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Lamido’s ‘Tribute to History’

Last Tuesday, the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali, was in Jigawa State on the invitation of the state governor,…

Last Tuesday, the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali, was in Jigawa State on the invitation of the state governor, Sule Lamido, to inaugurate one of the roads he has built. The event started a new celebration regime christened ‘Tribute to History’, a project initiated by the governor to appreciate persons, according to him, who have in one way or the other, contributed to the advancement of mankind, democracy and good governance.

But what keeps dominating public discourse is why Ahmadu Ali, whom critics say aided the PDP and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, in the alleged theft of the people’s mandate for the party in 2007.

They are also asking: why not personalities like the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, or other serving top party officials like the PDP national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, or other top government functionaries.

By his “Tribute to History” idea, Lamido reasons that there cannot be today without yesterday and that positive  political values are disconnected when there is no recourse to history and the celebration of past heroes.

By his estimation, Ali is a hero who should be celebrated. He feels that Ali provided leadership for the party on which crest he (Lamido) and others rode to power. It doesn’t matter what critics say.

Lamido said when he received Ali at the Government House in Dutse, “I think that in dignifying you, in appreciating you, we are also re-defining Nigeria’s political terrain which is a bit bankrupt because there isn’t much in terms of understanding what we can call history of heroes, their roles, their sacrifices. That is why today, in the Nigerian political environment, we have this crisis of legitimacy because people who have no understanding of what is called politics, are parading themselves as leaders. And I thought the way to save Nigeria is to find a way by which we open a new vista whereby political leadership is fully appreciated.”

 Lamido maintained that many who are in positions of authority today might not know how the party leaders fought and made sacrifices for the offices they enjoy today, adding that by the sacrifices of heroes, Nigeria now has a stable “democratically” elected leaders at all levels.

His words,  “a number of us may not know what you went through to bring about victory for the PDP and what you and former president Olusegun Obasanjo did as our leaders; he as the Commander–in-Chief, you as the garrison commander, we as your very willing infantry, prepared to be led, believing that in that leadership, we were sure of going to safety. We were willing to follow you blindfolded because we knew what you are, what you can do and today, it is all thanks to you that Nigeria has got a very stable political leadership at all levels of government.”

 Lamido reflected on the tortuous political journey that culminated in the party’s victory in 2007, and declared that PDP’s elected officials at all levels must rise in defense of their mandate.

According to him, the PDP members, particularly elected officials, have kept silent in the face of unwarranted attack by the opposition on the party, its mandate and the electoral umpires, creating a scenario that the PDP is the worst culprit of electoral fraud in the country.

Lamido believes that an internal arrangement that would encourage people-based electoral reforms should be preferred to calling names or foisting any foreign orders on individuals or institutions.

Lamido’s call for the defence of the mandate was echoed by Ali who emphasized, “we fought for it, we worked for it, we campaigned for it, we suffered for it, we prayed for it. Now God has given it to us, we must thank Him.” 

The former national chairman said Lamido was a gift to the people of Jigawa State, being a member of the old political bloc, an experienced grassroots politician who is aware of the problems of the poor.

He said that by what he saw in the state, Lamido has delivered over 80% programme of the PDP in the state, adding, however, that Lamido has the capacity to do more for Jigawa and Nigeria.

His words: “You are lucky to have mined this gem. I mean Alhaji Sule Lamido. He is a graduate and political philosopher of authentic ideology who understands very much, the problems of poverty and the poor. And he has gone all round to translate his philosophy practically on the ground. A son who was once our foreign Affairs Minister, Nigeria’s eye in the entire world, came from here, Jigawa State. This is him. You cannot be luckier than to have him because there is nothing he has not seen anywhere.”

Ali advised people of the North West to stand firm and win the support of other people from other zones of the north as the nation journeys towards the 2011 presidency, adding that when that is done, they could have a smooth sail.

Lamido had earlier shed light on the concept of the Sawaba Declaration which the state plans to use this year’s democracy day to mark.

His words: “Nigeria celebrates democracy on May 29. Democracy is a system that allows you to choose who will lead you, an opportunity to exercise the right to choose and be chosen. On August 8, 1948 eight people gathered in Kano and unfolded the Sawaba Declaration. Some of the people were Abba Maikwaru, Mudi Sipikin, Bello Ijumu, Baballiya Manaja, Magaji Dambatta, and Abdulkadir Danjaji. They challenged the then political system which the Emirs ran. They challenged what we call the franchise; the right to stand for elections, to vote and be voted for which then was based on privilege. You became a councilor or minister on the basis of family background. What we call the human right was missing. There were ‘superior’ human beings; it was a system that the NEPU Declaration challenged in 1948. Today, the efforts and struggles made by these men over 60 years ago are being threatened.

“The question is; if the present operators are aware of those sacrifices which were made to bring about a government for the people. Our effort today is to pay tributes to these heroes, recognise their roles in history and celebrate them. We are erecting one monuments, which we call Sawaba Monument that will capture the history of the struggle. We intend to create a link between people who now occupy various positions, which 30 years or 50 years ago they wouldn’t have dared to aspire to.”

On how much of the successes can his government attribute to the lessons of this piece of history, he said, “It is not about my performance in office. We need to build a bridge, fill the lacuna so that we can restore the legacy of our founding fathers who fought to change an oppressive system. It would be an irony if a beneficiary of that effort today would turn out to be more royal than the king.”

Speaking on whether corruption is rampant now than then, he said, “corruption is a scourge brought about by wrong systems. Those who are leaders today are hoisting their own kind of values and these values are becoming more materialistic; the notion of service is lost because they have no pedigree; they don’t have political antecedents. When parties were banned in 1992 and there was this law banning all political leaders, these were the consequences because what you had in place was a generation of political leaders who were not well groomed in the generation of UPN, NPN, NPC and NEPU.

According to him, “these people were orphans in the system and they grew on their own and created values based on the expediency of the moment. And for you to make headway, you must build on history. If not, you are going to have problems. This culture of acquisition, greed, insensitivity to people’s wellbeing, arrogance and unquestioned wealth, is a product of a disconnection from the values of the past.”pirit of ‘Tribute to History’, an initiative he says he launched to celebrate past leaders.

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