“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, former American President.
By refusing to give up his office as Speaker of the House of Representatives upon defection from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), under which he was elected, I hold the opinion that Hon. Aminu Tambuwal lost the unique opportunity of joining the lean crowd of principled politicians who would sacrifice office for what they believe in.
Sadly, he lost the chance to become a true hero.
Since the dizzying wave of defections started, sometime last year, I remember only two people who put turned their back on the lure of office and moved on to their minds’ dictates.
Before the formation of the New PDP in August 2013, Abubakar Baraje was Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Railways Corporation. But when it became clear that the crisis which led to the split in the PDP was not going to end, Baraje tendered his resignation from the attractive appointment thanking President Jonathan for giving him the opportunity to serve. He did not wait for the PDP to rub mud on him.
Now, I am sure someone is thinking “what’s the relationship between the Baraje and Tambuwal cases. Was Baraje elected?” Of course, he was not but he moved against the wave of the attitude of public office holders in this clime.
However, there is one other person whose case is similar to Tambuwal’s. His name is Gambo Sallau, a member of the Kano State House of Assembly. Hon. Sallau was Speaker of the house until he resigned from his position on February 3, 2014 on account of his refusal to join majority of his colleagues who followed Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso when he decamped to the All Progress Congress earlier some weeks earlier.
Sallau took the honourable path saving himself any embarrassment that the House now filled with APC members may have in stock for him. That is the honourable route that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has refused to travel.
Although supporters of the Speaker say that the 1999 Constitution does not prescribe that the majority party must produce the speaker, I find this argument lame and opportunistic.
If Tambuwal had so much confidence in the protection of his office by the 1999 Constitution, why did he delay the official announcement of his defection until when it was becoming too late for him to show interest in an elective position on the platform of the APC, especially since he had been a member of the party since inception, according to the testimony of Governor Aliyu Wamakko, his political godfather. Why did the Speaker also adjourn sitting until December if he thought he was on solid footing on the retention of his position?
I particularly find this adjournment self-serving and distressing. The House, like the Senate returned from a two-month vacation in the middle of September with a promise to give express attention to some of the very important bills before them.
Some of these bills are: the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB); Cybercrime Bill; Tobacco Bill; Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill; Anti-Terrorism Bill and Asset Forfeiture Bill, and the constitution review process. Of all these, only the review of the constitution got significant attention before Tambuwal’s defection and adjournment put the whole nation on hold.
This adjournment comes across as the most inconsiderate act of self-preservation that anyone at that level of government could embark on. It rubbishes any claim that the Speaker’s leadership may want to lay to progressive politics by not giving any consideration to the needs of the electorate. By the time the House resumes in December, it will be too late to achieve anything significant before the general elections in February 2015.
Expectedly, the ruling party, knowing that it would be unable to muster the two/third majority needed to impeach Tambuwal on the floor of the house has resorted to help itself going by the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security detail late last week.
Not being new to the politics of power in Nigeria, I expect that the reaction of the PDP led FG would not come as a surprise to Tambuwal. Having sown the wind, he should expect nothing else than the whirlwind. Unfortunately, neither he nor those against him would be pricked by their conscience.
All said and done, the biggest losers are the same people who ironically elected these power mongers to serve their interest.
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