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Sule Lamido’s unique legacies

FORMER governor of Jigawa State, Ibrahim Turaki, believes that his state is the home of democracy dividends even without actualizing that belief, ironically. The only offshoot of Turaki’s rudimentary governorship is the utopian information technological centre, which his successor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, has graciously named after him. To put it mildly, it was an obsession—Turaki’s obdurate commitment to this hallucinatory venture was unstoppable!
Having visited Jigawa State in 2001 as a member of the National Media Tour Team and last month in my private (self-sponsored) capacity in pursuit of developmental journalism, I can authoritatively declare with all sense of responsibility and dispassion that it is like moving from darkness to light. The only observer that can appreciate the current magnitude of transformation in the state is probably anyone with my kind of vantage point aptly defined comparatively by 2001and 2014. Urbane Lamido took over from Turaki in 2007 and ever since there has been decency in governance. Apart from the ICT centre, there was nothing else I could recognize because of the changes that are methodically taking place in the state capital and other hitherto backward cities. Here ends the darkness of Turaki’s vapid ICT stride in Dutse.
We move to the luminescent era of Lamido, the Mansa Musa of modern Jigawa State and a fearless apostle of Alhaji Aminu Kano’s ‘democratic humanism’. What amazes me in the case of the third civilian governor of this state is his dexterous management of circumscribed financial resources. After my recent trip to the state on an independent fact-finding mission, I began to wonder what this politician extraordinaire would have done if he had the kind of superfluous statutory allocation his Akwa Ibom State counterpart has. With half of that stupendous revenue the compassionate Lamido that I had a 60-minute interface with would have turned his state into a referral paradisal home of quintessential developmental accoutrements unequalled in the history of Nigeria. This stance is informed by Lamido’s transformative signatures all over the state, not just Dutse with its superfluity of institutional structures.
Jigawa must be one of the least indebted states in Nigeria going by the prudent manner and holistic responsibility of the governor, a trait he has passed on to all his subordinates so much that none of them thinks of graft let alone getting involved in any official financial impropriety. Anyone who knows the high integrity of Lamido will commend him to the European Union which celebrates reformists like him because of its passion for impeccability advocacy in governance and leadership. Between 1999 and today, I have interfaced with at least 50 state governors in the course of my professional assignations, none had the charisma, profundity of humility, leadership panache, unparalleled piety and profuse considerateness of Lamido. There may be no other Sule Lamido in Government House, now or in the future!
Lamido is an exceptional and remarkable leader, attributes that are unknown to most Nigerians because he does not believe in media frenzy like most of his counterparts. He insists, rather, that performance should exemplify those in positions of authority. This is why he frowns at the ludicrously monetized vulgarity of awards by media houses to governors and other benefactors for doing their work! He ponders; “Do journalists or other professionals get awards for carrying out their constitutional duties? I blame governors and otherwise respectable Nigerians who patronize such commercialized recognition.” That is upright Lamido for you on festering mercantilism of awards.
This unassuming revolutionary is so committed to the uplift of his downtrodden people that you almost forget his aristocratic background. Nothing appeals to him like the betterment of the lots of his people. He talks of it as if he was once a pauper when indeed he has the blue blood of royalty and superfluity of affluence running in his considerate veins. When you see an opulent man who came to serve—to make a difference in the lives of people—you will know as opposed to the one from a wretched upbringing who came to upturn the public tilt and grab as much as possible!
Of greatest appeal to me is Lamido’s effort at job creation through productive engagement of the people in computer training and other vocations that guarantee employment prospects—not mechanistic empowerment through subsidizing motorbike procurement which does not really ensure a sustainable means of livelihood. The Jigawa helmsman understands the Nigerian economy and the need for entrepreneurship. He subscribes to poverty eradication to a substantial degree instead of alleviation or ephemeral, stop-gap solutions. This explains the bubble in small and medium-scale businesses in the state, just as investors are swarming the state to explore opportunities. Any prospective local or foreign investor in the state gets free land for operational purposes, but there is a timeframe for utilization of such land or revocation takes place on default. As a measure of the blossoming economic activities in the state, almost all the banks now have branches there among other corporate citizens.
Another thing that will capture the attention of a visitor is the physical development of Jigawa, particularly the state capital. It is like a construction landscape with building of massive official and private estates taking place as if there was a race by the Lamido administration to build up the entire space before May next year!
Lamido has enthroned a culture of accountability, transparency and due diligence in the award of contracts and execution of jobs in the state. This has saved the state a lot of money that would have gone to private pockets by way of budgetary inflation and other sharp practices that have become ways of life in other states! His adept scrutiny of governmental expenditures has been critical to his on-going transformation programme.
Jigawa is so peaceful today that people move about freely at any time of the day and night without fear of anything, a manifestation that encourages dignified living. This iconoclastic gentleman is simply a symbol of enviable good governance on grounds of his devotion to childcare, educational development, advancement of skill acquisition and overall re-engineering of the state.
It is incontrovertible that Lamido has introduced a novel paradigm in governance by making an incomparable difference in Jigawa that is demonstrative of true leadership—not the charlatanism that we are used to in most states. Because of his aversion for poverty and fear of Allah (SWT), all his policies and philosophy of life are resolutely informed by the need to elevate the standard of living of his people unlike his peers who indulge in the obscenity of crass wealth accumulation and concomitant pauperization of those they have a social contract with.
This astute ‘roadside diplomat’ has in the past seven years created a conducive space for an unfolding catalytic industrial revolution in the state. Already, local conglomerates and multinational companies are sprouting in most parts of the state, just as water and sanitation programmes make the environment sparkle and free of flies that previously jostled with humanity!
A second republic House of Representatives member and one-time Foreign Affairs Minister, this radical populist is the best thing to happen to Jigawa since its creation in August 1991. An emancipator of incomparability, he is one governor whose appreciation transcends the state’s shores. His legacies are indeed unique. On a prayerful note, may the state experience a semblance of Lamido next year lest we return to the aforementioned dark age of yore. Sooner or later, Nigerians will come to the reality that the Sule Lamido administration is godsend. And on the basis of this, I prophesy that if God keeps us all alive to 2019, this agent of transformation will replicate his magical wand at the national level as the country’s president in succession to President Goodluck Jonathan, insha Allah. Sai Lamido, sai Nigeria, sai Nigeria, sai Lamido!
In my three-decade quintessential journalism practice, apart from the late Musa Yar’Adua (as Katsina State Governor) and Mr. Peter Obi, no other public functionary in Nigeria has exhibited serial financial discipline, glaring candour, track forthrightness, disarming simplicity and superlative service to humanity as much as Lamido, an exemplary embodiment of sterling character in its rarity. Jigawians should savour this supersonic blaze of light which Abians hopelessly lack!


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