Tambuwal-Ihedioha: Friendship Across the Niger


Two former leaders of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha, have proven that permanent friendship is a possibility among politicians of different ethnic backgrounds, writes Aic Akwarandu

There is no doubt that one of the most interesting human endeavours is true, sincere and committed friendship. An enduring friendship availiable for each in every circumstance. Such frienship is scarce to find, but it has happened in a very strange circle- political circle, where it is believed that permanent frienship is impossible and that only permanent interest is permanent. The Tambuwaal – Ihedioha friendship has, however nullified the relevance of this age long axiom. Rather than a divisive factor Tambuwaal – Ihedioha friendship has proved sceptics and cynics wrong about politics which evidently has shown that one of the greatest bridges that can link one region, tribe and even religion to the other is politics. No great nation moves forward with only politicians who do not have something in common. But thrives with politicians who have mutual respect for relationship.

The Tambawal/Ihedioha example is one of such examples that the younger generation must emulate if they aspire to go far building a strong network across the states and the country at large.

While in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambawal served as the deputy chief whip to Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. During this period, one would have expected the normal boss to deputy relationship which is rampant among the political class in Nigeria. I could remember during the burial of Ihedioha’s sister, Da Chioma, Tambawal, the then Deputy Chief Whip in his condolence message addressed his then boss- Ihedioha as ‘My Dear, Boss’. While going through the message then, one could not have imagined that the then Deputy Chief Whip would one day become the speaker and not just a speaker but a speaker who has his former ‘Dear Boss’ as his deputy. There is no gain saying that if Ihedioha had used his position as speaker maltreat Tambuwal or to show him that the easterners were wiser than the northerners, the duo could not have made a perfect match when the call for the leadership of the seventh House of Representatives became imminent.

Ihedioha as speaker used his position to build not just a good working relationship between the boss and the deputy and demonstrated the fact the that the East, West, South and North can have peaceful coexistence once there is sincerity of purpose. He raised the bars of leadership, power and trust. He placed an average Imo and Mbaise man in the history book of trust, equity and fairness.

As the table turned, Tambawal became the Speaker of the 7th Assembly having his former boss as his deputy. This situation is uncommon in our clime where a boss will agree to deputise his former deputy though in a different capacity. One would have expected common saying that “once a boss is always a boss” not just in name but in all ramifications. However, Ihedioha placed service to fatherland, trust and friendship ahead of everything and deputised his former deputy and this they did to the satisfaction of everybody. Despite the issues that happened in the 7th Assembly the relationship between Ihedioha and Tambawal was never at any time threatened. That however does not mean that they didn’t disagree, it does not mean that they are perfect, but what it signifies is that you have two vibrant Nigerians who have decided to place national interest, selfless service, sincerity, truth and strong bond of friendship first above every other thing.

They demonstrated that for us to have a strong nation, leaders must jettison the saying that in politics there is no permanent friends and permanent enemies to believing in the new order that politics should have permanent friends and in some cases permanent enemies. There is no need pretending to be with some one who does not share the same ideals with you in terms of development, selfless service to fatherland and sincerity just because you want to prove a point that everybody should be your friend in politics.

While commissioning the Sokoto Bye Pass-KeyStone road and the Furniture Factory Road built by the administration of Tambwal as governor, Ihedioha did not hide his feelings in making it known to the good people of Sokoto State that their friendship was sustained by the strong ideals they believed in. In his words, “I once again commend Tambawal for believing in the ideals of our friendship which is to render services to the people when ever we find ourselves in any position of authority and even outside the corridors of power”. He described Tambawal as a man of quality who would not “embark on any project that will not be of standard”.

What this has shown is that friends must at all times be sincere with themselves and not only that, set up personal goals in line with their areas of intrest. Remembering a book I read while in school ‘The Triumphant Burial for Uncle Nwambe and Other Stories’ a collection of short stories written by Prof. Jasper Ahaoma Onuekwusi, I recall a particular story titled ‘I Love the Ants’. The ants in that book are referred to as the most sincere creatures who understand what it means to maintain friendship, build together and also fight together when the need arises. In the concluding part of the story, the omniscient narrator in an emotional ladden expression posited that “I love the ants. They do not pretend, they do not fight one another, they are real and they do not bear grudge against one another”. The bond of friendship between Tambawal and Ihedioha could be described as that of ants who are so real when they should be and so passionate when the need arises. In them you see brothers, in them you see friends, in them you see play mates, in them you see leaders, in them you see technocrats and in them you see politicians of repute who believe that the essence of politics is to serve the people.

While the youth clamour to take over leadership positions across the world, it is important to choose our role models right because they have great impact to make in our day to day activities. A role model inspires, educates, cautions and motivates our day to day life. The impacts of a good role model can not be over emphasised.


The Tambawal/Ihedioha example is one of such examples that the younger generation must emulate if they aspire to go far building a strong network across the states and the country at large.

Akwarandu wrote in from Abuja.