BY SOLOMON SEMAKA
As Nigeria draws towards the 2019 general elections, the number of those aspiring to occupy the office of the President is beginning to take shape. Granted that there are bound to be aspirants contesting in every election, the desire by many aspirants to contest for leadership positions cannot be isolated from the performance of those in authority as well as the competence of those aspiring to replace them. Since it is the characteristic desire of all human societies to develop, and considering the fact that leadership constitutes a critical variable in the development process, the choice of who becomes a leader in every society is quite important. This importance is underscored by the fact that the quality and competence of a leader can significantly determine the destinies of the electorates hence the competence of those aspiring for the office of the President in Nigeria cannot be overlooked.
Thus, while President Muhamadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, APC is almost certain and constitutionally eligible to contest for a second term in 2019, the quality of opposition being lined up will ultimately determine who occupies Aso Rock come May, 2019. And of course among those that have indicated interest within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is Dr Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa State and minister of the Federal Republic – a man whose competence cannot overlooked.
Dr Sule Lamido, made his intention to vie for the office of the President in 2019 known to the PDP in October, 2017 but he is aware that many other aspirants will express their desire to contest on the platform of the PDP but as someone committed to the resuscitation of the PDP as the main opposition party, he expects an open, fair, transparent and credible process that will produce a leader for the PDP and Nigeria in 2019. Lamido’s submission that “I am by no means claiming to be the only capable material, any PDP member given the trust and support can fly our flag” does make him a pushover and for those who know his commitment, this only underlines his desire for the PDP to lead Nigeria back into “a bright, progressive, and innovative future and rekindle a new hope” such that the country gets transformed into “a nation of united people with a common and assured destiny”. To the cursory mind, these are the mere rhetoric characteristic of all political aspirants but Lamido’s principles and achievements are crucial in understanding his strengths in Nigeria’s Presidential race.
Sule Lamido who was born in 1948 hails from Bamaina, Birnin Kudu local government area of Jigawa State. His experience in politics began during the second Republic when he joined the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) as a member after which he became the national secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as a founding member during the botched Third Republic. As a member of the PDP, Lamido contested for the governorship of Jigawa State in 1999 but lost to the All People’s Party (APP) and was appointed minister of Foreign Affairs in 1999. He however won elections on the ticket of the PDP as governor of Jigawa State in 2007 after defeating the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party ANPP. He was again re-elected governor after defeating the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2011.
During the swearing ceremony on 29th May, 2007 Lamido, vowed while delivering his inaugural speech that “our programmes, pronouncements and actions will bear the unmistakable stamp of the moral and ideological character of the political background we come from”. Thus he proceeded to win the award for Best Performing Governor in Education by the Nigeria Union of Teachers in 2010. This stemmed from the thousands of classrooms his administration had constructed across the state and the free education the administration granted to all females from primary to university level in order to narrow the gender disparities that existed in the educational sector in Jigawa State. It is also important to point out that it was under Sule Lamido’s administration that Jigawa state became the first state in Nigeria to introduce a social security system in which beggars and the physically challenged persons were paid a basic monthly stipend of N7, 000 in order to keep them off the streets and give their lives more meaning.
It was also under Sule Lamido led administration that Jigawa State established a well – equipped state of the art Institute of Information Technology referred to as Informatics Institute in Kazaure which was the first of its kind in Nigeria. The informatics institute is known for delivering world-class training in areas of information and communication technology to the indigenes of the state, Nigerians generally and also to citizens of neighbouring countries.
Agriculture in Jigawa State was also significantly boosted under the administration of Sule Lamido as farmers received up to 50 per cent subsidy on farm machinery such as tractor. The road network in the State was also considerably enhanced to the extent that 90 per cent of the roads in the state were touch. Thus, Jigawa State now boasts of one of the best road networks in the country.
The aforementioned constitute only a part of the achievements recorded by Sule Lamido in spite of the comparatively lean revenue that Jigawa State receives from the federation account. By 2015 when Lamido had completed his second tenure, the once impoverished and ridiculed Jigawa State had become an attraction for both local and foreign investors.
Thus, considering the economic margins along which Nigeria stands, many Nigerians will agree that it takes more certificate of honesty which Buhari parades to turn Nigeria’s fortune around. Those who want to be tied behind may see the PDP and the wrong platform upon which to vie for the Presidency but many more know better that apart from nomenclature, there is no practical ideology that sets the APC apart from the PDP. In an era when knowledge and human capacity have become the defining qualities for leadership selection, it imperative that the Nigerian electorate will start to look beyond party logos and slogans to elect those who can move the country forward. This is more so some elected political officers had taken advantage of the frenzy and euphoria of change which swept across the country in the 2015 elections without the capacity to deliver. This accounts for the continuous tirades and constant accusations hurled at their predecessors for being responsible for the country’s woes.
It is quite apparent that 57 years after independence, Nigeria is yet to find bearing and thrives on the creation of impressions that are elusive in reality. The challenges that stare the nation in the face are quite daunting and this explains why Nigerians have continued to clamour for restructuring more so as we have continued to ignore fundamental problems facing us and instead opted to treat the symptoms. Nigeria’s present situation calls for a proven leader who understands the most important aspects of addressing the Nigerian economy by “creating prosperity that will make the debate on restructuring less emotional and sentimental”. While our multi – ethnicity and natural endowments have found expression in the clamour for fairness, the way out is to explore the strength that lies in our diversity towards enhanced wealth creation and distribution which should translate into meaningful development in order to foster national unity which is what Sule Lamido has set out to achieve. According to Lamido as Nigerians, we must demonstrate our confidence, tenacity in our ability and capability to address the domestic, regional and global challenges that confront us.
Nigeria’s present challenge transcends political boundaries, it is about service delivery in the areas of economic reorganisation, educational re-orientation, enhanced security, development of positive national consciousness and development. Sule Lamido is therefore, that credible candidate willing to serve in an almost failed state where the Naira is almost an inconsequential currency in international transactions while the current government which swore to fix the country during campaigns has not been able to cease to come to terms with the reality that it is now the ruling party and has to shift from the perpetual narrative of complaining and begin to fix things rather than the theoretical postulations it has continued to tenaciously cling on. The choice of Sule Lamido does not only provide a guaranteed path towards greatness, it is akin to placing a round peg in a round whole and watching things fall in place. Lamido is and undisputed achiever and a man who does not seek power towards the realisation of selfish objectives, he seeks to be given the opportunity because he wholeheartedly believes in the Nigerian project which would provide the needed drive towards justice, fairness and equity and the desire to provide for that missing piece that could transform the country in many ways. Lamido is essentially a detribalised Nigerian whose ties cut across ethnic and geographical boundaries and his achievements stand tall among most of the states in Nigeria. His acceptance transcends northern Nigeria which explains why both the Igbo and Yoruba are committed to this cause and are willing to go all the way to support him.
Semaka, a public affairs analyst and wrote in from Abuja