Dr. Sule Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State, in this interview, speaks on the performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the war against corruption and the future of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Excerpts:
The APC-led government will soon be two years at the helm of affairs of this country. How would you assess the performance of the present administration? What we are now seeing is a grand deception which has been used to attain government by a party which is not organised, which has no cohesion and history. If you look at the high profile members of the APC, 95 percent are made up of the “PDP thieves”, according to them; former governors, former senators, former vice presidents, former ministers, former everything who were of the PDP’s creation and PDP’s invention. The whole thing (APC government) was built on quick sand and it is going to collapse. It is a fact, no matter how well you may wish the APC, no matter how hard you will pray, it will be difficult for them because they don’t have capacity for anything. There is no way you can load a two-tonne of pickup with 60 tonnes of Dangote cement and expect such vehicle to move. It can’t move because there are bigger trucks for conveying such kind of haulage. The Nigerian load, in terms of its own weight, intensity, contradictions, divide, problems and crises are beyond the capacity of the APC as a vehicle to drive Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari has severally blamed the present Nigerian woes on the past government led by the PDP. What is your take on that? If there is any great beneficiary of the PDP in Nigeria, the person is Buhari. From 1998 to 1999, there is no way he can get into any contest in Nigeria. He can’t contest, I don’t mean to insult him. But it is simply a historical empirical fact. With all those who are now calling the shots, all thanks to the PDP because the country has been stabilised and reconciled. One thing I find very funny is the claim that PDP left nothing in the kitty. To me, I find this very laughable because nowhere in the Nigerian constitution is it mandated that you must save for the incoming government. They said we have taken all the money and left nothing. And for 16 years, we have done nothing in Nigeria. We couldn’t have been so totally dormant for 16 years. Having done nothing as they claimed and then there is no money, the two don’t add up. We left nothing. Therefore, they can’t work. How do you see the future of democracy in Nigeria, considering the manner of campaigns in the last general elections? I’ve been saying this over and over that the strength of the APC, their propelling force, was simply a desire to remove the PDP and harm the PDP. That is why in their campaigns, they said a number of things. There is no big deal when anybody says anything. But then as leaders, you don’t cross beyond the red line which serves as a benchmark. In trying to go contrary, you are coming below the level of decency and leadership. You can say anything simply because you are trying to appease your constituency. The APC comes below level and said a number of things most of which were pure lies. That the PDP is Boko Haram, they look at the Nigerian terrain and begin to apply slogans that fit that environment. In the North, where there are Muslims, they talked about Islam, when they go around Kafanchan, Plateau or Benue, they changed their style. When they go further south, they said a different thing. But in the PDP because we are talking about the nation, wherever we go, the appeal is uniform. It is about Nigeria and the Nigerian federation. Most of those who are under EFCC investigation were those who served this country at one point or the other under the PDP government. What is your assessment of the war against corruption under President Buhari’s administration? Nobody condones corruption. But you don’t go on such smear campaign terrorizing people and demonising a political party in a country that we are supposed to be equal. With this, it means there are two Nigerians; Nigerians of the PDP, people of evil, people who are thieves, who did nothing for Nigeria and then the other Nigerians of the APC. Even if you might have been tagged a thief, after joining the APC with the power and piety of Buhari, you will be clean. When justice is lost, there would be some problems. Today, no matter how big you are as a thief, if you go to the APC, they would accept you. Look at those going to the APC in the last two to three weeks, they are people who are on trial by the EFCC. The APC willingly received them with celebration and fanfare. The APC is a huge sanctuary for thieves now. The leadership should be able to exude confidence, respect and trust, not fear. A leader should be wishing that by his coming to office, he gives you the kind of inspiration, the kind of confidence, and then, you respect him, you love him, not that you fear him. So, fear is never an instrument of governance. Fear will make you desperate and when you are very desperate, you know the consequences. The future of the PDP is bleak, considering the problems confronting the party. What efforts are you putting in place with a view to rejuvenating the party? The courts and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can’t solve Nigeria’s problems in the PDP. It’s none of their business. All the PDP state chairmen are on the side of the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, including the zonal chairmen from six zones and the state’s assemblies of the 12 states we are controlling; the governors of the party, all former ministers, ambassadors and presidents in the PDP are on Makarfi’s side because that is where the party is. So, if somebody like Ali Modu Sheriff, who is my very good friend and brother whom I like a lot, is ignorant of the tradition, culture, mission, vision at formation of the PDP, I can understand. He was an ANPP governor, senator, party leader and part of the amalgamation of the APC. He is coming from an entirely different background. So, if he fumbles, don’t blame him. If he fails to understand, don’t blame him. If he can’t comprehend, don’t blame him. If he fails to know the vision, don’t blame him. The courts or INEC can’t help us. It is not their business. It is we, the members of the party, who are coming from a background and history that should look at things and say ‘what do we do?’.