Leadership is all about getting the right incentive that will ginger every other department of government to work for the common good
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Ahead of the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), spokesman of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (RAPC), Kassim Afegbua has said that Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, is better placed to win next year’s presidential election for the opposition party.
What makes you think Governor Aminu Tambuwal stands out from other PDP presidential aspirants?
Tambuwal is a man I have known for many years. He is a detribalised Nigerian, who is not given to nepotism, cronyism, bigotry and what have you. Amongst his very close aides and workers are Nigerians from other parts of the country, not necessarily from the north, and from different faiths. He is one Nigerian who reaches out to the ordinary man. Even as Speaker of the House of Representatives, he was still connecting with his friends and coming to ask about ideas, innovations that will help move the legislature. He cuts across all ages; he is 52 years old. He is like middle of the road kind of. He represents the youths and also a bridge to the elderly.
So, if there is a consensus that we must move away from this gerontocracy so to speak; we need to look at individuals, who have the capacity to coordinate all the divergent views, opinions in the country to build a synergy that can drive the wheel of governance and Tambuwal falls into that estimation.
There are so many things that are wrong with this government. And so many things that are not been done properly. But by the time, you speak to these issues, they see you as bad opposition person or that you don’t just like the government.
But this is our country. We cannot run away. We have to help to build this country. I am part and parcel of those who worked to bring this President to power. Even Tambuwal was part of it. But the promise that we made to Nigerians, the government has not been able to implement them. Almost three and half years down the line, we can’t lay our hands concretely on anything and say the promises have been fulfilled. The restructuring that we talked about, what have they done about it? Nothing. It was number one on the manifesto. We campaigned with it saying this is what the government will be. What has been done about it?
Many see Tambuwal as been too ambitious. A lot of persons say he was one those who brought this government and that he left APC, because he wants to be president in 2019. How true?
I will rather see those who make such allegations as those who do not understand the dynamics of leadership recruitment process. You see, we have always been having leaders and president in Nigeria, who have been called upon. You know in the usual tradition of ‘I didn’t want to contest, but they called upon me.’ But here is a man who at 52 said no, I am going to leave my comfort zone to interrogate this government and use the opportunity to take leadership through the ballot box, because I think I have what it takes to deliver dividends of democracy better than the present government.
You see it is easy for people to say that somebody is overly ambitious. How do they mean? If you take a census of world leaders, the average age is maybe 40. It is only in Nigeria that somebody will be above 50 years and you still call him a young man. But in other countries, there is a 31 years old president and the country is working well. We have narrowed down politics to bread and butter to acquisition process, that is why people say what are you looking for, go and sit down and wait for your turn. No.
Leadership is all about getting the right incentive that will ginger every other department of government to work for the common good of all of us. You have to have a Nigerian, who understands the intricate logic of our disparities, of our configuration and ethnic divisions.
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So, for a Tambuwal, who was able to perform so well as Speaker of the House of Representatives, which is a microcosm of the larger Nigeria state, such a person already understands what it takes to preside over the collective destiny of this country. We have 360 members in the House of Representatives, drawn from 360 constituencies in the country. So, every other tribe is represented in the House of Representatives. He was able to run a very stable system for four good years to the admiration of all. He has also gone back to the state to gain executive experience by been the governor of Sokoto State and also, building peace and stability in that state, to the extent that even when you have crisis in other northern states, Sokoto remains stable and peaceful.
So, I will rather be on the side of somebody who is ambitious. Who is leaving his comfort zone than be detained by this gerontrocratic system that has not helped us.
Some interest groups within the PDP believe that the party’s presidential candidate should be given to somebody who has been very steadfast in the party, as a reward for loyalty. Some of them believe that but for the role played by Tambuwal and others, APC would not have won the last presidential. What is your take?
Well, nobody gives ticket. That should be the first understanding. Delegates vote for aspirants who in their own estimation through a free and fair primary, represents their own aspirations. They will be assembled. All aspirants will access them. They will go to them. Sell their manifesto to the delegates and they will be made to vote. When they vote, whoever emerges represents the mindset of the delegates. That is number one.
Number two; there is nationalistic driving force in the mind of Tambuwal that has taken him to the APC; thinking that they will get it right with the kind of persons there. But he saw that there is a huge contradiction in their makeup. He decided to pull back to reorder the thinking, so that galvanising this platform and using it to pursue his aspiration, he may get answers to that huge national question.
It is not about loyalty to party. It should be loyalty to the country. The country should come first in our understanding of governance, because it is only when the country is healthy that you can play healthy politics.
When the country is sick, party politics will also be sick. So, what he has going for him, is that nationalistic thinking of saying ‘I am leaving my comfort zone of being a governor; I want to sacrifice all of that for the unity of Nigeria.’
It is not about give ticket to people who have been consistent in the party, but understanding the needs and desires and aspirations of the people gathered under the umbrella, Nigeria. And knowing what to do, to coordinate all centripetal and centrifugal forces to make the right movement, the right intervention, the right road map that will take us out of this maladies.
There are fears that Tambuwal can’t match President Buhari should he emerge as the PDP candidate. How do you react to that?
If Tambuwal emerges the candidate of the PDP, I think it will be the easiest thing to defeat Buhari. People are looking at the dynamics from a different perspective, but I have my own analysis. When Buhari contested with a northern Muslim candidate in Yar’Adua, he got 6.7million votes. Yar’Adua defeated him. So, all these make believe that ‘oh there are 12 million votes’ kept in his box in the house, will pale into insignificance.
A Tambuwal’s presidential candidate will be a contests between a new generation of Nigeria driven by a young articulate Nigerian, who understands the dynamics of the country, the intricate knowledge of the Nigeria tripodal arrangement, who also connects with people from diverse background versus a man who is cocooned in the Villa, who we are hearing the vice president will be chosen to represent him in debates, should there be any and who we are not too sure can criss-cross the 36 states campaigning for votes. And who has shown a clear patronage of nepotism. Once Tambuwal emerges as PDP candidate, the deal is 50 percent done; that I can assure you.