2015: As Jonathan Faces Lamido Amid Obasanjo’s Endorsement
By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Leadership
In this report, Chibuzo Ukaibe, looks at the brewing intrigues over former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of the Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido for President ahead of 2015.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has never hidden his preference for the Jigawa state governor, Dr. Sule Lamido, to be president by 2015.
While it was gathered that as far back as December 2009 Obasanjo started lobbying for Lamido to be the PDP’s vice presidential candidate in the 2011 elections, the former president has since then remained Lamido’s chief cheerleader for the top job.
Not long after the 2011 elections, early signs leaked about a strain relationship between Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan. The bad blood culminated in the resignation of Obasanjo as Board of Trustees (BOT) chairman of the PDP, in 2012, a clear sign at the time that there was a crisis of confidence.
While some political watchers posited that the resignation was due to the waning influence of Obasanjo in a Jonathan’s government, others believed it was connected to the perceived ambition of Jonathan to continue in office beyond 2015.
At this time, the talk of a one-term presidency for Jonathan was allegedly part of the deal brokered within the PDP, particularly with the governors and other stakeholders. The now controversial one-term deal, which the presidency has consistently denied, was for power to return to the North by 2015.
In any case, the relationship between Obasanjo and Jonathan further deteriorated when the candidate of the former president for the BOT job, former PDP chairman, Chief Ahmadu Ali, was dropped and his estranged friend, ally and former BOT chairman, Chief Tony Anenih returned to a position which interestingly, Obasanjo had edged him off unceremoniously.
This signaled the walling-off of the former president from the inner circle in the president, and a gradual decapitation of Obasanjo from the affairs of the party(particularly in the South West) which culminated in the weed out of his henchmen in the PDP. The victims in this power game are the embattled former national secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as well as the sacked national vice chairman South West of the party, Segun Oni, who has now joined the APC.
With the political battle line drawn between Obasanjo and Jonathan, the former president has since not stopped to project the Jigawa State governor for the Presidency come 2015.
In a move that intended to not just spite his estranged godson but signal to his (Obasanjo) followers the anointed one, the former president on May 29, 2013, rather than be in Abuja, to celebrate democracy day and unveiling of mid-term report by Jonathan, chose to attend the First Jigawa State Investment Forum in Dutse, where he showered praises on Governor Sule Lamido for being a brilliant performer in whom he (Obasanjo) was well pleased to have helped to office.
Although some other heads of state, like Generals Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar, who were also invited like Obasanjo, did not turn up for the event, Jonathan’s estranged godfather elected the Jigawa event to clear certain rumours which had been making the rounds about his endorsement for Lamido, who had been touted to run with the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, as his vice president- Amaechi has since joined the APC, while Lamido remains in the PDP.
There in Jigawa, Obasanjo in a subtle jab against the presidency said; “You can help someone to find a job but you can’t help the person to do the job. In this case, we found a job for Sule Lamido and Sule Lamido was ready, willing, able and competent to do the job.”
With the sour turn of events in the PDP under the leadership of its former chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, leading to the controversial removal of Oyinlola, the August national convention walkout, the emergence of the new PDP, and ultimately the defection of the G5 governors of Sokoto, Adamawa, Kwara, Rivers and Kano as well as former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and other PDP chieftains, it was clear that Obasanjo, in spite of his invitation as well as former head of state, Babangida to help salvage the party could do little for it under Tukur.
Still, Lamido, who was an integral member of the then G7 and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, refused to join their G5 counterparts to move to the APC.
Besides the belief in some quarters that his speculated presidential ambition made him stay back in PDP, considering that he stands a better chance than in the APC, Lamido, believes he has genuine bragging rights with the PDP as he is not just one of run of the mill founding fathers of PDP.
More so, analysts who have observed his political sojourn, note that his knack for activism has always influenced his politics.
An experienced politician, Lamido entered politics as a member of the left-of-center People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in the Nigerian Second Republic. He became National Secretary of the Social Democratic Party during the Nigerian Third Republic.
In 1995, he went onto the National Constitutional Conference as an appointee of the Federal Military Government but the seeming romance between the politician and the military terminated too abruptly once the politician became a critic of self- succession, particularly as a member of the G-18, the opposition platform of the most notable Northern politicians, whose rejection of General Sani Abacha, destabilised the latter’s self-succession project.
It culminated in his arrest and detention in early 1998 by the regime. When Sule Lamido was released from detention in mid-1998, he rejoined his political group which had, by now, moved into the national platform called the G-34. Subsequently, the group formed the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. With his credentials in forming the PDP, he has repeatedly maintained that he would remain in the party.
As such, upon the resignation of Tukur (early this year) which he had campaigned for while in the G7 struggle and emergence Dr Adamu Mu’azu, Lamido, being the first governor to pay solidarity visit to the new chairman of the PDP cautioned against lack of internal democracy and imposition in the party.
Lamido, who upbraided the NWC under Tukur for not carrying members of the party along, warned against the imposition of candidates at primaries, noting that there should be level playing field for all candidates.
The governor, who admitted he stayed away from the party headquarters for a long time added that if the process of selection of candidate was seen to be free and fair, there is no reason it would not be accepted. He also called for inclusiveness in the administration of the party.
But with the current security challenges facing the country which culminated in the series of protests (at both local and international levels) on perceived abysmal response of the current administration to the kidnapped girls, Obasanjo has yet again pick up the campaign for Lamido, it would seem.
With the eye of the international community now fixated on Nigeria, the former president, who visited Jigawa State on May 13 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jigawa State Government to adopt a junior secondary school and a primary school in Kudai, Dutse, said given Lamido’s background and pedigree, he is capable of ruling the country.
His words: “Given his background, performance and credibility, he is competent. With his exposure, he can stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody.
“If it is the wish of the people, it is okay. He did not tell me he is wishing but being the wish of the people let’s wait and see. Based on his track record, would you say he is not competent?”
Before now, Obasanjo had not lashed at this administration, calling it out on corruption, and questioning its moral stance and leadership credentials as contained in the famous memo, ‘Before It Is Too Late’.
He further resigned active participation in the affairs of the party, after his call for the relegation of Kashamu Buruji, as leader of the South West PDP was unheeded to. What’s more, he opened his doors to some of his key political rivals in the APC, including Gen Buhari, Bola Tinubu and others.
But like, Lamido, the former president has refused to join the APC even though some of his lieutenants have pitched tents in the opposition party.
Whether he is waiting for the appropriate time to move out of the party he served under as president for eight years or whether he hopes to be courted back into relevance is a matter (a craving he hardly resists for a veteran politician who loves the spotlight) is a matter of conjecture.
However, political events at these times are as unpredictable as they are subject to manuovering and negotiations of the key political players.
Already there are reports that a meeting held between Jonathan and Obasanjo over the political trajectory of the PDP and conditions over who flies its ticket in 2015.
According to report, one of the demands is for the removal of Vice- President Namadi Sambo for Lamido.
A party source was quoted as saying the meeting held Obasanjo at a meeting with President Jonathan last weekend upon the latter’s arrival from Paris where he attended a summit aimed at combating terrorism in the sub region
But a reaction from the Jigawa state government has denied such an arrangement as untrue.
However, with the popularity of Jonathan taking a hit in these trying times, the president, as speculated, was preparing grounds for his formal declaration to contest the 2015 election, as laid out by the series of unity rallies so far conducted in some regions of the country.
What’s more? It is gathered that the Jigawa State governor is revving up his campaign machinery for 2015 to run under the PDP, at a time the idea of a first right of refusal ticket for the president was hinted at within the party even though the party has not officially taken a position on it.
Already the Jigawa State House of Assembly has thrown its weight behind calls that the state Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, should contest the Presidency in 2015.
Expectedly, this is just the beginning of political fireworks; one that would require all of the political shrewdness of the PDP structure, as speared-headed by its chairman, Adamu Mu’azu to manage.
If anything, his good will and political capital as epitomised in his sobriquet, the “game-changer” would be called to bear in these delicate times.
Culled from Leadership
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com