One bright January morning, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was immersed in his private library at his home when I walked in, uninvited. At the door, I was informed he had been in the library for at least four hours. Seeing him alone with his thoughts and books, I considered moving away in order not to disturb. Quickly reading my intentions, he motioned me to sit down.
Spread on his reading table was four books: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria, Hernando do Soto’s The Mystery of Capital, Rashid Al Maktoum’s My Vision and Muhammad Yunus’s Banker to the Poor. It took the next six hours of total concentration, silence and absorption, before he finally closed his books, turned over to me with a smile, and said “good day Malam Imam.”
That particular day was January 10, Tambuwal’s birthday. I recall vividly asking him why he had to spend 10 hours on his birthday reading books about leadership and development. And his answer was succinct: “We were elected to lead. Every day, birthdays inclusive, we will lead. I subscribe to Albert Pike’s assertion that ‘what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.’”
I don’t know what Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State since May 29, 2015, will be doing today, seeing that it is a day he achieved the milestone of witnessing his 50th birthday, but having worked closely with him in the last six years, one thing is for sure, he will busy himself, through hard work, dedication and commitment, on providing the needed leadership that will deliver on his change agenda.
Tambuwal, like all good leaders, are social revolutionaries. They are people who dare to dream big and seemingly unrealisable dreams. They are the precursors of a new and better world. They are the visionaries of their time. They are change agents, harbingers of hope and heralds of freedom. They are people totally dedicated to the struggle for a better future. They have redefined the unpalatable narratives of dearth of quality governance in our country – an existential reality even in global political discourse.
A journey of 50 years has no doubt shaped Tambuwal’s life. Even though born into a royal household, he remains a simple, humble and self-effacing leader whose politics is defined by passion for discovery and service. Endowed naturally with knowledge and sense of perception, closely observing Tambuwal at work leaves one with impression of a man who refused to be encumbered by the nation’s fault lines. Just as prophets refuse to be defiled by the iniquities of the moment; Tambuwal has risen above the bitterness and acrimony of ethnic, tribal and religious divide.
Being born into an aristocratic family on January 10, 1966 shaped his passage into adulthood without airs and graces. For Tambuwal, nobility of birth in a predominantly peasant milieu was more of a challenge than the comfort it provided. In fact, it was this outlook that formed the canvass on which his life and leadership style has remained oiled. In Sokoto today, the citizens are rightly rich in huge expectation from the Tambuwal administration. This, in all honesty, is not unfounded because of his pedigree and passion for service. The people’s prayers for his success are rooted in their belief that his emergence is not only beyond accident of history but a well-timed epiphany.
For Tambuwal, there is an element of freshness about him even at the Golden Age of 50. Freshness of spirit, freshness of ideas, freshness of vision and mission for him as a person, as a leader and for the state he has superintended in the last eight months. He has unarguably, run a dazzling race of his life as a politician, an administrator and a leader. Despite the howling success he has made of all of his endeavours, he exudes, yet a seeming urgency to reach the finish line in his chase to get his faithful citizen-colleagues to the Promised Land.
Eight months ago, he set the momentum going by building on his predecessor’s developmental framework. Methodically, he set about adding to the foundation the necessary ingredients for Sokoto State to attain its potential. As an astute husbandry of resources, Tambuwal sees plenty, even in the face of paucity. It is his rare determination to make the most out of nothing that he has been able to put in place all that is needed to ensure Sokoto grows in leaps and bounds and eventually raise the bar by setting standard for others. That Sokoto has become a template and a reference point for most of the states today is not owed to Tambuwal’s complacency or passivity in governance but more to his conscientiousness and forthrightness.
Allied to these is the enthronement of calm and consensus building in the political spectrum. Through consensus, thorny political issues have become free of tumult, acrimony and bad blood. This was made possible by Tambuwal’s calm persona on a very volatile system. By entrenching core values of selflessness and integrity, he has effectively earned the confidence and trust of his friend and foes alike. He has re-defined the concept of leadership and effective governance by effectively re-orientating the mindset of the political class to see politics as a call to service.
As he clocks 50 today, his high-octane performance in governance and in the leadership of his state sure sets him apart as a selfless and passionate leader who burns to put his state on the world developmental map.
Happy birthday our amiable governor!
- Imam is Governor Tambuwal’s spokesman. Follow him on twitter as @imamdimam