Sokoto guber: Who does the cap fit?
Asks Aminu Mohammed
Barring any other logistical problem again, all is now set for a new governor to be elected in Sokoto state just like in many others in the country. There is a glimmer of hope that the dust created by the sack of compromises INEC has begun to dissipate. If not for the one week postponement, there would have been a new Sheriff in town by now.
All the same, March 18, 2023 is another day in our political history as a successor to Gov Aminu Waziri Tambuwal would emerge and on May 29, 2023, the new Sheriff would formally take over for yet another four years of uncertainty.
As Nigerians await election day with anxiety, who would be the voters choice in Sokoto between the two major contestants representing the APC and the PDP respectively?
Although, the dust raised by the bribery scandal that consumed the former INEC boss in Sokoto is yet to die down, what most people would be thinking is, would the 2023 guber election in the state end as inconclusive as witnessed in 2019 and three weeks ago in the National Assembly elections? Sokoto is becoming a drama center during elections and this ugly trend has to be checked before it becomes an election ritual. Therefore, the March 18 Titanic battle between His Excellency, Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto of the APC and Hon. Saidu Umar Ubandoma of the PDP Is a contest that would generate tension as both the ruling party and the opposition would want an outright victory.
Before the presidential and National Assembly elections, Sokoto was one of the states bookmakers kept giving the PDP an outright victory but the February 25 elections have proved otherwise. Despite all the manipulations and electoral malpractices exhibited by the ruling party, the margin between Atiku who won Sokoto and president-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu was just a little over three thousand. The outcome of that election has indicated that the ruling party has failed to appease the electorate and in return, the electorates are willing to vote the PDP out.
However, a comparative analysis between the two major political parties and their candidates would enable one to judge where the votes are likely to go. The PDP as the ruling party under governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has failed to uplift the living standard of the people and is evident by the results of the last indices released by the office of the Bureau of Statistics on state by state which put Sokoto at a very disadvantaged position as the poorest in the country. A poor state is invariably a product of unemployment, hunger, starvation as a result of government failure to do the needful, in short, bad governance.
The PDP administration under Tambuwal has also failed to carry along the yearnings and aspirations of youths and women in the state. In the last 8 years of this administration, governance has suffered beyond one’s imagination as all sectors have been grounded with the civil service most affected.
Education has collapsed as students sit on floors to read and write despite an imposed levy on all government workers while the 2022 final year students couldn’t sit for WAEC Exams which was the height of irresponsibility by any government in power. The health sector is another area government pumped huge amount of money but with little to show while provision of infrastructure was lackadaisical.
In fact, two weeks into the month of March several government workers are yet to receive the February salary they worked for.
When one talks of basic social amenities, the government is found wanting. In the last one year, no civil servant can boast of receiving salaries as at when due. There is disquiet in Sokoto as far as the PDP administration is concerned.
The task ahead of the PDP candidate between now and election day is, how does he convince the electorate that, he would be different from the present administration under Tambuwal?
Malam Saidu Umar was born in Sokoto on January 23, 1966 and attended the then Capital School, Sokoto which is now Yakubu Muazu Model Primary School. He also attended the Federal Government College, Sokoto and then ABU Zaria where he read agriculture. He began his political career in 2015 as a Commissioner of finance based on his banking background. He worked in several banks in Nigeria which include, First Bank, UBA, Eko Bank and the defunct Standard Trust Bank. Gov Aminu Waziri Tambuwal gave him the finance ministry which he supervised for four years before becoming the Sokoto state Secretary to the Government from 2019 to 2022 when he resigned and joined the gubernatorial race. Before his appointment as a cabinet member in 2015, he was relatively unknown and his biggest challenge still remains, relatively unknown.
Having served for 7 years as commissioner and SSG respectively, his popularity is expected to be wider but he appears like an introvert and therefore lives a quiet life.
The APC is the major opposition party in Sokoto having lost the governorship election in 2019 with a negligible 342 votes in a contest that saw Tambuwal and his former deputy Ahmed Aliyu who slugged it out.
The first election ended “inconclusive” while Tambuwal was declared winner after the re.run. The same candidate who overstretched Tambuwal in 2019 is running for the second time. The question is, would he defeat a Tambuwal stooge in the first ballot or is there going to be another inconclusive since Sokoto has become the “center for election inconclusive”? Like Malam Ubandoma, Ahmed Aliyu was also born in January 1970 and attended the Magajin Rafi primary school in Sokoto before going to Government Secondary School, Yabo and later College of Administration, Talata Mafara in Zamfara state. He has several diploma certificates in Accounts and Audit, a B.Sc in Business Administration and a Masters degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies with a PhD on the way
Unlike his counterpart, Ahmed Aliyu has gone through the rank and file of the civil service in Sokoto and rose to the position of Director of Finance and Administration before becoming a commissioner in 2007 under the Wamakko administration. He was with the ministry for Social Welfare and his tenure marked the most memorable moments ever to date as he implemented the Wamakko agenda on empowerment which gave ample opportunities to youths and women as well as the disabled. It was during his tenure the Annual Ramadan Feeding in Sokoto started while payment of N6,500 monthly to registered disabled persons became a ritual. The state NYSC Secretariat in Wamakko was also completed under his supervision. The Skills Acquisition Program still stands as one of the best policy implementations of the Wamakko administration. He was later redeployed to the health ministry and also performed well as he supervised the construction of the Orthopedic Hospital in Wamakko and the upgrade of the state School of Nursing to a College status. Again, the School of Nursing in Tambuwal town was another landmark.
In May, 2020 Ahmed Aliyu was appointed as the first Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund ( NPTF) but after two years he had to resign to answer a clarion call back home to serve his people. He won the APC primaries with a landslide victory and having narrowly lost the 2019 guber election to Tambuwal, he would go for another shot hoping that his performance as a Commissioner for 8 years and experience as the first executive secretary of the NPTF and his highest political office as a deputy governor for three years, the electorate would give him the mandate to serve them better. As a former deputy governor he has the experience and expertise to move the state forward and already, he has assured the electorate that he would continue from where the Wamakko administration stopped.
The APC which was formed in 2014 took the nation by storm as it defeated the PDP at the center and took control of many states in the northwest and southwest in particular where President Muhammadu Buhari and President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu held sway. In Sokoto, former governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko who was voted in 2007 under the PDP platform joined other founding fathers of the APC to put up a solid structure which brought Tambuwal to power in 2015 but Tambuwal left and realigned with the PDP in 2018 to pursue his presidential ambition which he twice attempted and failed.
The Wamakko era in Sokoto from 2007- 2015 is still the most memorable in terms of welfare, human capacity building, youths and women empowerment as well as provision of infrastructure in all the sectors. It was a government with a human face and listening ears. It was a government that provided enabling environment for every business and a government which has respect for all. Both the able and disabled benefited from that administration. It was an administration which did not discriminate between indigenes and non indigenes. Every school aged child had free basic education during that period and above all , it was a democratic government with a democratic leader. This is the reason why the APC in Sokoto is still the party to beat. The people always say, their support is not for the APC but Wamakko who is their political party.
It was based on Wamakko’s performance that the APC still wax stronger and stronger in Sokoto state and any APC candidate in whatever election past and present is a beneficiary of the Wamakko brand of politics without bitterness a slogan used by the defunct Great Nigeria Peoples Party ( GNPP) in 1979.
In Sokoto, Wamakko is APC and the vice versa and to date, no politician has been able to come close to the former governor’s brand of politics of inclusiveness. His generosity, humbleness and accommodative nature and behaviour towards everyone that comes his way has given him an edge that no politician in Sokoto can match those credentials.
On March 18 ,2023, the people of Sokoto state would join other voters from most of the states to elect new governors and in Sokoto a vote for APC is a vote for Wamakko and the people still have fresh memories of his government of Welfare to the People which is the major political dividend in African Democracy.
In 2019 the APC candidate Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto lost to Tambuwal with 342 votes despite the incumbency factor. In 2023, the PDP candidate has no incumbency factor going for him because Tambuwal is also fighting for his political future as his senatorial ambition is still uncertain. Hon. Saidu Umar has no political relevance in the state like Ahmed Aliyu who won in 2019 but was robbed and the people of Sokoto state who have vowed to pay governor Tambuwal back for misusing their funds and performing abysmally, are willing to form a new government in alliance with the APC on Saturday, March 18, 2023.