The political climate in Sokoto state is gradually heating up over alleged rift between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and his predecessor, Aliyu Wamakko. Our correspondent, MAHMOUD MUHAMMAD writes that the honeymoon between the two may be over sooner than later.
Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal seems not to be having it easy with his predecessor and benefactor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko. But what has left many Sokoto people and followers of the state politics astounded is the short time it took for the duo to fallout.
Followers of Tambuwal’s brand of politics know that he is fiercely independent and has an unusual way of staying politically afloat even if the political ship in which he is travelling capsizes.
In the state, unease pervades the political atmosphere as the relationship between Governor Tambuwal, who was the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives and his predecessor continues to go sour and this unfortunately has grounded the wheel of governance as the governor has been unable to name his cabinet, including his Secretary to the State Government, SSG.
Tambuwal was never the original candidate of Wamakko, going into the governorship election, as the former governor’s preferred candidate was Ahmed Aliyu, now the deputy governor. But Wamakko was hamstrung by one factor: the relative unpopularity of Ahmed Aliyu. So, why he had the financial muscle to prosecute the election, Tambuwal had the popularity to win votes. Wammakko was then forced to co-opt Tambuwal as his candidate while Aliyu became the running mate.
The former governor clearly understood that it was only Tambuwal who could have helped to garner enough votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate backed by the duo of former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa and the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), two of whom Wamakko considers mortal enemies. So bringing Tambuwal to run under APC was very expedient and in the best interest of the former governor’s political survival.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that Wamakko had plan B-to influence the election of his loyalists to the state House of Assembly, then install a loyal Speaker.
According to insiders, if this plan had gone ahead as envisaged, one year after, the House of Assembly would have risen against Tambuwal and get him impeached with Ahmed Aliyu taking over.
Tambuwal’s survival strategy
While Wamakko was making his plan B, Tambuwal was not sleeping. His survival strategy kicked off soon after the election and he succeeded in outsmarting Senator Wamakko in the choice of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. While Wamakko was pushing for the emergence of Mr. Bello Goroyo and was certain of his emergence as Speaker, Tambuwal had other ideas. He (Tambuwal) was said to have infiltrated majority of the then newly elected legislators, who were considered strong Wammakko loyalists to dump Goroyo and elect Hon. Salisu Maidaji whom Governor Tambuwal is very comfortable working with. And he succeeded.
Very close sources told Nigerian Pilot that Tambuwal was believed to have made enormous concessions to the House members, including promising them free hand to run the finances of the legislature and even picking up some of their immediate bills.
While Wamakko considered this move a slight, he never knew that Gov Tambuwal was bent on dismantling whatever political structures he (Wamakko) had built in the last 16 years, starting from his years as the deputy governor to the time of Bafarawa.
It was learnt that Wamako demanded for three key portfolios after his failed bid to install a Speaker: the SSG, Commissioner for Finance and that of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. To this end, he (Wamakko) is understood to have put forward the names of his younger brother, Alhaji Bello Wamakko, who is currently the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government in the state as SSG; his son, Fodio Wamakko as Commissioner for Local Government and another yet-to-be determined loyalist as Finance Commissioner.
But Governor Tambuwal would never have any of that. To Tambuwal, he is ready for an all out war with Wamakko as he is said to be enjoying the backing of Abuja.
Tambuwal’s loyalists claim that the governor has the full backing of President Muhammadu Buhari simply because of Tambuwal’s perceived financial prudence as opposed to that of Wamakko.
To the Tambuwal loyalists, his legendary prudence in the management of finances explains the title of ‘Matawalle’, which means the financial controller of the Sultanate, given to him by the Sultan of Sokoto and this also endeared him to President Buhari.
The war between the governor and the senator is still at its infancy, but there are strong indications that it will soon escalate beyond amicable resolution, a source said.
Wamakko is said to have perfected plans to unleash his “boys” to boo and pelt the governor with stones at public functions and gatherings, while Tambuwal has decided to confine the senator to Abuja and make him a Federal Capital Territory, FCT politician.
There are, however, palpable fears in the camp of Wamakko that with the way the governor is going, the battle may degenerate to the initiation of recall process against the senator. Already, pro-Tambuwal lawmakers are already digging into the past and it is believed that the ultimate objective is to completely rubbish the reputation of Senator Wamakko. In August the Sokoto state House of Assembly commenced probe of the last lap of the immediate past administration.
The Assembly on said its probe of the state’s finances is to ensure that due process was followed in the utilisation of the funds and directed the state government to furnish it with details of the state’s finances and expenditure from January to August this year.
The probe would cover the tenure of former governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, who handed over to Gov. Aminu Tambuwal on May 29, 2015.
Alhaji Malami Galadanchi, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts said that the probe “is to examine all expenditures, state of revenues, as well as all financial statements and the actual beneficiaries of such.
“Our aim is to make sure that the actualization and the principles of the expenditures being utilized by the executive are in the right order, and to make sure that due process is always complied with.
“We also need to know the actual beneficiaries of such expenditures, as well as the debt if any, for the benefit of the state and the general public.”
The chairman pledged the assembly’s total support of Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s determination to fight corruption and ensure good governance in the state.
But with eight years as governor of Sokoto, Wamakko’s loyalists boast that the ex-governor is unshaken and ready to match the current governor in whatever way Tambuwal wants. His supporters say that the days ahead will be interesting as the next battle will be for the soul of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the state.
A very close source to the ex-governor revealed that Senator Wamakko is in deep regret over the gamble on Tambuwal. According to the source, the former governor was overheard lamenting that if he had known that the “Buhari effect” would have swept the election in favour of the APC, he would not have made the mistake of backing Tambuwal because any other person, no matter how unpopular, would still have defeated any PDP candidate in the state.
As the battle gradually shifts to the control of the APC structures in Sokoto state the apprehension among members of the party in the state is not unconnected to the fact that the PDP is already waiting in the wings to reap from the looming implosions in Sokoto state unless the party leaders move in the resolve the rift between Governor Tambuwal and former governor Wamakko.