We have to also look at which area we are talking about and how each area is working in tandem with the other because things are working out for a purpose. To be able to attract business or investments, certain things must be in place because businessmen and investors usually look for profits because in business, there is no friend or relation. It is about making money, that is why even under some dire situations, people still make money. So, our first concern is how do we put in place the kind of enabling environment by ensuring a stable state , which means that it must be very secured. So, security is paramount. Beyond the government is the human factor. The people must contribute. So, after the election, I called all stakeholders in the state, including my opponents, the traditional and religious leaders, elder statesmen from Jigawa from the time of Tafawa Balewa, the elites, NGOs and the youths. I presented to them the views of Jigawa by Nigerians and other global donor agencies like the UNDP, which literarily translated to a verdict that we were buried. To me, if we were buried, then it won’t take long for our state to become a human zoo. If we can take care of ourselves, so why don’t we rally round our own people and get us exhumed to a level where we can gain our vision and focus. We don’t have any particular talent or endowment to pull Jigawa out, it has to be the people themselves. So, it has to be a Jigawa collective to be able to pull out and move forward and they agreed with me. I told them all I intended to run an all-inclusive government that is for all of us. I may be the head, but it is going to belong to all of us. Thank God, we started and five years after, we are more than willing to invite everybody to come and see what is happening in Jigawa
It is all politics. Look at the poor man in Ibadan or in Riverine area in Bayelsa or a poor man in Jigawa or Sokoto, and look at the rich man in those places and you discover that they share the same fate, pain, agony, comfort and affluence and they are all Nigerians. The Nigerian problem is poverty and if we make human being the centre of development, then we are there. Even if we say give him what he wants whether through derivation, resource control or whatever, so long as we remain a country, we can only be safe when the entire country is safe. If there is hunger and hardship in one state, then no state is safe in the country. Today in Nigeria, why do we keep on debating or making political noise about marginalisation, MEND, Boko Haram, MOSSOP? They are just manifestation of failure. If the people are happy, secured and contented, knowing what is called peace and being a stakeholder, they will want to remain peaceful in order to enjoy the labour of their sweat. But when there is despair and pain with no future, naturally, things must go wrong. So, if the majority of the people are not happy, then nobody can be safe, even the big houses and its state-of-the-art security system. Poverty diminishes one’s self esteem, takes away one’s honour and pride.
North’s position on 2015
What I will say first is that as a Muslim, tomorrow belongs to God. Of course man may wish, but the determinant force is ultimately God Almighty and that is basic. People are free to dream dreams and of course allowed to aspire into anything but look at the issue. What are we talking about? Is it southern Nigerian president or is it about a Nigerian president? If it is about Nigerian president, then all forces must sit down and discuss it because there is no way one bloc would say I must have it. The north tried it last time but failed. Name them; Atiku (Abubakar), Gen. Babangida(Ibrahim Badamasi), Gen Aliyu(Gusau), Bukola(Saraki) they all did and again when they all lost the PDP primaries, then Gen Buhari, a northerner from CPC contested in the main election. So this is to prove that the north cannot give us a president all alone and so it is with the south. In other words, it must be a Nigerian consensus.
In my view, people are just fooling themselves. My colleague governors, when they talk, I’m sure it must be out of context because the governors who made the comments were also the governors who made Jonathan(Goodluck) their candidate in 2011. Now, if they are talking this way, then something is wrong because all the northern governors supported Jonathan in 2011. If today they are singing a different tune because they went against the northern interest in 2011 because of Jonathan, then something is wrong. And it was just because they were concerned about Nigeria. If today, so, so and so person is in office and they are complaining that something is wrong, then something is fundamentally wrong. I guess we should be asking what is wrong. But what we want is how to develop the country where we feel happy and contented. Nigerians don’t really care about who the president or governor or the council chairman as long as their basic needs are met.
So, to me, it is an idle debate because what might have gone wrong so soon in the early journey that people are talking this way. I want to tell you that it was Nigerian governors’ position, not northern governors’ position because we believe in Nigeria and we should be able to speak for Nigeria. I don’t think we should be concerned about that political talk because that is the way I see it. There are more pressing issues for the Nigerian people rather than who becomes the president in 2015. Instead, let us pray to live up to that time.
Funding of projects
There is a secret about that. God says, human beings are His servants and He loves them. God loves all creations and He loves the weakest among His creations. You are strong, have hands, eyes and everything, but there are some who are simply not as lucky, weak but God says if you attend to the needs of my servants who are weak, I will send for you all your ways in life. So because God sees us in our sincerity, commitment and compassion for our fellow human beings who are sick, He decides to bless our money and gives us the divine guidance and the commitment to cater for our people. It is simply the act of catering for the weak, which has cleansed us to the extent that N1.00 in Jigawa state is the equivalent of N1m anywhere in Nigeria because God is in charge. He has blessed our money simply because He knows that we are willing and committed to catering for the needy. Government and governance should have human face by seeing God’s face in your fellow being.
Filed Under: Interviews