A colleague told me a story recently of how when APC leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu clocked 60 the other day and House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal aka AWT was warming up to attend the event in Lagos, one of his friends tried to prevail on him not to do so and even advised him to reduce his visibility around the APC leaders in order not to further enrage his party, PDP, and the presidency. Tambuwal was said to have dammed the so-called advice and headed for the event. Though I have not bothered to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the tale, it may not be too far from the truth given the fact that the PDP top hierarchy is known to be uncomfortable with the Speaker’s close relationship with opposition figures. Today Tambuwal is in Ekiti receiving one chieftaincy title or another; tomorrow he is in Osun or Oyo collecting honourary award from one institution there. Tambuwal seems to be more at home with the opposition than with his own ruling party.
But those familiar with the recent political trajectory of the House Speaker should know that this close relationship could not have been otherwise. When I say recent trajectory, I mean his journey to political ascendancy; how he became the presiding officer of the House. Tambuwal was powered to the top seat by opposition forces, particularly the leadership of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria and its lawmakers, who rejected Mulikat Akande –Adeola from the South-west, whom the PDP national leadership wanted as speaker in line with its zoning arrangement. Together with his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, Tambuwal rebelled against the party’s zoning arrangement and worked with the opposition to record a stunning victory on June 6, 2011. Could he have jettisoned the same forces that powered him to victory? Really its politics, he could, but Tambuwal seemed to have chosen not to engage in such an expensive volte-face.
The Speaker’s body language and actions since the recent defection of five PDP governors, including his Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko, have all tended to suggest that the Speaker has a tacit support for the merger and will give protection to PDP members who may want to follow their governors.
Tambuwal and Wamakko have been an item together politically for some time now in Sokoto, so there is little doubt they may eventually flock together. Forget the rump of old PDP in Sokoto State who were goaded the other day to address a press conference to denounce Wamakko’s defection and declare that they are not with him; this matter of defection must be in synch with the dynamics of local politics in the respective states for it to be pulled through in the first instance. For instance in Kwara, the old PDP said only the former governor of the state, Senator Bukola Saraki, could determine where they headed and whether they joined APC or not. Saraki led the way and the bulk of them followed.
Though it may be logical to expect Tambuwal to go with Wamakko, but I doubt if he would do that for now as such would be politically inexpedient at the moment, just as it would also be politically incorrect for Ihedioha who wants to be governor of Imo State to declare for the same APC he wants to grab power from in the state. In the final analysis, with the kind of affinity Tambuwal has with Wamakko and the APC leaders, the question is not whether he would join the APC train; it is when.