Thursday, June 17, 2021

The defection of Saraki and Tambuwal, by Prof. Abubakar Liman


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
tiamin rice

I will start by acknowledging the fact that opportunism and the pursuit of self-interest are some of the defining features of politics in Nigeria. Mass defection from one party to another is nothing new. Political participation is a matter of choice. So, defection is not unexpected from your average professional politician. Most observers of politics our will agree with me that our notion of politics is instrumental; it is nothing but a means of sourcing bread and butter. At best, it is a means of power acquisition. It will however be surprising not to see our typical politicians scurrying from one political party to another, especially as another round of general elections is at hand. So far, the six high profile defections from APC to PDP have been those of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, President of the Senate of the Federal Republic, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso the heavyweight Kano politician, the Governor of Benue State Samuel loraer Ortom, the Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as well as the Governor of Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.

And in all this frenzy to poach in different political game reserves, the abiding consideration is blind quest for power, for the desire to occupy the number one office in the land. Indeed, both Saraki and Tambuwal are driven by their blind desire to become the rulers of Nigeria. Bukola Saraki has grown up under the tutelage of his benefactor, his one and only benevolent father Olusola Saraki of blessed memory. He has proven to be the true son of his father in both character and training, especially in the noble profession of medicine and politics. Tambuwal, a media creature of some sort, is propelled to decamp to PDP by his inordinate ambition to rule Nigeria. Is it because of luck or fate? Whatever it is, destiny has catapulted him to serve as the Speaker, House of Representatives and the Governor of Sokoto State. Well, it was rumored that he deserved to vie for the position of the President of Nigeria, and he seemed to be convinced about it. That is why he is unabashedly gunning for it. Anyway, these two gentlemen are about to celebrate their homecoming back to PDP where they come from in the first place.

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In this foray against current political maneuvers in the country, I have observed some parallelism between reasons advanced by Saraki and Tambuwal for decamping from APC, the ruling party, to PDP, the former ruling party that is now engaged in opposition politics. I am sure by the time we scrutinize the defection notice served to the public and the media by the two gentlemen, you will agree with me that either Bukola or Tambuwal must have copied one from the other, if at all they have not been acting a prepared defection script. Reading the two submissions closely, there appears to be an unedifying homology in terms of intent, substance and resolve of the characters involved in the act. We shall start by first x-raying the highlights of Saraki’s contention against his traducers in the APC. Subsequently, we shall then compare that with the grievances expressed by Tambuwal in his own diatribe against the APC government.

Saraki contends that there is no internal party democracy in APC, and even party rules are completely disregarded. There is also what he calls lack of “harmonious relations”, and “lack of justice and equity within the party, government and country”. Saraki further charges that, “people have been alienated by Buhari government”. He insinuates that those around the president have constituted themselves “as a government-within-a-government”, and they have “formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. Saraki is definitely in a good position to reappraise the relationship between the executive arm of government and the legislature, another constitutionally recognized arm of government, has not been rosy.

Based on his experiences as the Senate President, he saw threats to “the principle of checks and balances” from an overbearing executive wing. He abhors “a situation where every dissent from the legislature was framed as affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself”. In this context, he reiterates his displeasure with a situation where “anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. He detests what he calls the “persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defense of any shortcoming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for Constitution itself”. These are of course very weighty charges against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Tambuwal is more acerbic and controversial in the reasons he adduced for leaving the APC back to his original abode of PDP.  He blames the APC government for its failure to combat the current state of insecurity engulfing Nigeria. According to him, there are “ethno-religious and regional distrust at its highest ebb”, and instead of squarely addressing the insecurity the government would rather be “blaming political opponents for all the woes in the country”. This is linked to “banditry and killings of police”, particularly as the “economy is not improving”. There is also the menace of “youth unemployment and poverty”. The more abrasive accusation leveled against President Buhari’s government pertains to “issues of brazen inequity and capacity and questionable distribution of appointments/projects”. The other damaging criticism is on the “lack of statesmanship in responding to national issues” in addition to what he perceives as “inequity and bad governance”. There is even a more undiplomatic accusation on probably the person of President Buhari. As far as Tambuwal is concerned, the government has woefully failed because of “lethargy, incompetence and sustained denial of obvious leadership missteps [that] have become the major raw materials with which Nigerian State is being run today”. To cap it all, “no meaningful federal projects initiated in the Sokoto State”. Something that is unique to the political ambience of Sokoto is “disrespect for elders and traditional institutions”.

I have come to the conclusion that both Saraki and Tambuwal must have compared their defection notes when they flagrantly accused Buhari’s government for ignoring the deepening agitations for “restructuring of the country”. The two politicians have on that issue tried to be clever. Like their precursor, Atiku Abubakar, they are merely playing to the gallery considering the manner in which certain sections of Nigeria are so vociferous on restructuring the country, whatever that means. The two have also agreed on the neglect of the youth employment by the APC government.

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The two have sealed their notes with some image laundering the PDP. Aminu Tambuwal believes that “PDP has learnt from its mistakes” … “it is now a reformed party”. On his part, Bukola Saraki concludes by saying that the “PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party is taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted”. Therefore everybody should trust the new rebranded PDP that the APC renegades are trooping back to.

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As usual, carpet crossing in Nigerian politics is a norm. Decamping and defection from one party to another are therefore not unexpected. There is no big deal about any politician becoming unsatisfied with a party. However, in the previous dispensation decamping of party members was a one-way traffic. The attraction was always from other political parties to the PDP, the then ruling party. This time around, defection is from APC, the ruling party, to the opposition party. Definitely, something must have gone badly wrong with APC for its key members to be trooping out of the party. Even if we do not agree with the idea of people shipping in and out of political parties, there is however sense in some of the issues as the raison d’état for the people leaving the party. APC will do well to go back to the drawing board to address those grievances raised by its members. Pretending that the problems do not exist is not going to help the party.

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