After months of speculations, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal on Wednesday defected to the opposition PDP, a dev.elopment that will alter the political calculation in the state and beyond ahead of 2019 general elections. ANKELI EMMANUEL writes.
Sokoto, like most states of the federation will certainly be an interesting political battlefield come 2019. This is simply because nearly all the heavyweights in the game of politics might be in the ring fighting skin fiercely to achieve the golden belt.
Naturally, Nigerians would ordinarily expect that, the Seat of the Caliphate will be the strongest hub of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because of Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, who was behind the party’s unimaginable but expected victory in the North West zone in the 2015 general election.
But, alas! The narrative has changed with the defection of Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Wednesday and his rumoured presidential bid.
Though, the reality or otherwise of his decision to contest for presidency come 2019 remained unknown as his defection story continues to linger without his confirmation or denial of any bid for presidency.
However, his body language and political veneer are already pointing to that direction. After all, those that are very conversant with political history can recall with nostalgia how he began his skillful chess game that swiftly saw to the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 despite being a member of the same party.
Speculations About Presidential Ambition
For those that have carefully followed Tambuwal’s political journey so far, the tendency to conclude that he is actually heading somewhere is inevitable.
Moreover, it is on record that, Tambuwal nursed a presidential ambition in 2015 before some powerful forces from both North and South appealed to him to step aside for the incumbent
President Muhammadu Buhari, which he did without objection.
Tambuwal was compensated with his state’s governorship slot in appreciation of his political maturity and how he
graciously agreed to do the insider damage in his then party (PDP) in favour of the then opposition (APC).
Though, the decision did not really go down well with some of the governorship aspirants, who were already strategising on how to win the 2015 governorship election. They were however left with no option than to sheathe their swords because of the then outgoing Governor Wamakko, who was instrumental to Tambuwal’s emergence as Sokoto governor.
But now that another electioneering period is by the corner, happenings within the political circle are clear signals that the duo of Tambuwal and Wamakko might be boarding diffrents ships ahead of 2019.
For some analysts in the state, they became suspicious of Tambuwal’s political direction because of how he relates with the members of the opposition party in the state.
“Ordinarily, as the governor of the state, it does not really matter how he carry people along. However, the sceptism was simply because of his role in the build-up to 2015 general elections,” one of them said.
Much as the reality of Governor Tambuwal’s latest political direction continues to put people on the suspense, certain measures he took were considered as glaring signs by local commentators.
Prominent among such actions according to them was the abrupt relieving of the state Commissioners of their services when it was least expected.
Many were shocked on hearing the sudden change including the former commissioners themselves, except very few that were aware before time.
From the perspectives of some of the commmiasioners, who spoke on condition of anonimity, their services have to be discontinued because of perceived variance of interests.
But, Tambuwal being a great political mathematician gave no suspicious reason for sacking the commissioners as those that were seen as his die-hard loyalists were equally shown the way out.
Though, Tambuwal’s action was adjudged in some quarters as an attempt to liberate himself from perceived political bondage and take charge completely as the new pilot of the affairs of the state.
However, others see the decision as step that will not just entrench his presidential ambition but at the same time help in constituting a State Executive Council that would be 100 per cent loyal to him.
As expected, while many await an instant reaction from his predecessor and benefactor, Wamakko, against whom the action is said to be taken in order to do away with his loyalists in government, it has however been silence from the Senator’s camp.
Wamakko’s silence is construed in some quarters as the best option since Tambuwal had retained nearly 90 per cent of the Senator’s lieutenants since assumption of office as the governor in 2015.
Interestingly, while the Sokoto electorate continue to wait eagerly for Tambuwal to appoint replacements for the out-sacked commissioners, to enable them draw conclusions on his loyalty but till date no replacement has been made.
While the waiting continued, Sokoto people were shocked when names of some lawmakers from the state were mentioned in the recent gale of defection that hit the APC in the National Assembly.
The news came to them as yet another dimension to the imminent soar relationship between the governor and the presidency or the Wamakko camp.
Sokoto Divided Over Tambuwal
As expected, the news came with its attendant mixed reactions. Followers became divided over the defection of Governor Tambuwal with some in favour and others against.
For those who are in favour of the defection, they cited diverse reasons to back up their support for Tambuwal’s acrion.
Prominent among their reasons, is that, Tambuwal’s defection would not only prove to Nigerians that he remained a politician with integrity but also a man who fulfils his religious demand for justice to all.
For those in this school of thought, Tambuwal’s decision to dump the APC goes to show that in politics, no permanent friend and no permanent enemy but interest.
Stressing their point from the religious perspective, they are of the opinion that Tambuwal and others would therefore be guilty of injustice to have blamed the immediate past government of President Jonathan for not doing enough to stop the killings of innocent Nigerians and allowing massive looting under his watch when same situation is found under the current APC led government.
They argued further that, “Tambuwal would have violated the true tenets of Islam if he did not raise his voice against same massive killings, corruption and cabal operation in this APC led government.”
“The governor would have as well be eternally guilty if he overlook how Nigerians are suffering now without coming out to speak the truth to this government,” they added.
Notable among those who hold this belief include a respected Islamic preacher in the state, who however pleaded not to be mentioned for reasons best known to him.
He said “If any good Muslim blames Tambuwal for telling Mr President the bitter truth, then such a person is but a hypocrite”.
According to him, why would those respected Islamic scholars of notable reputation who spoke against former president Jonathan’s government because it was not protecting Nigerians now keep mute when killings continue to go on unabbated in their domain almost everyday now?
For others, their argument seems personal but pretty germane. They expressed disappointment over the continued detention of their son, whose late father was a one time Sultan Of Sokoto, that is former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) despite several court orders that he be granted bail.
On the contrary, those who see Tambuwal’s boldness in criticising the APC led federal government as a possible political suicide argued that rather than open criticism, the governor ought to have seek for audience with Mr. President and vent his grievances with the way Nigeria is been governed.
All Eyes On Tambuwal’s Seat
While tempers are still high over Tambuwal’s defection ahead of 2019 general elections, calculation and nocturnal consultations over who becomes the next governor has begun in full force.
Tambuwal, who will be finishing his first term of 4 years as the governor of Sokoto state come 2019 is by no means a political force to reckon with within and outside the state.
And typical of politicians, especially those in Nigeria that sees politics as a trade because of the fortunes they are making out of it, the usual trend is seeking re-election in same capacity or higher office.
Now that Tambuwal has defected to PDP, political analysts are of the view that another battle of supremacy might likely brew out among diverse power blocs in the state.
For instance, Tambuwal, being sitting governor will have to contend with Attahiru Bafarawa, who at the moment is the leader of the PDP in the state.
Even if the governor had remained in the APC, it might as well not be a Tea Party for him as he has to slug it out with a number of gladiators who still believe they were cajoled to drop their gubernatorial ambitions in 2015 on promises of federal government’s patronage which never materialised.
After all, it’s a statement of fact that Tambuwal’s emergence as APC governorship flag-bearer in the 2015 election raised alot of dust in the political landscape of the state.
Though, a good number of the then aspirants came from Sokoto South senatorial district which was the only zone that was yet to govern the state since the return to democracy in 1999.
Lest we forget, Sokoto has a gentleman agreement on rotating the governorship seat of the state among among the three senatorial districts to allow for justice, equity and all-inclusinvess.
In consonance with this agreement, each of the zone is to complete two terms. Sokoto East produced Attahiru Bafarawa between 1999 to 2007. Sokoto North produced Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko as governor of the state between 2007 to 2015.
Incumbent governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from Sokoto South with the influence of Wamakko became the governor from 2015 till date and he is expected to serve for two terms except if he chooses to opt out for something else.
Going by this calculations, the Sokoto South is left with one more term to match others.
This, therefore, makes it glaring for those seeking to govern the state come 2019 that they have to come from Sokoto South Senatorial District save for any unforeseen circumstance.
Though, people in the state are speaking in hush tones on whether or not Tambuwal will enjoy Wamakko’s grassroots support should he decide to seek a re-election come 2019.
This is more so that speculations over a sour relationship between the two political friends continue to go viral lately with supporters of each spitting fire against the other on social media. A development that that points to the fact that all might not be well for now.
Though, in rare display of their political sagacity and maturity, none of them has publicly come out to speak evil against each other.
That not withstanding, feelers from behind the scene of political arena show that Tambuwal might probably not enjoy the massive support he got from Senator Wamakko’s camp in 2015 since he has defected to the PDP.
Others are equally of the opinion that even if Tambuwal was going to throw his hat in the ring for the presidency under the PDP come 2019, he is bound to ensure that his new party wins the state’s governorship election.
Those with such notion maintained that towards achieving that, Tambuwal has entered into a secret agreement with a serving Senator from his senatorial district, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, who recently defected to the PDP in order to become his anointed candidate and eventual trusted successor.
While the stage is gradually getting set by the breaking of each day, other aspirants seeking to occupy the Sokoto State Government House come 2019 are already indicating interest with their posters flooding most roundabouts within the state capital.
Prominent among them from the PDP include but not limited to Senator Danbaba, Mukhtar Shagari, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, Dahiru Yusuf Yabo, Barrister Abubakar Sanyinna, Senator Abubakar Gada and Alhaji Ahmed Yushe’u Kebbe as well as Ambassador Abdallah Wali.
Those from the APC are Alhaji Faruk Malami Yabo, Professor Lawal Bashar and host of others, who are still warming up for the 2019 contest in the Seat of the Caliphate.
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