TRIBUTE ON AMINU TAMBUWAL
The unity of the Nigerian state has never been so badly threatened than now. Sixty years after independence, Nigeria is today on the precipice of breaking up; no thanks to leadership without clear direction, crimes and terrorism, poor human development, insecurity, ethnoreligious division, mutual suspicion, illiteracy and unemployment as well as corruption. There is no gain disputing the fact that Nigeria needs help; just as it earnestly needs a leadership that understands the imperatives of such salvation.
Yes. Nigeria requires a leader that can galvanize resources and instigate impactful policies that can engender such remedy. We need no pundit to tell us that Nigeria is no longer a united country. Without unity, Nigerians can never realize the dreams of our founding fathers. A dream long abandoned. Unity, they say, can only be achieved when there are better coordination and mutual understanding in the society. Unity will come when there is no friction of thoughts and a clash of ideologies.
However, a herd cannot navigate its way to the greener pasture or watering point without the guidance of a worthy shepherd.
Without the services of an ideal shepherd of unity, Nigeria and Nigerians would in no time be a source of reference in the abyss of history. With the right Shepherd that can unite our country, Nigeria will once again regain its rightful place in the community of nations. It is said that “so powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
Borrowing the title of a book authored by former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, one has to ask: ‘Who will love my country? Nigeria is certainly not bereft of leaders with class. The problem with us has been how we go about choosing them. The North and South of Nigeria are blessed with quality leaders. And at every given opportunity these leaders prove their grit.
Without mincing words, the Sokoto state governor, Aminu Bello Tambuwal is one of Nigeria’s shining stars rising from the North, whose brightness, when kindled can illuminate the entire nation. My recent findings on the exploits of Tambuwal during his time as Speaker of the National Assembly and even now, as a governor, have rekindled the embers of my dying hopes for Nigeria. It is said that the only measure of judging a person is through that person’s character because a character is not determined by race, religion, gender or social status. Tambuwal is a man of outstanding characters.
When Governor Tambuwal turned 55 on January 9, 2021, Main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), issued a statement to felicitate with him. The PDP thanked Tambuwal for being one of the faces of the party as well as its credibility ambassador. Three qualities that define Tambuwal were celebrated in that short statement – an outstanding nationalist, a Democrat and an excellent administrator.
Those following the rising credentials of Governor Tambuwal will recall his spectacular days at the lower chambers of the National Assembly. Being a man of impeccable characters, Tambuwal conquered all opposition hauled against his rise to occupy the Speakership seat of the 7th National Assembly. He accomplished that not by the act of brigandage or rascality known of some desperate politicians. He achieved that through the support of his colleagues who trusted his leadership qualities and shunned all primordial sentiments to ensure he got elected and sworn as the 10th Speaker of the Federal House of Reps.
Nigerians were amazed on that day seeing Speaker Tambuwal, disguised in an English suite and a bowler hat affiliated to Niger-Deltans, as he was sneaked into the National Assembly to avoid being arrested by security forces sent in by the then powers that be to stall his election as Speaker. On that day, Tambuwal’s open-mindedness and ability to accommodate all sides to achieve a common goal earned him a resounding endorsement from his colleagues who set aside religion and tribal differences to back a true leader.
As the then number-4 man of the nation, Tambuwal did not only supervise vibrant legislations, he also ensured that no crisis rocked the unity of the National Assembly. The 7th Session of the Federal House of Representatives was rated to be one of the most pragmatic and most stable House of Reps in recent times. When Tambuwal eventually bowed out of the legislative chambers to answer the call of the people of Sokoto in 2015, he ensured that worthy legalese, Yakubu Dogara, the former speaker of the 8th Assembly, succeeded him.
Speaker Dogara had, on June 22, 2015, during a thanks-giving service in Tafawa-Balewa town of Bauchi state, organised by his constituents to celebrate his emergence as the Speaker of the 8th Assembly, tacitly gave credit to Tambuwal for mobilizing support to ensure that a Christian and a minority tribe from the North emerges as Speaker of House of Reps.
Right Honorable Dogara’s words of appreciation still echoed: “This victory that we celebrate here, obviously, we know that it won’t have been possible without the support of the people. Apart from our other brothers from other sides of this nation, support came from unlikeness of places. I can say it was a project that was conceived and delivered by the seat of the caliphate. So, for us who are Christian minority in the north, which speaks volumes. There is new thinking in this country. These are people who sincerely believe that this is time for the north to come together irrespective of tribe and religion. They didn’t just talk about it, they didn’t just preached but they committed resources to ensure that they put a Christian minority as the number 4 citizen of this great nation of over 170 million people”
That was what Former speaker Dogara had said in appreciation of the support his predecessor, Tambuwal, had given to ensure he became the Speaker. As Governor of Sokoto State, Tambuwal has been able to bring character, decency, honesty and accountability to the business of governance in the seat of the caliphate. Tambuwal runs a state where the Assembly is entirely controlled by the opposition, yet he has been able to work amicably without the usual rancour associated with such strange bed fellows relationship.
When governor Tambuwal took over the reins of power as Governor in 2015, he declared a state of emergency on education with a vow to turn around the state’s fortune and make Sokoto one of the best performing states in education. And in no time, Sokoto began to takes its rightful place amongst educationally advanced states. Anyone in doubt of this should take a trip to Sokoto.
To demonstrate his government’s commitment to quality education, Tambuwal allocated 24 per cent of the N202.4 Billion budget state budget for education in 2020. The amount represents N47.8 billion of the state budget. Only a few governors have allocated such a handsome percentage to the education sector.
It is alien to have a governor enjoying the atmosphere of peace with an Assembly where the opposition majors. But Tambuwal did it, and it is still working. I won’t shy away from saying that Nigeria and Nigerians crave for such a leader. Of course, one may argue that good governance is not a function of good politics alone – that good administrative acumen also matters. Of course Tambuwal is an accomplished administrator.
Talking about the striking achievements of Tambuwal in the last six years plus may take up the entire space provided for sharing this kind of thought process. But a reference to one of the latest accolades the Sokoto State governor received is more than enough to convince one on his financial prudence and administrative acumen.
Just recently, the Sokoto State Government under Tambuwal received a first-of-its-kind “World Bank Grant for financial propriety.” The World Bank granted the state $22 million for its commitment to the implementation of the Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
The state clinched the grant after it attained a high score in SFTAS by rising from 2/5 in 2019 to 14/15 in 2020. The feat has placed Sokoto amongst the three states in the country to achieve such ranking.
As a humble leader who says less and achieves more, Tambuwal response to the grant award was simple.: “I don’t believe in business as usual; I believe in Sokoto State being the frontline state in good governance. These are the reasons behind all the reforms. In the long run, the state will be the one to benefit.”
When it comes to security Tambuwal has ensured that Sokoto remains a peaceful and secured even though it was surrounded by state challenged by security problems. Tambuwal does not placate issues when it comes to security matters. He believes crimes and criminality should never be given a space to feather. That was why in June 2020, Tambuwal made a landmark declaration when he called on the National Assembly to legislate a law that extremely punishes armed crimes.
The governor had also advised that those with unlicensed arms be made to register or surrender to the government for reimbursement. In October 2018, when Tambuwal declared that he was running for president after he was pressured to do so, he made a simple but groundbreaking remark about why he accepted to take a shot at the number one office. “To revive the dying economy,” he said.
Writers upon writers who fixated on the Tambuwal 2019 candidacy were unanimous in their analysis of his winning chances should the PDP give him the chances. For the sake of neutrality, I would adopt Wikipedia’s analysis of Tambuwal political profile and 2018 presidential bid.
According to Wikipedia; “Tambuwal was one of the long lists of 12 candidates; including four from his northwestern region that contested PDP presidential nomination. Tambuwal was popular in the race and was among the top four candidates (Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Bukola Saraki) widely expected to win going by political permutations around his candidacy.
A number of factors, including his young age among the contestants, political experience, his untainted records from corruption indictment, boosted his chances going into the primary. Analysts had predicted that should Tambuwal clinch PDP ticket he would be a formidable challenge to incumbent President Muhammad Buhari a northern Muslim who was then running for reelection.
That is the stuff that characterizes Tambuwal, the man of the moment, an idea whose time has come. Tambuwal is a unifying force, an excellent administrator, legal luminary, the untainted incorruptible leader, and a cognate politician.
Anthony Silverman writes from Benin, Edo State
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