by Femi Aribisala
Nigerians voted for a PDP Speaker, but got an APC wolf in PDP sheep’s clothing.
It is customary to refer to members of the House of Representatives as “honorable.” In which case, the appropriate title for the current Speaker might be the Right Honorable Aminu Tambuwal. But the activities of the Speaker over the last four years, capped by his recent defection to the APC, shows that such a title would be grossly misplaced if applied to him.
There is nothing honorable about Tambuwal pretence for the better part of three years that he is a PDP member, when in actual fact he has been nothing of the sort. There is nothing honorable about the way Tambuwal has despised the Constitution he was sworn to protect. There is nothing honorable about the wayTambuwal has betrayed the trust of the Nigerian electorate, as expressed in the 2011 election. I can find no better or more precise language with which to describe Tambuwal than that he is a traitor.
Tambuwal is a serial defector of dishonorable repute. He defected from the ANPP to the DPP, then to back to the ANPP, then to the PDP and now to the APC. He is a traitor for defecting from the PDP to the APC without first resigning from the House. He is the representative of a constituency in Sokoto comprising a majority of PDP voters. They elected him to represent them as a PDP legislator. He has now betrayed their trust by defecting to the opposition APC. This is nothing short of treachery. His constituents did not elect an APC man to represent them.
Tambuwal has shown that he is not a man of high principles. He is just another 419 politician. Nigeria is operating a democratic system largely borrowed from the United States. The Speaker of the House of Representatives comes from the majority party in the House. That party is the PDP. Tambuwal was elected under the PDP platform. However, he has been operating as an opposition APC man disguised treacherously as a PDP man.
The job of the Speaker is to spearhead the legislative programme of the government in the House. A Speaker who is in cahoots with the opposition is, in effect, a traitor to his party and to the government. That has been the case with Aminu Tambuwal. If Nigerian voters wanted the House of Representatives to have a Speaker who is from a different party from the President, they would have given the opposition a majority in the House of Representatives. They did not. They gave the PDP, the president’s party, the majority. Tambuwal’s shenanigans in the last four years have been designed to frustrate the express will of the Nigerian electorate.
Aminu Tambuwal became Speaker by aligning himself with the selfish ambitions of Bola Tinubu and his ACN opposition party. Tinubu claims to be a leader of the Yorubas, but when the PDP zoned the position of Speaker to South-West Yorubas, Tinubu decided that the interests of the Yorubas would not serve his personal political ambitions. A Yoruba Speaker would provide another focal point for Yoruba leadership apart from the Asiwaju; therefore the ACN decided to frustrate the candidature of their kith and kin, Mulikat Akande.
To do this successfully, they needed a traitor from the PDP who would go against the directives of his party, while remaining a member of the PDP, and challenge the party’s chosen candidate to become Speaker. They found that traitor in Aminu Tambuwal. Here is how it worked. Tinubu used his political muscle to convince gullible Yoruba legislators to vote against a Yoruba woman, Mulikat Akande, in a post that was specifically designed by the PDP as a benefit for Yorubas. He then got these same “mumu” Yoruba politicians to vote instead for Aminu Tambuwal; a scion of the Sokoto Caliphate with a Hausa/Fulani agenda.
This is something that could never have happened the other way around. It is inconceivable that a Hausa/ Fulani legislator would be persuaded to give something that has been zoned to Hausa/Fulanis to a Yoruba man. To put it bluntly, the Hausas/Fulanis are not that stupid. But what does that tell us about Yoruba politicians? They are slave traders. They have no qualms about selling their own people into slavery. They have no qualms about throwing other Yorubas under the bus.
With the Yoruba politicians gullible enough to agree to be sold, yet again, into Northern slavery, at the treacherous plotting of their self-proclaimed godfather, it was not difficult to find Northerners from the PDP who gladly joined in this treachery to put another Hausa/Fulani into office as Speaker. Aminu Tambuwal was that choice.
There are two quick lessons to learn from this. The first is that as Bola Tinubu and the ACN betrayed the Yorubas with the election of Tambuwal of Sokoto as Speaker of the House, so also are they determined to sell Yorubas into slavery again by their current alliance with the North-West and the Sokoto Caliphate through the APC. As there was nothing in Tambuwal’s Speakership for the Yorubas, so will there be nothing for the Yorubas in a North-West APC presidency. Yoruba voters really need to “shine their eyes.”
The other issue has to do with Aminu Tambuwal. Tambuwal became a Speaker under false pretences. Although he continued to parade himself as a member of the PDP, he was in actual fact no longer a member of the party. He shunned the party and became a mouthpiece of the opposition, all the while still pretending that he belonged to the PDP. Clearly, the honorable thing for Tambuwal to do, since he had clearly lost his affection for the PDP, was to resign from the party. However, Right Honorable Aminu Tambuwal did not do this because he is not an honorable man.
Violating the Constitution
Tambuwal’s other disaffected PDP colleagues were more honorable than him. 37 of them defected to the APC. But Tambuwal remained in the PDP in order to retain his job as Speaker. As long as he continued to claim he belonged to the PDP, even though he really no longer liked the party, he could continue to enjoy his rights and privileges as the Speaker. Tambuwal did not care what Nigerians think about his treachery. We voted for a PDP Speaker, but got an APC wolf in PDP sheep’s clothing.
Tambuwal’s treachery also meant he had to violate the Constitution of Nigeria which, as Speaker, he was sworn to protect. Section 68 (g) of the 1999 Constitution says: “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 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.”
This required the Speaker to declare the seats of the 37 PDP House members who defected as vacant. There was no division in the PDP; its members simply defected to another party. But given that Tambuwal was really an APC man in PDP disguise, he refused to fulfil his constitutional duty as Speaker to declare the seats vacant, in spite of the proclamation of the courts. He betrayed his duty as a PDP Speaker to protect the interests of the PDP. He denied the PDP seats that rightfully belonged to the PDP. He violated the will of Nigerian voters who elected the PDP traitors.
Tambuwal’s last act of treachery was his outright defection to the APC. He waited for the majority leader of the House to move for adjournment until 3rd December, 2014, before reading his defection letter. Having long manipulated the system to his selfish advantage, Tambuwal has now discovered that others can also manipulate the system to his disadvantage.
The police have been instructed to withdraw his security detail as Speaker, on the grounds that, with his defection, he is no longer a member of the House and thereby no longer the Speaker. In truth, the Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot come from the minority party. Tambuwal has now resorted to the courts. But this is the same Tambuwal who failed to declare the 37 seats of PDP defectors vacant, in spite of a court decision to that effect. People like Tambuwal who violate the verdict of the courts and show no respect for the courts don’t deserve protection by the courts.
If Tambuwal, as Speaker, can ignore the verdict of the courts; then Jonathan, as President, can equally ignore it. In this dog-eat-dog game that Tambuwal initiated, he deserves no sympathy whatsoever. He will quickly discover that a president has far greater nuisance value than a Speaker. If the president decides to make life difficult for Tambuwal, and I see no reason why not, then Tambwal is in for interesting times before his demotion to Sokoto Governor’s lodge.
He can be thrown out of his government house. He can then take the government to court, but the case might not be decided until June 2015. Tambuwal cannot have his cake and eat it. He cannot manipulate the system and then go to court to challenge others for also manipulating it. He started this nonsense. He deserves the repercussions. He should have done the honorable thing a long time ago. Resign as Speaker; and leave the House of Representatives.
If Tambuwal thinks Buhari and Co will give the presidential ticket of the APC to a former PDP man, he should think again. If he thinks Northerners will elect a North-West Sokoto man as president in 2015, he should think again. If he thinks Yorubas will vote a member of the Sokoto Caliphate as president in the current political environment of Nigeria, then he should dream on.
Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is currently an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.