“At 48, Tambuwal’s youth points to a future of hope and possibilities.”
Eulogising the life of any person, especially a respected leader who has stood for the common good, is not easy. As U.S. President, Barrack Obama, said while reading his tribute at the funeral of the great Nelson Mandela, “It is hard to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.”
Though today marks the 48th birthday anniversary of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, penning down words to capture the essence of the man, who is today seen as the brightest spot in Nigeria’s political firmament, is no mean task.
Tambuwal is the quintessential humble individual who has defied the notion that politicians, especially of the Nigerian variety, cannot say the truth to the powers that be while still in power. By now Nigerians have come to identify their Number Four citizen as a fearless representative whose words and deeds are not at variance with the hopes and aspirations of the men and women of his dear country.
The story of Tambuwal is the story of courage. His meteoric rise to the top of the Green Chamber of Nigeria’s National Assembly only reaffirmed his position as a master tactician in a discipline built on the philosophy of self respect, fair play, hard work and the spirit of give and take.
However it’s not just in politics that Tambuwal made his mark. Trained at a very young age as a teacher and later as a lawyer, his commitment and doggedness as a moulder of the minds of the future generation and a servant in the temple of justice have served him well in his present endeavours. His performance as Speaker of the House of Representatives has set the bar in governance. His intrepidity in the face of tough challenges has equally served as inspiration to his Honourable colleagues. As many of them pointed out, it has emboldened them to go about their duties without fear, or favour.
For Tambuwal, seeing Nigeria rise to greatness is a task that must be accomplished. He has, at every available opportunity, reminded his legislature-colleagues of the need to promote democracy and the respect human rights of all. These ideas stem from his belief that strong democracies are more likely to secure peace, deter aggression, expand markets, promote development, combat terrorism and crime, uphold rights of workers, avoid humanitarian crises, protect and improve the global environment, and protect human health.
The Speaker’s widely circulated opinions and discourses on good governance, public service, constitutional reform, youth and women empowerment and national development cannot be lost to genuine lovers of our country. He had on many occasions demonstrated his love for country above personal interest and taught others to do the same.
In all his conducts, Tambuwal has maintained the humble and truthful disposition universally associated with the descendants of Uthman Dan Fodio. Na Shehu da gaskiya aka san ku is an euphemism known to all in Hausa-speaking entities to mean, people of trust, respect, integrity and love for humanity. No wonder he was named Aminu – the trustworthy. In addition, he has demonstrated high level of compassion for the less privileged. The case of Okikioluwa Olawuyi, the baby without skull, whom he helped to raise N10 million to complete her surgical expenses in the USA, is a case in point.
Politically, following in the tradition of democratic inclusiveness, Tambuwal maintains social contacts with all Nigerians, irrespective of their political leanings. This accounts for why he is today visible in social gatherings of people of different ideologies, ethnic groupings and religious inclinations. While some ignorant few tend to interpret such contacts differently, Tambuwal is unfazed and has maintained the need to build bridges of unity and understanding among various peoples of Nigeria and beyond.
Not since independence have we seen a politician promote an ideology as fervently as the Speaker does. Tambuwal has promoted the concept of a strong dichotomy between politics and governance. To him, there is a marked difference between a candidate in electoral contest on the platform of a political party and an elected official who has assumed a non-partisan responsibility and taken oath to protect and preserve the constitution, to serve the people and the nation. While the former is not merely at liberty but under a duty to be partisan, the latter must conduct himself in a manner worthy of the call to non-partisanship in governance. And whenever partisan interests conflict with national interest it is partisan interests that must be sacrificed in the preservation of the national interest.
Tambuwal’s candor, nationalistic outlook, ability to make fair and inclusive decisions, maturity and his desire to interact freely and affectionately with all Nigerians has today earned him the confidence of his colleagues and all Nigerians alike. His strong stance on discipline, accountability, and truth, and his penchant desire to do things differently, has set the bar and becoming an example for elected office holders in the federation.
As he celebrates his birthday today, it is not just the intriguing narrative of how he was elected Speaker of the House that should resonate with political scientists. That experience should also serve as a reminder of the many profound achievements we could record if we rise above the inhibiting considerations of tribe, region and religion.
At 48, Tambuwal’s youth points to a future of hope and possibilities. Besides, his apparent willingness not to be encumbered by the political exigencies or double-speak that had stunted our progress in the past is indeed inspiring. For him, what matters is the nation’s interest. Call that an unyielding idealism and you won’t be entirely wrong.
Tambuwal has, like Obama said of the great Madiba, showed us the power of action, of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.
To this trailblaizer of a lawyer, respected politician, accomplished leader and a trusted parliamentarian, I say a happy birthday.
Imam is the Special Adviser on media and Public Affairs to Mr. Tambuwal