…You will suffer God’s wrath if you defect to APC
Explains why ex-President cannot return to power in ruling party
Narrates how northern PDP leaders saw hell in 2014 for backing him against Buhari
By Olalekan Bilesanmi and Rebecca Kenor
‘It is for him to reflect on the love, the family bond of the PDP, the sacrifices made, the humiliation we went through, the vilification of the APC of his own government, the way he was being demonized, the way Wole Soyinka was calling his wife hippopotamus, and calling him clueless’
Controversy is raging over mounting calls on former President Goodluck Jonathan to defect from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest the 2023 presidential election. Several support groups have asked him to run. Penultimate Thursday, a youth group, known as the Nigerian Young Professionals in Diaspora (NYPD), gave him one week ultimatum to declare his presidential bid.
The group said Jonathan’s return to power would bring peace and stability to the country. Responding to the calls, the former President, last weekend, said he had not taken a decision. The calls are believed to have been instigated by some northern leaders who believe Jonathan’s back in power is a short cut to North’s return to presidency in 2027 as the former President will be entitled to only one term.
But in this interview, a top northern politician, Alhaji Sule Lamido, warns that Jonathan will be on the way to self-destruction if he yields to the calls, saying he will incur God’s wrath if he defects from PDP. Lamido, a former Minister of External Affairs and erstwhile governor of Jigawa State, explains why the former cannot return to power on the platform of APC.
There are pockets of crisis within your party across the country especially ahead of the screening of aspirants for the 2023 elections holding tomorrow. Will the screening not further polarise the party?
There is no human institution that is perfect. PDP is not claiming any perfection at all, neither is any party in the country nor you or Vanguard Newspapers. I think what is important is having people in the institution that have capacity, the ability and willingness to do the right thing. PDP has history; it has pedigree, formed by leaders of Nigeria in 1998 who are thinkers and philosophers. They knew what they formed and considered as PDP. So the PDP has history of experience and you have the political sagacity of the operators. The party is even stronger than before. It is much better now. I don’t think there is any cause for alarm.
Zoning and consensus remain a big problem in the PDP. Some of your party’s presidential aspirants have expressed objection to consensus while some zones are clamoring for the presidency to be zoned to them…
Again, I say PDP is a democratic party where members are free to express their views. It’s their right and freedom. It’s their fundamental right. Whatever might have been the perceived problem in the PDP, it is something we can really take care of. It can be addressed as a family under the same umbrella; we can come to agreement under the umbrella such that we can produce the best candidate for the country. I won’t delve into the issue of zoning because it is yet to be fully discussed. So, I don’t want to be presumptuous on the recommendation of the committee saddled with that. But I can tell you that whatever the perceived misgivings of any aspirant, it is his or her right to express it because it is their right.
They are free to pursue their aspirations; at the end of the day, it is for the best for the party. PDP is legendary. It is not like any other political party in Nigeria because it has history. PDP is an organic party; it has principles based on certain pillars. So, please stop bothering about PDP. All we need is your trust and we do the right thing.
It appears the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the PDP Northern Elders are not on the same page on the northern candidacy. NEF Secretary, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, said the endorsement by Professor Ango Abdulahi of some PDP presidential aspirants was right as it had the backing of the NEF. Yet, you are saying Ango’s position was personal…
It is you that don’t have the actual picture of the issues. The meeting we held on the platform of the Northern PDP Elders, the communique we issued said we were compelled to come as PDP Northern Elders. The purpose was to address an issue which was perceived to be the position of the North.
There is nothing like Northern PDP or Southern PDP. The issue we addressed was the statement made by Professor Ango Abdulahi which was thought to be on behalf of Northern Elders. So whatever might have been issued to the media was personal opinion or view of those who went there.
It is not a reflection of the view of the Northern Elders Forum because Ango said he was doing so in his own personal capacity and not on behalf of the Northern Elders Forum. What we did was to debunk any erroneous notion that that was a northern position. We don’t believe in division, whatever we say should not be divisive. We appealed as Nigerians. We are simply saying that Nigeria shouldn’t be abandoned while we are pursuing our personal goals. So, what we did was to clear any air of ambiguity in our position.
Please debunk it as well that the PDP Northern Elders have been bought over by Atiku Abubakar…
When do we as Nigerians grow up? When do we begin to behave as normal human beings? In all religions, God taught us about justice. When you see people and you begin to smear them without evidence, that is not fair. We are morally sinking. You are here saying that they are bought over by somebody. I feel very sad. So, it means that as Nigerians we can’t even think freely? So, whatever you say or do automatically means you are to be purchased. It doesn’t make sense to me. It is insulting. You are even insulting Atiku politically in Nigeria. He was Vice President of Nigeria, mind you. So, for him to make any political move, he has to buy people, he has to buy leaders; it doesn’t make sense.
We said in that press conference that we were there just for the purposes of debunking what Ango Abdulahi created. And you saying we are being bought by somebody? I don’t think you are being fair to us. In trying to extract stories that would make headlines… The media is there to principally to educate. Your report on politics is to further deepen political parties and political activities. You are supposed to mould opinion, opinion which is altruistic and beneficial to all; instead, you are pursuing the narrow thing thereby creating bigger problems. If I pin you down to ask who told you, you will not. You will say you don’t disclose your source or your source is protected.
You are just creating things in your own imagination. I am not talking to you as a person, but I am talking generally. You try to create something that is not there to see whether it will be precipitous.
The Federal Government granted pardon to some inmates including two former governors of Plateau and Taraba states, eliciting sharp criticisms. Are you in support of the government action?
I am being very honest with you. I am presently under EFCC prosecution for corruption through my government under President Goodluck Jonathan, for political purpose, which means the accusation is malicious. If I begin to vent and give opinion, I may like be talking about myself. So, presently, I don’t have anything to say, even if I want to say, this isn’t the right time to comment.
Insecurity is still very much on the front burner and certainly one of the factors deciding the election next year. APC claimed they are doing their best under the circumstance.
They said they are doing everything in their power; that is how far in terms of their capacity. You can’t flog a dead horse like OBJ said. They have been to their optimum. They can’t go beyond that. But the question is, is that good enough for Nigeria? They have confessed that they are doing everything. But whatever they doing is not good enough, despite the trust and support the people showed them. They are like a cup filled with water, once it is full, it is full, any other water poured on it cannot hold, it will automatically come down. They have reached their peak. Unfortunately, their best isn’t good enough for Nigerians because we don’t feel secure.
How do you feel that former President Jonathan is rumored to be planning to contest the coming 2023 presidential election and on the APC platform?
As Africans, Nigerians, we have a very strong culture of high morals. Before you leap, we should look at the platform we leap onto. The issue of Jonathan going to APC to be their flag bearer, I pray it is not true. I hope it is not true because if it is, he is inviting on himself self-destruction. This was somebody who came from a very humble and decent background. He came from a family with good upbringing and high moral values. That is what he said. And he grew up in life. He got education.
He became a Director in OMPADEC. And through good fortune and God guidance, he was picked to be deputy governor. The same good fortune and God guidance followed Jonathan, he became a governor. The same God and good fortune followed this kid from a very humble background, he became Nigeria’s Vice President.
The same God and good fortune following this humble kid, he became Nigeria’s President, in a country of 200 million people. Only three people have become Nigerian President in the last 14 years under the PDP. All these achievements he made and his political ascendancy were under the PDP platform, which mean PDP gave him his biggest world any PDP member can get in Nigeria. It is for him to reflect on the love, the family bond of the PDP, the sacrifices made, the humiliation we went through, the vilification of the APC of his own government, the way he was being demonized, the way Wole Soyinka was calling his wife hippopotamus, and calling him clueless. The entire APC 2013, 2014 literally destroyed him. He should be able reflect. Of course we had the heartache, the pains, humiliation and persecution the people of the North had in 2014 for supporting Jonathan. There was a man from Katagum, his house was destroyed and burnt down in Azare just because he was supporting Jonathan.
In Bauchi, our people were persecuted and burnt. In Kano, my office was burnt down. And the mob was heading towards my house to burn down my house and kill my family members alive, only for the army to intervene. In Zamfara, people received 50 lashes to be cleaned of the Jonathan dirt. People were going from house to house to give them 50 lashes because of Jonathan. The same thing happened in Sokoto. The people of the North stood for Jonathan because they were working for Nigeria because they believed in Nigeria. I was called a Christian and pastor because of Jonathan. I was called anti-Islam because of Jonathan. Everything evil was me and all PDP people who supported Jonathan. That means all they went through, the pain, the humiliation, for supporting Jonathan in 2014 was nothing. Even Jega (then-INEC Chairman) was not left out. We went through hell in 2014 all for Jonathan. He called me during the election in Jigawa. I said “sir”, he said “I hope you are safe”. I said “don’t worry sir. We are home and dry”. He said “thank God”.
Even though Buhari won in my state (Jigawa), in the polling units in my ward, he scored zero. I am taking the pain of this narration that Nigerians suffered a lot for Jonathan. And God has been good to Jonathan. It is for him now to reflect and see those people who demonized him, who called him evil, who said Boko Haram was PDP company in 2014. Buhari with APC members went on demonstration because fuel price was increased to 60-something naira. He (Buhari) was on the streets demonstrating. Let him check what El-Rufai (Kaduna governor) said about him. Let him go check what Lai Mohammed said about him. Let him go and check what the APC propaganda machine said about him in 2014. He lost.
I knew the kind of humiliation he went through. How he lost the election through blackmail, threat and division between tribes and Christians and Muslims. I met him in the Presidential Villa four days after Buhari won the (2014) election. What I told him in the Villa is for another day. I won’t say that now. He should remember what I told him. He should take all this into consideration. Is this the way he wants to reward PDP? Is this way he is going to reward PDP for inventing him? Minus PDP, who will ever know anybody called Jonathan? Today, he is an international person, being called upon by the world to perform functions for the world.
How did he get that kind of status? It is from PDP. Now, he is said to be going to APC because of greed, to destroy all this history of his? God will not allow him. If he goes, God will defend PDP. If he goes, he will meet the wrath of God. I urge him not to do it. The people courting him now are liars. They lied to get to government. I urge him in the name of God, the very God that made him from nothing, to think about PDP which made him from nothing. He should please reconsider. People are looking at him. You do not destroy the foundation that made you. These people ‘evilized’ him. He is now going to them, to turn him into saint? He should never ever believe in APC. APC is a creation of lies, cultured by lies, maintained with lies.