In this piece, ANKELI EMMANUEL examines the politics of the 2019 governorship election in Sokoto State, the gladiators and the forces at play.
The dusty hay went high in the Seat of the Caliphate in Sokoto recently when the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) released the list of governorship candidates of the various political parties ahead of 2019 elections and surprisingly the name of the incumbent governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was missing.
After all, those sympathetic to the governor and his party, PDP, had thought that after failing to secure his party’s presidential ticket, Tambuwal would been given an automatic return ticket as compensation.
In the view of those belonging to this school of thought, the PDP has agreed on that arrangement long before the primaries.
To further boost their conviction, they affirmed that the uninterrupted consensus arrived at in the choice of the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Sokoto state was part of the game plan to allow for a substitution should Tambuwal misses out in the presidential race.
Aligning with their line of thought, an insider in the PDP said had Tambuwal never wanted coming back after losing in the presidential primaries, he would have allowed for a direct primaries among all qualified aspirants or better still go for his commissioner for health, Dr. Shehu Balarabe Kakale, whom many felt was very dear to electorates.
“However, it is not contestable for the governor to have appealed to all and sundry in the party to allow for the emergence of a consensus gubernatorial candidate as a ploy to relaunch an easy comeback.
“After all, it is a known fact that the consensus candidate, Mannir Dan’Iya, never nursed any latent political ambition before the mandate was thrust on him. This therefore, goes to mean he is and is still a caretaker for an awaiting landlord,” the source added.
Those seeking Tambuwal’s seat on the other hand were manifestingly jubilant on hearing the story that his name was not on list of candidates released by INEC.
Tambuwal’s missing name however became the climax of the schemings. All the 49 parties who presented candidates and hitherto felt their chances of winning the state governorship were slim because of incumbency factor got revived with renewed vigour to push further.
Though, political pundits in the state rightly or wrongly have concluded that the sheer number of candidates will not be a determining factor, hence according to them, the Sokoto state governorship battle is simply a two-horse race between PDP and APC only.
For these pundits, aside the PDP and APC candidates, all other candidates are either sponsored as spoilers or are in the race as bargaining chips.
Meanwhile, there are divergent views over the chances of both leading candidates – Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto of the APC, who was until Tuesday night the deputy governor of the state, and Mannir Dan’Iya of the PDP, who is a former commissioner for local government in the state.
The reactions, as expected, are tilted toward party sentiments. They are however not far from the true picture of the realities on ground in Sokoto.
For many, Ahmed Aliyu’s chances of winning is very bright if he is to truly contest against Mannir Dan’Iya.
Giving reasons for such postulation, Faruk Dundaye said, so many factors will come to play in his favour.
Prominent among such is the ‘Sai Alu’ political bandwagon, whose consuming whirlwind is so fierce in the state to a point that he has never lose a contest.
“Remember, it was the same Sai Alu factor that marketed Tambuwal in 2015. Therefore, the same Sai Alu can de-market Tambuwal’s candidate as well.
“In 2015, former governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko who is the brain behind Sai Alu political movement anointed Tambuwal and he got overwhelming support from the people of the state.
“Contrary to speculations that it was Buhari’s political popularity that culminated into a win for Tambuwal and most other governors, everybody within and outside the Seat of the Caliphate know that Buhari’s factor could not have aided any victory for APC in Sokoto without Senator Wamakko’s endorsement.
“Now, the die is once again cast as 2019 approaches with Tambuwal in a different party. The true test of political prowess will once again prove itself,” Dundaye said.
Judging from the viewpoints of other respondents, if PDP want to make any impact in Sokoto come 2019, their best bet is the incumbent governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
More so that the state INEC head of voters Education, Alhaji Mohammed Musa, said there was still room for changes.
According to him, all the political parties still have between now and up till December 1, 2018 to either substitute or make neccesary realignment in their party’s choice of candidates.
ne can only keep his or her fingers crossed regarding the Sokoto governorship contest as only time can tell on the eventual final candidates and the outcome of the election in 2019.
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