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Nigerians Are Greedy, Selfish -Sule Lamido
Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, in this interview with SHOLA ADEKOLA, speaks on why violence seems to be the order of the day in some places in the country and other issues. Excerpts.
Nigeria recently celebrated its 51st independence Anniversary. Many people, including opposition parties, have accused the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) of celebrating failure. Do you agree with this?
It is the typical pastime of Nigerians to keep passing on their guilt to someone else. Ask those critics, what has been their own contribution to the development of Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria that you see people relishing in vilifying their country and ignoring what God has destined for them. We must be responsible Nigerians first. It is here you see a taxi driver complaining of lack of fuel and he will take you round and round in order to make money out of you, yet he will not pay his tax. Those who are saying there is no electricity, ask them to show you their PHCN bill. They won’t pay yet they want constant electricity. You want all the good things of life, yet you are the most dishonourable.
They look for escape routes for their own failures. We must be responsible citizens first. Media men are involved. You know what to do. Whatever you say about your country, it is your own image you are seeing. It is deceit all the way. Go to parties and see the number of buffets while people are suffering. They have no concern for people behind them. An average Nigerian is selfish. Yet we keep on lamenting.
President Goodluck Jonathan has been described as a ‘go slow’ leader. What is your take on this?
You see in my religion, God says, I will give you leaders of your own reflection, leaders who are like you. So, what do you expect? If you say Jonathan is a ‘go-slow’ president, you too you are also Madam Go Slow. Didn’t Nigerians call former President Shehu Shagari go-slow? Didn’t they call President Olusegun Obasanjo unpalatable names? Didn’t they call General Ibrahim Babangida a wayo man? President Jonathan is a very honest man. You (Nigerians) want rule of law, democracy, yet you want him to behave like a pharaoh, like an army general. Jonathan is a very honest man. We should give him a chance to perform and make good use of his talent.
Do you think there is any wisdom in the Sovereign Account which has become a source of discord between states and the presidency?
All monies accruing to the federation must be shared among all the three tiers of government, so says the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and anything to the contrary is null and void. Which money do you save when there are so much developmental work that are lacking and needed to be funded? Which money do you want to save in the so-called Sovereign Account they are talking about when there is not enough money to execute several developmental progammes and projects.
What is your reason for constructing the G9-Quarters in Dutse?
No nation grows without knowing where it is are coming from. We must know our history to be able to chart a way forward. History anchors you. G-9 is an appreciation to leaders who played a key role in restoring democracy in Nigeria. In 1992, under late General Sani Abacha, when he tried to transform into military president, the opposition was engaging him from a tribal angle. It was difficult to really get a national appeal. Abacha came up with his own parties; we met the requirements, yet things were not falling into proper shape.
So, myself, late Chief Bola Ige, Adamu Ciroma, Francis Ellah, Abubakar Rimi, Iyorchia Ayu and Solomon Lar met in Lagos, somewhere in Raymond Njoku Street in1996, to rub minds on how to chart a way forward for the country in the aftermath of the crisis that engulfed the country due to the annulment of June 12 presidential election. We looked at Nigeria and at the roles being played by NADECO. We noted that the body was engaging Abacha from tribal point of view. And because it was so, other Nigerians refused to go along. The more you hammered him (Abacha) from the tribal angle, the more you strengthened him as people looked at NADECO as mainly a Yoruba organisation.
We now agreed to form a body that would have a ‘nationalistic’ outlook, so as to effectively engage Abacha and stop him from transforming into a military president. We now named the body G-9. Later, it became G-18 and G-34 and finally metamorphosed into PDP (Peoples Democratic Party). To give Nigerians a sense of history, that was why the G-9 Quarters was built and named after those leaders who played key roles in giving Nigerians the democracy we are enjoying today, so that they can appreciate the sacrifices made by their leaders.
Many are wondering why your government thinks Jigawa needs an airport at a time other basic needs are competing for attention?
By the ratings of the so-called market agencies, the in thing today is commerce and business and in commerce you have to move very fast. Since Jigawa is the most peaceful in the federation, it has all the potential to make business thrive with availability of land, and cheap labour, an enabling environment and is secure. It is an investment destination. It is an emerging market with good climate. What we desire most now is an airport in the state to ease movement of people and investors into and out of Jigawa State to transact business. We are very close to Cameroun, in the East, very close to Chad in the North, Kano in the East. It has beautiful scenery, good climate and is an investors haven. People here are anxious to reach the world and the only means today is to have an airport. For example, if you are coming from Abuja by air, you have to disembark in Kano and come to Jigawa State capital, Dutse, by road and the roads linking us with Kano are very bad. It is horrendous. The Federal Government has made a commitment to build an airport for the state. We are, therefore, looking forward to the fulfilment of that commitment. If people like Bill Gates want to come to Jigawa as he has planned to come to assist us in the fight for polio eradication campaign, he cannot come now because there is no airport through which his plane can land.
By whatever criteria, Jigawa needs an airport to open up our state to industrial development, aside from the massive road network construction currently going on. Opening up Jigawa is part of adding to the economic potential and the prosperity of Nigeria. We are building a road network. We are very low on Internal Generated Revenue (IGR). We depend largely on money from federation account. We depend on self- help to develop the state. We feel challenged to save ourselves. The lack of money should not be an impediment. We are agriculturally based. We have onions, sorghum, millet, melon, Arabic gum and nobody will come to Jigawa and help us. We have to resort to self- help. Not even our sister state, Kano can.
Land is our own oil. We are willing to give land to any interested investor. Within three months of applying for land, you are through with your certificate of occupancy. In emerging economy, agro based industry is important. We have the half a million hectares of irrigable land. The Federal Government is investing heavily in the Hadejia/Jamare River valley. Recently, during the visit of Vice President Namadi Sambo, N10 billion commitment was made to improve on the Hadejia/Jamare agro-based industry. When you put a thing like this in place, you trigger economic activities, you think of how to preserve them and get them to the market. Loans are being given to small scale farmers. The government is ever-willing to support any investor in this regard. Above all, the most important thing is that Jigawa is a peaceful state for investors because, no matter the attractions you have on ground to woo investors, if the state is always engulfed in crisis, no investor will want to come. We need to invest heavily in farming apart from other competing needs like health and education. Violence is not part of our culture. Commitment from home is important, how do parents bring up their children? Parents must take charge of their ward. It is a collective thing. A parent must be honest to his children. A child trusts, but if he discovers that somebody he so much trusts is lying, he feels dejected. This also goes into our larger society.
How do you mean?
In the past, if you look at the North, it was one single family of Tafawa Balewa, Sardauna and Aminu Kano. The North was of both Christians and Muslims. To them, every northerners was one. But for people who are lazy, they import various things to divide us. Our leaders then had commitment; they were not greedy compared with what we have today. Today’s generation is selfish, we believe in using people as tools to attain selfish advantage. Nobody trusts anybody anymore. That is why we have all these crises.
Why do you prefer to pay N7,000 per person monthly social welfare to disabled persons in Jigawa instead of teaching them how to fish?
If you say because somebody is disabled and you neglect him, you are not being fair. Even you who is healthy needs support, not to talk of somebody who is disabled. The money we make is for all. How then do you abandon them, abandon a part of you and turn them to an unwanted specie. They are our own people. The package is their right, they no longer beg, they are no longer looking neglected. They must feed and feel like part of the society. It’s more evil to make them feel unwanted.
We have to care for them. The allocation from the Federation Account is for all the sons and daughters of Jigawa, because they are getting that money, you can see that they are very clean, they can take care of themselves. They no longer go hungry or go about begging for food. So, our efforts to develop, our efforts to become a more civilised people and the miracle you are talking about is because with this programme, they have been switched on as human beings and not as before when they were switched off and uncatered for.
Where do you see the state in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, Jigawa is going to be the best state in the country with the best doctors, engineers including Islamic scientists. We’ve just sent 58 students to various schools abroad. In the past three years we’ve sent over 300 abroad on scholarships. As a matter of right, I want Jigawa to be a reference point to other states in Nigeria in all human endeavours. Even Mallams, the council of elders(Ulamas) and all sects who want to further their education in Islamic or western education are given scholarships, so that they can debate intelligently and nobody can bamboozle them into preaching hatred among the folks. So when you talk there will be knowledge and sense in what you say.