Tambuwal's Pragmatic Politics
Since the release of the details of the probe of payments made in the name of fuel subsidy, many Nigerians have begun to rethink their views about the members of the National Assembly especially Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. Going by its content, it was obvious that the report will potentially hurt probably the parasitic elite and may lead to national outrage. The fact that the House of Representatives 'stubbornly' released it speaks volumes about the quality of leadership that it has and its efforts to regain its position both as an oversight organ and an effective check on executive rascality. It could have been easier and more fashionable too, to do business as usual- delay or distort the report or even tuck it into the bottomless pit of secrecy and officialdom - there have been many reports like that and I insist that many of the facts contained therein were already known to many. In the arena of Nigerian politics there are specific traits that have become almost routine and conventional- you must use your office to advance the interest of the ruling elite. In talking about the elite, they may be political, economic, ethnic or even religious. You must play to the gallery at any given opportunity- after all politics is the same thing as lies, propaganda, cover-ups and deception. It is a shameless theatre for substituting the public for the private in an urge to satisfy the insatiable appetitive of primitive accumulation and obsessive squander mania. Amidst the filth, haze and even hate- the Honourable Speaker has certainly distinguishedhimself.
Going by his unorthodox antecedents, I was therefore not surprised at a recent statement of the Honourable Speaker that showered praises and poured encomiums on the person of the Governor of Rivers State Rt. Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as someone who has embarked on development that 'justifies the amount of money Rivers State is receiving'. I do wish to dwell on the veracity of this statement- something anyone who visits the state could take for granted. However, I wish to locate this statement in two contexts. First is in trying to reflect on the recent political outbursts credited to some politicians recently about the appropriateness (or not) of the current derivation formula. The second is in trying to further unpack the 'political correctness' of this statement especially coming from someone in the person of the number four Nigerian citizen.
From his statement, the Speaker seems to have dealt a heavy punch on those who feel that, those who produce natural resources that currently feed the nation, should not enjoy preferential rights in terms of sharing of the proceeds from their God-given endowments. Port Harcourt is an oil capital of Nigeria and must be seen from the same lens as Oslo (Norway), Baku (Azerbaijan) or even (Doha)Qatar. There is something different about these cities in terms of infrastructure and the Speaker agrees that more efforts must be made to support Rivers State to build Port Harcourt to catch up fast. I argue that the amount of money required to raise this city to the anticipated standard requires a special fund beyond both the current revenue formula and the politicized tokenism from the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The second and even more interesting point is the so called political correctness of the statement. The Speaker is one of the most senior political leaders from Sokoto State, the historical heartbeat of Northern Nigeria, currently experiencing pockets of turbulence. Looking at views currently being canvassed by many Northern political leaders, many observers would almost naturally assume that Mr. Speaker will speak the mind of right wing divisive politics or simply have left Port Harcourt without acknowledging the major positive changes going on in the city. Why did he refuse to share the parochialism currently being peddled by his colleagues? How come he applauded Governor Amaechi and even went further to challenge other Governors and public officers to accountability, transparency and selflessness?
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has earned the respect of many of us by his insistence to remain on the side of truth, fairness and public opinion. He has shown himself as a fearless non-conformist and bridge builder, who is prepared to swim against thepolitical tide, regardless of its repercussions.
It was in the rumour mill last week that the beneficiaries of the status quo - those who are opposed to Tambuwal's pragmatic politics will stop at nothing to position political mines and banana peels in the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to drag him down. Anyone who is depressed by the current happenings in the polity and apprehensive of the kind of future it will produce should rise now and applaud this nationalist and patriot.
UcheIgwe is a governance expert and wrote in via [email protected]