By Otor Drama
ALHAJI Sir Ahmadu Bello’s greatest ambition as a child was to be the Sultan
of Sokoto. As a prince, he carried himself with royal airs and comported
himself with decorum. His long awaited opportunity came in 1938 but he lost
the race to a contender who emerged as Sultan Siddiq Abubakar.
Having lost the race, he turned his talents into leadership and became a
rallying force for the north when he was made the leader of the Northern
Peoples Congress (NPC) and later Premier of the Northern Region which was
the senior partner in the coalition government that was formed at
independence producing the Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa
Balewa as well as holding some other key positions in the First Republic
Since Bello’s brutal assassination in 1966, no politician from Sokoto State
has emerged with his national political stature and structures across the
country. However, Sokoto State Governor and former Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal seems to be a worthy successor to the late
Sardauna of Sokoto.
Tambuwal who trained as a lawyer began his political career as a
legislative aide to Senator Abdullahi Wali who was the Senate Leader at the
time – 1999 to 2003. Having learnt the ropes of politics, he plunged into
the murky electoral waters by contesting for a seat in the Federal House of
Representatives and won in 2003 where he represented Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal
Constituency in the lower house of the National Assembly. He served in the
house as the minority leader and later as deputy chief whip. He served
meritoriously in various committees like rules & business, judiciary,
communications, inter-parliamentary and water resources. He was a member of
the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Constitution Review.
He was chairman of the ad hoc committee that reviewed the report of the
controversial power probe committee headed by Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman,
House Sub-Committee on the Bill for an Act to Amend the Land Use Act, and
acting Chairman, House Committee on Power.
He was leader of the Nigerian delegation to African, Caribbean, Pacific &
European Union Parliamentary Assembly (ACP-EU) and served as Vice-Chairman,
Economic Committee ACP-EU, held in Prague, Czech Republic in April 2009.
As the Governor of Sokoto State, he has done his best to transform the
state from a civil service state and an agrarian economy into a modernized
economy and has greatly diversified its internally generated revenue base.
He has ensured that security is guaranteed there in view of the incessant
attacks by bandits in neighbouring northern states.
He is a nationalist and judiciously used his time in the House of Reps to
build sturdy political bridges across the country. He is at home with the
various ethnic groups that make up the nation and is not known to be an
ethnic jingoist. He abhors tribalism with every fibre in him.
Despite being in politics for over two decades, he has been untainted and
no allegation of corruption has been leveled against him by the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Corruption is a major albatross of
most Nigerian politicians and so a corrupt free politician should be
greatly encouraged as it is a rarity. He threw his hat into the
presidential race in 2019 when he contested the presidential primaries of
the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and came second behind Alhaji
There is the need to build national cohesion so that tribalism can be a
thing of the past. After the Civil War ended in the United States in 1864,
all the Presidents who emerged were from the victorious north and the
Heavens didn’t fall since Americans think of their country first before
their states. It wasn’t until Jimmy Carter emerged in 1976 that power
shifted to the south but even at that it was as a result of his competence
and not any overt power shift agitation.
What Nigerians need in this extremely challenging time in the ‘Giant of
Africa’ is a leader who is visionary and can provide uncommon leadership to
deal with the plethora of challenges ranging from massive youth
unemployment, poverty, insecurity, child mortality etc. We should stop
short changing ourselves with the asinine power shift ideology as it
promotes mediocrity as well as an entitlement mentality. What should bother
right thinking and public spirited Nigerians should be who can effectively
deliver the dividends of democracy to the avalanche of long suffering
Nigerians who have borne the brunt of bad governance and civilian misrule.
The ethnicity of such a person shouldn’t matter.
Tambuwal is well suited to take Nigeria to the Promised Land if only
Nigerians can shun tribalism and give him the opportunity to provide
uncommon leadership to them. On the highly contentious issue of
restructuring, he is an avowed federalist and will do his best to ensure
that power is devolved to the states which will make the centre – Abuja
less attractive and will go a long way to reduce the ethnic tensions in the
country which has greatly polarized the country at the nation’s detriment.
We recall the hundred days war between the majority Hutus and the minority
Tutsis in Rwanda which was fanned by sinister propagandist politicians who
stoked the fires of ethnic hate leading to the mindless murder of over a
hundred thousand people.
As a way of national healing, the nation under the pragmatic leadership of
Paul Kagame abolished the filling of tribes in public forms. The country
once wracked by war is now in the forefront of scientific and technological
breakthroughs and development. Their healthcare sector is one of the best
in the continent; their technological space is booming with investors from
all over the world pouring millions of dollars into that sector. Fintechs,
ed techs and the use of drones are springing up with alarming alacrity all
over the country and their GDP is the better for it. Does it matter that
Kagame, a Tutsi has been in power for close to two decades?
The case of Rwanda which has emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix should
serve as a lesson for all Nigerians that national interest should supersede
ethnic bias and the current man of the moment is Tambuwal.
All Nigerians irrespective of ethnic affiliation and religion should join
hands in unison to ensure that he succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari as he
has the magic wand to effectively steer the nation’s ship which has drifted
for far too long.
Otor, a public affairs analyst contributed this piece from Abuja via: