Scared of being hunted down on corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa today endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s bid for a second term in office.
Mr. Lamido had recently vowed to oppose President Jonathan’s re-election ambition in 2015. But a close associate of the governor’s told SaharaReporters that Mr. Lamido had to come to terms with the imperative of shelving his ambition for the fear of incurring investigation and possible prosecution by the EFCC. “The executive governor of Jigawa, Alhaji Lamido, knows that they [President Jonathan’s team] were planning to use the EFCC to harass him if he decided to run,” said the source. He added that the governor realized that the machinery of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was totally in the president’s pocket.
“How can you challenge the president when he has all the money, all the party functionaries are loyal to him, and he can use EFCC anyway he wants,” the governor’s associate added.
Mr. Lamido and two of his sons have been accused of extensive acts of graft and money laundering. The EFCC, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, has been investigating the financial scams allegedly perpetrated by the governor and members of his family. The EFCC recently arrested one of his sons. The agency’s investigators say they have traced several corporate fronts used by the governor and his family to siphon off billions of naira in public funds. An EFCC agent told SaharaReporters that Mr. Lamido and his family members were the sole owners and beneficiaries of the companies used in extensive money laundering and looting in Jigawa State.
Other sources within the PDP said Governor Lamido came under intense political pressure to stand down and allow Mr. Jonathan to emerge as the party’s consensus candidate.
“There’s no way realistically the governor could have stood a chance of securing the party’s ticket,” said one party official on condition of anonymity. He blamed former President Olusegun Obasanjo for encouraging Mr. Lamido to aspire to run for the Presidency, but added that the former president’s influence in the ruling party had been severely whittled down.
“I can tell you that even Chief Obasanjo will fully endorse Mr. President,” said the source. “So anybody depending on Chief Obasanjo to help him get the PDP’s presidential ticket is fooling himself.”
With Governor Lamido’s caving, it is not likely that any PDP governor will oppose the president’s re-election.
The Jigawa governor had chickened out after months of declaring that party members in his state had lost confidence in Mr. Jonathan whom he accused of not fulfilling promises made during the 2011 elections.
Jerry Gana, one of President Jonathan’s political associates, told newsmen at the Presidential Villa in Abuja last night that Mr. Lamido had consented to support Mr. Jonathan. Mr. Gana, who spoke to reporters after a meeting of the PDP’s board of trustees, added that there would be no opposition to the president’s candidacy.
The Daily Trust reported that Mr. Gana confirmed Governor Lamido’s decision.Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State had told the party’s board of trustees that Mr. Lamido phoned him during a meeting of party governors and announced his decision to back Mr. Jonathan for re-election. Mr. Akpabio disclosed that the Jigawa governor directed the state’s deputy governor, who attended the meeting, to signa document endorsing the president.
According to the paper, Mr. Gana stated, “the BoT was so informed today about this and that decision by the governors was fully endorsed in a motion by the BoT on its own. Having received that news, the BoT also unanimously resolved that because of the excellent work which Mr. President has done, because of the mature way he has been leading Nigeria, because of the humble, dedicated and patriotic way he has been handling very sensitive issues, the BoT is delighted, convinced and overwhelmed by the fact that we've a very impressive candidate.”