“When I was the speaker of the federal House of Representatives, I accused the then President Goodluck Jonathan, who was a member of my party of supporting corruption. That is when he granted former Bayelsa State governor, late Deprieye, who was accused of corruption, state pardon…Now it is a public knowledge in Nigeria today, the moment you align yourself with a particular party, you are immune to the fight against corruption…We are very much aware, once you joined a particular party, you are immune from being prosecuted by the EFCC or ICPC. That is not the way to go…
There is a need to stop politicising the fight against corruption but take it head long, otherwise we won’t go anywhere….We knew what happened here during election, when EFCC was all over the place, arresting people anyhow, identified for them by their political masters with the belief that people are buying votes….That is why during my tenure as the speaker, I spoke about it and I still want to assure you now that I am ready to support the constitutional amendments that will make our institutions strong…We must go back to the constitution and do the right thing, or else, we may not get it right”.
The words in italics are those of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto State. They are considered significant but not because he is a governor. Anyone can become a governor in Nigeria today, with too many of the people who go by that title now never smelling any Government House if Nigeria were not in a state of siege. Look at their appointments and you know many of them are up to no good. This is a tendentious and very tentative statement that stands to be corrected but outside of Lagos, Bauchi and Oyo governors so far, is Nigeria seeing a qualitative, exemplary appointees by the other governors in a manner that can respond to the depth of the crisis at hand?
What, on earth, might ever justify a governor having a Special Adviser on Media Affairs along with a Chief Press Secretary, Special Assistant on Print Media Affairs, a Special Assistant on Broadcast Media Affairs, a Special Assistant on Social Media Affairs, a Special Assistant on Online Media Affairs and perhaps, a Special Assistant on Transnational Media Affairs, all at once? And to think that this is the model perfected by President Muhammadu Buhari is the greatest indicator of the degree of the crisis in Nigeria.
How many press secretaries had Fidel Castro, the greatest warrior of all time? The man simply named Comrade Chom in Castro’s groundbreaking interview with two American Congressmen in 1985 was not a press secretary in the pedestrian sense of the word that we have in Nigeria now. If Castro is too distant an example, General Yakubu Gowon who presided over what would have made Lugard a non-issue in the history of colonialism and state-making in Nigeria had but a civil servant as press secretary. There was no chief in his title even. Absolutely nothing can explain the slide to liliputianism and ridiculousness in Nigeria.
Away from that warranted digression. What is new and newsy here, therefore, is not that a Governor Aminu Tambuwal has joined in the framing of the war against corruption as a sham. What is new is the context of that. As everyone knows or as nearly everyone knows, a narrative of selectivity or targeting has enveloped the corruption bursting practices of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC). That is what is believed in many quarters to the effect that fighting corruption is a cover under which to harass opponents/critics of the APC to a point of psychological and political submission to the hegemonic desires of that ambitious ruling party. That is the broader context why Tambuwal’s intervention has any quality of newness.
When we leave the broader context, we come to the specific context. The specific context of what is new is in the Sokoto governor’s intervention is in his having criticised a sitting president and a product of his own party before on the same issue. By that pedigree, the Sokoto State governor is asking everyone else to like or dislike what he is saying now only on one ground: a similar thing he has done before.
Lessons: The past weighs heavily on the present. People who join issues in which they have no links are most likely to be swingers and will not carry much weight in the struggle for power through ideas. A politician’s image does not come from throwing tantrums or imbecilic denials by ill-located image makers but from pedigree.
Putting all these together, Governor Tambuwal, irrespective of whether one likes him or not, has struck a blow on the Federal Government’s theory and practice of fighting corruption beyond Lai Mohammed’s analytical shelling range!