Tambuwal and his macabre dance
By Femi Ayelabowo
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, appears jittery that the House of Cards he built with treachery is about to come crashing on him, and has accused the Inspector General of Police, Sulaiman Abba, of perpetrating an illegality by withdrawing the security personnel attached to him. In fact, he said in Osogbo, Osun State, that he would not be intimidated, a clear manifestation of a man under fire and putting up a face.
His words: “Since the beginning of the public drama in Abuja, I have not made any public appearance or comments on it. Now that I am here, I will take the advantage of the ceremony to thank Nigerians, lovers of democracy, our true friends, members of human rights societies and others for the support extended to me on the matter.
“Since the matter is in court, I will not say much, but I will draw public attention to what is public knowledge. Before my defection to the APC, the governor of Ondo State defected alongside with the speaker of the state legislature. I believe there was no pronouncement from the IGP to the effect that the speaker lost his seat.” Indeed, in a clear case of a lawyer turning the law on its head, this wannabe Governor thinks what applies to a Governor should apply to him.
But the President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, a much more experienced and practising lawyer had a somewhat different opinion from the rampaging politician from Sokoto. In his view, the Nigerian constitution did not anticipate that a presiding officer of the Senate or the House of Representatives would defect from one party to another during the course of his tenure and as such did not capture it.
He identified the lacuna in the constitution and poor administration of justice in the country, according to newspaper reports, as factors responsible for the crisis trailing the speaker's defection. What Alegeh did not say was that the drafters of the constitution did not think they would live to see the day a Speaker would be so treacherous as to dump a ruling party that brought him to office. But the Speaker's latest chicanery did not come as a surprise, considering the manner he emerged through subterfuge and crass politicking.
Alegeh did not agree the police did the right thing “because it lacks jurisdictional competence to determine whether or not there has been a breach of the constitution in the defection… That duty is a function of the court. There is no provision in our constitution that says if you are in PDP or APC and you decamp to another party you automatically lose your position of leadership of the House. There ought to be provision for a situation where a speaker of the House who is charged constitutionally to declare a seat vacant is the person in the act of decamping.”
However, Alegeh did not thoroughly interrogate the position of the Police which relied on Section 68 (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which states: “(1) A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if – (g) being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected; provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored; or being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.”
Fearful of a backlash from the majority People's Democratic Party (PDP) members, Tambuwal and his minority All Progressives Congress (APC) members rushed to court and got an order preventing PDP members from reconvening the House to pull the rug off the Speaker's feet. And as it stands, only the courts can keep the Speaker in place, since it is obvious he is not a man of integrity to honourably resign his office.
Already, some of his foot soldiers are asking to be given automatic tickets by the PDP as a precondition to boot him out, a situation that would simply be paying him in the coin he has used several times to get to where he is today. Five times in the past, the Speaker had exhibited treacherous traits, but he always managed to get away with his political meanderings, but this may just be the last manouver that rubbishes him.
On Wikipedia as of 3rd November, 2014, this is the record of the Speaker's political journey thus far: “In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbi/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Few months to the 2007 general elections, he defected to the Democratic People's Party (DPP), alongside the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa. But when the DPP denied return tickets to former ANPP legislators, Tambuwal swung back to the ANPP, where he eventually succeeded in picking up a ticket for the election.
“But then again, when the ANPP governorship candidate for Sokoto State in the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko dumped the party for the PDP, Tambuwal also followed suit. Tambuwal has held several offices in the House. In 2005, he became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP. Upon his re-election to the House in 2007, he was also elected the Deputy Chief Whip.
“….On 28 October 2014, Tambuwal formally defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC and few days later his security details were withdrawn by the Inspector General of Police a move that has been criticized by a lot of well-meaning Nigerians as barbaric and undemocratic.”
With a treacherously colourful political history like this, there is no telling where the Speaker may end up next; or before the 2015 general elections. With such a rich background, who really needs a dictionary definition of political prostitution? But some others appraise the scenario differently. To them, Tambuwal is engrossed in a political dance macabre, in which he is both the drummer and the dancer. He has surpassed himself on both fronts. And, how he ends in this political misadventure of his is for time to resolve.
Mr Ayelabowo sent this piece from Ibadan, Oyo State.
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