Tambuwal, Gbajabiamila and the Treacherous Ball -By Adamu Abubakar

Filed under: Political Issues |

1024x610xTambuwal-and-Gbaja-1024x610.jpg.pagespeed.ic.SF7GYbgzvs

 

“He is a stabiliser and a mobiliser and a very humble and true democrat who tackles issues dispassionately. Not only did Femi conceive the Speakership project, he nurtured it and worked tirelessly and assiduously towards its reality.” – Aminu Tambuwal, in Fearless, College Press, page 129.

“When he contested the Speakership, this may sound vainglorious, I single-handedly pushed his (Tambuwal) Speakership bid, not to talk of his presidential bid. But he must have reasons for doing what he did.” – Femi Gbajabiamila, on Channels TV, August 26, 2015.

The two quotes above signify a friendship stretched across the Niger bridge. They indicate that a political friendship does not last once the tentative connection of interests that links it cease to exist. This may be why the opinion that a friend in politics is no friend subsists. The House Leader of the Eighth House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, before and after his misgiving in the last Speakership election, expressed no-regret over his role in Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker of the Seventh House. He stuck to his position that “merit” placed Tambuwal over the former House Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola rather than his tribal affinity with the former. Same goes for Aminu Tambuwal who claimed his support for the incumbent Speaker Yakubu Dogara during the speakership election is just to satisfy “merit” and not “friendship”.

This now begs the question: of merit, tribalism and friendship, which should inform political expediency? Nigerians reacted online in the following sequence, advising that people you meet at the corridors of politics are not your friend. They opine that such people are simply acquaintances with common interests at a particular time. To them, your friends are those you grew up with, playing, quarreling and schooling together in various stages of socialisation. They submit that anybody you meet outside these could not a true friend.

A commentator opined that Northerners can never betray themselves, which was why Tambuwal supported the incumbent Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, while Gbajabiamila betrayed Mulikat in preference for Tambuwal. The ball game is that the Northerners will never betray themselves. As the South continues to play dirty politics, the North will continue to reap the profit. Another provoking commentator simply said merit should hold sway anytime, notwithstanding the possibility of having a “friend” from same “tribe”.
However, there is an exception to the rule when politicians mention the word ‘merit’ in a way that departs from its literally meaning.

According to Tambuwal, he supported Dogara against Gbajabiamila for Speaker in the Eighth Assembly because Dogara merits it. But reading his account one would have wished he had kept quiet for many reasons:

First, after dilly-dallying on the matter for what seemed to be eternity, he finally admitted to being a chronic liar. Governor Tambuwal had several times before and after the election denied to individuals and many of his party leaders that he was not supporting Dogara and that indeed Gbajabiamila was his candidate. When the rumour was so strong, he declared publicly and in the press that he was neutral. Alas, now we know him to be a liar, a coward and a treacherous man.

Second, he has now admitted for posterity that he betrayed the same party that took him to national prominence. He actually worked against the party’s candidate (an anti-party activity) behind the scenes.

As one would expect, the circumstances that made Dogara and Gbajabiamila Speaker and House Leader respectively to produce strong internal checks and criticism, would be healthy for the system. But, it also portend that they would never be ‘friends’ as they have been polarised by a tribal agency which gave twisted meaning to merit, to suit a preconceived common interest. Indeed a friend in politics don’t last because only interests last forever.

Third, Tambuwal, in his most ridiculous statement, said Dogara was more competent because for eight unbroken years, he was the Chairman, House Services Committee and that this was the Committee that handled members’ welfare and was in charge of procurement. Goodness! He unwittingly gave tulip to the rumour that made the rounds before the election that he was supporting Dogara so as to not only cover the dirty financial deals they did together, but to sustain same. He, in fact, referred to Dogara’s tenure as House Services Chairman during the tenures of Speakers Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole. Was it not illegal procurements and over-inflated invoices that led to the downfall of both Speakers? Yet this, to Tambuwal, was the basis of Dogara’s competence over Gbajabiamila!

Fourth, in a desperate attempt to defend and justify his treachery, Tambuwal claimed that eight out of the ten principal officers of the House supported Dogara. Again he lied. What he did not say was that the then minority whip, Samson Osagie was a supporter of Gbajabiamila and that out of the ten, six of them were from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and not supporting a man who had given their party hell for 12 years was not unexpected. It was almost natural that they would go for Dogara, who had just recently crossed from their party, PDP, to the All Progressives Party (APC). Of the ten principal officers of the House, four were from APC, and all except the deputy minority leader, Hon. Suleiman Kawu (a known Tambuwal acolyte) supported Gbajabiamila.

Fifth, accepting to chair a reconciliation committee, when he was a partial arbiter-something he hid from the governors forum-says a lot about Tambuwal’s morals and integrity. If Dogara, according to Tambuwal’s logic, was more competent to be Speaker, how come Tambuwal as chairman of the reconciliation committee still did not want Gbajabiamila as the House Leader? I think this is more a personal fight than ‘for the love of country’.

Sixth, it is interesting that Tambuwal was one of those who played on the intelligence of members of the House by insisting on the independence of the legislature and the need to resist outside influence. But now we know that as Governor of Sokoto State and outside the orbit of the House, he, by admission, was the biggest outside influence of all in the passionate choice for who succeeds him. This is the height of hypocrisy.

What is more perplexing is that Tambuwal’s statement was unnecessary especially at a time the House was just healing and coming together. It was an affront to the sensibilities of the South-West and millions of Gbajabiamila’s admirers all over the world because, take it or leave it, this is a man who has earned the love and admiration of Nigerians who have followed his career over the years.

Another perplexing instance where Gbajabiamila and other legislators had to scale the locked gate of the National Assembly to stop Tambuwal’s impeachment, shows his political dexterity, which was at once national in outlook and very personal. It was a desperate move to save a friend whom he once also helped to betray his erstwhile party (PDP). Did Femi Gbajabiamila advise Tambuwal to be a good party man and not contest in the first instance against his former party, PDP’s chosen one, Mulikat Akande-Adeola?

As one would expect, the circumstances that made Dogara and Gbajabiamila Speaker and House Leader respectively to produce strong internal checks and criticism, would be healthy for the system. But, it also portend that they would never be ‘friends’ as they have been polarised by a tribal agency which gave twisted meaning to merit, to suit a preconceived common interest. Indeed a friend in politics don’t last because only interests last forever.

Abubakar Adamu is a former Member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, Northern Professionals (NP). He can be reached on ismaeelabubakar04@gmail.com.

 

Comments

comments