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For Sule Lamido, it’s never say die

Sule Lamido has been around in the Nigerian politics. He has been everywhere and has played important roles in the decision making of the country. He may have conquered wealth, power to some extent, and wield enormous influence, but to him as many other Nigerians, nothing is good but the number one political office in the country. And that seems to be the greatest motivation of his life at the moment.

On several occasions, he had tried, though unsuccessfully, to become the president of Nigeria.

With his robust stature in politics over the years, he has been able to establish relationships beyond his northern bloc. Little wonder his name rings a bell in every part of the country.

In the last few years, he has intensified efforts in his ambition to become the president. This time around, although he is yet to make a formal declaration, his body language says he is very much interested in the race.

Currently, he is doing some consultations. He has already visited Akwa Ibom State, Cross River State and some other states down south.

Lamido, a close ally of former president Olusegun Obasanjo got a robust endorsement in 2014 to replace Jonathan in 2015.

Obssanjo, who at the time had grown weary of the Goodluck Jonathan’s style of governance, was looking for every means possible to oust the Bayelsa State-born president from office.

Obasanjo had wittingly endorsed Lamido at a function in Dutse, capital of Jigawa State, and continued to harp on the need for a Lamido-led government.

Lamido’s chances of getting PDP flag

It is doubtful if Lamido will get the PDP flag given the array of aspirants on the platform. An analyst, who spoke with BDSUNDAY, expressed pessimism.

“With the rejoining of Atiku Abubakar in the PDP, the hurdles have become higher for Sule Lamido. Whereas Lamido is a wealthy man, not many Nigerians know his other sources of his wealth. In fact, many people think his career begins and ends with politics. This is because his businesses have remained secret unlike Atiku whose involvement in businesses is as clear as daylight,” the analyst said.

“Actually, in as much as some of us do not want to support a green horn to emerge as the President of this country, I am equally uncomfortable with those who have no other address apart from politics. Again, I think Nigeria deserves a younger person as president. It is high time we stopped parading tired and spent forces,” the pundit further said.

Does he fit into the ‘Third Force’ agenda?

With the new thinking now that Nigeria needs a shift from the older generation’s domination of power, Lamido actually does not fit the age bracket that is being proposed for the new Nigeria. In the new dispensation, those championing the shift believe that the likes of Lamido have overstayed their welcome in politics, particularly when they had been part of the political parties that have foisted poverty on Nigerians. Those at the driving seat of the coalition movements and the so-called “Third Force” are fairly young men and women who are looking at a Nigeria of the future that would be proud of its leaders unlike what the situation has been.

Is he still in Obsanjo’s plan?

In May 2014 Obasanjo had travelled to Jigawa State for an Economic Summit in Dutse, and while delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of a three-day event, he said: “You know you can help somebody to get a job but you cannot help him to do it. If somebody cannot do the job, we have Sule Lamido who is competent to do the job.

“Some people are saying one person can’t make changes; this is rubbish. If you have a competent person who knows where he is going to, he can make changes along with his team that would impact the lives of people as we have seen it in Jigawa State.”

Obasanjo further said of Lamido: “Given his background, performance and credibility, he is competent. With his exposure, he can stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody.

“If it is the wish of the people, it is okay. He did not tell me he is wishing but being the wish of the people let’s wait and see. Based on his track record, would you say he is not competent?”

“Our hope is to produce future leaders who would grow up with one Nigeria in their subconscious, committed and patriotic, those who understand that self is not good enough.”

But that was then. When Obasanjo wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari recently, he spoke about a coalition of Nigeria movement which he termed Third Force. He is busy reaching out to some others, who say that the former president is in support of power shift to the youth. It is not public if he is wooing Lamido into the Third Force.

He is rather wooing the likes of Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Reps, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwa with Jerry Gana and Tunde Adeniran to the fold of his new found Third Force, the Olu Falae’s Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The man Lamido

Sule Lamido was born 30 August 1948 in Bamaina, Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of Jigawa State.

Lamido served as Foreign minister from 1999 to 2003. He was elected governor of Jigawa State in April 2007. He ran successfully for re-election on 26 April 2011. In 2015 he and his sons were put on trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly embezzling state fund.

He joined politics as a member of the left-of-centre People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in the Nigerian Second Republic. He became National Secretary of the Social Democratic Party during the Nigerian Third Republic, where he received criticism for his handling of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections won by Moshood Abiola, who was prevented from taking office.

When the military ruler General Sani Abacha announced his plan to return to democracy, Lamido was a founding member of the Social Progressive Party, and was National Secretary of the new party. He was imprisoned in 1998 by Abacha for criticising Abacha’s plan to perpetuate himself in office. After Abacha’s unexpected death in June 1998, General Abdulsalami Abubakar announced a revised transition strategy and new parties were formed to contest the 1999 elections. Lamido became a member of the PDP. He ran for Governor of Jigawa State in the 1999 elections at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, but was narrowly defeated by the All People’s Party (APP) candidate Ibrahim Saminu Turaki.

President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him Foreign minister in June 1999. In March 2003, Lamido reacted to a claim by Governor Turaki of Jigawa State that the Federal Government had neglected the state, calling on him to account for the way in which he had spent federal funding.

In May 2003, after the PDP had again lost the elections in Jigawa State, Lamido claimed that the polls had been rigged in favour of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). In April 2007, Lamido contested and won the governorship election in Jigawa State. He took office on 29 May 2007. After the election, his predecessor Saminu Turaki was jailed and was unable to raise bail. Turaki accused Lamido of intimidating Jigawa leaders not to stand as sureties.

In July 2007 Lamido announced plans to spend N2 billion in the next six months on education, using the money to rebuild schools and provide basic teaching materials. The state also invested N450 million for training teachers teaching core courses in junior secondary schools. He initiated major construction programs, led by the Dutse Capital Development Authority and the Jigawa State Housing Authority. In September 2009 Lamido offered to provide free plots of land and basic infrastructure to investors in the tourism and hospitality business in Jigawa State. In December 2009 Lamido announced a plan by which beggars would be given a basic monthly payment to stay off the streets.

In December 2009, it was reported that Obasanjo had started to lobby for Lamido to be the PDP’s vice presidential candidate in the 2011 elections. Lamido ran successfully for re-election on 26 April 2011. He polled 676,307 votes, with runner-up Badaru Abubakar of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) scoring 343,177 votes.

In 2015 Lamido and his two sons were briefly jailed after being arrested and tried for allegedly arranging for contracts to be placed by companies that they controlled. Lamido blamed this on his enemies.

 

Zebulon Agomuo

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