As the 2019 general elections draw closer, those who want to take over from Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in Sokoto State have started declaring interest. The aspirants are majorly from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But it is not yet clear if Tambuwal would seek re-election or take a shot at the presidential seat. Some political watchers believe that the governor is deeply engaged in a political game ahead of the 2019 elections. He has neither formally declared intention to run for a second term as governor nor endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term, unlike some other governors serving on the platform of the APC.
Political analysts say there are indications that he may want to try his luck at the Presidency. During the last general elections, some people purchased the presidential ticket for him, but he said that inasmuch as Buhari was contesting, he would not join the race. It is not clear if he would change his mind and pursue his presidential ambition on the platform of another party, not the APC. He is a member of the aggrieved nPDP, who are being speculated to dump the APC soon.
It is also believed that as an incumbent, if Tambuwal decides to go for a second term as governor, he has an advantage, especially as political godfathers in the state are still with him. Despite the rumour making the rounds that there’s rancour between him and the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, he remains in the latter’s good book. Wamakko is seen as the ‘kingmaker’ of the APC in Sokoto State. This was seen during the recent congresses of the party, where the former governor purportedly handpicked candidates for top party positions in the state. During the congresses, Governor Tambuwal described members of the APC as one big political family.
Tambuwal also has a good relationship with former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa, who controls the machinery of the PDP in the state. His relationship with the opposition in the country, even at the national level, suggests that he may be scheming to get the presidential ticket of the PDP.
Those who have so far declared interest to wrest power from Governor Tambuwal on the platform of the APC are Faruk Malami Yabo and Senator Bello Jibril Gada. Other likely aspirants are Senator Abdullahi Danbaba Ibrahim and Dahiru Yusuf Yabo.
Faruk Malami Yabo
Faruk Malami Yabo was brought to political limelight by his godfather, former Governor Wamakko. He served as commissioner for finance and that of local government affairs under Wamakko. Yabo, who has remained a close political ally of the former governor, contested for the governorship ticket in 2015, but he was reportedly prevailed upon to step down for Tambuwal.
Malami Yabo has been a business mogul for a very long time; thus it is believed that he has the resources to make things happen. He is also believed to have grassroots support. Also, some Buhari’s men outside the state are perceived to be backing him, so he may enjoy federal might. However, analysts observed that he was not directly part of the congress that took place in the state.
Senator Bello Jibril Gada
Senator Bello Jibril Gada, a former minister of culture and tourism, is one of those who have declared their intention to contest for the gubernatorial ticket of the APC in Sokoto State. He is from the Sokoto east senatorial zone while many others are from Sokoto south, where the governorship seat shifted to under the rotational arrangement in the state. But he insists that anybody from any senatorial zone could contest for the ticket against Governor Tambuwal in 2019.
Dahiru Yusuf Yabo
Dahiru Yusuf Yabo is a former commissioner in the state. Yusuf, who is an ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, is a critic of Tambuwal’s style of leadership. In 2011, he was the governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Sokoto State. He was noted to have fallen out with his political godfathers. First, he was with Wamakko, then parted ways and pitched tent with Bafarawa and also parted ways. He operated from Kano State, and for a very long time, he was not on ground in Sokoto.
He represents Sokoto south in the Senate. He is a retired director in the federal civil service who was noted to have been brought into active politics by Senator Wamakko. Observers say he has the resources and shows signs of a political strategist. The strong nPDP member is still consulting on his governorship aspiration, it was learnt.
In 2015, Senator Tambuwal contested for the governorship ticket of the APC with the incumbent Governor Aminu Tambuwal and lost. Dahiru, who is from the same local government as the incumbent governor, faulted the then gubernatorial primary election and subsequently challenged it in court. However, the rift between them was recently settled. The fact that his posters are all over the streets of Sokoto is an indication that he wants to contest against the governor again. But it is believed in many quarters that he lacks the required grip on the party in the state.
Professor Lawal Bashar
He is the leader of a group of APC members in Sokoto, known as APC Akida Buhari Sak, a group promoting President Buhari’s re-election bid. He is also said to be interested in the governorship seat, having contested before and lost.
He is a former chairman of Sokoto North Local Government. Many are of the opinion that his records as council chairman indicate how his performance would be if elected the chief executive of the state.
Likely contenders under PDP
Among those identified by analysts to seek the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP in Sokoto State in 2019 are Alhaji Muktari Shagari, Senator Abdallah Wali and Yusuf Sulaiman.
Senator Abdallah Wali
Senator Wali was the governorship candidate of the PDP in 2015. He was the closest contender in the election, in which he pulled 269,074 votes against the APC candidate, Aminu Tambuwal’s 647,609.
He is noted to still be in the good book of Bafarawa, the leader of the party in the state. Wali is still in touch with the party leadership and maintains his political structure. He visits Sokoto frequently.
The former minister of transport, as well as sports, was also a governorship aspirant on the platform of the PDP. Observers say he has the resources to mobilise supporters, and that he spends his money where it will make impact. He is an in-law to a former National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau, who is one of those in charge of the northwestern zone of the party.
This, some say, could translate into a great support. He does not have any case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that could jeopardise his future.
He is the immediate past deputy governor of the state. He remained in the PDP, even when the then Governor Wamakko, one of the nPDP members, moved to the APC.
In 2007, Muktari was the governorship candidate of the PDP before the powers-that-be told him to relinquish the position for Wamakko, the then candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) who was wooed by the PDP to take over its ticket. That was how the PDP won Sokoto, which was a hitherto an ANPP stronghold. It is believed that Shagari still has a chunk of supporters.