By Chido Collins
With the abysmal performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in government, the expectation of the generality of Nigerians for an amelioration of the present situation hinges squarely on the prospects of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) taking power in 2023. But even before that, Nigerians are also full of expectations from the PDP to give the ruling APC a close mark in order to ensure that it gives good governance to the people.
Put differently, the burden of returning the country to the path of sanity shifts increasingly not just to the PDP as a corporate entity but indeed to the key dramatis personnae in its leadership architecture especially the governors, technocrats, business class. In other words, Nigerians, generally, look up to the current crop of visible leaders, to ensure that the party lives up to its bidding as an alternative to the APC. Within the governors, however, one fellow on whom this burden seems to have rested is the Chairman of their Forum, the Sokoto State Governor, His Excellency, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
As Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Governor Tambuwal have all eyes on him, the reason being simply that, aside his track record of democratic exposures, leadership qualities, urbane disposition, he has galvanized his colleagues into actions that have put the party in a good stead to reverse the current trend of events in the country.
Since his emergence as the Chairman of PDP-GF, he has not only been instrumental to the stability of the group, he has provided a rare leadership that has seen it rise to occasions to navigate both the ship of their party and indeed that of State, by providing constructive alternatives and virile opposition to the APC led federal government.
Take for instance, his roles since his party, PDP, found itself in recent crisis, occasioned by certain powerful interests that want its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus to step down as its Chairman. Governor Tambuwal quickly mobilized his colleagues to stand in the gap, as a trusted mediator and conscience of the party to ensure calm and peaceful resolution of a crisis that would have seen the party implode. What got the attention of watchers was not the fact that he was handy, but the extent at which he has been able to court various interests, stakeholders and organs of the party with confidence and sagacity. The Secretariat of the PDP-GF, headed by its Director General, Hon. CID Maduabum, deserves commendation in this regard.
Today, PDP Governors’ Forum, has become a respected formidable bloc that speaks with one voice and driven by a common interest – Nigeria. This group has opened a new vista with its monthly meetings, rotated among member states. What this implies is that, ample time has been given to brainstorming and appraising interests of their respective states and importantly that of the corporate Nigeria entity.
That is not all. Governor Tambuwal’s influence transcends his party, the PDP. He is also Deputy Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, a position that puts him in a good stead to have a more wholistic view of issues concerning governance in the country. This expectation is heightened by both the governor’s personality and his trajectory as an elected political office holder. As a person, Governor Tambuwal has charisma and a level of comportment that is not quite common among Nigerian politicians.
As a politician, he is astute, courageous, focused and consistent. As an office holder, he is dexterous and honest. His four year stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives gave the National Assembly one of its most glorious era. Nigerians saw robust discourse, engagements and a House that was sensitive to their plight, yearnings and aspirations. As governor, his state, Sokoto, has witnessed tremendous development but interrogations about leadership performance in Nigeria have gone beyond the provincial level.
Where we are now, the question on the leap of every well meaning Nigerian is, who will mount the saddle of national political leadership of Nigeria after the incumbent president and against the backdrop of the several challenges that have put the nation on the precipe.
Of course, there are many angles to the debate but there is a convergence. This is that whether the next President will come from the Southeast, as is being advocated in some quarters, or the Southwest or, indeed from the Northern, Nigerians, must go for their next leader with their head, that is, beyond the emotions and sentiments that were hitherto at play when the incumbent was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019.
Take two criteria. One, democratic credentials and the other, age. There is a general consensus of opinion within and outside Nigeria that one of the major reasons President Muhammadu Buhari has performed below expectations is that he is not a democrat. It is believe in many quarters that the main reason many political issues have remained unresolved since he emerged are traceable to the president’s unwillingness to abide by democratic norms. Then take the second. Not a few have expressed the view that President Buhari’s lackluster performance is also as a result of frailty of age. The president has had to switch off from governance, from time to time, to look after his health. Even when he is on sit, it is not a hidden matter that he does not exude the level of energy and gusto needed to govern a country like Nigeria.
For the PDP as the major opposition party, Nigerians and indeed the international community have ‘shined their eyes’, watching how it either grabs the opportunity that has divinely presented itself or fritters it on the altar of negative party politicking. Two events will define PDP’s readiness to taking the reins of power – the party’s National Convention slated for October 2021 to elect its national officers and then its Presidential Convention expected to hold sometime in October 2022 to elect its Presidential flagbearer.
Their is no controversy about the fact that Nigerians are waiting for the PDP, they are also mindful of who they repose their mandate.
Collins writes from Enugu.