Following the buzz generated by a recent meeting between former Sokoto State governors Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, ANKELI EMMANUEL retraces the decade-long political rivalry between the two politicians.
With 2023 at sight, a recent reunion of former governors Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, a few days ago, in Sokoto State sparked off speculations of a budding alliance.
The political bigwigs had met at the residence of a late Islamic scholar, Malam Abbas Babi during a condolence visit.
Although their meeting seemed more of accidental than planned, pundits in the state aver that the show of maturity that transpired at the venue belied the rivalry between the two political titans.
Wamakko, according to an eye witness account, arrived at the residence before Bafarawa and had sought to speak on behalf of the duo a development, which his predecessor was said to have declined, insisting that he speaks for them instead.
Expectedly, Wamakko in his humane disposition obliged.
After the condolence visit, Wamakko as a mark of respect for his former boss walked Bafarawa to his car and had a few minutes talks with him before his departure.
Sooner had this happened, than the story went round the seat of the Caliphate amid a hype of sorts that both political titans are on the verge re-uniting politically, after years of falling apart.
But for other pundits, what transpired between the two former governors was nothing but a display of maturity and a further proof that in politics anything is possible so long as their interests are protected.
For those who advance this position, that Senator Wamakko and Bafarawa were once political allies is a statement of fact same way as they have been on the opposite sides political divides for over a decade.
Still, the recent meeting puts in perspective the dynamics of the political calculus of the state which crystallised under their watch since 1999.
Bafarawa and Wamakko had served two terms as governors of Sokoto State at different intervals with Wamakko deputising for Bafarawa for seven years before they fell apart politically.
Bafarawa, before venturing into politics was a successful businessman. He contested for the governorship of Sokoto State at the return of democracy in 1999 and won.
Wamakko on his part was an accomplished civil servant who climbed to the peak of his career in service. In 1999, Bafarawa who hailed from the Sokoto East Senatorial District of the state picked Wamakko from Sokoto North Senatorial District as his running mate.
This was so because aside the array of followership Wamakko commanded, the equation was a perfectly balanced one by all sense of political calculation because of Wamakko’s knowledge of the workings of governance at all strata of the state.
The pairing was adjudged by many as a workable political arithmetic which translated into their victory at the polls.
Recall that the 1999 election in Sokoto State was a contest between defunct ANPP and the PDP being the major political parties at the time. However, in spite of the PDP under former president Olusegun Obasanjo winning presidency, ANPP which Bafarawa and Wamakko contested on, picked the Sokoto governorship seat.
Though, sources within the corridors of politics then alluded to the fact that there was a gentleman agreement between political bigwigs in the state to allow for rotational governorship between the three Senatorial districts of the state, this development, had since then became an unwritten template in the minds of all even till date.
Both Bafarawa and Wamakko held sway together as governor and deputy respectfully in their first tenure, between 1999 to 2003. They re-contested and won a second term on same ticket.
But they parted ways a year to the end of their second tenure largely because Bafarawa refused to endorse Wamakko as his successor.
Bafarawa preferred the then secretary to the state government (SSG), Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi as his successor while he targeted the presidency under his new party, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).
Part of the plot to frustrate Wamakko from succeeding Bafarawa was hatched with some members of the state’s House of Assembly who plotted to impeach him.
On getting wind of the plot, Wamakko hurriedly resigned his position as the deputy governor.
The two incidences, according to insiders signposted the end of a once practical political alliance till date.
However, shortly after Wamakko’s resignation as deputy governor, in 2006, then President Obasanjo saw a window of opportunity to get Sokoto State for the PDP. With Bafarawa’s overwhelming influence in the state, Obasanjo urged Wamakko to join the party.
For Obasanjo, Wamakko’s political spread and acceptability was needed to snatch Sokoto from Bafarawa’s grip. This he perfected by appealing to the party’s flag-bearer, Mukhtari Shagari to step down and run withWamakko as deputy for the 2007 general elections.
Shagari, who was minister of Water Resources in Obasanjo’s administration, consented to the arrangement, with the believe that since he is from the Sokoto South Senatorial district, he stood a chance of being supported to succeed Wamakko at the end of their tenure.
Eventually, the political battle which played between Bafarawa and Wamakko p during the Sokoto governorship poll in 2007, saw the former deputy having the edge over his estranged boss. But Wamakko was to cross paths with Bafarawa again when he defected to APC in 2014.
Having emerged the dominant force in Sokoto politics, Wamakko ahead of the 2015 general elections, singlehandedly brought then speaker of the 7th National Assembly, now governor Amimu Waziri Tambuwal who also defected from the PDP to the newly formed APC, as his successor.
Prior to his defection to the APC, his erstwhile boss had established himself in the party as a founding member and leader of APC in state. However, as Wamakko entered the party, Bafarawa who felt betrayed by his former party’s national leaders made his way back to the PDP.
Tambuwal’s return to PDP in the buildup to 2019 polls, naturally set off a political alignment with Bafarawa. For Bafarawa, his alliance with the Wamakko’s estranged political protege had created a partway to return to political dominance in the state which manifested with the 2019 general election.
That political move by Tambuwal once again reignited the political rivalry between Wamakko and Bafarawa as they both had to strategise on who would produce the governor in 2019.
PDP’s Tambuwal with the support of Bafarawa, defeated the governorship candidate of the APC who was Wamakko’s preferred choice.
While the recent reunion might not have eventually, lead to any concrete political alliance between the two leaders, there is not ruling out the possibility of such happening.
Reacting to the events, a member of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in the state, Abubakar Salihu, dismissed any form of unity between the two politicians.
He said, “The duo are strong party stalwarts whose differences in ideology might not in anyway bring them into unity anytime soon.
“They might show political maturity any time they meet but not unity as that can only come with reconciliation between the duo”.
On his part, political commentator, Magaji Salisu, argues that “nothing stops them from forging a united front if their interest realigns. At least that possibility, hard as it is cannot be ruled out in politics.”