Former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, in this interview, speaks on the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to bounce back and other issues. ADAMU AMADU brings excerpts.
The interim national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sherif, has visited some states, including Jigawa. What did you see about his visit to your state?
It was an official visit to the PDP family in Jigawa State as part of the preparations for the party’s convention. He (Modu Sheriff) came to the state and met with officials and members of the party in the state concerning our preparation. He had come to formally present himself as the [interim] national chairman of the party. He needed to see his people and he people needed to see him. He wanted to make sure that the party was properly reconciled in the state because those who left the party and were brought had initially left in anger.
The PDP is the only party that has the capacity to lead Nigeria because it is owned by Nigerians. Another point is that he [Modu Sheriff] came to encourage those of us that are left in the PDP after the elections of 2015 since the government and the ruling party in Jigawa State have said that there is no PDP anymore in the state. There was a big rally in December 2015 or thereabouts where they received 370,000 members of the PDP family who left. Those that remain in the PDP in Jigawa State are Sule Lamido and a few others so, we need encouragement and support because we have been abandoned.
So, you will not refute the claim of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government that the PDP is dead in the state?
No. You see, we don’t want to join issues with anybody. Let them have the pleasure and indulgence of this hallucination that there is no PDP in Jigawa State. Let them keep celebrating that there is no PDP in the state while we work hard to restore the PDP. We are not disproving anything. We are doing our own thing – rebuilding our party. We will work very hard to restructure the party in order to regain people’s confidence and trust so that we can fight another day.
Your congresses and convention are drawing near but nothing has been seen so far in terms of preparedness to show that the party has really embraced reconciliation. What is really happening?
You see, you amuse me. You don’t know what we are doing, how hard we are working. I mean, we are doing things within the party. We are reaching out. We are talking and trying to reconcile. You don’t need to see it on facebook or on the pages of newspapers before you realise that we are working. What we want you to know is the result, which you will know when the time comes.
Many times, we do a number of things quietly. You know, when you talk about reconciliation, people have been offended and you need to go to them and plead. But the current national mud is not what we expected and nobody knows where we are heading to.
The PDP, which was in power for 16 years, was defeated by the PDP, because those who defeated it in the [last general] election were old PDP forces. Without these [old] PDP members, they wouldn’t have won the election, because in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, all these parties combined could not defeat the PDP. It was only when the PDP was divided and some of its members went to the APC that they were able to win the election. So, the victory which the APC is now gloating about was not all theirs; it was PDP’s victory, but the wrong PDP, the PDP of anger.
With the kind of underground work you are doing, do you think you can woo those governors that left the party then back into the fold?
I know you are very clever and you want me to get into it but sorry, wait and see the result. You see, when you are negotiating, you don’t advertise it.
How do you intend to restore the PDP to power in 2019 in Jigawa State?
We will work hard. I don’t want to sit here and begin to engage in speculations. We will work hard. We lost an election, so, we will work very hard.
How did you feel about the police cancelling some of the planned activities of your party’s national chairman during his visit?
What were the activities? The programme was that the national chairman would come to the party’s secretariat to see his party’s members. That was all. It was not a rally, which we were to hold at the Malam Aminu Kano Triangle. We are going to do that one very soon. He came and saw party members and they saw him. Nothing was cancelled by anybody. That what we asked for and that was what happened.
Was the visit part of a reported campaign against the forthcoming national convention?
No. The visit was part of the build-up to the convention. And the real rally will soon be done at the Malam Aminu Kano Triangle to show that there really is PDP on the ground and give people confidence that the party is working very hard towards the convention.
You have insisted that the incumbent state governor has your support, that there is a cordial relationship between the two of you, but it is being insinuated that there is a rift between you…
There is no rift but mutual respect between us. He is occupying a position I once occupied. I cannot undermine the position or vilify him. If I do so, I would also be undermining my own history. So, I am always willing and ready to offer my advice to the governor anytime he wants it. We are best of friends. We talk. Politics is beyond Sule Lamido. It is beyond Governor Badaru. The political activists around him are there around me, too and they try to direct where the wind should blow. We are perfect brothers. I am his former governor and he is my governor, so, I wish him the best.
Suppose the APC woos you to join the party…
They are free to dream. I have been saying that the APC is a formation of small parties – small party CPC, small party ACN and small party ANPP. And rather than join me, I am joining them? No. Since they said we are a party of devils and that everything evil is PDP, why can’t they, as saints, come and cleanse us? Let them come to the PDP and purify us.
If you were given the presidential ticket, would you accept it?
Given the ticket by whom?
By the PDP.
You see, you are not given a ticket, you earn a ticket. You work to earn it.
Are you working towards earning it?
Every member should work towards the PDP’s success. In the process, we will pick somebody who can bear the flag.
If you are offered the candidacy to be Nigerian president under the PDP in 2019, what will be your response?
If I am offered the ticket by the PDP in 2019, I will thank God Almighty and thank those who consider me fit to be the president of Nigeria. So, I will accept it