By Edward T. Dibiana
“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons…” – Oscar Wilde
Political or public service office, do not only clothe the occupants with the raiment of
fame, glamour or glitter it offers. It also, in an uncanny way, undresses the public servant of any illusion of invisibility, or privacy.
Public office seemingly puts a mobile magnifying glass on the occupants, x-raying the authenticity of their utterances in relation to the contraditions or otherwise of their actions. And often times, ultimately leaves them at the mercy of public perception, as every positive step or misstep taken by a public servant, find its way into the record books of public opinion.
This perhaps validates the notion that beyond the often intense struggle and intrigues for political power, is the imperative of understanding the art, candour and staying power in service to the people. This art encompasses team-player skills, transparency, emotional intelligence required for public service, human resource management, public finance management skills and discipline, prioritizing the interest of the people and essentially, integrity, among others.
These leadership benchmark, many can attest, have always been verifiably met, even with addition of a generous touch of wholesome spices of humility, conviviality, and courage cast in steel, by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the outgoing Governor of Sokoto state, as Speaker House of Representatives, before he went further to consolidate such attributes as Governor in the past eight years.
He undoubtedly provided such a dignified leadership as Speaker between 2011 to 2015, which enabled a robust parliament, that is still a reference point, as courageous and objective assembly. That outstanding public service performance, underscores Tambuwal’s ever glowing leadership profile, that has seemingly transformed him into ‘a beauty of all seasons’, as opined by the great Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, referenced in the opening paragraph.
Those who follow his political trajectory closely, had posited that his exit from the national stage in order to serve his people in Sokoto, at the time, was only temporary.
According to such observers, the wealth of experience, enchanting worldview, sure-footed intellection, disarming diplomacy and in-depth understanding of the complex nature of Nigeria’s multidimensional diversities and challenges, distinguish Rt. Hon. Tambuwal, as a public servant made for the national stage. And how accurate that submission had become, because as Governor Tambuwal would be signing out this week as Governor of Sokoto State, he would be returning to the national stage to help reinvigorate the Nigeria’s legislature in this crucial period of the nation’s political journey, as Senator of the Federal Republic. And most importantly, as one of the potential balancing forces of Nigeria’s democracy – as a frontline opposition strategic shield – for the protection of the interest of the people. And in holding the Executive accountable.
Many are already of the opinion that this would be a kind of homecoming for the former Speaker. And need I add that many people would be interested to know the manner with which he would be approaching this next assignment in public office.
But one question people are keen to ask is, how did Governor Tambuwal serve the interest of Sokoto people in the past eight years he held sway in Sokoto?
It’s noteworthy to emphasize that facts are sacred. And that in public office, policies, actions and results are documented for all to see and make their independent appraisals that would help form informed public perception.
That that regard, according to The Cable Index, derived from the records of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Sokoto state, under Tambuwal, grew the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state, from N6.22bn in 2015, when he came to power as Governor, to N23.76bn in 2021. That’s an increase of +282%.
NBS is the main National Agency responsible for the development and management of official statistics, the authoritative source and custodian of official statistics in Nigeria. So, we accept this record as an authentic statistical fact. That is an impressive feat!
Many states from across the nation, including the oil-rich states from the Southern part of the country, didn’t achieve superior percentage increase in IGR than Sokoto, under the same period, according to NBS official documents. That feat is very commendable, coming at a time that many states go cap in hand to Abuja, for scare federation allocation. It takes leadership ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness to think out of the box to make that happen.
Apart from this remarkable revenue growth, records have also shown that Governor Tambuwal was very intentional in the development of the education and healthcare sectors in the state, both of which his government inherited in terrible shapes.
For instance, one of the first activities of Tambuwal administration was to declare a state of emergency in both sectors, apparently because of the importance of education and healthcare to the development of the State.
To show its seriousness, the Sokoto state government subsequently ensured that it consistently dedicated not below 26% of its annual budget to education, which is even above the UNESCO’s recommendation of between 15% to 20% for education.
Also between 2016 and 2019, two Junior secondary schools were built in each of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state and four Senior Secondary Schools in the state capital. In addition to that, over 1500 Primary schools and 200 Junior Secondary Schools were also renovated and equipped, leading to increasing number of student enrolment, with particular emphasis on girl child education which was previously abysmal.
In health sector, one of the legacy projects of the Tambuwal administration, is the Sokoto State University Teaching Hospital, Kasarawa, located in Wamakko Local Government Area. Other such projects are Premier Hospitals located in each of the three senatorial districts. These are in addition to the upgrading of almost all the primary health centres, as well as total renovation of other general hospitals across local governments in the state.
Another project of interest that significantly underscores Tambuwal’s government investment in the health sector is a world class Diagnostic Centre located at Farufaru in Wamakko Local Government Area of the state.
The state government also facilitated the enactment of food and nutrition policies, the Conditional Cash Transfers Scheme, Water and Sanitation Health facilities and many social protection policies, to ensure that the people live a more better life.
Wondering how Governor Tambuwal managed to achieve these outstanding development feat in Sokoto in spite of lean federal allocation of the state, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, on one of his working visits to Sokoto said: “When you look at what is going on here, in comparison with the revenue generated by the state, you have to ask yourself where is this governor getting funds to do all these?”
So, it is obvious that Governor Tambuwal has, in many ways, proven that governance is an art of leadership, nurtured by discipline, dedication, integrity and patriotism.
I had submitted in an earlier widely published article, entitled, ‘Tambuwal’s Politics of Calming Candour ‘, thus:
“…But irrespective of the obvious diverse political choices, aspirations and expectations of the people, there appears to be a uniting consensus amongst the people that Nigeria is in dire need of redemption and rejigging at all fronts. And it will apparently need more than just a new president to achieve a meaningful result of governance, institutional and developmental reinvention and reinvigoration. The National Assembly has a big role to play in taking the nation back on the pathway to progress and democratic accountability.
“With the obvious challenges ahead, the Nigerian Senate could do with a generous dose of Tambuwal’s sublime leadership skills and politics of calming candour…”
As Governor Tambuwal breasts governance tape in Sokoto and returns to the National Assembly, it’s garlands to a man of savvy political and legislative leadership!
° Dibiana is a media strategist and developmental journalist