Right Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, will be 47 tomorrow. To his countrymen and women, however, it is not attaining the milestone that is of much concern to them; rather, it is the direction in which the amiable lawmaker from Kebbe/Tambuwal federal constituency is leading the country that has continued to elicit positive reactions from people across all walks of life.
Since his election to the exalted position of the Number 4 citizen of Nigeria, Tambuwal has continued to thrill Nigerians with his innovative approach to leadership and lawmaking. Within the period of the coming of the present dispensation in 2011, Tambuwal has demonstrated some of the best known attributes of leadership regarding issues that affect the nation directly.
A lawyer by profession, a politician by popular will, an accomplished leader by popular choice, a legislator by trust, Tambuwal has shown enough political dexterity to make him one of the most respected political figures in Nigeria today. His meteoric rise in the legal profession and politics has reaffirmed his position as a master tactician in disciplines built on the philosophy of self respect, fair play, hard work and the spirit of give and take.
Nigerians need no soothsayer to admit that their dear country is in a period when challenges of nationhood, political self-doubt and intense security tests have temporarily become the defining features of life. However, civilisation remains a work in progress in Nigeria as the Seventh House of Representatives tries to provide that critical balance that sustains a meaningful presidential democracy and holds up hope for a new Nigeria. No one encapsulates that hope than Tambuwal.
As argued by some scholars, the basic challenges of leaders reflect two fundamental, enduring aspects of leadership. First is the humanity of leaders in revealing their hopes and fears, traits and instincts. Second is the unchanging agenda of leadership, in all times and places, as revealed in the setting of goals, plans, purpose and strategies, and working through with other people to actualise their vision in a world that is often uncertain, recalcitrant and sometimes perilous.
To appreciate the legislative footing of the Seventh House in its attempt to fill the void created by the challenges of leadership confronting Nigeria, one needs to revisit its inaugural agenda. I will recall here the kernel of the legislative blueprint which was unveiled June 28, 2011 and remains a study in specific prescriptions. It traversed constitution amendment, revival and diversification of the economy, employment generation, strengthening national security, curbing corruption, tackling general infrastructural decay, improving health system and the educational system.
According to Speaker Tambuwal, in his inaugural speech entitled 'Time To Remake Nigeria' "Over the next four years, the House of Representatives will pursue an aggressive legislative agenda to reposition itself as a key branch of government able and determined to deliver on the key elements of governance. We make to state and with great assurance that the legislature has come of age. It is a new day, a new House of Representatives and we are prepared to meet and surpass the expectations of the people to represent their best interest."
Perhaps I needn't add that in a move that verged on statesmanship and humility uncustomary to previous sessions, Speaker Tambuwal graciously conceded that the House accepted responsibility for failures and unconscionable gaps in meeting its brief. "We will be responsive, transparent and accountable in all we do. My period of service as the Speaker of this hallowed chamber will restore the House of Representatives as an institution where the will of the people is done," he told Nigerians.
Almost two years on, the Lower Chamber has kept faith with this agenda. It's people-oriented footing bears this out. The Seventh House has been at the fore-front of defining important national issues for public discourse.
American business executive and author, Jack Welch, once argued that today's hierarchical structure gives the leader in organisation, or appropriately, chief executive officer (CEO), control over strategy, organisation and information by creating an organisation with its 'face towards the CEO and its ass towards the customer.' The system described by Welch may be right in business and to some extent some governmental institutions, but what we have seen in the House of Representatives under Tambuwal is an institution with its face firmly fixed towards the people. Tambuwal has used his considerable experience towards the development making the legislature a people-oriented entity that elevates participatory lawmaking to an art.
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 and religion.
At 47, 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 is quite inspiring. For him, what matters is the nation's interest. Call that an unyielding idealism and you won't be entirely wrong.
Born in Tambuwal town into the royal family of Waziri Tambuwal, young Aminu attended Tambuwal Primary School, and Government Teachers' College, Dogon-Daji also in Sokoto State where he obtained the Teachers Grade 11 Certificate in 1984.
He then proceeded to Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, where he studied Law, graduating with an LLB (Hons) degree in 1991. He did his one year compulsory legal studies at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, obtained BL and was called to the Bar in 1992.
Besides studying for law degree, the Speaker has attended several courses abroad, among which are the Telecoms Regulatory Master Class-Bath UK, 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 in 2008, among many others.
He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 on the platform of the opposition All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). Since then, he had served as Minority Leader and Deputy Chief Whip of the House. He was the Leader of the Nigerian Delegation to Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly and had served as the Regional Representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
He was a member of the National Executive Committee, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), member, International Bar Association, Alumnus, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, USA, Alumnus, Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA, Alumnus Tulane University, USA and a recipient of the Honourary Doctor of Law Degree from the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto.
No doubt, Tambuwal's candour, nationalistic outlook, ability to make fair and inclusive decisions, maturity and his desire to interact freely and affectionately with all members in the House in a professional context, has today earned him the confidence of his colleagues and all Nigerians alike.
To this great man of ideas, I say a happy birthday.
- Imam is the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Speaker Tambuwal