General Muhammadu Buhari is the most influential force behind the success of the (Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and ultimately the All Progressives Comgress (APC). In fact, 95 percent of APC members are in the party because of their unwavering loyalty to Buhari. By the same token, former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido, is the main force behind the relevance of PDP in the state.
He was the first politician to help PDP capture power in 2007 in Jigawa state. Lamido loves the ordinary people with passion. As Aminu Kano’s disciple, he has always identified with the poor people. When he was finally elected executive governor of Jigawa in 2007, he kept faith with the masses.
His transformation of Jigawa state from under-development to development and progressive state is a testimony to his impressive records as governor.
As Tinubu is recognised as the APC leader, so is Lamido recognised as such in the politics of Jigawa state. The difference between Lamido and Tnubu is that Lamido has seen it all. He has passed through the gamut of political office and rendered unparallel service to the masses. He had served as party secretary, he had served as lawmaker in the NASS, he served as minister of the federal republic and throughout these periods, he had gone to the nooks and cranies of Nigeria to identify with the common man.
This singular patriotism has endeared him to the Nigerian people across boards. Track record is everything. Lamido’s political influence is unrivalled because he is enormously popular with the masses based on his achievements. The former governor impacted positively on their lives and he is thus trusted by the ordinary people. Leadership requires mojo and gravitas, the two ingredients of an effective leader.
Lamido has both. He is a professional grassroots politician; he is not a novice. Former President Obasanjo is a strategic thinker. He has the talent for identifying influential politicians. His decision to back Lamido in 2007 as PDP gubernatorial candidate turned out to be one of the wisest political calculations Obasanjo ever made. Predictably, Lamido led PDP to victory by defeating the then ANPP candidate.
The former governor of Jigawa state is one of the few northerners that has gained nation-wide exposure in political leadership; a politician who is loved by all across Nigeria. After a successful education and fulfilling career in his chosen field, in 1992, Lamido ventured into politics, first in the Second Republic as a member of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) where he was an active member.
Lamido was also active in the Third Republic, as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and played a key role as the National Secretary in the party. The seasoned politician was also a delegate of the 1995 National Constitutional Conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
During the military junta of late General Sani Abacha, Lamido was a member of the G-34 political group, a notable and powerful opposition group that shaped Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. After several years of the military incursion into Nigerian politics, Lamido returned to active politics in the Fourth Republic on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His political clout caught the attention of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who appointed him as the Foreign Affairs Minister in his first four years (1999-2003) at a time Nigeria had to reposition and redeem its image in the international community.
As a foreign minister, Lamido travelled with President Obasanjo across the globe, restoring broken relationships with western nations and opening new frontiers with Japan, Russia, Brazil, China and Australia, and a host of others. As a respected foreign minister, he represented Nigeria in the United Nations, G-77 bloc of nations, Commonwealth of Nations, African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In November 2001, at the United Nations, Lamido spoke against the corrosive impact of corruption on emerging democracies such as Nigeria, and called for an international instrument against money laundry and looting of public funds. After serving as minister, he remained a stakeholder in Jigawa state and national politics for the PDP.
At this time President Olusegun Obasanjo saw his unpararell patriotism and commitment to the Nigeria project as well as his popularity on the international scene, and asked him to run for Jigawa state gubernatorial election which he contested and won in the 2007 general elections.
As governor of Jigawa, Lamido put the state on the national pedestal with significant investments in infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture, housing and urban development, empowerment programmes, education, rural development and industrial projects. With the defeat of the PDP in the 2015 general elections, Lamido repositioned himself as a strategic party leader, because he believes he has what it takes to lead Nigeria, if given the opportunity to fly the PDP flag.
At this point when the PDP needs a leader who can reposition the party for the challenges of 2023 elections, party unity is becoming ever more important.
The PDP shouldn’t take unity for granted. It needs a trusted and tested leader who can become a rallying point. Whenever you look of the challenges ahead, Lamido inevitably comes into reckoning.
He is the ligament that holds PDP together because of his capacity as a go-getter. He is entrenched in the hearts and minds of the masses. This connectivity with the ordinary people gives him a formidable leverage to unite and hold the party together. Personality factor is a reality of our national politics. Many people are in APC because of Buhari and once you detach Buhari from the party, they automatically lose their enthusiasm.
In Jigawa state, Sule Lamido exerts the same influence on the PDP and the masses. We, the people of Ringim are proud of Lamido’s achievements. He transformed Jigawa from a rural state to a 21st Century modern state. Thanks to Lamido, more than 80 percent of Jigawa state people have access to potable water.
Thanks to Lamido, the ordinary people today have access to affordable medical care. Thanks to Lamido, education is available to the people at lowest costs.
In addition to boosting healthcare and education, Lamido has built one of the best road networks in the country. In fact, these projects are so important that the successive administration decided to continue where he stopped. Lamido’s legacy in poverty alleviation and other social programmes is one of the reasons why the masses love him. In fact, the PDP maintains its relevance in Jigawa state because of Sule Lamido.
Any political party facing existential threats such as the PDP, should put personal differences aside and rally round a leader that has the capacity to unite the party. Party members should rise above pettiness and work for the larger interests of the PDP.
Politics is about influence. Leaders of the party in power are more worried about influential politicians in the opposition camp than lightweights who wield no clout.
I don’t know of any politician in Jigawa state who commands the kind of enormous influence that Lamido wields in the state. Divided loyalties and pettiness are the main challenges facing PDP.
Sule Lamido shouldn’t abandon the party to its fate no matter the frustrations of being the party leader in Jigawa state.
Ringim, a political analyst, writes from No. 96 Ali Akilu Road, Kaduna
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