by Musa Abdullahi
Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, has predicted that the South-west geopolitical zone would not vote for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, as this would amount to the acceptance of the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, as the leader of the Yoruba race.
Lamido, who is also the North-west Coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, further opined that religion and ethnicity would play a major role in the March 28 presidential election, simply because President Goodluck Jonathan is from the south and a Christian and Buhari is a Muslim and a northerner.
He also challenged the APC presidential standard-bearer to state how he intends to confront corruption, which is the major plank of his presidential manifesto, when some former governors of the PDP who are now members of the APC are facing corruption charges in the courts.
In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, Lamido stressed that the presidential election would further divide the country into north and south, based on religious fault lines.
According to the Jigawa governor, “Some elite in the north have made religion the campaign issue. They are supporting Buhari, not because they love him, but simply because he is Muslim from the north and are against President Jonathan because he is from the south and is a Christian. This is the mode of the presidential campaigns in the north.
“But Thank God we are breaking and debunking this myth because the Nigeria of today has gone past that stage. The works of the PDP governors in bringing home the dividends of democracy is gradually presenting President Jonathan as the preferred presidential candidate.
“Even among the elite and northern establishment, Jonathan is seen as the preferred candidate despite the campaign style of the APC in using religion and ethnicity to entice the talakawas (local parlance for the masses).”
He explained that religious sentiments and campaigns on the basis of ethnicity have boosted Buhari’s standing in the north, saying: “People of the north are said to be supporting him because they say that he is one of our own and he is Muslim.
“This is also what is happening in the south. Some of President Jonathan’s supporters in the south are doing so because he is a Christian and from the south. But above all, to the elite, we see him from the prism of what he has done. That is why I said that he is the preferred candidate.”
Lamido, who described Buhari’s corruption mantra as unnecessary rhetoric, wondered how the APC presidential candidate intends to tackle the menace of corruption when some former PDP governors that have defected to the APC are currently facing corruption charges in various courts in the country.
“How would Buhari, if he became president, tackle the corruption cases pending against the former Governor of Gombe, Danjuma Goje, and the former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki. What will he do to them? Will he send them to jail or convict them as he did when he was the military head of state.
“Buhari should come clean and tell Nigerians his blueprint on how to tackle corruption. It is not just shouting about corruption. Let Nigerians know how this would be done,” he said.
Lamido added that the March 28 presidential election would be significant because it would help determine once and for all the true leader of the “Yoruba nation” after the death of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“If the Yorubas vote for Buhari because their son is the national leader of the South-west, then it will prove that (Asiwaju) Bola Tinubu is the undisputed leader of the Yorubas. This is because his people have spoken and therefore hearkened to Tinubu’s directives.
“But if not, then it will be laid to rest that Tinubu is not the leader of the Yorubas. As you can see, some recognised leaders of the South-west have decided and urged their followers in the zone to vote for President Jonathan as the preferred presidential candidate.
“This is why Jonathan will beat Buhari hands down in Yorubaland and indirectly settle the leadership role among the Yorubas.
“In the Second Republic, even in the First Republic, the Yorubas obeyed the directive of Chief Awolowo and voted according to his instruction. This is what the coming election will prove and I bet you, the reverse would be the case,” he said.