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Lamido – a Democrat Ahead of His Time

There has been lately some cacophony of voices questioning the democratic credentials of Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State for failing to decamp to the All Progressive people Congress (APC). They argued that since five of his colleagues in the former nPDP have decamped to the APC, Lamido ought to have decamped to APC and doing that, according to them, is the only option that will concretize his democratic credentials.

It will be recalled that when the rebellion of the seven governors first broke out at the PDP convention in September 2013, decamping from the PDP was never part of the agenda. The walk-out was a protest against imposition of candidates, lack of transparency, high-handedness of Bamanga Tukur, and crisis in Adamawa and Rivers PDP. When the decision to decamp came, it was as a result of pressure from the APC on the nPDP which led to the hurriedly sealed merger without proper consultation and political brinkmanship between stakeholders concerned, an action that is currently rocking the APC is states like Kano, Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa.

Yes! Sule Lamido belonged to the progressive element of Nigerian politics starting from NEPU, PRP, SDP and the progressive elements that form the PDP in 1999. His progressive credentials were aptly captured by APC leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande when they paid him a courtesy in order to woo him to the APC recently.

Tinubu said “I have known you since our SDP days when you were National Party Secretary. The commitment and meticulous manner you carried out your assignment was respected by all. You always stick to your principles and belief so long as you are convinced that they are right”

Akande on his part said Lamido’s achievement in transforming Jigawa from a rural state to a modern city within a short period attests to his progressive credentials.

For the uninitiated, suffice it to say that Lamido has paid his dues and written his name in gold as far as democracy and progressive politics in Nigeria is concerned.

Here is a democrat who went to jail during the turbulent Abacha years as part of his sacrifice to enthrone democracy in Nigeria and there is no sacrifice greater than denying yourself personal liberties for what you believe in.

Those who are today being celebrated as democrats and progressives were nowhere to be found when the battle to entrench democracy and free Nigeria from the yoke of military rule was being fought in the late 1990s.

Lamido’s decision to stay in the PDP should be celebrated rather than condemned. In advanced democracies where democracy and party politics is based on principles and ideology, politicians don’t jump from one party to the other simply because of disagreement with those in power. They stay and reform the party from within in order to return the party to the ideals of its founding fathers.

If being a progressive is to deliver democratic dividend to the people, then no one can claim to be more progressive than Lamido given the quality and quantity of work he has done in Jigawa in the last six years within the little resources available to the state.

Before the election of Governor Sule Lamido in 2007, Jigawa was like an outcast in the committee of states in Nigeria because of its negative indices in all ramifications. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was a special guest of honour at the first Jigawa Economic and Investment Summit last year said “In those days before the coming of Lamido, when you mention Jigawa, people will laugh and ask you where is that one? But it is to the credit of Sule that local and international business men are gathered here today to chart an economic and investment course for Jigawa”.

Today, Jigawa, which used to be seen as an under-developed town, is on the map of the world and thanks to the most progressive governor in Nigeria, Sule Lamido for making that to happen. Dutse the Jigawa state capital is now full of monuments. Take the Jigawa equivalent of the Abuja three arms zone which houses arguably the best state secretariat complex in Nigeria, the impressive and imposing judicial complex building, the Jigawa State House of Assembly building and the Aminu Kano Triangle, our own Eagle Square to boot.

In the area of health care Jigawa is second to none because the revolution in that sector is unprecedented in this part of the country. All you need to do is to visit the ultra-modern Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital complete with the state-of-the-art equipment to see things for yourself, the School of Nursing and Midwifery Birnin – Kudu, the drug revolving scheme which other states are now coming to copy, the Gunduma Health System which has taken medicare to the grassroot and the free maternal and child health care scheme, among others. Jigawa is the only state in the north that DFID gave N500 million worth hospital equipment because they are convinced of the giant strides of the state government in the health sector.

In the area of Education, Lamido has established a state university which will soon commence academic activities. The Gifted school in Bamaina, an initiative meant to identify talented Jigawa kids and give them special training is a highly commendable enterprise. The free girl-child education has opened the door of education to the girl-child and scholarship award to Jigawa students in tertiary schools have improved quality of education in Jigawa just to mention a few.

Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who chaired the Investment and Economic summit last year has pledged to establish a Sugar company in Jigawa, apart from the investments in industry by Chinese businessman Mr Lee.

For me personally, what I consider to be Lamido’s greatest achievement is the empowerment of women and youth in Jigawa. Jigawa is among the three states in Nigeria to establish the Ministry of Economic Empowerment. Under Lamido over 60,000 youth have been empowered through various skill acquisition training in areas like P.O.P, mattress and pillow production, production of alternative energy stoves, tailoring and embroidery, painting, chalk production, among others. In order to curb the incessant migration of the pastoralist and reduce pastoralist /farmers clash, the administration also trained over 1000 pastoralist on modern hatchery, mass production of guinea fowl, and modern animal husbandry. All this is in addition to the monthly allowances being paid to the physically-challenged to keep them out of begging. For the people of Jigawa State, Lamido is like a messiah and that is what being a progressive means. History will be kind to him when the story of Nigeria’s 5th republic is told to generations yet unborn.

Abdu Mago is Jigawa State Commissioner for Economic Empowerment. He wrote this piece from Dutse

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