Sokoto: Gov-elect Tambuwal and his ‘Excess Baggage’

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By Umar Ibrahim Sokoto

The outcome of the 2015 General Elections did not come as a surprise to those conversant with the nature of Sokoto politics, which is personality based. Two-term former governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa who leads the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had clearly pointed out, ahead of the general elections that – “I can tell you that PDP is going to win in Sokoto because the battle line is not between the parties but based on personalities … the struggle for power is between Bafarawa and Wamakko and Wamakko is my junior, he is my student in politics, so the secret of winning Sokoto is between Wamakko and I”.

But the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 28thMarch 2015 has proved Bafarawa wrong as the All Progressive Congress (APC), led by the outgoing two-term governor, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko won all the contested seats in the state.

According to results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, APC governorship candidate won with 647,609 votes to beat his major
rival Senator Abdallah Wali of the PDP – who scored 269,074 voted. APC also won all the 30 seats of the State House of Assembly.
With this outstanding political victory, which shut opposition off the legislature, some observers opined that Tambuwal would have a smooth administration that guarantees him performance in terms of delivering dividends of democracy to people. But others argue that Tambuwal would have to contend with the towering political posture of Wamakko, who has achieved what his former Boss (Bafarawa) could not, becoming a “Kingmaker” in the state.

“It would be uncomfortable for an Executive Governor to have a “godfather figure” in his state, who may be able to undo him, especially if he does not dance to his tune, except if Wamakko allows him (Tambuwal) a free hand to run his style, without that, there could be conflict as in other states with similar situations”, says a respondent.
Others disagree, saying Tambuwal and Wamakko would be compatible as in such states as Lagos and Kwara
where the governors related well with their predecessors, who were instrumental to their governorship aspirations.

Apart from the challenge of relating well with Wamakko, Tambuwal also has to contend with the challenge to initiate People-oriented projects. According to some respondents, Wamakko had embarked on so many laudable projects
that require sustenance, among them the Ramadan Free Breakfast has been institutionalized, and which no governor can afford to abandon, there is also the Zakat Distribution and Endowment Committee which has continued to provide succor to the less privileged, particularly in the rural areas, among others.

“If care is not taken, Tambuwal would find himself “watering Wamakko’s garden”. With little left for him to leave behind as legacy, especially considering the uncompleted projects and debt burden he would inherit, the profile of
which is not in public knowledge”.
Others also point out a possibility of clash of personalities. According to them, Tambuwal may be embarrassed by a kind of ovation Wamakko would receive when they meet at state functions. They also ask whether Tambuwal would tolerate political gatherings at Wamakko’s residence, as that may threaten his self-esteem as a governor. They recalled that Wamakko was weary of such gatherings and often tends to discourage it.

Another area of concern is the issue of contracts awards. Wamakko has been accused of issuing contracts to Kano and Kebbi businessmen among others, because they were instrumental be it in small measures to his success
in becoming governor. Some observers view Tambuwal to have such a nationwide network built over years as Speaker House of Representatives, where some legislators even contributed to purchase presidential aspiration form for him, some of them may want to patronize him as “friends and loyalists”.

However, there are those who have confidence in his (Tambuwal’s) ability to surmount all challenges to achieve success. They point out at “his knowledge, charisma and erudition” to make him an efficient leader in addition to
being prudent in management of public resources. According to them, Tambuwal has the ability to convert his enemy into a friend, supporting their claim with Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s testimony in the past, while in Sokoto – Then, Obasanjo had said – “You know me, I am a principled person. It is on record that I opposed your emergence as Speaker. But today, I like you, in fact I love you. I like the way you run the affairs of the House of Representatives. Please go ahead with what you are doing at the Assembly. I am fully behind you”. (29th August, 2013 Sokoto).
However, the transition from a legislator to an executive is also another challenge for Tambuwal to contend with.

There are arguments that a governor would find it easier to serve in the legislature, because he/she had been close to the people, knows their yearnings and aspirations, unlike  legislator who would have to contend with the complexity of governance as an executive.
Whether Tambuwal would live up to expectations remains to be seen, as only time will tell

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