Former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, is a presidential aspirant on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with select journalists in Abuja, he speaks about his drive for the office and also proffers solution to the incessant killings in the country. MUYIWA OYINLOLA was there.
Why do you want to be president of Nigeria?
If you know my antece- dent, you would understand not just why l am contesting for the presidency of Nigeria but my passion for this country. My confidence in my ability to lead this country into a new direction of hope, unity, progress and prosperity stems from my background and experience. I joined politics early in life and learned under the tutelage of the late MallamAminu Kano.
My rationale and philosophy for being in politics has been one of immerse concern for the plight of the people, their emancipation and freedom from injustice, poverty and guaranteeing them the good and basic things of life, including creating an environment that allows them to explore their full potentials.
That has remained my guiding principle whether as a party administrator, advocate against military dictatorship, founding member of the PDP, foreign minister, governorof Jigwastate for eight good years, nothing in my political trajectory has changed my abiding desire and commitment to improving the lot of the Nigerian people .
As a presidential hopeful, former Governor of Jigawa state and chief security officer of the state then, what are your views on the spate of killings in the country especially in Zamfara, Benue, Kaduna,Taraba and recently in Plateau State where more than 200 hundred people were killed last week?
Firstly, let me express my sincere and deepest condolences to the families of all the victims of the senseless and deplorable attacks in the last three years and assure them that that they are in our prayers. We feel their pains. We hear their cries. Secondly, Security of lives and property as well as the welfare of the citizens are the major priorities of governments and in our case, it is explicitly enshrined in our constitution (section 14 2b of the 1919 constitution as amended). As the governor of Jigawa state for eight years, security was my top priority which explains the peace and tranquility in the state till today.
There are no words to describe what is going on in this country especially the incompetence and cluelessness of the Buhari administration. What is most painful is that there are often information about the killings before they occur but government choose to ignore the warnings only to shed crocodile tears after hundreds would have been killed. In the case of the last killings in Plateau state, the police alone deployed more than 5000 officers to the APC Congress in Abuja, meaning that every delegate had a police officer to him/herself.
This is not to mention the hundreds of DSS agents, military and civil defense personnel at the Eagles Square venue of the Convention, yet what was required to prevent the killings was probably less than 300 police officers or a military company. That this has been going on for nearly three years unabated shows that the Buhari-led APC administration cares little about the sanctity of lives of Nigerians.
Worst still, there is no evidence or indication of any sense of urgency or desire to arrest the situation. How can we explain that with our large military, police and other security agencies, we cannot disarm the armed groups responsible for these killings nor bring their sponsors, leadersand perpetrators to justice? As president, l will move quickly to disarm all the armed groups in this country, especially as we know who they are and where they are, strengthen intelligence gathering andworking with state governors, engage and deploy local community leaders to help maintain peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups in the country. Even more important is the need to address in a comprehensive manner, the cultural and economic factors responsible for the crisis in all the areas. But for now President Buhari must act to stop the killings and if he can’t he has no business asking for a second term and Nigerians must deny him that.
In view of the pivotal role of security in national development and foreign direct investment, do you subscribe to the call to rejig the security architecture and the replacement of the service chiefs?
Firstly, we all realize that this country needs huge investments to survive and this can only be possible with peace and security and in a competitive world, nobody will leave a peaceful secured environment to invest in a country perceived as insecure and chaotic. There is therefore the urgent need to re-examine the entire gamut of our nation’s security structures or arrangements, to ensure their preparedness and capacity to maintaining security in Nigeria, while wading off external aggression. In this regard, my urgent priority will be to adopt a pragmatic approach to the issue of policing in the country.
First, we got to refocus the police to its core mandate of fighting and preventing crimes and build up its capacity and competencies. We have to rebuild the Mobile Police, and make iteffective and efficient as first responders to violence situations across the country. The current deployment of the military all over the country and in some cases for matters within the purview of the police is unhealthy for our democracy and unnecessarily overstretches the military and leaves it unprepared to defend the country should the need arises. There is the need to review the police management and devolve more powers, resources and authority to the state police commissioners and hold them responsible and accountable for the peace and security of the states, while functionally reporting to the Governors of the States who are constitutionally chief security offices of the States of the federation.
The current management of the police from Abuja and the over concentration of power, authority and resources in the Inspector General of Police are responsible for the inefficiency, indiscipline and general failures of the police. The frequent ordering of the Inspector General of Police by the president to relocate to crisis zones is opaque, ineffective and how not to manage the police (no wonder the IGP ignores the president’s orders). The decentralization of authority, power and resources will be accompanied by massive training and retraining with the help of our development partners especially in the areas of intelligence gathering and rapid reaction to crisis. We need well trained intelligent officers and detectives to make the police, DSS, military intelligence, the EFCC and others capable of discharging their mandates at an optimal level. As our society grows and becomes more sophisticated, our institutions must equally up grade themselves to enable them meet the needs of the society.
Certainly, with regard to the armed forces, my first priority will be to review the current state of the military to ensure we have a strong, disciplined, mechanized and well-motivated military capable of defending the territorial sovereignty of Nigeria, assist the civil authorities where necessary and participate in global peacekeeping operationsAt the heart of the new security architecture that l am thinking of is to ensures in the first instance that well over 60% of our military and security requirements are sourced from within the country and our intelligence agencies refocused. As for the security chiefs, l think with what we are experiencing now, there is the need for some fresh heads who can bring new critical thinking and direction to the security situation in the country.
In view of the international dimension to the security of the country, as a former foreign minister, do you think regional security cooperation among ECOWAS or Lake Chad Basin countries can play a vital role in resolving this hydra headed security issue?
Absolutely. Why do you think our first post-independence leaders paid so much attention to good neighborliness? It is because they realized early enough that our wellbeing and to some extent our security as well is tied to good and cordial relations with our neighbours. If we develop and become prosperous and they remain poor, we will pay the price for their underdevelopment and insecurity. This is why we must return to paying some considerable attention to our neighbours and providing some leadership to booster their trust and confidence in us. This will require expanding cooperation in all fields of endeavor.
The situation where it took an European power to host a security conference for Nigeria and her neighbours would not only have been unthinkable in the 60s, 70s,80s 90s, and some part of the 2000s but unacceptable. To further drive home the point, under the military administration of General MuhammaduBuhari, a Quadripartite Agreement between Benin, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria on border security, custom and immigration was signed and l find it rather curious that three years in office, the president has not even sought to utilize his own idea in engaging our neighbours.
Poverty and unemployment are increasing in the country and according to a new report, Nigeria now has the largest number of poor people in the world. What would you do as president to address the situation, create employment and prosperity for this country?
Firstly, you do not need any report to tell you about the growing poverty in the land. Travel round the country and your will see the condition of our people and the uncertainties they feel about the future. The National Bureau of Statistics have been warning about the increasing level of unemployment and as we speak the APC government in three years have compounded the situation by failing tomake employment creation it’s priority. The recent report you referred toconfirms an earlier report by the international Monetary fund which equally warned about the deteriorating economic situation and it’s sever impact on Nigerians. When you come to think about our unfortunate situation, this country with its natural endowment and huge human capital have no excuse to be poor, no excuse for the sufferings of our people and no excuse what so ever for the continued underdevelopment of our hardworking and resilient people.
It is against this backdrop that l told you that in seeking for the presidency of this great country my central objective is to break this circle or move the country out of the nadir of its poverty and underdevelopment to anew direction of hope, unity, progress and prosperity, of a nation that works for all, that is progressive, productive, innovative and competitive. Within the first hundred days of my administration if elected, l plan to announce a comprehensive economic programme in line with PDP’s manifesto that will include an aggressive and accelerated diversification of the economy with agriculture and manufacturing at the top of the agenda to drive Nigeria’s industrialization and inclusive growth. Given the growing global warnings about the future of oil, we must stop paying lips service to diversifying the base of the Nigerian economy. Unlike the APC which makes so much noise about its rice program we will focus on developing all the major cash produce in this country and they are many.
I will ensure that as much as possible, raw materials produced in the country are processed partially and where possible, wholly to add value before exportation, as the process of value addition will create the much needed jobs for millions of unemployed Nigerians, and bring about positive social change and increase in the country’s GDP.
There will also be a better coordination and management of the fiscal, monetary and exchange policies as well as a discernible tax regime.
The private sector will be the engine of growth and development by expanding its role in the Nigerian economy and partnering with it to develop critical infrastructure. In this regard, a favourable climate will be created to encourage foreign direct investment.
There will be a better environment for doing business in Nigeria including developing the needed skill sets and competencies required to manage a twenty first century economy being propelled by the forces of technology. This will involve among other, expanding the ICT infrastructure and the utilization of technology for our development.
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