Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, on Sunday evening, reconciled with his estranged major political ally in the state, Chief Julius Amah-Orji, popularly known as ‘Ochiliozuo’ (He who caters for the people en masse). The relationship between the duo cracked when Umahi appointed Amah-Oji’s main political foe in Afikpo South Local Government Area, Chief Eni…
FOR not defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after initial permutations and indicators, the former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji (Dr.) Sule Lamido, has been branded a traitor by one of the promoters of the ruling party! If such associational disequilibrium is a characteristic of treachery, this misunderstood giant that I know will not delay the reaffirmation of his subscription to the PDP ideological platform.
Sule Lamido is no longer history in the making, but history already made for obvious reasons that border on good governance and radical populism. What are those things that distinguish this man and make him a traitor to oppositional forces, but a hero to others? He was born on August 30, 1948, at Bamaina Village in Birnin Kudu LGA of Jigawa State. We need a terse biographical profile of this man to appreciate the fact or falsity of his current perception, misperception and reputational status.
His formal education started in 1955 at Birnin Kudu Primary School. In 1962, Sule Lamido was admitted to the popular Barewa College, Zaria, from where he graduated in 1966. At this point, his affluence, aristocratic swagger, haughtiness and overflowing confidence had become full blown as his enigmatic reading by some people rooted. These elements will flourish in the years ahead to the consternation and annoyance of his vanishing clan of hypercritics.
In 1969, this lover of the masses anchored at the Nigeria Tobacco Company (NTC), Zaria, first as Quality Control Officer with fond memories of how “throughout that one year, every cigarette manufactured in Zaria must have passed under my strict quality control supervision.”
Later at NTC, Zaria, he became Zonal Salesman, first for the North West areas of Gusau and Sokoto before assuming responsibilities for North East comprising Taraba, Bauchi, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. His assigna- tion also extended to Benue and Plateau states.
Sule Lamido left the NTC in 1972 and joined Christlieb as Northern Field Manager and later Brand Manager (Provisions). These employment opportunities enabled him to visit most parts of the country and became one of the few politicians who understood the countrysides before becoming democrats.
From regular employment to entrepreneurship as he quit Christlieb in 1987 to establish Bamaina Holding Company which metamorphosed to Bamaina Company Limited with tentacles in textile, oil and, as he captures it, just anything that had the potentialities to spin money.
Now politics: in 1979, he became a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) where he was a member of copious committees. Sule Lamido was elected the pioneer chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Kano State. In late 1992, he was made the National Secretary of the SDP in which capacity he played a key role in the victory of Chief M. K. O. Abiola in the 1993 presidential election.
In 1994, Sule Lamido became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank, his first major political appointment in life. A member of the National Constitutional Conference of 1995 who became critical of the self-succession plot of the late Gen. Sani Abacha through
his membership of the G-8 comprising former Vice-President Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, former governor of Plateau State Solomon Lar, the late Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Bola Ige, former governor of Kano State, the late Abubakar Rimi, Adamu Ciroma, Prof. Jerry Gana, Senator Francis Ella, Dr. Iorchia Ayu and my friend Sule Lamido, the last standing PDP founding father. These distinguished Nigerians constituted the opposition platform for the most notable Northern politicians and like-minds from other parts of the country, whose rejection of the junta leader destabilized the latter’s self-succession project. Consequently, Sule Lamido was arrested and detained in early 1998 by the scrawny power usurpers! How on earth can any sane fellow refer to any of these eminent G-8 gentlemen as a traitor?
Elsewhere, they would be regarded as national heroes, icons of democracy here, and accorded summit respect by Nigerians, particularly embryonic politicians and later-day members of the PDP and other parties. Defectors should equally respect them because they are men of humility, integrity, conscience and nobility.
When Sule Lamido was released from detention in mid-1998, he rejoined his political group which had, by now, scaled up to a body called the G-34, the forebear of what is today known as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). With this kind of political background I do not see why anything should be held against this man for not dumping a party he laid the foundation. In any case, Sule Lamido strongly believes that the APC is a concoction of disgruntled elements who came together to actualize selfish ambitions which the PDP could not tolerate. “The PDP may be bad in some aspects, but the APC is irredeemably worse. It does not have any credibility,” this villified governor said during a private session with this columnist recently.
In June 1999, Sule Lamido was nominated for ministerial appointment by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and subsequently confirmed by the Senate. He emerged the Foreign Affairs Minister on June 30, 1999, when the ministers were sworn in. In late 2003, Sule Lamido returned to his native Jigawa State after serving as Foreign Affairs Minister from 1999-2003. He went straight into opposition leadership against the ANPP government in the state. By late 2007, he clinched the governorship candidacy of the PDP, emerging the governor on May 29, 2007.
From his political antecedents, I still cannot fathom how and at what point Sule Lamido became a traitor. He has always had a pedigree of radicalism and belief in communal goals as opposed to most politicians’ selfishness, distrust and deception. A democrat by all yard- sticks who places country and society above his person, Sule Lamido may not be a saint as nobody is, but he has exhibited so much can- dour and passion for the transformation of his people and the society generally.
Sule Lamido’s intimidating physicality, tactfulness, political wisdom, profuse humility, profundity of interconnect with the downtrodden, forthrightness in the face of tidal waves of opinions and the quintessence of accomplishments as Jigawa State governor beginning from 2007 are the distinctive pillars of his exemplary leadership that templates good governance. A man of these lofty and robust antecedents cannot be a traitor.
You may not appreciate Sule Lamido’s transformation of Jigawa State if you had not gone there before 2007! For me with both experiences, it is simply marvelous beyond my celebrated descriptive acumen! A certainty: Sule Lamido is not, cannot and will never be a traitor. His background, attitudinal disposition and pact with the less privileged foreclose such charlatanistic deviancy.
I have a feeling that Lamido may be one of the aspirants in the next presidential poll.