Governor Aminu Tambuwal does not take political prisoners. He likes calling the shots and being his own man. And he has fought many political battles and came out unscathed in almost all of them. But he is facing a different kind of battle with his predecessor and the man who facilitated his ascension to Sokoto Government House, Senator Aliyu Wamakko. Will he come out of this victorious? Asks EMMA ALOZIE.
The relationship between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Aliyu Wamakko has deteriorated. In fact it is safe to say that the relationship collapsed even before it was built in the first place.
Governor Tambuwal was a product of political necessity as even Wamakko was also a product of political necessity. The story of emergence of Wamakko as the governor of Sokoto state is almost similar to the story of the emergence of Tambuwal as the governor.
When in 2007 it became obvious that for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to win Sokoto governorship election, they needed a popular candidate, they coopted Wamakko at the last minute and prevailed on Murktar Shagari to hand over the party’s governorship ticket to Wamakko. As a loyal party man, Shagari accepted and handed Wamakko the ticket and ran as Wamakko’s running mate. He (Wamakko) went ahead to win the election. Mid way into his second term as a PDP governor, he alongside four other PDP governors dumped the party and defected to the then newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC.
Fastfarword to 2015. While Tambuwal was still the speaker of the House of Representatives under the then ruling PDP, he was always in the national limelight and this enhanced his popularity. Then he defected to the APC preparatory to the general elections. At a point, he made attempts to contest the APC’s presidential primaries but was dissuaded. Then Wamakko was said to have drafted him into the race for the governorship of Sokoto State. The coast was so cleared for him that he did not even have to struggle much to pick the ticket.
ROLE OF THE CALIPHATE
Tambuwal had three factors that worked in his favour; his popularity, which translated into his salability, Wamakko’s need to defeat PDP and have a softer landing and the morbid fear of the Sultanate of the re-emergence of the Dasuki ruling House.
Wamakko in his eight year reign as the governor of Sokoto State was said to have stepped on so many toes and many of those toes were big. He fell out with his godfather and benefactor, former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa and to add salt to injury, he drove Bafarawa away from the APC into the PDP. So Bafarawa was enemy number one. In the same vein, enemy number two was Dasuki Sambo, a retired army colonel and Nigeria’s security adviser. Wamakko’s feud with Sambo degenerated into name calling and public spat. Wamakko once accused Sambo of threatening him through ‘text message’. “I received a text message from Col Sambo Dasuki that, ’till I hear from him’. But let me assure you that nothing would happen, it is just an empty threat. We are not afraid of anybody because we have Allah by our side and with him we are assured of Allah protection,” Wamakko said.
So with two powerful enemies backing PDP’s Senator Abdallah Wali, Wamakko knew he needed not to bungle his chances in the general election by backing an unpopular candidate. This drove him into the waiting and willing hands of Tambuwal as against his originally preferred candidate and political godson, Ahmed Aliyu, who is now the deputy governor of Sokoto State.
Another factor that favoured Tambuwal was the morbid fear by the sultanate that should Dasuki’s preferred candidate emerge as governor of Sokoto State, the consequences could be dire. There has been this cold relationship between the Dasuki ruling House and the present Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar. Dasuki’s father, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki was deposed in 1996 by Nigeria’s late Head of State, General Sani Abacha as the Sultan and this has accounted for a strained relationship between subsequent sultans and the Dasuki’s ruling House.
So the rumours made the rounds then that should Dasuki’s PDP win the election in Sokoto, the current sultan would be in trouble. PDP’s governorship candidate, Senator Wali even had to come out to dispel such rumours.
“The Sultan represents the soul of the Muslims in Sokoto state and Nigeria generally, and we intend to continue with this happy relationship. We will forge a very cordial and formidable relationship with the council and the entire traditional institutions in the state when we form our government. All such nefarious insinuations and allegations that a PDP government when elected this year will severe such an all- important relationship are unfounded and baseless. They were created by our enemies and they are intended to mischievously use people’s sentiments against us,” Wali said.
But the sultanate did not believe the denials and therefore worked for the emergence Tambuwal as the governor.
Soured relationship and political realignments
While Wamakko was backing Tambuwal for the governorship, he (Wamakko) had his plan B; to influence the election of his loyalists to the state House of Assembly and 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, Wamakko’s original candidate taking over.
But Wamakko underestimated the brilliance and sometimes the treachery of Tambuwal’s politics. Those who follow 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. He is a master in political survival, knows when to lie low, knows when to put every step and has rarely put any political step wrong.
While Wamakko was making his plan B, Tambuwal was not sleeping. Tambuwal’s survival strategy kicked in soon after the election and he succeeded in outsmarting Senator Wamakko in the choice of the speaker of the State House of Assembly. While Wammako was pushing for the emergence of Barrister Bello Goroyo and was quite certain of his emergence as the speaker, Tambuwal had other ideas. He (Tambuwal) was said to have infiltrated majority of the then newly elected legislators, who were considered strong Wammako loyalists to dump Goroyo and elect Hon Salisu Maidaji whom Governor Tambuwal is very comfortable with. And he succeeded.
Very close sources said that Tambuwal was believed to have made enormous concessions to the House members including promising them free hands to run the finances of the House 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) has built in the last 16 years starting from his years as the deputy governor to Attahiru Bafarawa.
The governor and the senator have fallen out and this has stalled governance in the state and the governor has been unable to name his cabinet. 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 Tambuwal has vowed to resist such imposition.
The days ahead in Sokoto will be very interesting as the next battle ground will be the structure of APC in the state. With the structure firmly in the grips of Wamakko, Tambuwal is believed to have perfected plans to wrench the party structure away from Wamakko, and his loyalists strongly believe that this is not impossible.
On the other hand, Wamakko supporters believe that if push comes to shove, Wamakko may swallow his pride and work with his hitherto political foes to fight Tambuwal. To those in Wamakko’s camp, the fight has become a struggle that may define the political life of both the governor and the senator. It sure promises to leave behind many casualties.