By Eric Elezuo
Despite his assertion in December 2017 that his relationship with the All Progressives Congress (APC) is smooth and cordial, TheBoss can authoritatively reveal that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is about now concluding plans to adopt the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, as its flag bearer in the forthcoming 2019 presidential election.
Reliable sources told TheBoss that the rank and file of the main opposition party is wooing the governor, who about four years ago ditched the party for the APC where he won the Sokoto State governorship election.
Alhaji Tambuwal, who until May 2015, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has maintained a low profile in the build-up to the much-talked about 2019 presidential election.
Touted as one of the most qualified to wear the crown of presidency come 2019 because of his youth and sundry achievements within a short period of time, Tambuwal was born on January 10, 1966 in Tambuwal village, Sokoto to Alhaji Waziri Tambuwal.
He attended Town Primary School, Tambuwal, Sokoto State, where he obtained Primary School Leaving Certificate in 1979 before moving to Government Teachers’ College, Dogon-Daji, where he equally obtained the Teachers Grade II Certificate in 1984.
Connected and versed in national and world politics, Tambuwal had his tertiary education at the rated Usman Dan Fodio University where he studied Law, and graduated with a LLB (Hons) degree in 1991. He was called to the bar in 1992 after completing his one year compulsory legal studies at the Nigerian Law School.
From the influential Sokoto Caliphate, those who see Tambuwal as a potential believe that his origin will stand him in good stead to gain the confidence of the Hausa/Fulani traditional rulers as well as gain the trust of the powerful political class.
Another strong point that makes him an attractive candidate is the immense connection that he has across the country. On account of his former position as speaker he has contacts in all parts. In addition, his energy and youthfulness is a big plus.
Our source also revealed that Tambuwal got immense support among the opposition’s inner circles because he is seen an untainted politician, who can be firm when necessary and also a squeaky clean image that will adhere him to floating voters.
Earlier in the year, the rumour mill was agog that he will be the preferred candidate of the opposition but so far he has kept mum even as President Muhammadu Buhari has now openly declared his intention.
That open declaration has put the opposition’s think tank on the alert-and now they are shopping for candidate that has what it takes in the area of ideas, energy, image and all to tackle the president if he eventually gets the APC ticket.
Besides obtaining a Law degree, Tambuwal has also gained international exposure, having attended several courses abroad, among which are but not limited to Telecoms Regulatory Master Class–Bath UK in 2004; Lawmaking for the Communications Sectors – BMIT, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2004; Regulating a Competitive Industry-UK, Brussels, 2005; Tulane University – International Legislative Drafting, 2005; Stanford Graduate School of Business – Influence and Negotiation, 2008 and KSG Harvard – Infrastructure in Market Economy, 2010
Among his professional affiliations, Tambuwal has been a very active member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), over the years. He started off as Public Relations Officer of the NBA, Sokoto State chapter between 1996 and 1997. He was a member of the Constitution Review Committee of the NBA (1997–1998). He was the Sokoto branch Secretary between 1997 and 1998 as well as the serving as the Assistant National Financial Secretary from 1998 to 2000.
In 2000, he became the 1st Assistant National Secretary of the Association, and served till 2002. He is also a member of the Body of Benchers, Nigeria; International Bar Association, and the American Bar Association among others.
Not done, Tambuwal started learning the legislative ropes from 1999 while working as Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate Leader.
In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
A politician who knows the appropriate time to take decisive steps, he defected to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), alongside the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa just few months to the 2007 general elections. He had to return to ANPP when DPP denied return tickets to former ANPP legislators, there, he eventually succeeded in picking a ticket for the election. He finally left for the PDP when the ANPP governorship candidate for Sokoto State in the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko dumped the party for the PDP.
Articulate and savvy, Tambuwal held several positions in the House. In 2005, he became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP. Upon his re-election to the House in 2007, he was also elected to the office of the Deputy Chief Whip.
At various times, Tambuwal has been a member of several committees including the House Committees on Rules & Business, Communications, Judiciary, Inter-Parliamentary and Water Resources. He was also a member of the House Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review.
He was chairman of the ad hoc committee that reviewed the report of the controversial power probe committee headed by Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Sub-Committee on the Bill for an Act to Amend the Land Use Act, and acting chairman, House Committee on Power.
He was leader of the Nigerian delegation to African, Caribbean, Pacific & European Union Parliamentary Assembly (ACP-EU) and served as Vice-Chairman, Economic Committee ACP-EU, held in Prague, Czech Republic in April 2009.
Tambuwal’s experiences at the bar and in politics has propelled him to enviable of position of one of the most recognizable politicians in Nigeria.
Consequently, the grabbing of a big political fish like Tambuwal will be seen as a desired payback to the APC. It will be recalled that ahead of the 2015 elections, PDP lost many of its big guns to the APC as a result of internal power struggle.
With the fierce battle now going on between the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Governors on one hand versus Asiwaju Bola Ahmed and President Buhari on the other, no one is sure that history will not repeat itself.
Notwithstanding his intimidating credentials, some will see him as a serial defector having defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC as he did when he moved from the ANPP to the DPP and back to the ANPP before pitching tent with the PDP. He may therefore be seen unreliable, a softie who cannot withstand the head of hire wire politicking
In 2017, when he was confronted with the 2019 question, he responded thus:
“I don’t know why you are asking me to comment about 2019 elections when we only just crossed the half way mark of the mandate entrusted to us in 2015. Talking about politics of 2019 in 2017 is not helpful.
“The journey to 2019 is still long. When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. This is what I can say for now. People clamouring for political activity at this stage are only distracting mandate holders.
“We have over a year plus and I wonder why people are trying to jump start political activities.
“Elective office holders need to discuss more about governance. By the time you raise issues of 2019 in 2017, you are distracting the entire polity. Discuss 2019 when the election season is upon us.
“But for now, let us discuss governance issues. We cannot move from governance to politics, it is a complete distraction because campaigns are full time.
“So, I don’t encourage anybody in the state to try to disengage us from governance mode and take us into politics mode. We should wait for the appropriate time to do this.
Tambuwal who now has a second wife, Hajiya Mairo Mustapha, a graduate of Bayero University who was a volunteer for Buhari Support Organisations during the 2015 elections may just be getting ready for the top job from the home front.
The father of his second wife was a second republic politician. She is a former student of Federal Government Girls College, Kazaure, Jigawa state. From his two wives, he is blessed with four children.