By Imam Abu-Sulayman
In June 2011, fresh out of the defeat of the opposition parties at the general elections, the post elections violence that had taken place in some parts of the North as a result, a President who had run the most divisive and polarizing campaign – the type of which would make the regional parties of the 60’s envious, Nigerians were introduced to an unusual drama in the hallowed chambers of its National Assembly: the election of its principal officers, more specifically in the House of Representatives.
The ruling party as at then, the PDP, had already flouted its own rules of zoning in favor of an accidental incumbent – President Jonathan, who got elevated after the demise of his boss, President Yar’Adua. The party then turned around to shamelessly demand the compliance of the flouted rules by “lesser” members of the party, who were the members of the House of Representatives. The PDP “zoned” the speakership of the House to the South West, or more particularly, to Hon. Mulikat Adeola, being that she was the only returning PDP member from that zone at the time.
The PDP had a clear majority in the House of Representatives and therefore thought it could whip its members into line as usual with promises of carrot and stick. But the growing number of opposition members, although still in the minority was large enough to alter the landscape of the election. And so the recalcitrant PDP members began to campaign, defying the instructions of the “ruling party”.
Sentiments were whipped among members to assert their independence. Most members were first termers and did not feel the need to be cowed by a party that had clearly demonstrated disregard for its own rules.
Long story short, a certain Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was introduced to the nation through a surreptitious and entertaining episode reminiscent of a popular political drama series. He emerged as the Speaker of the House of Representatives largely with the help of the opposition parties as at then, the ACN led by Hon. Femi Gbaja, the CPC and ANPP.
A rosy and beneficial relationship was struck between Speaker Tambuwal and the opposition members of the House. The Speaker paid them back with good recognitions for speaking slots, committee memberships, protections and pecuniary aid whenever it was necessary.
In turn, the opposition members protected the speaker against any party dictatorship or unsavory behaviors toward him. A specific case in point was when the Police Force was used to block Tambuwal from accessing the National Assembly Complex in 2014 in order to have him impeached, Femi Gbaja and his colleagues dramatically jumped over the gates to save the speaker and the integrity of the hallowed chamber.
It was no secret that the opposition votes that finally delivered Tambuwal was marshalled and negotiated by none other than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He gave the marching orders to his Caucus Leader in the House, Hon. Femi, who is a bosom friend to Tambuwal and who introduced him to Jagaban. The rest is history. Jagaban and Tambuwal enjoyed a very rosy relationship throughout the four-year tenure of the Speaker. It was also rumored that Jagaban had wanted Tambuwal to run for President in 2015 and only reluctantly dropped the idea after he was convinced of its futility at the time.
Fast forward to 2015. Tambuwal is now a Governor under the APC in Sokoto State. Having quit the Speakership seat with the loudest ovation still on, Tambuwal has considerable influence over the members. His bosom friend, Hon. Femi Gbaja supported by their political boss, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and most of the party apparatchiks and foot soldiers was gunning for the Speaker. Ordinarily, it would have been safe to assume that Tambuwal’s support was a guarantee, but alas Tambuwal had other plans.
Femi’s opponent, Hon. Yakubu Dogara emerged the speaker through an obvious overwhelming support from the erstwhile Speaker Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
The question is, what happened to the relationship between the trio? Or more importantly, what kind of dirty game is this? Perhaps, there is more than meets the eye.
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