Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the speaker of the federal House of Representatives and his deputy Mr. Emeka Ihedioha are two names that will surely enjoy generous mention when the elaborate history of the current democratic dispensation would be written.
They would be mentioned not because they hold some of the highest political offices in the nation but for a different but salient reason entirely.
Put simply, the duo are democratic rebels who rode on the popular will of the majority against the formidable odds erected by the tiny partisan clique to emerge as speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.
They rode on the popular acclaim of the majority through a bipartsan measure unprecedented in the political annals of Nigeria to jettison and defeat the nocturnal partisan configuration of political offices erected by the tiny clique that controls the national machinery of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) -the political party in power at the national level, to assume the mantle of leadership in response to the popular cross-party or multiparty mandate bestowed on them by their colleagues in the federal House of Representatives who collectively rebelled for a just cause so as to try to build an independent legislature in compliance strictly to the principles of the constitutionally enshrined provision that guarantees separation of powers.
Specifically, ever since emerging as speaker of the federal House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the young but eminently respected legal luminary from Sokoto State has so far proven his leadership qualities as a real democratic rebel who is devoted to rendering selfless services to humanity and the entire Nigerian citizenry.
A year and half ago, when he emerged as the Speaker, he demonstrated to Nigerians that he is one political leader who came with prepared objectives on how best to truly transform Nigeria from a nation riddled with mass poverty, unemployment and insecurity to that polity whereby the human rights of all citizens are promoted, protected and ensured through qualitative legislative activities and other pro-democracy advocacy activities.
Tambuwal’s first action as the speaker truly and graphically revealed a democratic rebel who in the words of the great philosopher Mr. Albert Camus, has decided to say ‘NO’ to the business- as -usual tendency of politics but to lead by the power of personal example and patriotism.
In his widely acclaimed book ‘The Rebel’, Mr. Albert Camus asked the basic philosophical question of who is indeed a rebel and responded thus; “A man who says no: whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. A rebel is also a man [woman]who says yes as soon as he [she] begins to think for himself [herself]”.
Tambuwal, realizing the enormity of the expectations of Nigerians from such high profile political office holder, had set out a workable agenda on the best ways to legislate for public good.
In the legislative blueprint widely published by speaker Tambuwal’s leadership of the Federal House of Representatives, Nigerians were told in black and white that the views of the ordinary people of Nigeria would no longer be sidelined by the National Assembly since the people are the real owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria from where public office holders derive legitimacy and authority.
His words; “The Seventh Session of the House of Representatives (HoR) (2011-2015) is committed to honouring the faith and trust reposed in it by the Nigerian people and we are determined to chart a new course of legislative business for the benefit of our people”.
Tambuwal who has shown himself as a man at home with the rural people stated that the legislative agenda being published on assumption of office seeks to reform the in-house legislative processes in the House, identify key legislative priorities and outline a programme of action to achieve the goals that the current Federal House of Representatives members have set for themselves.
He assured generality of Nigerians that over the next four years, the House of Representatives will pursue an aggressive legislative agenda to reposition itself as a key branch of government able and determined to deliver on the key elements of governance.
His words; “We acknowledge that the House has had to navigate the difficult terrain of winning public trust and confidence and even of being the champion of the peoples’ cause. Years of struggling to establish adequate legislative mores and practices, especially upon the return to democratic rule in May 1999, has meant that some of the things we have done may not have met public expectation”.
He admitted that the legislators have a lot of times not communicated enough, their legislative intentions or priorities just as he stated that the effort to establish the House as a major institution of democracy in service of the Nigerian people has proved to be a slow and difficult one.
In a solemn tone he pledged thus; “Today, and with the inauguration of the Seventh Session of the House of Representatives, we make bold to state and with great assurance to the Nigerian people that the legislature has come of age. It is a new day-a new House of Representatives, and we are prepared to meet and surpass the expectations of the Nigerian people to represent their best interest”.
If question is to be asked if the Speaker has kept to his own side of the bargain to the Nigerian people, the popular acclaim of the majority of Nigerians is that so far so good and the opinion of the majority of Nigerians is that the social contract between the Federal House of Representatives and the Nigerian People is a work in steady progress.
Before millions of Nigerians came out on the streets of major cities and towns to protest the increment in the pump price of petroleum products in January 2012 by the Federal government, the speaker of the Federal House of Representatives did the unthinkable which till today sets his leadership apart from all others as pro-democracy and pro-people.
The Federal House for the first time in over fifty years of Nigeria’s existence sat on a Sunday to intervene on the side of the popular masses urging the Federal government to reverse the ill -informed decision to hike the pump price of petroleum products.
Against all odds, the Federal House at that time under the competent leadership of speaker Tambuwal stood on the side of truth which tremendously put political pressure of the powers-that- be to reverse the evil policy of extreme hike in the purchasing price of petroleum products which had already generated large scale poverty and excruciating cost of living for millions of Nigerians.
Speaker Tambuwal by his action of convening the Federal House of Representatives demonstrated that politics is all about public good and doing everything to reduce the rate of poverty which in any case has skyrocketed even by the estimation given by a former vice president of the World Bank Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili.
The erstwhile World Bank chief also authoritatively revealed that the Yar’adua/Jonathan Federal administration squandered over $67 billion of Nigeria’s money handed over to them by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
To show why most young Nigerians are happy so long as speaker Tambuwal remains a democratic rebel to fight the evils of corruption and lack of good governance, the recent public lecture delivered by the former World Bank vice President and one time Education minister under the Obasanjo-led government revealed that the vicious circle of poverty has become suffocating even when Nigeria has enjoyed five phenomenal circle of oil boom with much of the revenue generated stolen by government officials.
Her words; “The present cycle of boom of the 2010s is, however, much more vexing than the other four that happened in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. This is because we are still caught up in it and it is more egregious than the other periods in revealing that we learned absolutely nothing from the previous massive failures”.
She continued: “The squandering of the significant sum of $45 billion in foreign reserve account and another $22 billion in Excess Crude Account…”.
Ezekwesili said that it was up to the younger generation to restore the dignity of Nigeria by making the right choices to lift the nation out of poverty.
According to her, the figures of the poor in Nigeria grew from 17.1 million in 1980, 34.5 million in 1985, 39.2 million in 1992, 67.1 million in 1996, to 68.7 million in 2004 and 112.47 million in 2010.
What the above explosive revelation by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili showed is that Nigerians collectively have no choice but to sustain the tempo of pressure on the National Assembly and especially the Federal House of Representatives under the leadership of a young Nigerians to put the central government on its toes so long as the principle of transparency and accountability of public resources are basterdized as is currently the case.
Do you wonder why I believe the Sun now shines on the young Mr. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to use his political power to serve public good? Wonder no more because Mr. Tambuwal who was born on January 10th, 1966 is still far too young a man that he is one of the right persons in whom millions of young Nigerians look up to show the light through pragmatic display of power of personal example and the genuine love of the mother land-Nigeria.
So when in 2012, two critical and well respected naional Newspapers-leadership and Sun Newspaper group decided to celebrate his public leadership qualities, some of us who know the speaker were not shocked because he truly deserves all the positive reinforcement and support that the civil society and the mass media can offer so that he will consistently carry the public good of the largest percentage of Nigerians at heart.
Lastly, Tambuwal should open up channels for constant engagement with the leadership of the credible civil society groups so to consistently get qualitative feed-back information on the yearnings, aspirations and dreams of the people of Nigeria. Recently at a national dialogue session by Trust Group of Newspapers, Tambuwal admitted that politicians abandon the electorate soon after elections. This is a statement of fact from a man who is actually serving the interest of Nigerians.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA firstname.lastname@example.org.