The speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal has broken a jinx by being the first sitting speaker to win governorship of a state. Before now, no other occupant of the position had ever gone further than being the speaker. But how did Tambuwal manage to swim in the murky waters and remain afloat asks Emma Alozie
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal seems to have broken what was before now regarded as a jinx bedeviling past occupiers of the position of the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Right from 1999 till date, no former speaker or even deputy speaker of the House of Reps has gone further politically after occupying such seat. It was generally regarded as a political poisoned chalice because that position seemed more like a political alley for any occupier.
A look at Tambuwal’s predecessors shows that the position of the speaker of the House of Reps became the last significant political position attained. For instance, the first speaker, Salisu Buhari, who was disgraced out of office as a result of what is better known as ‘Toronto certificate scandal’ never found his political footing again despite the fact that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo gave him a state pardon. Every other attempt he made to relunch himself into political reckoning has been unsuccessful. He has therefore remained in the dark political waters.
When Salisu Buhari was ousted, he was replaced with Ghali Umar Na’Abba. He became so combative and confrontational with the Obasanjo presidency. Na’Abba so harassed Obasanjo with impeachment that Obasanjo was really shaken by the Na’Abba led House of Representative. A visibly shaken Obasanjo came on national television to describe the impeachment move as a joke taken too far.
The experience though thought Obasanjo some hard political lessons, but it also put paid to any further political ambition Na’Abba nurtured. After the end of his tenure in 2003, PDP denied him ticket for reelection and he has been on political doldrums ever since. He never recovered from the backlash as Obasanjo came all out for him, making sure he lost all political relevance. He has been jumping from one political party to another and the latest is his recent defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
After the 2003 election came Aminu Bello Masari, an Obasanjo’s protégé. After the Na’Abba’s experience, Obasanjo in his second term carefully handpicked Masari as the speaker and this worked wonderfully well. However, after the expiration of his term of office in 2007, he could not further politically as his attempt to become the governor of his home state of Katsina backfired. In 2011, he tried again and failed. However, in the just concluded election, he is third time lucky as he has won the governorship of Katsina.
After Massari came the young and urbane Dimeji Bankole. Bankole from Ogun state rose fortuitously to the position of the speaker of the House after the first female speaker Patricia Etteh was hounded out of office over allegations of misappropriation just three months into assuming office. Patricia Etteh’s fall saw to the rise of Bankole. But towards the end of his term, he was enmeshed in numerous alleged financial scams that threatened to consume his career. And also he had a difficult decision to make whether to re-contest for a seat in the House or go for the governorship of his state. He made attempt at both and ended with none. This meant that he never returned to the House of Representatives. He like those before him slumped to political oblivion and has never recovered since then.
In the run up to the just concluded elections, he was in the race to pick the PDP ticket but that never materialized and this has further set him back in the pecking order. But Tambuwal has come to break the jinx by going further in his political career. The question is how did Tambuwal remain afloat despite swimming against the PDP tide.
From the first day he rebelled against the party by going against the zoning arrangement of the party, he was a marked man. But he learnt how to avoid the banana peels in the House of Representatives. He was not made speaker in the first place by the powers of the PDP, rather by the power of opposition. The defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, then bankrolled by Tinubu made sure that all AC N House of Reps members backed Tambuwal’s mission. They did and kept him safe till when he eventually ported to the APC that promptly gave him the governorship ticket for the Sokoto. He rode on the back of virulent criticisms of the PDP even as a member to remain in public glare and this tremendously paid off. He has now become the first speaker of the House of Representatives to win governorship election while still a speaker.