By Saifullahi Abubakar
It is normal for a public figure, a successful one for that matter, to attract occasional sneer, derision or outright envy. But it is abnormal when such a thing is turned into an organised mob of muckrakers with a mandate to smear the target personality by every available spit they could get. This is the case with an on-going mudslinging against Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, using the free passage of all garbage offered by the handy social media.
A recent example of such trashy offerings; one that went viral on account of the key words deliberately used to attract curious readers and to easily smear is titled “Tambuwal and the politics of Buhari’s illness,” penned under an obvious pseudonym of Mamman Abdullahi. The mudslingers got a lot of people there: Tambuwal, politics and the ill health of President Muhammadu Buhari. Ordinarily, people would want to find out what links a respected personality like Governor Tambuwal with the health condition of the president and, more still, the alleged politics of it.
However, from the very first sentence of the piece, the emotion of the hatched men is laid bare. The intent, as the opening line crudely puts it, is to paint Tambuwal’s 30 years of public life as one characterised by “betrayals and treachery”. The rest of the malignant article rode along this line. Lies upon lies are lined up; spun from contemporaneous events and purported historical antecedents of Tambuwal to paint him – as the agenda setting first line puts it – a betrayer and treacherous person.
The instinct initially was to laugh this off and move on, as one of those things politicians often encounter. However, on a second thought one is tempted to put out a response because the professional liar who authored the faceless hogwash presented tissues of lies in a way that may look factual to unsuspecting public who knows not.
First, let me say that I am an innocent bystander in this issue. I am intervening because I knowledgeable enough about most of the issues raised in the initial article. I am not holding brief for Tambuwal, and the fact that he knows nothing about this work gives me the pleasure to state what I know without inhibitions or guidance from him. The said article stands on no factual ground. It is sheer concoctions. At best, it is not more than a spectacular fictional narrative skewed together by a fertile mind with agenda for grave mischief. To accuse Tambuwal of selling himself to be appointed as vice president – a vacancy that does not exist, is not only funny but a clear assault on truth, and on the man’s personality and intelligence. In truth, chasing shadows (which is what vying for a non-existent post is) is the least thing that can be inferred in Tambuwal’s dealings as a public servant.
Additionally, from the searchlight some of us have kept on him over the years, Tambuwal is a man of faith with a strong sense of gratitude to the almighty who elevated him from being a legislative aide to first, Nigeria’s Number Four position, and now the first citizen of his state. This has never been lost on the Tambuwal that I know. For him, and all people of faith, chasing after another thing when you are not half-way into what God almighty blessed you with is some mark of ingratitude. For emphasis, Tambuwal has never had divided attention since assuming the position of the Governor of Sokoto State. He has executed his mandate in such a way that today, midway into his first term of four years, the consensus in Sokoto is for him to carry on for additional term.
It should also be stated that as someone who has been actively involved in politics since the beginning of this dispensation, Tambuwal has developed extensive network of friends, associates and admirers, so it is foolish and mischievous for any of his engagements with such associates to be interpreted in any narrow manner. From his time in the National Assembly, it is clearly evident that it is in his nature not to abandon his friends because of the trappings of power.
Will Tambuwal work to undermine Buhari? Certainly not! Recently, a story of Tambuwal’s 2012 visit to the then opposition leader, Buhari in Kaduna was shared online. That year, Buhari had returned from a medical trip and Tambuwal, as Speaker, led some of his colleagues to Buhari’s house for a sympathy visit. Not a few in the Green Chamber, especially those of the ruling party, raised eyebrows at the visit. Their thinking was that as a member of the PDP, Tambuwal should not be seen publicly hobnobbing with Buhari. But Tambuwal stood his ground and insisted that politics aside, Buhari, being a former Head of State, deserved respect and recognition.
As if sensing the little controversy the visit would elicit, Buhari asked Tambuwal why he wasn’t afraid to visit with a full compliments of reporters. “We’re here to see how you are feeling and to pray to Allah for bringing you back home safely,” the Speaker told him. At the end of the visit, Buhari thanked Tambuwal profusely; saying for identifying with him when it was risky to do that, Tambuwal had shown genuine concern for his well-being. He also prayed for him as he departed.
I brought this issue to show the bond, and respect between the two leaders.
While the writer and his sponsors ignorantly dropped the name of Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal in a bid to deceive the readers, we were all living witnesses to Shehu’s directive to his supporters to support the candidature of Tambuwal during the last electioneering campaigns in Sokoto even though they don’t belong to the same parties. If Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal has issues with Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, would he have supported him against his party in 2015?
Tambuwal’s brand of politics is one that embraces friends and foes alike. It is in public domain that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, was one of the staunchest opponents of Tambuwal when he aspired to lead the lower legislative House in the year 2011. But immediately he won the election, Tambuwal made Dogara the chairman of the all-important House Services Committee. His opponent in that election, Mulikat Adeola-Akande, was made the Majority Leader, the first time a Female would hold such an important position in the country.
Do I need to remind us of Tambuwal’s relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo? After kicking against against Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker, Obasanjo eventually became one of Tambuwal’s mentors and he had this to say a few days ago in Abeokuta: “Mr Governor, I would apologize that I am going to embarrass you small. When you emerged as the Speaker (in 2011), you know I was not satisfied; because that was not the arrangement of the then PDP. It was the former administration and the then leadership that did that and I expressed my view. When you came to me, I told you that you were not the problem, but the party then. I told you that I am pleased by the reports I got of you as the speaker, and again I am still getting good report of you in your state. You are one of the examples of the youth that have been doing well in politics.”
One person who cherishes Tambuwal’s political dexterity is the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. Despite the seeming differences of opinion following the election of principal officers of the National Assembly last year, Tinubu had this to say about Tambuwal when he visited Sokoto for an event at Usmanu Danfodio University: “Governor Aminu Tambuwal represents the new hope of a new progressive political era. The people of Sokoto made a good choice in electing him governor. A man of and for the people and a true patriot, his commitment to advance the welfare of the people is remarkable. We must support him in his mission to bring greater development and prosperity to Sokoto for the benefit of all of her people.”
Adjudging Tambuwal as a betrayer because of changing political allegiances is a mark of political ignorance and dishonesty on the part of the mudslingers. Politics is opportunity and all politicians vie for opportunity to serve and to work with like-minds. If a platform or political alliance looses focus, is collapsing or no longer viable, it is unwise to wait for the roof to collapse on one’s head. President Muhammadu Buhari, for example, moved from the ANPP when it was obvious he was being frustrated internally, to form the CPC. And when CPC proved impotent as a political machinery to achieve his ambition for the nation, he collapsed into the alliance that formed the APC. There is nothing wrong with such moves.
Also, such political steps are sometimes taken out of patriotism as exemplified in the 2014 mass action against the unpatriotic PDP regime, in which Tambuwal incidentally played a prominent role to the admiration of vast majority of Nigerians.
One is entitled to disagree or even hate Governor Tambuwal for whatever personal reason, but the allegations labeled against him is almost the zenith such malicious undertaking could attain. It is not just because Tambuwal’s name is smeared but also because of the dangerous namedropping and dragging of the names of very important and responsible personalities just to achieve the sinister aim of portraying Tambuwal – who from all indications, is minding his business – in a very bad light.
*Saifullahi Abubakar, a Quantity Surveyor, wrote from Aso Drive, Abuja