By Usama Dandare
30th August 2018 has surely come and gone leaving its footprints in the sand of our time, especially in the heart Sakkwatawa, it was the day Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State picked up his presidential nomination and expression of interest form under the political platform he conspired and aided in destroying – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
His recent emergence into the 2019 Nigerian Presidential race made me wonder when the elusive office of the Nigerian President becomes free-for-all so much so that every Tom, Dick and Harry, who has bought his way into a gubernatorial seat or any sycophant whose criminality has earned him dirty money and undue popularity, can stake a claim to. This reminds me when Jimmy Carter, the frontrunner and Democratic Party candidate in the 1976 United States’ Presidential elections, was asked about the challenges posed by other three candidates contesting against him: Gerrard Ford, Senator Eugene McCarthy and Roger McBride.
Jimmy Carter responded by saying that he believed Gerrard Ford, of the Republican party, has all it takes to pose a serious threat; but Eugene McCarthy, an independent candidate, and Roger McBride of the Libertarians were nothing but “jokers and pretenders”. To further substantiate his claims, Mr. Carter went on to win the elections by polling s total of 40,831,000 votes, with Ford coming slightly behind him with 39,148,000 votes while the “jokers and pretenders” McBride and McCarthy won 171,011 and 756,691 votes respectively.
It is imperative to note here that while most of the candidates who’ve indicated interest to run for Nigeria’s most exalted office are seriously in the race for the crown, some are there just to gain political relevance, many are there to pose a stumbling block to others who they may think without obstacles have a good chance of emerging while others are there just to catch fun. So, whichever way, I believe our very own Governor Tambuwal is in the race not only for fun but to add the title of “once a presidential aspirant” to his curriculum vitae.
Since the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria in 1914, there was no time in our political history when we have political nuisances pretending to be the answers to our contemporaneous predicaments. Throughout our history, the exalted office of the president was always vied by highly competent politicians who had set aglow the political scene with uncountable achievements and left behind legacies worthy of emulation. Politicians like Chief Moshood Abiola, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mallam Aminu Kano, and General Shehu Musa Yar’adua might have gone but left behind legacies heavy enough to neglect in their quest to clinch the presidential seat. But here we are, the 2019 election is greeting the space with some calibre of contestants who have declared their “interest” to vie for the presidency, some jokers whose competence when put under scrutiny, is highly questionable and absolutely burlesque.
Topping the list of these jokers is Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the Sokoto State governor who has governed the state for close to four years without any tangible achievement to showcase, despite receiving over N500billion in IGR, FAAC Allocation, Bailout, Paris Club Refund and loans. A visit Sokoto state today will leave you in doubt as to whether the state had a sitting governor for the last three years and you will also be amazed at the very slow pace of its development. Governor Tambuwal is unarguably the most underachieving governor in today’s Nigeria and the most successful on the headlines of Nigerian newspapers.
Sokoto State is today one of the most underdeveloped states in the country considering the rate at which other states have been rapidly developing in the last three years. All the governor is known for is his globetrotting, embezzlement of local government funds, media propaganda, a signing of MOUs and purchase of some arrangee awards of excellence. Albert he has been able to declare a widely publicized State of Emergency on Education since his first year in office, yet, the people of Sakkwato are yet to reap the fruits of that inglorious policy. Our public schools are in shamble while our children are still passing through years of zero value-added education, civil servants in the state are facing hard times with some percentage from their monthly salaries being deducted to fund the state of emergency policy on education, our people are forced to live with poverty as a lifetime companion while corruption has been authoritatively established around the state financial sector with few people robbing the state treasury in a broad daylight.
In the area of infrastructural development, the Tambuwal administration has been nothing short of a colossal failure: not a single school or hospital was built, not a single house was built let alone bridges. However, a total of about 12 kilometres of township roads were constructed across the state metropolis. The poser here is: How can this incompetent, under-performing, and poor manager of human resources have the wherewithal to contest for Nigeria’s Presidency? Only time will tell but Tambuwal’s presidential candidacy is all but a sick joke.
My biggest problem with Tambuwal is his ego which on many occasions lured him into overrating his personality, hence deceiving himself by his own self. Tambuwal could have achieved success as a lawmaker and Speaker of the House of Representatives, though many commentators are in contrariety to this view, an office like that of the President is obviously not within his reach. Not that he is not qualified, but because he is administratively daft and bereft of leadership skills, legislation is in it entirety parallel to administration. It always baffling to see someone who woefully failed to perform as a state governor thinking he has what it takes to lead a very complex nation like Nigeria. Although Governor Tambuwal can be forgiven for overrating his personality, such ego is expected from a leader who ascended to power on a platter of gold.
Opportunism and lack of respect for the Nigerian people are hallmarks of the political process over the past seventeen years in our dear country. Most politicians especially Governor Tambuwal do not depend on the legitimacy conferred by free and fair votes. Let’s be realistic about it; Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was never known to be productive politically, he’s a typical opportunist who accidentally found his way to the top via a godfather without any grassroots pedigree and one would percolate without success to find any of his achievements since becoming a political office holder in 2003. So it’s not surprising if such an opportunist believe the office of the president can also be won by chance.
As we await the 2019 general elections, it’s worthy of note that amongst all the personalities who have indicated interest to jostle for the presidential office, Governor Tambuwal is all but the most incompetent. In Jimmy Carter’s voice, I call him “a joker and a pretender”. And unlike McCarthy and MacBride whom Mr. Carter overwhelmingly defeated by in the 1976 United States’ Presidential elections, our own joker can hardly go beyond the primaries.
Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.