Without any gainsaying, the primary elections that threw up the gubernatorial candidates of the leading political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Sokoto State was characterised by intrigues, suspense and arm-twisting.
However, the seeming peace that trailed the primaries has began to fall apart with APC as the first casualty.
Unlike the APC, the bond within the PDP, under the firm grip of the ‘grandmaster’ Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, seems to be well knitted and waxing stronger even as some political watchers, anxiously waited to see the party explode in aftermath of Tambuwal’s preferred aspirant getting the PDP gubernatorial ticket.
Tambuwal, with his characteristic political expertise was able to manouvre and allocate ‘appropriate’ office throughout the party primaries according to the capacity of would-be flagbearers. Even, appointees who resigned to try out their luck and returned with bloody nose have been reinstated. Till date, there is yet to be a dissenting voice within the PDP instead, disgruntled members of the opposition have found solace in it.
Whereas, the graveyard peace hovering over APC before, during and after its gubernatorial primary election bursted with a big bang, penultimate week, resulting in gale of defections from it stalwarts.
In a manner akin to a winner takes all, with no signal for reconciliation nor call for a truce, most of those who decamped to the PDP are aggrieved APC members that lost out in the party primaries concluded recently and left to lick their wounds.
Among the Sokoto State APC stalwarts received by Alhaji Umar Damagun, who represented the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorcha Ayu are, gubernatorial aspirants, former ministers, two incumbent House of Representatives members, incumbent speaker, Sokoto House of Assembly, council chairmen and host of others alongside, their numerous supporters.
Leading the pack is Yusuf Suleiman, former minister of transport/sport; Senator Bello Jibrin Gada, former minister culture and tourism and Hon Abubakar Balarabe Salame, former acting governor, former speaker Sokoto House of Assembly, serving member House of Representatives, representing Gwadabawa/Ilella Federal Constituency.
Others include Rt. Hon Aminu Achida, serving Speaker, Sokoto House of Assembly, Hon Abubakar Gumbi, APC gubernatorial candidate; Hon Yusuf Isa Kurdula, serving member representing Tangaza/Gudu federal Constituency, Hon Abdullahi Hassan, former chairman, Sokoto North Local Government.
The rest are Hon Aminu Bello ACY; Hon Murtala Maigona, Alhaji Yahaya Dallatu, who until he switched was the state APC treasurer, joined by Alhaji Abu Baki Illela, the state APC vice chairman (East) and Alhaji Hassan Sahabi Sanyinnawal, media adviser to Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, addressing the mammoth crowd that witnessed the event held at Giginya Stadium, assured the gathering that PDP’s victory in next year’s election will bring back the lost glory of Nigeria.
Okowa, who is the incumbent governor of Delta State, assured Nigerians that the mission and vision of the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is to ensure that Nigeria remains united.
While welcoming the decapees back home, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, applauded their decision to team up with his administration in developing the state and, assured them of equal treatment in the PDP.
Tambuwal said, “we are determined to work for the future of our party at all levels. I appeal to members of the party to accept our brothers who have returned home as integral part of the PDP family in Sokoto state.
However, a PDP stalwart, Yusuf Dingyadi, going down memory lane, corrected the erroneous impression that the celebrated politicians are ‘returnees’ and not ‘decampees’ with majority of them having sojourned in PDP.
“How do you described the duo of Yusuf Suleiman and Senator Bello Gada, who are Ministers and Honourable Abubakar Salame, Speaker and Acting Governor under PDP administration as decampees, they are ‘returnees.’ We are happy to have them back to our party.
“In recognition of the premium placed on their political worth, you can see the high powered team, comprising of our zonal Vice Chairman and accompanied national officers on one hand and, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, a Vice Presidential candidate, on hand, to welcome back the returnees home.”
Jolted by the defection Sokoto State APC Chairman, Alhaji Isah Sadiq Achida, described the decampees as political wanderers with no political value at state, local government, or even ward levels, who decided to dance naked in the market square.
Achida said, “we are happy to see the formal departure of PDP moles in Sokoto state. We know all the defectors. They are people who have been rejected by their communities. They have no political value at state, local government, or even ward levels.
“None among the defectors cited any tangible state government project or achievement, in any sector across the state that attracted him to this unfortunate journey to the PDP bandwagon.
“The so called defectors are made up of people who have turned their backs on those that were instrumental to bringing them into the political limelight, among whom are people who became Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, after being single-handedly nominated by Senator Wamakko the leader of the party in Sokoto state.
“Some also in the group were single-handedly sponsored into the State and National Assemblies, with many of them being returned for more than two tenures, courtesy of Senator Wamakko.
“We in the APC deem it as political suicide for the defectors to have aligned themselves with the failed government of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. A government that has impoverished Sokoto State through doubtful financial deals.”
To political watchers, PDP is on the verge of recording a resounding victory in Sokoto state, unlike the record, narrow, 342 margin victory it recorded after a re-run, due to inconclusive elections in the 2019 governorship race.
In his words, a political scientist, Dr Aminu Abdullahi, sum up the defection as a big harvest for PDP in Sokoto state, considering the calibre, status and political value of the decampees in the APC. Those that bid farewell to the APC, are political heavyweights in their own rights and, assets at their constituencies.
According to him, “PDP was pragmatic in managing the aftermath of their party primaries. They went miles ahead and capitalized on APC lack of internal mechanism on reconciliation and harmony.
“The earlier permutations was that the context in next year’s elections will be too close to call with a fierce context between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and incumbent Senator Abdullahi Danbaba, in the southern senatorial zone, as, the incumbent Deputy Governor, Honourable Manir Dan’Iya, also square up in a titanic political battle with former Governor and current Senator, representing the central senatorial zone.
“With the latest development, victory in next year’s election may likely be swing in the favour of PDP from the eastern senatorial district. Aside that the incumbent, Senator Abdullahi Gobir, will not be flying the APC ticket, the combination of the quartets of the decampees namely, Yusuf Suleiman, Senator Gada, two serving federal lawmakers, Honourables Salame and Kurdula respectively and, the party:s Deputy Governor flagbearer, Honourable Sagir Bafarawa, scion of former Governor Dalhatu Attahiru Bafarawa, victory will most likely be a walk in the park for PDP.”