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The Presidency is poised for war with Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives over what it perceives as his interest in the 2015 presidential race.
The seat of power is said to have been ‘provoked’ by the public encouragement given the Speaker by former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, in Lagos penultimate Saturday, to take a shot at the presidency.
Babangida, speaking at the Vanguard Man of the Year Awards Nite in Lagos had said: “When leaders like Tambuwal deliver on their electoral promises, we advise them to try something higher. For Tambuwal, your guess is as good as mine. Well done.”
Tambuwal was a guest at the event.
The Presidency, sources said, is also uncomfortable with the high level of confidence enjoyed by Tambuwal with the opposition that does not see face to face with the ruling PDP (to which President Jonathan and Tambuwal belong).
Similarly, intelligence reports suggest that Tambuwal’s comments on national issues are in tandem with those of the opposition.
Although the Presidency and the Tambuwal-led House of Representatives have been locked in a long –standing face off over budget matters, his alleged interest in the 2015 presidential race appears to have turned him into ‘Enemy N0 1’ in the villa. Some security agencies, it was gathered, have already put him under surveillance.
This, sources disclosed has forced the Speaker to adopt a ‘discreet approach” in his movement and activities.
The strain in the relationship between him and the Presidency has now been fuelled by Gen. Babangida’s comment that he deserves to seek a higher position in the polity.
According to investigation by our correspondent, loyalists of the President have, in the last one year, picked Tambuwal as a potential threat to the second term ambition in 2015 even when there was no concrete evidence to show that he was interested in the race.
Sources said that Jonathan had twice taunted Tambuwal to know his mindset on 2015 but on both occasions, the Speaker merely smiled and waved it off.
A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Presidency is uncomfortable with Tambuwal because of what it terms his anti-government attitude. Besides the uncompromising oversight of the House on 2012 and 2013 budgets, the presidency sees the Speaker as working for the opposition.
“The advice of Babangida to Tambuwal to go for a “higher office” has unsettled Jonathan and his strategists on the 2015 agenda. The general interpretation is that Tambuwal might be the candidate of the North against Jonathan.
“In fact, barely 24 hours after Babangida’s suggestion, two northern governors called Tambuwal to know whether he would seek the presidential ticket on the platform of a party other than the PDP. But the Speaker was just laughing.”
Asked why Tambuwal was non-committal to the governors, the source added: “The Speaker felt the fear of the unknown about 2015 in the Presidency has been recurring. There has been some drama of suspicion, twice, on 2015 between the President and Tambuwal. For instance, during one of the consultative sessions with the National Assembly leaders on 2013 budget at the Presidential Villa, the President drew the President of the Senate, David Mark, closer to himself on the sofa by saying, ‘after all, we are together in the same party.’ The import was not lost on Tambuwal.
JD:It would appear that Tambuwal has an ambition for higher office from day one.remember he was installed speaker with more than a little help from the opposition.I have it on good authority that he is having a chat with the opposition led by Tinubu and all sorts of carrots are being thrown at him.To be fair he hasn’t done too bad as speaker and he has earned the respect of quite a number of people both within and outside the political circles.Put it this way should the presidency be heading in the northern direction,Tambuwal would be a very likely recipient as opposed to our friend who has been named in most scandal both at home and abroad.We cant afford to have a president who wont travel for fear of being arrested