Snakes in Aminu’s compound

November 20, 2015
5 mins read

Let me begin by expressing relief that House Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, finally dropped out of the race for presidency in 2015. Not that he is not eminently qualified; but in the circumstance, he was clearly being set up to fail, and it was also to scuttle the chances of the APC in the 2015 presidential election.

It was the thought that came to my mind late last week, when the report emerged that Bola Tinubu had withdrawn support for General Muhammadu Buhari and had decided to back Tambuwal. Like most Nigerians, especially observers of the political scene, I was not entirely surprised about the development, given the treacherous propensities associated with politics in general, and the Nigerian variety in particular. What alarmed me was the impression that Tambuwal was prepared to willingly allow himself to be led to a slaughter. Thank God that he pulled back from the brink in good time.

But Tambuwal allowed himself to come under the influence of Tinubu and Bukola Saraki for too long. Tinubu has always postured as a “progressive”, but he is actually a most reactionary operative whose loyalty is to himself and his personal agenda. There are reports of deals he allegedly entered with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP in the lead to the 2011 elections.

Creation of APC

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Mutawallen Sakwato



So in playing a vital role in the creation of the APC(and in fairness to him, he was a major part of the process leading to the APC’s emergence) there was nevertheless the fear that he was not going to stay the course in the long run: General Buhari will be left high and dry; he would shop for a new candidate (and it happened to be Tambuwal) or in the final analysis, he might even go back to cut another deal with Jonathan. It is looking like the Tambuwal option has come unstuck. So the jury is out on what he might do next.

The other character in the equation is Bukola Saraki.  He has wormed his way into the inner recesses of Tambuwal’s world and as part of his effort, he even got himself appointed as the Chairman of the Turbaning Committee when Tambuwal was given a chieftancy title recently in Sokoto (a job that should ordinarily have been left to Zakari Muhammed).

And to deepen the mystery, Saraki was also at the forefront of promoting the abortive Tambuwal presidential bid. His agenda was clear to the discerning: he realises that Tambuwal has built a head stream of popularity in the country and must somehow be politically damaged by being seen to be attempting to scuttle General Buhari’s presidential ambition.

Saraki knew he hadn’t a chance in the world to be given a look in for the 2015 elections, so he announced early, that he was pulling out of the race. But it was a tactical move; he was already planning ahead towards the 2019 polls. From his standpoint, Tambuwal is a potential candidate that must be damaged early. Saraki does not have a sense of gratitude or loyalty to anyone but his own personal fortunes.

Let us recall that he was James Ibori’s closest partner during the Yar’Adua presidency; the two of them literally decided who got what appointment or the juiciest contracts and multi-million dollar waivers during that dispensation. It was in fact in the Kwara State Lodge Abuja that an attempt was first made to arrest James Ibori. When he saw Ibori’s plight, Saraki cut him off, refused to even pick his beloved partner’s telephone calls and he has done everything, especially through the media, to ensure that the special relationship he forged with Ibori in the Yar’adua years is forgotten by Nigerians.

It is these two individuals that desperately promoted the Tambuwal presidential candidacy and in the process literally let out a cat amongst the political pigeons of the opposition APC. My friend, Nurudeen Abdulrahim, wondered aloud why Tambuwal would allow two dangerous political cobras in his compound.

Tambuwal is not an Indian and does not come from a background of snake charmers. But he played too dangerously closely to cobras, risking a bite and their very potent poison! In the long run, it was good that he pulled away from the brink and in the process, found the means to neutralise the political cobras that had taken over his political compound. By withdrawing from the presidential race this week, Tambuwal has done his own political future a world of good! There is a lot more surprises in store as we edge closer to 2015. The Chinese curse is very much upon the political landscape; we have certainly arrived at very interesting times in Nigeria!

Nigeria begs America for weapons; soldiers flee battles and local hunters are new heroes

Last week the Nigerian Ambassador to the USA, Professor Adebowale Adefuye berated the USA for refusal to sell “lethal weapons” to Nigeria in the fight against the Boko Harm insurgency. Addressing members of the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, Adefuye said: “The US government has up till today refused to grant Nigeria’s request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time”.

The Ambassador added that: “We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the US presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly”. If the Nigerian government, through its Washington Ambassador was about to outsource its failure to suppress the Boko Haram insurgency to the USA, it clearly missed the point, because the Americans seemed unwilling to be blackmailed.

In response to Ambassador Adefuye, US State Department Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki replied that: “Nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and other equipment from other sources”. Psaki added that: “Early this year, we denied the transfer of some cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations”.

And as if to underline the American reservation, Nigeria lost another helicopter last week, bringing to three in recent weeks that have been lost. It is also imperative to point out that the Nigerian Army, that used to have a remarkable ability in combat, has now become more known for the way its troops run away from battle against the Boko Haram insurgency; often they abandon weapons that the insurgents then cart away.

It is the apparent inability or refusal to protect the people in the North East that has led to the emergence of vigilantes. These groups of local hunters, ex-servicemen and youths have now become the new heroes in many communities, responsible, according to reports, for the re-conquest of Mubi and neighbouring areas in Adamawa State.

The recent call by the Emir of Kano, for people to defend themselves against Boko Haram underlines the danger which faces the country. People in the insurgency-ravaged communities have concluded that the Nigerian state has lost the capacity to protect them.

The danger of an anarchic breakdown and a widespread resort to self-help looms, just as the Nigerian government continues to live in denial and believing its own propaganda that it is “on top of the situation”! The Nigerian state has increasingly become a hollow shell, rolled over by corruption with an incompetent ruling elite that seems totally blind to its historical role of state preservation. It is very scary indeed!

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