The emergence of the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Ahmed Aliyu, as the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2019 governorship election did not come as a surprise considering his close relationship with Senator Aliyu Wamakko. But many political observers are saying the fight is not about Aliyu, but Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Wamakko, who wants to upstage him.
A former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, had since parted ways with Governor Aminu Tambuwal who lost the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Tambuwal’s resolve to vie for the Sokoto State governorship for a second term on the platform of PDP is a settled matter, but Wamakko’s support for Aliyu has also elicited some form of bandwagon effect in certain quarters considering the control he has on APC in Sokoto.
However, the development did not go down well to supporters of other key politicians in the party who believe Aliyu is being “over pampered” by Wamakko since 2007 over and above other party men who equally have ambitions.
In 2007, Aliyu was appointed Commissioner for Social Welfare and Youth Development and in 2011, of Health. These privileges were capped when he was made the deputy governor in 2015.
Senator Wamakko was greatly instrumental to the emergence of Tambuwal as governor on the platform of APC after serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Even though Aliyu, has continued to enjoy the support of Wamakko, his emergence went through the acid test of a primary election.
Aliyu’s key opponent among other contestants was Faruk Malami Yabo, who at the time of the primary, was assumed to be more threat to Tambuwal.
Yabo too, had equally served as a commissioner in two ministries- finance and local government- during the eight-year tenure of Wamakko.
So when the primary was held and Aliyu won, there were speculations that Yabo, who was prevailed upon by Wamakko in 2014 to step down for Tambuwal, would probably dump the APC for the Social Democratic Party (SDP); but he did not.
The SDP had to postpone its gubernatorial primary to accommodate Yabo on the grounds that he is a formidable candidate that can give both the APC and PDP a good fight.
“I can make impact on lives of the people of the state even without a political platform and I will continue to remain loyal to APC,” Yabo said, during a meeting with some of his supporters.
“I want to sincerely thank all of you, the entire people of the state, and in particular, the APC faithful who kept faith in me. I am assuring you today that I am part of the APC since 2014 and will continue to remain in the party,” he added.
The declaration was reportedly a good development for Wamakko and other APC leaders in the state and as a mark of appreciation, he was picked as the deputy gubernatorial candidate of the party.
Sources within the party said they made the offer to Yabo in order to dissuade from defecting considering the fact that INEC has given elaborate time, up to December 1, for political parties to replace their candidates for various offices.
On the other hand, sources said the emergence of Aliyu had given hope for PDP, believing that Faruk Yabo would had been far more difficult to contain with in an election.
A pressure group within the party, called “Buhari Sak”, which mission is to protect the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari, is equally reportedly in a dilemma on whether to support the APC team in Sokoto or not.
While Squadron Leader Aminu Bala Sokoto (rtd) and some members of the group have chosen to support Aliyu and Yabo, the likes of Professor Lawal Bashar and Dahiru Yabo, a former commissioner in the state, have remained aggrieved.
While Dahiru has left the APC and joined the PDP, Bashar is reportedly considering his next option; a development that will not augur well for the APC in Sokoto considering the influence the aggrieved politicians wields.
Tambuwal’s strength is the incumbency factor, but this will be factored around how he had used the office of the governor in the last three years in meeting the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
While he has succeeded in putting down some infrastructure, the general feeling in the state is that he should have done more.
Sources said there was disaffection in Sokoto because many people see him as a governor who stayed outside the state most of the time.
Despite this, analysts believe Tambuwal will still sail to victory considering the support he could get from a former Governor, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, who is a chieftain of the PDP not only in Sokoto but Nigeria at large.
On the other hand, Aliyu’s greatest strength is the backing he has from Senator Wamakko who to date is considered the most influential politician in the state. For that reason, many people believed Wamakko’s endorsement will work for the APC.
Secondly, Aliyu’s grassroots support after serving as commissioner for eight years will also play key role in attracting votes for him. Another strength is that of Faruk Yabo, whose forces when aligned and that of Wamakko, will bolster his APC’s chances.
However, Aliyu is seen as neither a local or national figure with some people saying this could reduce his acceptability by the electorate.
But elections are won and lost after votes are cast and counted and who will take the day, may be too close to call.