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Monday, 12 November 2012 00:00
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Sule Lamido: Nigerians break the rules and expect their leaders to be different

Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, is a model in leadership. Thoughtful, prudent, modest and unassuming, Lamido does not believe that an elected should make excuses with challenges for non performance. At the same time, Lamido believes that even those branded non performers are performing according to their abilities.

But he insists that the age long saying that a society gets a leader it deserves is true. Thus, he says in this interview with some senior Journalists and editors in Duste that Nigerians cannot behave badly on their own and expect their leaders to deliver. By his arguments, developing Nigeria should be a collective sacrifice between the leaders and the led. Lamido spoke soon after President Goodluck Jonathan left for Abuja after a two-day state visit to Jigawa State on Tuesday. GEOFFREY EKENNA was there.

A lot of people, including the President, believe you are doing very well.  You appear to be on a mission. What is exactly the motivation for all these things you are doing in the state?
It is a typical routine Nigeria question. You met a governor who went  for campaigns asking for votes. Why form political parties? Why ask for my motivation after I have been leading in the last 30 years.  There are a number of things in your country which you do not like, and you now sit back and say what  can you do to change the situation, what can you do to assist, what can you do to improve upon  what you(journalists) write rather than complain, rather than just criticising.

So you need to see what you can do to make the Nigerian dream a reality because we knew what those who came before us stood for in their time. We knew their sacrifices. The Tafawa Balewas, the Ahmadu Bellos, the Obafemi Awolowos, the Namdi Azikiwes, the Tarfas, the Aminu Kanos.  It’s all about their country and not their individual selves; the passion with which they worked for their country. After getting us our independence, we needed to build on what they had achieved   and opposing. 

We have been given a clearly defined roadmap by our founding fathers for the overall wellbeing of the Nigerian person, his dignity, his security, to make him the best human being on the face of the earth. This was their dream. So, what are you and I doing to realise the dreams?

What are the obstacles you have encountered regularly in actualising this dream?
Tell me, any  engagement in life that there is no obstacle. If you are getting married, before getting married, you come across obstacles. Do you stop that? Even after marriage, there are problems. So, problems are part of human nature and you must have the capacity to overcome or deal with them.

Is there any one you consider insurmountable?
You are talking of human problems. If   they are human problems, they should be overcome. If they are God’s,  like the flood,  I can’t stop that because that is outside of me. But so long as they are human obstacles and I am a human being, I should be able to overcome them. That’s why I am governor; that’s why I  was elected. They  have that trust in me by saying ‘we believe in you, you can do it’. For me to now say, sorry, there are obstacles, I cannot perform, is certainly not part of the bargain. Say so to them that you can only function if there are no obstacles and see whether they will  elect you.

Not even paucity of fund? 
I know my income. You run your own house (referring to one of the reporters) with your own income. Maybe, you earn more than the guy in Mirror, what does he do? To start screaming? Certainly no! Rather, he  manages his own wife and the entire family. So, the issue of quantum of money is out of it because in life, the more you have, the more you need as people will keep asking for more and more.  As much as possible, manage what you have and you won’t run into any problem.

What is this concept of Jigawa as an emerging new world all about?
This is not my own creation. It’s just like Lagos is called Centre of Excellence, Niger “The Power State”. These are things I met on ground. But to me, I came at a time the state was being perceived to be below the sea level and its failings in all aspects of human indices such as health, education, infrastructure and even in our mindset.  Having been elected, I was able to identify the problems and confronting them would not pose to me any major problem. The essence of my position is to simply confront and deal with the problems and get them demolished. This is the essence of each office.

The office has a function; it is a responsibility; it is a duty and confronting  these problems could be very, very huge and  could be horrendous.  Definitely, there will be problems and as they emerge, you stay there and face them.  You will have no excuse not to confront these problems because when you were asking for the mandate, there was no condition given.

You did not say elect me and we will function under this condition or circumstances. You say elect me and I will function under whatever condition I find myself, no matter the enormity of the problems, no matter the paucity of fund. Give me the trust.
That’s what you said. So, by the time you are there, you begin to find excuses for your inability to confront some challenges. What are you there for?

How does this your concept align with the  reality of Nigeria?
 The Nigerian environment is your own reflection. You are a Nigerian essentially. Being a governor, president, member House of Assembly or National Assembly does not transform you to something unique and different from other Nigerians. Stop ascribing this power to deal with these problems to the leaders alone. You are part of the problem first and foremost.

Because one you want to see your governor and the first day in office, you want him to solve your own problems instantly. You want him to go under the rules, law and order. We need to have discipline first to work for the system and commitment to make sacrifices for the society and even the patience to allow things take shape. You are not disciplined, you are impatient and not patriotic and yet you want the best. Who will do it for you? Nobody!

But it has to flow from leadership?
But the leadership is produced by the society. When you were going to school, you were being prepared to grow and assume  responsibilities. But at a point in time, you abandon that particular formation. The governor or any other elected public official are just like you. They are your school mates. Why must you look up to them to provide the right leadership? They are your own reflection. What I am saying is that we must have faith in ourselves, we must believe in our capacity.

We must come together to address our common problem and make sacrifices, work hard and nurture to develop. So, if you are a governor, that does not absolve you from support from other people. In a country where people want effective power supply, yet they don’t pay their electricity bills. People want good roads, they don’t  pay taxes, they  don’t pay tenement rates. A number of citizens’ responsibilities  have been abandoned. 

So, where do we get the money? That’s why there is over reliance on oil. God gave you the talent and the intellect to be able to conquer your own environment. So, if you are asking about government and performance, what is being done to make sure the governors function?  The Europe we have been talking about, I have been saying this people  work very hard; they are law abiding and operate within the rules and regulations.  In Nigeria, to obey simple traffic law is a problem. The Japanese or German who made the buses we drive ensures that a red light blinks when the boot does not close but Nigerians would load and use rope in tying it round and they see the light blinking.

There is impunity all over, yet you want governors, president, senators to cure you of these ills.  What are you doing to help us  help ourselves?

You appear to be talking of the ideal. The reality is that most of our leaders do not perform in office.?
What is ideal? Are you ideal? Simply, you cannot demand what you don’t give. You can ask from others what you cannot give them. What I am saying is that if Nigerians would be able to pay tenement rates for all their buildings and make proper declaration in income tax, there will be so much money. But how many people in Abuja pay what is called tenement rate or property tax? How many of them?   Nations are built on people’s sacrifices. If you want the best, you work for it. It is just like a tree.

If you plant a tree, nurture it with water and manure, it will bear fruits. You just don’t sit down somewhere and say I want these and you don’t make sacrifice. It doesn’t work. Our newly acquired system and values are today undermining national growth. Even when we speak politically about government or people in government, we don’t show restraint. There is no circumspect in what we say. You can say anything and when you say anything, you destroy the sense of honour of those growing under you, because the way we abuse and criticise Nigeria , those coming under us will imbibe it.

There appears to be no opposition in the state. Why?
There is a difference about me and what you think  you know about a other people. My election as a governor does not and cannot confer on me any particular talent or wisdom than that of others.

I am just like any other person you can think of. There are others who are not governors but who by the special grace of Allah, are far better than me. So, my role here is to say I am here for the people. After election, the government is owned by the people, it is no longer a PDP affair but for Jigawa people. Political parties are avenues for acquiring power but by the time you get there, you should be guided by fairness and justice.

Therefore, whether you voted for me or not, I have responsibility to you and also have some expectations from  you. Where we differ is when I make the government personal and then there is an alienation and a great disconnect. But what we did here in Jigawa is to tell the people that take the government, it is yours. It is a collective. You have been made a partner and as a partner, you know somebody in that government.  You can oppose me when I am doing the wrong policy. Your are free because it is your right but not to destroy me . The office of the governor or president should not be demystified, it should not be eroded. It  must have some aura and myth around it.

So, because of our status as a failing and sinking state when I came in, I said the cream of Jigawa elites doesn’t manifest those failures  being ascribed to us. The Jigawa indigene has in him all the attributes, all the status of any group in Nigeria-very good education and very, very prosperous.

It was the people who gave us education through their efforts. We are their investment, we only seem to appropriate this opportunity to ourselves. So, we need to restore the linkage between the leadership and followership and when there is linkage, it restores connectivity; it inspires and motivates and you can also demand for sacrifice on their part. So, that is how it should be. I am not doing anything unique from any other person in Jigawa State. I am only doing my job as a governor and I will leave this place in the next three years.

Are you preparing for the 2015 presidential election?
Again, if your question is genuine and sincere, devoid of any mischievous insinuations as to further distort and  create an endemic problem, why do you ask.  When Obasanjo(former President ) became the president, did you ask him? Every human being would be what God says he would be. You cannot be what God says you won’t be. So let us believe in faith so that we begin to remove these areas of friction, of misunderstanding, of criticism. Let us distance ourselves from insinuation because you may be unavailable and somebody reading answer to the question may misinterpret it.

How do you fund all these ongoing developments projects in the state?
Jigawa is a state in a hurry. We are very much in a hurry. We are far, far, far behind in this race and we won’t to catch up, and we cannot catch up without  embarking on these programmes. With regards to funding, we cut our coat according to our own size.

Whatever we do is within our own budgetary provision based on our specific income. We follow the budget to the letter. Whatever we say we will do, we will do it.  And if the earnings accruing do not meet the expectation, people understand. That’s why we are able to attain 90 per cent implementation every year because if you embark on a programme and it somehow slows down, then we make sure we push it over the years.  We are not indebted to anybody in terms of loan.

What are your secret fears?
In my personal capacity or? Yes, I have wives and children. I love them very much and want their comfort and wellbeing , and so, hoping I don’t fail as a father and as a husband because of their expectations  from me. And where I fail to meet certain expectations expected of me, I get a bit worried.

As a governor in this office, I  got elected and by the time I leave the office, somebody else will come. It’s not a personal office. So, I don’t have any fear for this office. It  is not my problem.  I am simply doing what I am supposed to do within the mandate given me. By the time I leave here, the concern of the people is how to bring another person here. That is their worry and not mine.

You dream Jigawa in 10, 15 years time?
Like a Nigerian from Jigawa State, like you coming from your own village, local government, state and the country, there are things you want  for your local government, village to make it the best ever in the world. My wishes for Jigawa is that it should be the nation’s reference point in everything excellent  in Nigeria. That is talking of the environment, the inspiration and all what have you.  But wishes are not horses.