It is not about his desire to be the President of Nigeria. It is rather about the desire that he were the President of the country so richly endowed with natural and human resources it should not be seen as it is, hampered by the prevailing and all pervading malaise. This is the predicament of Sule Lamido, Governor of Nigeria’s Jigawa State, currently running his final two years in a 2-term tenure of four years each. In a country with failures attributable to inadequacies of leadership, a clearly accomplished state governor stands out in the manner of the proverbial gold fish finding no hiding place, more so in an election year! Here is a rebel with a cause.
Primarily, this is the predicament of Governor Sule Lamido, a situation in which the question of his calling after his governorship tenure ends in 2015 begs for answer, and gives birth to conjecture.
Sule Lamido is not a leader to simply appraise with superlatives. His watchers are in the main, doubting Thomases, wary of wanton misleading superlatives of praise built on faith and hope but intangible substance. There are many Governors on the block being bathed in those superlatives, and Lamido has a knack for being a vile critic of the most admired of the denizens of Nigeria. Praising him instantly draws vitriol. For this reason one must admit even the difficulty that exists in simple admiration of Lamido. He exudes an air of arrogance and pride which one finds on knowing him at close range, to be based on intense righteous indignation, which leans on his conviction and certainty of his personal integrity. Lamido is forthright, down to earth but also very modest, ordinary and easy going. He is genuinely concerned with being a society change agent, and believes that the public office in which he is called to serve is a trust from the ordinary folks of life.
“The people vote for you into a position that changes your life. And they watch you hoping that as the office changes you, you would also change them.” It can not be contended that he has earned and does enjoy the overwhelming support of the people of Jigawa State, who have trusted him with power, and to whom he personifies Transformation, and not the mere song of it. There is more than ample empirical evidence that points to that in every sector of development.
The story of Jigawa State and the transformation (a word Nigeria has suffocated), that has occurred in the last 6 years is like a fairy tale. As with a magic wand Jigawa State has galloped from its backwardness and insufficient statutory allocation, past older states with a clearly telling impact on the lives of the people. In 2007 when Lamido took charge, the state was a confused entity bedeviled by a total absence of infrastructure. No structure of administration, the ministerial organs of the government were scattered across the numerous Local Governments just because the simple task to forge unity of the people was not boldly confronted.
Civil servants were not obligated to service and commitment, task response where any tasks existed was flat footed. The challenge that Lamido faced was only just a wee bit better than beginning anew. The ministries were relocated to the states and the Abuja development model was adopted for the state Capital, overnight moving by leaps and bounds to a defined future. A State secretariat, offices and housing for the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, all ultra modern are a glorious legacy to bequeath.
Visionary leadership saw to the birth of the comprehensive development framework, a holistic bottoms up approach to statecraft in which the sum total benefits to the common folk was the thrust. Jigawa State operates a social security based humanistic governance; simple agricultural solutions have created food sufficiency, rural to urban roads have ensured that no farmer is more than 40 kilometers of a large market, eliminating the middleman and keeping food prices extremely low.
Begging is outlawed, the destitute, enumerated and paid a stipend of N7,000 per month, while a programme of skills acquisition has successfully reduced poverty. Health and justice was made readily accessible reducing the crime rate tremendously. In deed Jigawa, surrounded by “Boko Haram” hardly got a taste of the heinous experience.
Sule Lamido has made it happen for Jigawa State in a way that makes the much talked about true federalism very attractive. With statutory allocation that is the lowest in the federation, budget implementation has been over 90% consecutively all these years, and realistically in pursuit of relevant policies and programs. Due processes has meant best practices and good corporate governance such that accountability in Jigawa State is not in doubt at all. A high quality of life has been guaranteed and given at low price.
There is of course the fact of Lamido being a radical, a scion of Malam Aminu Kano of the revolutionary conviction, yet found himself among the founders of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party. In this, Lamido has maintained the high moral beacon, spearheading justice, propriety, decorum that should build and sustain democratic institutions. It was on this pedestal that Lamido rallied support for President Goodluck Jonathan drawing attention to the fairness of ensuring that as the President, regardless of how he ascended o the office, it was most appropriate to secure for him his own tenure having completed that which was bequeathed to him on account of President Yar’adua’s death.
Evidently, this reasoning from Lamido was the binding thread for President Jonathan’s overwhelming support. In deed both Gulak and Doyin were no where near this crisis at the time. Their tirade on the 5 Governors was therefore most uncharitable and worsened the President’s predicament by further widening, instead of closing the gap with the powerful five.
There is no gainsaying the fact. Lamido is more prepared for the greater challenge of the Presidency of Nigeria, than President Goodluck was when he was elected. Indeed, running on his own, President Jonathan never won an election running until that which Lamido helped to steamroll. Thus in looking at Nigeria’s future with Goodluck as President, we are bound to imagine what the future could be if the immediate past that Lamido has given Jigawa State is brought to bear on that future. This is the cause of the fear of Lamido. It is a dilemma.
—Mathias can be reached at:[email protected]