By Rakiya A. Muhammad, Sokoto |
Tambuwal’s biggest political gamble
Following his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is widely believed to have a presidential ambition. It is expected that he would soon make a formal declaration of his interest in the 2019 presidential race.
For many months before his return to the PDP, Governor Tambuwal had allegedly started romancing with staunch members of the party. As a result of such reports, especially in the social media, a group under the auspices of the APC, Adalci Buhari Sak, in March this year, raised an allegation of anti-party activities against the governor and challenged him to declare his stand on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ambition to run for a second term during the 2019 elections.
“We don’t understand his romance with the leading members of the PDP as was widely publicised. He has a strong relationship with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who is perceived to be a very strong member of the party. He visits them and they visit him in Sokoto as well,” the group had alleged.
Political watchers said that Tambuwal’s presidential ambition actually started in 2015 before he was reportedly prevailed upon to step down. Since his recent official defection to the PDP, it is believed that the governor has been scheming on the best possible way to achieve his ambition.
Despite the huge number of notable presidential aspirants in the PDP, some observers in the state say the odds may favour Tambuwal. They point to the belief that the party is planning to field a serving governor from the North as their presidential candidate – someone who would be covered by immunity till May 29, 2019.
But another serving governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State, who is also a presidential aspirant on the platform of the party, also falls in this category.
Nevertheless, it is expected that if the pendulum does not swing in favour of Tambuwal, he may fall back on PDP’s governorship ticket. It is also widely believed that the party is scheming to ensure that serving governors with presidential ambitions are granted automatic tickets to run for second term should they lose in the presidential primaries.
But many political analysts argue that it would not be a smooth ride for Governor Tambuwal because there are other aspirants who have remained in the PDP through thick and thin.
Speaking on the gale of defections going on in the country, the immediate past deputy governor of Sokoto State, Murktari Shagari, who has declared his intention to vie for the governorship seat in the state, said, “We are welcoming new members; our doors are always open for them. However, I want our leaders to ensure justice in dealing with all its members. Don’t oppress or impose candidates on us.”
Another governorship aspirant in the state, Senator Abdullahi Danbaba, who has made a formal declaration of his ambition, also defected from the APC with Tambuwal. Danbaba represents Sokoto South senatorial district. It is not clear whether the senator, who is an accomplished entrepreneur, would agree to step down for Tambuwal.
There is also a growing speculation that Tambuwal may sponsor one of his former commissioners for the gubernatorial race so that in the event that he loses the presidential ticket, he would step down for him.
But Tambuwal would have to face a very fierce battle with an APC candidate. For now, two aspirants – Faruk Malami Yabo and Senator Bello Jibril Gada – have declared interest to fly the governorship flag of the party.
Yabo was a commissioner for finance, and later, local government and chieftaincy affairs during the Aliyu Wamakko administration. He was one of those expected to fly the governorship flag of the APC in 2015 before Tambuwal joined the party from the PDP, picked the ticket and eventually won the election.
Declaring his interest to contest for the gubernatorial ticket of the APC in Sokoto State about three months ago, Gada, a former Minister of Culture and Tourism, was assertive that he would contest against Tambuwal, who was still in the APC then. He berated Tambuwal over his perfornance as governor, stressing that three years were enough for the people of the state to assess his government.
Reacting to Governor Tambuwal’s defection and ambition, his estranged godfather, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, said the battle was not between him and his successor but between the APC and PDP.
Before Tambuwal dumped the APC, Sokoto was controlled by the party at all levels and arms of government. But now, the PDP has 1 out of 3 senators from the state, 4 out of 11 members of the House of Representatives, and 18 out of 30 members of the state House of Assembly.
Political observers say that while Governor Tambuwal is working to ensure that his structures are in place at the local government level, Wamakko, a grassroots politician, is noted to already have well established structures.
In his speech during the defection rally, Tambuwal said he dumped the ruling APC to join forces with other leaders of the country to sack the Buhari-led administration.
“There is the need for us to once again join forces with other leaders of this country to ensure that a new leadership of the country is installed in 2019, by the grace of God,” he said.
But Wamakko has maintained that Sokoto would remain an APC state, saying the people are solidly behind President Muhammadu Buhari despite the defection of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his supporters to the Peoples Democratic Party. As the battle rages on, only time will tell who would carry the day.