By Philip Agbese
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the Governor of Sokoto State, is a man who will soon be consumed by his inordinate ambition. He will be consumed not because he dared to aspire to the highest office in the land but because of the questionable route has decided to travel in his quest to clinch the nation’s number one job. He thinks he has struck the magic bullet that will see the whole nation eating out of his palm.
Tambuwal, who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to root, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is now obsessed with blaming and castigating his sojourn in the APC – a misadventure for which every other person other than himself is responsible and one recounted to omit the goodies he left the ruling party with, to wit the governorship seat from where he has amassed the billions of naira required to pursue a presidential ticket PDP style.
The Sokoto governor in the murk with the likes of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is a known money bag as per the office he once held; former Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido; incumbent Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and a host of others who easily dwarf Tambuwal in political stature and nuisance value. He is therefore pressed to make himself stand out so that he can be seen as standing a chance in the presidential primary of the PDP – assuming the party is able to successfully break away from its past and embrace internal democracy.
His strategy he resorted to in order to get the desperately desired visibility is to create out of himself a monstrous hybrid of US President Donald Trump and the outgoing governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, which basically involves an uninhibited brashness on one hand and playing the victim on the other. If each of these negative characteristics had worked for these two politicians under different circumstances in the past, Tambuwal possibly figures they are the cards he needs to play, first to diminish the PDP titans he has found himself in the ring with and then to curry sympathies from Nigerians so that he can be elevated into being the leading candidate of his new party.
Unfortunately, Tambuwal has done these without decorum, at least not a pretence of being decent about it. He therefore found it convenient to make President Muhammadu Buhari’s health the issue of his own campaign as if that is the most pressing thing for Nigeria at the moment. Contrary to what the former Speaker of the House of Representatives would have his followers believe, the leave undertaken by President Buhari to London did not in any way cripple the country – in line with the constitution, he handed over to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who unlike Tambuwal is capable of safeguarding the interest of the boss.
That Tambuwal can allege failing in the country on account of a trip by Mr. President, to say the least, confirms him as a dangerous character that must never be entrusted with anything higher than the position of state governor that he accidentally attained for the mere fact that he rode on the combination of Buhari and APC’s 2015 popularity to win the position. He has now exposed himself as man who will never allow his deputy act in his stead even when it is time to take a necessary annual vacation. If someone in this mould ever becomes the president then whoever is his Vice President can be guaranteed that they would wallow in irrelevance because Tambuwal believes that he is the only person of sound mind and body to get the work done. If this is not rolling megalomaniac into messiah syndrome then nothing else is.
Making issues out the president’s travel further confirms the Sokoto governor to be a bigot. Had the Vice President been of northern extraction and Muslim would he have had issues with Mr. President travelling? The answer is a resounding no. Tambuwal could not reconcile himself with the idea of a southern Christian Professor Yemi Osinbajo standing in for his boss and doing a good job at it. If the Sokoto governor have this kind of disdain for the everyday Nigerian, who do not reduce issues to the banalities of ethnicity and sectarian trivialities, then it defies reason that he has the effrontery to have indicated interested in managing the affairs of a secular state.
Additional evidence of his duplicity in this regard is the way he has craftily left in place, supported and expanded the theological structure built by the previous administrations in Sokoto state while financing same from proceeds of Haram – the federal allocations he has repeatedly collected to fund Islamic extremism is derived in part from taxes on alcohol and piggeries. Yet, a man who has till date failed to make the distinction for his people and save them the peril of indirectly eating things that are forbidden to them, which he has continued to serve them as a governor.
For a man who has proven to be an accomplished liar in addition to being inordinately ambitious, Tambuwal has surpassed even himself and is set to keep besting himself in being dubious. When he is able to take a break from making an issue out of President Buhari’s health it is for him to lament how the country has not been properly managed. He does this without acknowledging his own role and that of his new co-traveller, who had always been on the same side with him anyway.
For this governor, the comical side of his quest is not lost on those who know the true state of affairs in Sokoto for he is one the “Abuja Governors.” People who were elected to pilot the affairs of their state but ended up making Abuja into their state capitals. Tambuwal’s diary easily shows that he has spent more time in Abuja, chasing shadows than he has spent at the duty post for which he is drawing salary and allowances – this itself is a form of corruption that borders on theft because he is receiving money as a governor for almost four years when in reality he has been busy working for his presidential ambition. Of course, this is the kind of behaviour that has not allowed state to deliver the expected impact, which in turn made citizens to become over-dependent on the Federal Government.
The lie this man and his associates have been attempting to make Nigerians believe is that they have no role in the situation the currently finds itself in. In reality, Tambuwal, like a host of others had at some point been on either side of the divide so whatever ills they may point out today is one they actively contributed to creating. That they are now crying wolf should not in any way be construed as them having a change of heart. Far from it. What they are doing is perfecting a strategy they had tested several time: switch sides and castigate the latest place you just defected from as a strategy to rise one notch higher.
When playing the victim card, anyone that hears his laughable lamentations would be misled into thinking Tambuwal was elected as co-president to Buhari and not as governor of Sokoto state. His keening suggests he was expecting to be handed decision making in the presidency in his capacity as an incoming president undergoing tutelage. There is nothing wrong with being mentored to take on greater roles of course. Only that there are no records of anyone entering such agreement with him. At least he has not at any time been found capable and worthy to take on such roles, it is not an assignment for errand disloyal errand boys, something a Hausa speaking person should convey to the mini emperor in case the English concept is too complex for him to digest and understand.
Once he begins to appreciate this intricacy, it is for the populace to ask the Sokoto Governor to put his patriotism to the test. If his rants are genuinely about liberating the country, like he claims, then he should dare to do it without seeking elective office as an immediate payback. His brash and headline seeking posture would then be seen as something propelled by the dissatisfaction he alleges he has with the way things are being run in the country. Even this is not a claim that is original to him because he apparently simply gauged the mood of the vocal minority, the type reflected by the “Our Mumu Don Do” movement and concluded that it was something he can run with without first verifying that the matters raised truly resonate with citizens and not just a few celebrities that have social media platform to harangue the government.
The joke is thus on Tambuwal. He must have thought that the larger population is still in the “mumu” mode, where every lie he tells with his new friends would be swallowed without recourse to verification. We became wiser than that and it has been for a while now, at least we do not intend to become fiefdoms for Najib Waziri, his son. The Sokoto Governor should then tell us when his own “mumu” will come to an end so that he will acknowledge that bashing the government of the day or exploiting Buhari’s health is not going to make us sheepishly place the noose over our own heads for him.
*Agbese is a UK based public affairs commentator.