Perceptions 2022: Tambuwal, Kwankwaso | THIS DAY LIVE
By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
With just over a year to go until the next general election in Nigeria, the temperature of partisan politics has warmed up a bit, with all sorts of postulations and assumptions about the character, temperament and qualities of individuals who consider themselves as a possible replacement for the incumbent president, former army general Muhammadu Buhari. We continue with the fifth installment of our perceptual explorations of individuals chosen from the motley chorus of likely aspirants.
AMINU TAMBUWAL, 56 YEARS OLD
The 10th Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and incumbent Governor of Sokoto State has etched a colorful imprint on the political landscape of the Fourth Republic even in his favorite drab attire. The young lawyer (admitted to the bar in 1992, a year after leaving Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto) immersed himself in Nigerian politics at the lowest level; he served as Personal Assistant for Legislative Affairs to then Senate Leader Abdullahi Wali in 1999.
Thereafter, he methodically climbed the ladder: in June 2003, he entered the House of Representatives under the banner of the ANPP, and briefly held the post of leader of the minority (2005). For the 2007 elections, he switched to the Democratic People’s Party, DPP, alongside former governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, when the ANPP became too hot to roost there. However, when the DPP denied the Bafarawa entourage of lawmakers the chance to contest the election on its platform, Tambuwal returned to the ANPP and reclaimed her candidacy. Again, ticked off by the fickle nature of Nigerian politics, he had to travel after someone else when his governor, Aliyu Wamakko of the ANPP, switched to the PDP – all before the elections in 2007. Fortunately, the two political “brothers” have found their place. Tambuwal also rose to serve as Deputy Chief Whip during his second four years in the House.
In 2011, Tambuwal not only returned as a prominent member of the House of Representatives, but he was elected the tenth Speaker and one of the longest-serving holders of this often turbulent post (June 2011 – June 2015). He succeeded Dimeji Bankole.
Tambuwal jumped alongside the aggrieved rump of PDP leaders to co-found the APC in 2014. Building on the strength and diversity of this fledgling political party, Tambuwal succeeded Wamakko as Governor of Sokoto State . Many experts attributed his success in overthrowing the PDP’s grip in the northwest to the heat wave and Buhari frenzy that hit most parts of northern Nigeria in 2015.
But by August 2018, Tambuwal had had enough of APC and its shifting dynamic. He returned to PDP. Yet, like a Phoenix, unaware of the backlash of the waning Buhari phenomenon, Tambuwal soared to win back the governorship as a PDP man in the 2019 elections, albeit in a very tight race. He narrowly beat his APC opponent, Ahmad Aliyu (backed by former Tambuwal godfather Wamakko) by less than 400 votes – 512,002 to Aliyu’s 511,660 votes!
A man of graduate ambition, he was one of the top five candidates in the 2019 PDP presidential primaries (alongside Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Bukola Saraki, etc.); he came far behind Atiku Abubakar. Tambuwal has worked hard to nurture a clean image in a pool infested with sleazy and disreputable characters. His success in the 2023 race, within the PDP, will depend on several factors, including the ethno-geopolitical dimensions of the APC’s standard bearer, stemming unrest in the ranks of the most marginalized electoral blocs within this party. , and the multiple tendencies initiated short-circuit the individual and regional ambitions of the two major parties. And of course, the little business of his stewardship in Sokoto, and its concomitant baggage.
Best advice for Umaru Tambuwal: good luck on the winding road to 2023.
RABIU KWANKWASO, 65
A Fulani prince from Madobi whose forays into politics predate the Fourth Republic. He was first elected to the House of Representatives as a member of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, during the unfortunate political transition of the Babangida administration – after resigning from public office as a civil engineer. waters in 1992. But his first political romance was with the Popular Front group (and subsequently the People’s Democratic Movement, PDM) led by former Supreme Headquarters Chief of Staff, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua . He was an active member from 1989 to 1993, when the so-called Third Republic collapsed.
He represented the people of the federal constituency of Madobi in the 1992 House, where he later became vice-president. He rose from the SDP engine of BWI to one of the infamous Sanni Abacha ‘five leprous hands’ parties, the Democratic Party of Nigeria, DPN.
A political tactician imbued with chameleon agility to take advantage of prevailing political trends and movements, for his ultimate advantage. Kwankwaso joined the PDP in 1998 and contested his primaries for governor of Kano, alongside current governor Abdullahi Ganduje, who lost but became Kwankwaso’s running mate. They easily won the 1999 elections.
For the grave sin of empathy with Obasanjo, against his exuberant vice-president, Abubakar, Kwankwaso incurred the wrath of some Kano power brokers, and he lost the ticket back in the 2003 elections to Ibrahim Shekarau.
Eight years later, the wily political chameleon has returned to the hearts of the powerful and returned to the governor’s office in 2011, of course, with his reliable deputy, Ganduje, at his side.
Even though he was out of power for about eight years, he wasn’t exactly in a political wilderness. Obasanjo, in a gesture of thanks, appointed him first minister of defense without military training of the fourth republic (between 2003 and 2007).
His attempt to contest the gubernatorial election in 2007 produced sour grapes across the plains of Kano. A government white paper, based on the recommendations of a commission of inquiry, was strongly endorsed by his successor, Shekarau, who nailed Kwankwaso on many points and quickly ended any hope of a glorious comeback. He was later rewarded with an appointment as special envoy to Somalia and Darfur by Obasanjo.
After his second term as governor of Kano in 2015, he handed over his huge statewide apparatus to the APC, as he joined the PDP renegades who co-founded the ‘Change’ party. . He successfully installed his longtime friend and deputy governor of Kano, and he moved to the senate, representing Kano Central Senatorial District. All this after he tried to snatch the presidential flag from eventual winner Buhari in the 2015 APC primaries. He came in far behind the former Daura military ruler and quickly endorsed him.
He returned to the PDP three years later, like a few fellow travelers, to contest the 2019 presidential primaries. When he lost, once again, to Atiku Abubakar, he also quickly endorsed the winner, but refused to return to the Senate.
Kwankwaso is a fairly popular and effective mobilizer in Kano politics. His cleverly crafted political movement, Kwankwasiyya, relied on government patronage, building infrastructure, and investing in manpower, among other practical strategies. Some of the epaulettes pinned on Kwankwaso during his two periods of service in Kano were the establishment of two universities (Kano State University of Technology and North West University); he was reputedly the first governor of the Fourth Republic to introduce free school food and uniforms for primary school students – thereby skyrocketing enrollment by more than 200%. Education was free at all levels, while more than 250 new secondary schools and training institutes were established.
His Kwankwasiyya Foundation has impacted Kano in ways that are hard to describe as mere window dressing or condescension. However, like many of his fellows, his cupboards can be full of cobwebs and rodents. Kwankwaso was charged in a 2004 white paper by the Kano state government; a long standing petition is before the EFCC alleging breaches of the Kano State Pensions and Grants Act 2007. Of course, he vehemently denied everything. However, he was still questioned about the hubbub of pensions until October 2021!
You can’t bet against Kwankwaso returning to APC to fight again with others for the Shining Tiara…it’s the way of the chameleon. Can such a ubiquitous power absorber be trusted with the ultimate power?