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Tambuwal 2015: What is IBB cooking?

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I was at the investiture ceremony of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as Vanguard Newspaper Personality of the Year 2012 last Saturday. The colourful event held at the Expo Centre of Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Who was chairman of the event, and what did he say that provoked this piece today? It was former military president, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB). Hear him talk of House of Representatives Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was also at the event: “Let me salute my brother and friend, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for giving us hope and assurances.

His conduct has shown that the upcoming generation has the capacity to sustain the labour of our heroes past. When leaders like Tambuwal have delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher. For Tambuwal, your guess is as good as mine.

Well done.” When leaders like Tambuwal have delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher. What does that really mean?

Tambuwal is currently the country’s Number 4 man, coming after the president, vice president, and the Senate president. So, what is the higher thing Tambuwal should try, according to IBB? Senate president? Surely not.

Vice president? Most likely not. President? I bet! Yes, Babangida is saying run, Tambuwal run, run for president, and that in 2015. If you have been a regular reader of this column in the last 10 years, you will have known that I am not a fan of IBB. Surely not.

I believe the coup that brought him to power in 1985 was self-serving, and he truncated a regime that was more patriotic, and which would have served Nigeria a lot better.

After eight years in power, Babangida inscribed himself more indelibly in my Black Book when he annulled the freest presidential election we ever had in 1993. That cruel development set off the chain of events that culminated in the death of Basorun M.K.O.

Abiola, winner of the election, in military detention in 1998. So, ask for Nigerians who are unrepentantly opposed to IBB, and you can surely count on me. But then, give it to the man. He knows how to play the power game.

Ever calculating, he knows that to stay relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria, he must be interested in, and contribute to the process of anybody ascending to power. Goodluck Jonathan’s emergence in 2011 was a freak, something caused by Umaru Yar’Adua’s death in office in 2010, and that was why IBB was not involved.

So, before the man would open his mouth to endorse anyone for an office, he must have weighed his options quite well. In 2015, Tambuwal is the man IBB wants, and whom he would back with his awesome wealth and influence.

Lucky Tambuwal! Babangida may not be able to get back into the presidency through the ballot box as he had always desired since 2007, but he can back somebody, and his influence would go a very long way. Now, to the man Tambuwal. Would he want to be president? He has not said so. But would he? I think so.

And does he have what it takes to be a Nigerian president? I also think so. Let’s see. He’s a lawyer, a seasoned politician and lawmaker, and a fighter. Oh, sure. Anybody who would get into any major position in Nigeria after the death of zoning in 2011 must fight for it. Nothing on a platter of gold any longer.

And that was the lesson Tambuwal and the North-west taught the rest of the country, when he ran as speaker in June 2011, contrary to the zoning formula of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The party had conceded the speakership to the South-west, but Tambuwal threw his hat into the ring, built a bigger coalition, and ran away with the prize.

Some Yorubas begrudge him for snatching what belongs to them. Me, I don’t. Why? Once the PDP refused to abide by its zoning formula in respect of the presidency, it could not pretend the formula was still alive. It’s as dead as dodo.

So, Tambuwal is a fighter, and that is an attribute anyone who would be anything in Nigeria must have. Again, Tambuwal has led the House of Representatives quite well. Two years down the line by June, and he has not stepped on any banana peel.

Even the Farouk Lawan alleged bribery scandal has not diminished the stature of the Speaker, as nothing has been traced directly to him. He has deftly kept the chamber happy and running well, despite the diverse interests.

A plus really, as we know how restive our parliaments can be. I have heard the speaker’s name linked with 2015 a number of times. I even heard that if the PDP refuses to allow primaries, and the ticket is given to Jonathan without a contest, Tambuwal may be the candidate of the coalition trying to register as All Progressives Congress (APC). True? Maybe.

Maybe not. But anything can happen in terms of alignment and re-alignment of forces before 2015. And then, can Jonathan run? Why not? The more the merrier.

I believe he has the constitutional right to do so. Anybody can run for anything in Nigeria. The minimum educational qualification is secondary school certificate (which you don’t even have to pass). So, run, Tambuwal run. If Jonathan wants another term, run, Jonathan run. If the Igbo nation wants the presidency, run Igbo nation, run. Let anybody run. The person that succeeds in building the biggest national coalition wins.

That is where we are in Nigeria today. Babangida chose the outing very well. A media event, where whatever he said would be well reported and amplified.

He also chose his words carefully, the dribbler in the mould of Maradona that he is. When leaders like Tambuwal have delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher. He did not mention the ‘something higher.’ But we know what it is. Presidency, and no mistake. For me, the redemption of Nigeria is the main thing.

This country is in a mess – on all fronts. It is begging for redemption, for salvation. Does Jonathan need another term to achieve it? No law broken, except on the moral front, since he had allegedly promised PDP stalwarts in 2010 that he would do just one term.

Is it Tambuwal that will get the job done? Let him go ahead. Or is it any other person we do not know yet? All I know is that Nigeria needs to be redeemed. And by 2015, may we be able to say, “now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.”

The Sun

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