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A political party is perhaps a major tool for bringing together various political interests, talents, and resources for the purpose of winning elections. This has been the tradition all over the world, especially in countries that embrace democracy.
In 1960 when Nigeria gained independence, it was joyous in the minds of Nigerians that at least the era of colonialism has gone for good, thus giving them the magnanimous opportunity to freely participate in the electoral process without foreign control. Heartbreakingly, despite several decades of independence, political parties in Nigeria are still enmeshed in internal haggling, making a whole mess of the democratic process.
That inter party activities by political stakeholders in Nigeria, whether before, during and after elections often attract huge discourse among social commentators, especially in the current political dispensation leaves one to wonder if genuine politicians with national interests really exist in this part of the world. Evidence abounds that some leaders elected on the platform of the ruling APC hobnob with members of the opposition PDP against the dictates of their party and even openly show more loyalty to their political friends outside their party compared to the direction their political party wishes and shows brazen disregard towards the party leadership.
Of interest are the recent happenings in the political theatre of Sokoto State where the state governor, Rt Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, is being widely accused of anti-party activities. His recent hobnobbing with members of the opposition PDP and open victimization of own party members further add credence to the critical point of the day. This development generated several hot debates within and outside the state, hence the need to pen down this piece.
Let’s remember not to forget that Governor Tambuwal was a product of the PDP who in 2011 became the Speaker of the House of Representatives against the directives of the PDP. The People’s Democratic Party in order to maintain the party’s zoning and power-sharing agreement gave the Speaker’s office to the South-west zone and announced Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, but Tambuwal mobilized members from the then opposition ACN, ANPP and CPC to dim the influence of his own party. Through a mild drama on 6/06/2011 that ensured on the floor of the hallowed chamber, Tambuwal decked in a safari suit and a bowler hat emerged the Speaker of the House with the help of the opposition at the detriment of his party the PDP. If there’s anything called anti-party, this is where it all began.
At the heat of 2015 general elections, Tambuwal who was then the Speaker of the House of Representatives, under the platform of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, joined forces with the opposition APC to humiliate PDP in exchange for a gubernatorial ticket under the opposition platform. Tambuwal during a preliminary session announced his defection to the APC just days after pledging his total support to the ruling PDP, this was after months of galvanizing support for the opposition. The timing and nature of his defection provided the slab on which PDP was mercilessly slaughtered during the March 28 presidential polls.
Having gotten the APC gubernatorial ticket for Sokoto governorship race through sabotaging his party and having rode to victory on the crest of President Buhari’s unprecedented popularity, chanting the APC’s mantra of ‘change’ in 2015, Tambuwal first reward for his new party was to plot a coup against the party’s wish and in flagrant disregard for the party’s celebrated political mores. While the APC settled on Femi Gbajabiamila as its preferred candidates to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal using his influence as the immediate past Speaker of the House connived with some few APC lawmakers and several others from the opposition PDP to install Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker against the directives of APC national leadership.
Going down the memory lane, it was a common knowledge that shortly after the 2011 general elections, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, deterred by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had already started galvanising support for former House Leader, Hon Mulikat Adeola-Akande to become the speaker of the past 7th National Assembly. But Hon. Gbajabiamila rushed to Tinubu with the name of Tambuwal, he persuaded Tinubu to accept Tambuwal for the office of the speaker. Before doing so, Tinubu spurred Gbajabiamila on whether Tambuwal can be trusted and then the former assented. This was why Tinubu stood against all odds and made sure all ACN members voted Tambuwal as the speaker of the 7th assembly. But in 2015, when Tinubu and APC settled on Femi Gbajabiamila as the speaker of the 8th assembly, Tambuwal stampeded several state governors into cajoling members from their state to vote against Gbajabiamila and ultimately against Tinubu’s choice. In an honest manner, Tambuwal, if not being the traitor he is, shouldn’t have moved against Tinubu not only because of the role he played in his emergence as Speaker in 2011 but because of his influence to secure the Sokoto governorship ticket for him. But alas, Tinubu was betrayed by a serial betrayer.
As the APC wrestle with the pang of Tambuwal’s perfidy, the Governor once again drew more blood from the chancre he inflicted on his party by openly hobnobbing with staunch PDP members, and more recently the appointment of unapologetic PDP members into his government at the expense of his own party members. His close tie-up with sworn enemies of President Buhari and APC speak volume of his readiness to do to APC what he did to the PDP. The Governor’s undeniable close association with Attahiru Bafarawa cannot be overlooked, so also that of Governor Wike of Rivers State and several others. His recent meeting with the likes of James Ibori, Governor Wike, Emeka Ihedioha, Governor Okowa of Delta State, Sule Lamido and the rest barely three days after the National Convention of the People’s Democratic Party is also an Indicator to what the governor is up to.
Additionally, there were reports that when President Buhari was away receiving medical attention in London. Governor Tambuwal was among others wishing the president death, he even went around the country lobbying to be made the vice president to Yemi Osibanjo insisting that the president will not return alive. To his profound dismay, President Buhari returned alive and healthier than ever. To show his unhidden disappointment, Tambuwal refused to join his colleagues to welcome the president at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and also refused to send any goodwill message. Just days back, the president while speaking at a town hall meeting in Jos acknowledged the fact that some people went lobbying to be made vice president while he was in London but they ended up getting disappointed upon his return.
Now that it’s becoming obvious that President Buhari is not going to die before 2019 and he’s all set to clinch the 2019 APC presidential ticket, meaning there’s no vacancy for the office of the vice president. Tambuwal backed by some powerful forces is now weighing on the possibilities of clinching the presidential ticket under the opposition PDP, the party he betrayed in 2015. With the help of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Sule Lamido and some other PDP Governors, Tambuwal is already working on how to return to the party he dumped ahead of the 2015 elections, simply to satisfy his selfish political ambition.
If not for the hitches brought about by some anti-Tambuwal elements within the PDP, Governor Tambuwal would’ve by now become a PDP member. Some forces within the PDP are uncomfortable with Tambuwal, in view of the role he played in the loss of power by the PDP in 2015, especially the defeat of former President, Goodluck Jonathan. And some Jonathan Associates who are now PDP Governors have vowed to stop his bid to secure the PDP Presidential ticket by all means, despite making an unwritten agreement between him and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Other anti-Tambuwal elements believe that, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal was used by the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to destabilize the PDP, giving the ACN control of the House from 2011 to 2015. Other PDP Governors and leaders also believe Tambuwal’s candidature will be difficult to sell in the South-West, because of the role he played in the defeat of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in the Speakership race in 2015. Whatever the case may be, Governor Tambuwal is ready to repeat to APC what he did to the PDP.
With the foregoing, one need no soothsayer to agree that Governor Tambuwal is indeed a serial defector of dishonorable character. Within few years, he defected from the ANPP to the DPP, then back to the ANPP, then to the PDP, later to the APC and now planning to go back to the PDP. From his antecedents, Tambuwal can no longer be trusted and should never be. The APC as a party should wake up and know they have in their midst a traitor from the PDP who went against the directives of his party and robbed the party of the fourth most prestigious office in Nigeria.
It’s very clear from his body language that he’s lost affection for the APC, so the most honourable thing for him is to resign from the party and go back to where he belong. Else, APC should show him the way out before it’s too late. A traitor like him must not be trusted. If Tambuwal can betray PDP, the party that picked him up from nobody and made him who he’s today, in exchange of a mere gubernatorial ticket; it’ll only be a matter before he betray APC, a party he met on the street, for a presidential ticket. Ultimately, he should not be trusted.
Usama A. Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.