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Aminu Waziri Tambuwal: The People’s Champion?

By on April 29, 2012

The Fuel Subsidy probe has been a great avenue for Nigerian analysts and pundits to assess the political gem that is Tambuwal. Since 1960, Nigerians haven’t had that many leaders that stand out for good as opposed to the norm of corruption, embezzlement and deception.

It takes a lot of effort not to like Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, especially with the direction in which he is leading the House of Representatives. Finally, a Nigerian political leader who seems not to be too concerned about whose ox is gored in the interest of equity, fairness and accountability.

The Awolowo’s, Shagari’s, Abiola’s, etc are hard too find. It is probably easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a Nigerian to find a good political role model in this era where ex-Governors are sentenced to prison in foreign lands, or bribe their way out with the complicity of the judicial system. Not a few lawmakers have high-profile charges of corruption pending and even, in some cases, terrorism charges trailing them. The rot in the system is colossus.

That’s why Tambuwal has mass appeal to Nigerians. With his infectious smile, he told the ruling elite in clear terms, “Let it therefore be known that in our drive to sanitize the polity, there are no sacred cows and we do not intend to discover any.“

The man always seems to be smiling, however that belies his shrewdness in his political dealings or perhaps it enhances it. A bi-partisan to the core, he entangles himself not as much in politics as he does in good governance. Nigerians are paying a huge price for good government, and it is left to leaders like Tambuwal to ensure they deliver value for our money, lest the people rebel and the oil fields become occupied.

N 1.07 trillion fraud, at least this is what the Farouk-Lawan ad hoc committee was able to detect, the actual rot in the system is probably vastly more expansive.

During the Fuel subsidy protests in January, it is on record that one of the South-south governors whilst being taxied in his private jet at the Abuja airport was concerned about how many “small boys” had private jets at the airport.

That utterance recorded by one of the major news publications in the country is an anecdote that underscores the grotesque display of greed and vanity the majority of our public and private leaders possess. Characteristics that will eventually rob Nigeria of her place in destiny if not nipped in the bud.

So we ought to be encouraged by Honourable Tambuwal’s remarks at the onset of the Public Hearings on the Fuel Subsidy report which began last week.

The Speaker said, “The probe of the oil sector has raised so much dust from certain segments of the polity such that it became clear that the intention was to frustrate it. For those who regard the oil sector as a secret society or sacred cow, I wish to state without equivocation that it is not. All public agencies in the oil sector are the creation of Acts of the National Assembly and this Honourable House has no powers to legislate for the creation of secret societies. Similarly, all private sector corporate bodies operating in the sector are the creation of the Corporate Affairs Commission and that Commission also is not vested with any powers to incorporate secret societies. Let it therefore be known that in our drive to sanitize the polity, there are no sacred cows and we do not intend to discover any. 

“Let me reiterate the fact that we are discharging a Constitutional assignment here and it is therefore incumbent upon us to do our duty without fear or favour. Let me also remind you that we are fighting against entrenched interests whose infectious greed has decimated our people. Therefore, be mindful that they will fight back, and they do fight dirty. 

“I have heard all kinds of insinuations, including the one about anti-graft agencies waiting for a harmonised version of this report before taking any action. Let me quickly say here that this is at best an excuse that cannot stand, after all the same agencies accept and investigate petitions from individuals, how much more resolutions of this House, there will be no such document. So, they should just go ahead and do their job and where they find any person or body culpable, they should proceed in accordance with the law. 

“Our only interest here is to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians by showing how the subsidy regime has been hijacked for the benefit of a few. At the end of our deliberations, we hope that the executive arm will act upon the resolutions of this House and bring more transparency to bear on the system.”

Some people think leadership is by attending Harvard Business School or any other Ivy League institution.  Once in a while, these misguided folks get a dose of the Tambuwals of this world.

Trained largely in Nigeria, this man has proven that we do not require technocrats to come back home and steer us in a direction they learned at Goldman Sachs or the World Bank. A lot of these technocrats do not even have the stuff required to fight against the systemic rot and decay in this contraption that is called Nigeria.

Whilst the country dances on the brink of anarchy and economic peril, such technocrats would even abandon it in hopes of greener pastures in the Western World. If America had no patriots, no men like John Adams or Thomas Jefferson, then it would not be what it is today.

In Nigeria, what we have is leadership that is semi-interested in the plight of its people and wholly keen on the affairs of their nucleus and oftentimes extended families. They send them abroad for education, healthcare and shopping. Whilst the people languish and are told to embrace austerity measures, the step-children of the Oil Minister were couriered on private jets and set-up for employment in companies that enjoy subsidy benefits.

Our leaders buy exotic cars for their favorite concubines and lodge them in luxury hotels, sometimes weeks at a time. Then they devise new methods to fuel their lust for cash, flesh and opulence. They loot the only social welfare available to many Nigerians, Kerosene and Petrol subsidy.

In the pursuit of resolving this fuel subsidy fiasco, the Honourables are beginning to earn their salary; hopefully the Senate can take its cue.