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Friday, 28 February 2014

What Does Tambuwal Want?

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Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal

Personality Focus
After several months of publicly siding with the All Progressives Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, remains unable to declare for the opposition. His prevarication has left many wondering what the speaker wants. Ojo M. Maduekwe writes
As political re-alignments continue to take shape in the country ahead the 2015 elections, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, appears to be in dilemma. His political career is at stake here. It’s unclear whether he is for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) or remains with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Many hold the view that although his body is with the PDP; his soul belongs to the APC. Tambuwal has come out to deny claims that his allegiance was with the opposition. Those close to him, like many Nigerians, believe that his remaining in the PDP is just to bid time and watch the turn of events. They believe that he’s resolved to leave the PDP. When and to which party, no one knows.

The leadership of the APC has not stopped wooing the Speaker to defect from the PDP and become one of their members. It was reported last year that former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and a national leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, held a private meeting with the Speaker to persuade him to join the party.

As well, it was allegedly reported that when last year the five PDP governors, out of the defunct G-7, who dumped the PDP for the APC, engaged in a private meeting with Buhari, Tinubu and the APC governor’s at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, Tambuwal was at the meeting briefly for about 30 minutes, before leaving.

Presently, Tambuwal is even more pressured being that the governor of his state, Aliyu Wamakko, had since left the PDP and defected to the APC. Normally, like the House of Representatives members and Senators who followed their governors in defecting to the APC, Tambuwal was expected to follow in the footsteps of his governor, Wamakko.

At the time Wamakko was suspended by the national leadership of the PDP, as was then led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the governor had described Tukur as an incompetent party leader who should be sacked immediately, saying, “The people of the state are not fighting PDP but injustice and unfairness.”

Seen by Wamakko during the declaration was Tambuwal, who was reported to have pledged the continuous loyalty of all the National Assembly members from the state to Wamakko and the PDP, maintaining that under the leadership of Wamakko, the state remained a united political family.

“The purported suspension is of no effect to us and there is no retreat or surrender. Wamakko will continue to be our leader even after he finished his term as a governor,” Tambuwal was reported to have said.

Political watchers said his refusal to join Wamakko, after making such a bold appearance, was a deft political calculation. They thought he needed to observe how the defection in the House would unfold before deciding whether it was wise to defect or maintain the status quo for the time being.

But it appears ironic that after years of frolicking with the APC and shunning many events and gathering sponsored by his party, the Speaker himself is alleged to be unsure where to pledge his allegiance; hence his reported recent consultation around the country.

He was in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the weekend, allegedly to consult with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, another PDP stalwart whose membership of the party remains suspect. After the closed-door meeting, Tambuwal briefed journalists that his visit to Obasanjo was to consult on ‘matters of national interest.’ He would even cite the PIB bill as an example.

“Baba Obasanjo is a leader not only in Nigeria but in Africa, and it is only appropriate for us in positions of authority and leadership to occasionally come and consult Baba on matters of national interest.”

Submitting that he was still a member of PDP, Tambuwal, regarding the suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi by President Jonathan said “Whether it (the suspension) is lawful, legal or illegal, the personality involved has told everybody that he is going to court and I believe he is already in court on that suspension.”

Afterwards, the Speaker visited the State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, where he described the on-going urban renewal programme in the state as a display of politics of development, noting that the state government, for its successes in terms of infrastructural development, has re-defined the state’s landscape.

“I was even asking myself where the governor has gotten the money for these laudable road projects. This is my first official visit to Abeokuta and I can tell you that I am impressed by what I have seen. Sometime last year, I was in Ijebu-Ode and I saw what the governor is doing there too,” he said. Amosun is APC and Tambuwal’s comment was certainly an endorsement.

It is expected that by now Tambuwal should know which party to pitch tent, but looking at the Speaker’s situation from his standpoint, one gets a clearer picture of his dilemma. Although the PDP has never been home for him, due to the way he emerged as Speaker, APC’s failure to maintain its short-lived majority position in the House is not helping Tambuwal’s case.

With the PDP leading the House, the rumour is that should Tambuwal defect to the APC, with the current House classification, there’s the likelihood that PDP, through its numerical strength, wouldn’t hesitate in taking over control of the House leadership and relegating Tambuwal to an ordinary House member.

Perhaps, the proper question Nigerians should be asking is not what Tambuwal wants but what he’s waiting for. It’s been long established that all things being equal, the Speaker of the House would defect to the APC. But as it looks, with the PDP regaining majority lead in the House, he won’t be defecting soon. Doing so would be suicidal, and could cost him the Speakership, obviously.

Naturally, Tambuwal wouldn’t have had so much challenge if elections into public offices, especially in the complexity called Nigeria, were all about achievements, without regards to political intrigues, calculations and scheming. If that was so, then Tambuwal would not have found himself in this dilemma of trying to adjust to the changing political dynamism in Nigeria.

What does Tambuwal want other than to further his political career and remain relevant, under a political party that shares same ideology as he does? There have been speculations that the APC may want to field him for the presidential election in 2015. Also is the rumour that his state governor, Wamakko, would likely be handing Sokoto over to him in 2015.

However, the speculated presidential kite seems most likely being that as the number four man in the country at the moment, going to become governor of Sokoto State in 2015 might appear more like a demotion. Besides, many believe that with the bridges he’s built as Speaker of the House of Representatives, such achievements would serve him well if he were to lead Nigeria as president.

Former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, was reported earlier in the year 2013 to have said Tambuwal’s conduct “has shown that the upcoming generation has the capacity to sustain the labour of our heroes past.  When leaders like Tambuwal have delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher.” A shot at the presidency is higher and more prestigious than vying for Sokoto governorship, many would reckon.

If he decides to observe Babangida’s advice and take a shot at the presidency, many Nigerians believe he has more chances with the APC than the PDP which never liked his outspokenness and public romance with the opposition. Also, whichever party he decides to pitch tent with, it is believed that his credentials speak volumes for him and Nigerians will most likely back him.

Although his failure to decide on time may cause some time-bound damage, it does not really matter what those opposed to the Speaker think, because from his achievements and quality leadership, the fact remains that Tambuwal is a material for the future and poignantly, an asset to Nigeria.

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