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[Opinion] Tambuwal and his 2015 presidential ambition, How Far Can He Go? By Theophilus Ilevbare

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It is no longer news that Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the House of Representatives is been courted to hoist the northern flag in the 2015 presidential contest as he is said to possess the qualities the nation requires at the moment, though he has not officially declared his intention to contest for the plum job, only a naïve political observer will claim ignorance of his lofty ambition. Tacit endorsement and nudges have never been in short supply in the past months, notable and most assuring to him is the phrase to ‘try something higher’ – the way former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida puts it to him. Since then Tambuwal has been under pressure from prominent northern leaders to contest the 2015 presidential election. Even as he continues to make consultations and weigh his options, the opposition coalition – APC, are waiting in the wings to lure him to their camp.

Tambuwal is already reaching out to every nook and cranny of the country by personally honouring all invitations for naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, thanksgiving, birthdays, constituency project launching or commissioning and other socio-political engagements organised by members of the House, state governors, prominent politicians and traditional rulers. His romance with members of the opposition has drawn the ire of the party’s hierarchy at the Wadata Plaza Headquarters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They describe such open association as an “unholy alliance”. He has also tended towards opposition views in his comments on several national issues.

The Speaker enjoys tremendous support from opposition members of the House of Representatives, in addition to his cordial relationship with his party members. Political strategists see Tambuwal as one who could win over PDP members to the APC if he agrees to defect. But there is the fear of a backlash, (like a real threat of impeachment should he cross-carpet to the APC to contest) instigated by the PDP as they have majority lawmakers in the House. To nullify and checkmate any threat of impeachment, pundits believe the APC plan to engineer a massive defection of the members of the House of Representatives from the PDP to its fold in the event that the speaker eventually rise to the bait to contest the 2015 presidency on APC platform.

His proponents harp his aspiration for the presidency on the way he has successfully steered the affairs of the House by rising above partisanship and giving equal leverage to the opposition members in the House. Hence, Tambuwal is been projected by many as a progressive. His colleagues have come out boldly to declare their support for the Speaker’s 2015 ambition amid calls from some South/South lawmakers for caution. Hon. Lawal Yahaya Gumau representing Toro Federal Constituency, Bauchi state, bared his mind on Tambuwal’s aspiration: “I want to assure you that anybody that can preside over the National Assembly, be it Speaker or Senate president, 360 people in the House and stay with them in peace like Tambuwal is doing; such a person can rule Nigeria”. Therein lies the selling point of pro-Tambuwal group. They fail to realise that leading a House of just 360 adults elected as worthy representative of various constituencies of the nation cannot be a yardstick that makes Tambuwal the most qualified aspirant to become president of a country of 160 million people of diverse culture, ethnic and religious differences.

Many Nigerians are favourably disposed to a paradigm shift from the old guard of ex-military administrators to the younger breed of politicians which is in tandem with the trending global practice. World super power leaders like Barack Obama, David Cameron, Francois Hollande and others who are young, well educated, eloquent, dynamic and charismatic. But that alone is not enough. Beyond the bridges Tambuwal is building as he trots the country, he needs the endorsement and votes of Nigerians, not that of the northern elders to win elections. He should focus more on his image as a nationalist, rather than a regional northern aspirant who might end up dancing to the tune of the northern elders if he makes it to Aso Rock. However, in most quarters, he is still regarded in the shadows of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, whom many believe, still has cult following in the north. How he intends to leapfrog the retired General for the consensus candidate of the north in 2015 remains to be seen.

The number four citizen is in a crowded race for the presidency, no doubt. He seem to be playing safe, choosing to remain in the PDP for now. 2015 will be a year of reckoning for the ruling party as Nigerians are already disillusioned with the leadership they’ve provided in the past fourteen years. It is a party torn to the seams by crisis and the pursuit of self-interest. We are not under any illusion that the PDP is invincible, regardless of the clout and war chest they’ve garnered over the years. PDP can as well wave goodbye to the presidency in 2015 with the incumbent toeing the path that they have trod since 1999. As divided as the party is today, if the elections were to be conducted, Jonathan and the behemoth of a party he represents will be defeated. It will be difficult for the incumbent President to win an election in Nigeria without the support of the North. The only way the PDP can stand a chance at the 2015 polls is to field a northern presidential candidate.

In spite of the goodwill that Tambuwal is currently enjoying, the Speaker must exercise restraint so as not to get carried away as there are fears that he is been led to the fray to be left in the lurch. When push comes to shove, those nudging him to contest might abandon his ship. The political wilderness former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has found himself since he fell out of favour with ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo, should be instructive for the Sokoto-born lawmaker. If it is people like IBB that will be behind Tambuwal, men who have ruled this nation and left us where we are now, then he is going to fail even if he wins the election. He must be careful of being used and dumped by senior political parasites masquerading as messiahs.

Tambuwal must not feign ignorance of Speaker predecessors, how they fell eventually to the booby trap the PDP laid patiently in waiting. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’aba readily comes to mind. He pitched most lawmakers in the green chambers against the President between 1999 and 2003. He was booted out by the PDP when it was time for the 2003 elections and he is yet to be integrated into the mainstream of the party till today.

Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, Speaker between 2003 and 2007, whom many still believed led a House that had the most cordial relationship with the executive during Obasanjo’s eight year tenure. He didn’t oppose the government frontally, but was accused of working against the party behind the scenes. He was stopped in his tracks when he attempted to secure the ticket of the PDP for the governorship seat of Katsina state in 2007. Ibrahim Shema, who is now the governor, was given the nod ahead of him as those issues came to the fore.

It is quite precarious for Tambuwal to openly hobnob with the opposition as the leaders of his party – on the platform he became a federal lawmaker – continue to kick. How he intends to get away unscathed is perhaps, privy to him alone. Should his 2015 presidential ambition become unfulfilled, will he still have a political future in the PDP or the yet to be registered APC?

 

theophilus@ilevbare.com

http://ilevbare.com

twitter: @tilevbare

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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