Jonathan and Tambuwal; A Roforofo Affair
We are undoubtedly a country at war on various fronts. And perhaps the tragedy is that the Commander in chief of our armed forces seems to prefer focusing on wars of vengeance to the real war going on in North East Nigeria.
Every time I hear a narrative of the President as lacking the political will or the stomach for a fight, I quickly remember the political tussle between himself and the Rivers state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. It was this singular war which dragged the Nigerian Governors Forum from being a fringe organization to becoming largely useless.
Using the Commissioner of Police of Rivers state at the time like a hired hand, the President harassed and tried to frustrate the Rivers state governor. Unfortunately, he met his match in the stubborn politician who refused to budge even an inch. It was one of those wars of vengeance which has come to largely characterize the Jonathan administration.
The Speaker of Nigeria’s house of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal has not being without his fair share of publicity. As speaker, he’s said to have a firm grip on his honorable colleagues. As the wave of defection started and the All Progressives Congress was formed, Tambuwal became a speaker who increasingly spoke out against his party at the time, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He threw some shade the way of the President on various occasions and keen political observers spotted the teke teke mene upharsal; the writing on the wall was clear as day; it was only a matter of time before the speaker was persuaded to switch allegiance to the progressives.
However, it didn’t happen as quickly as many expected and in this Tambuwal showed his cautiousness and a terribly African attachment to office.
He conveniently chose the last day the House was supposed to sit in plenary for the year to announce his defection. It was the last business of the day and expectedly, the house erupted in chaos and simultaneous shouts of support from his new party members.
On giving reasons for his defection, he cited the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had become defunct machinery in his native Sokoto state and he was compelled to switch trains.
In cleverly waiting till the last day, Aminu Tambuwal was trying to avoid resigning as the Speaker of the House because he knew clearly that the Speaker of the House must come from the party with a majority and the APC surely does not have that.
If you thought perhaps the whole issue was going to die at that point, then you know very little about our President. He quickly swung into action using his beloved tool of murky errands; the Nigerian Police.
In two days, Tambuwal’s security detail was withdrawn and we were treated to what was probably the funniest episode in roforofo fight. The Inspector General of Police in a press statement took upon himself the functions of the court as he interpreted the constitution and concluded that since the Speaker had defected, he no longer merited security detail.
It was to be the opening flurry in what was to escalate into the events of yesterday morning.
The House of Reps was supposed to meet in an emergency session to discuss the extension of the state of emergency in some states in Northeastern Nigerian. It was this stage that the battle escalated into true roforofo proportions.
Not only was the gate of the National Assembly closed to the honorables, the police proceeded to entertain them in the meantime with teargas while they waited outside.
In scenes reminiscent of a banana republic, the men of the Nigerian police as well as the SSS attempted to arrest the speaker while various other members of the House of Reps climbed over the high gate to gain entrance. Tambuwal was reportedly heard telling the men of the SSS “shoot me, shoot me!”
When the tense situation was somewhat put under control, the Inspector general of police glibly informed the disbelieving public that the whole incident was as a result of the fact that the police had gotten details of an impending disturbance by hoodlums!
After all is said and done, the conclusion is rather simple. By engaging in a pointless roforofo war, the President has managed to create a hero out of a man who wasn’t honorable enough to resign as speaker of the house.