Governor of Sokoto state, Rt Hon Aminu Tambuwal, has stated that between January and February 2022 he would declare his intention whether or not to run for the office of the president.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, in Sokoto at the weekend, the governor who recalled that he participated in the PDP primaries held in Port Harcourt in 2018, stated that he would soon commence consultations with relevant stakeholders, coupled with the prayers he has been doing, he would inform Nigerians about his his 2023 presidential aspiration.
“You know that in 2018, I participated in the PDP primaries held in Port Harcourt and I thank God, I came second and several people are talking to me to give it a trial, at this moment, all I can tell you is that I am going to commence my consultations and whatever feedback I get with the prayers that I have been doing then I will make my position known very soon,” he said.
When asked whether his intentions would be communicated to Nigerians by January or February, the governor said “somewhere along the line.”
On whether his ambition would not offend some of his southern friends based on the recent position of the Southern governors that the presidency should go to the south come 2023, Tambuwal said he finds it difficult to speak on zoning.
While narrating his experiences at the House of Representatives during which the leadership tides turned in his favour despite zoning arrangements, he said, “Let me tell you this, when you look at my history, I find it difficult to talk about zoning.
“First, when i got to the House of Representatives in 2003, the ANPP caucus was not comfortable with the leadership style of the then leader of the caucus, minority leader of the House, somewhere in 2005 there was a change in leadership and as at that time the ANPP had zoned the principal officer positions to leader-Kano/Kaduna/Jigawa; Whip-Sokoto/Kebbi/Zamfara; deputy leader-Borno/Yobe because that was where we had ANPP and deputy whip to the South-south.
“Based on these, leaders of the ANPP emerged in 2003, when members felt they were no longer comfortable with Saliq and there was a change, they themselves altered the zoning and Don Etiebet, the chairman of the party issued a statement disagreeing with the members of the House that they must go back to zoning.
“Meanwhile the rules of the House provided that leadership should emerge amongst members, so relying on that, members carried out the change of guards and i came in even though from the bloc where it’s supposed to be the Whip of the House in the minority caucus of the ANPP, I became the leader against the zoning of the party. In 2011, the PDP zoned speakership to southwest, members of the House of Representatives came together to say look we are looking for a speaker with certain qualities, they approached me, all that went on and I emerged as speaker not from southwest.
“Clearly, from the two scenerio, based on the assessment of members and their own criteria of the type of leader they were looking for, i have enjoyed these two privileges in the past. That is why I said I find it difficult to really talk about zoning.
“But when you talk about what my friends the governors of the South said, they are entitled to their opinion, when the Northern governors met in Kaduna, they said their own, so it is not for political parties to sit down and look at the issues and plan how to win elections, that is the bottom line,” he said.
The Sokoto state governor also said the spate of defections from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not affect chances of his party in the 2023 presidential elections, saying that candidates and not necessarily the party would determine who becomes the next president of the country.
“How many state was APC having in 2014? ANPP was having Zamfara, Borno and Yobe, n-PDP was having Sokoto, Kano, Adamawa, Kwara, ACN had Lagos, Osun, Oyo and Ogun Ekiti was lost halfway and CPC in Nasarawa and then APGA in Imo making it about 14 states against 21 states, now it is 14 against 22.
“Yes the gladiators have changed, dynamic and variables might have changed also but you can use the Anambra example as a test case, you can also use what happened in Edo, and here in Sokoto. As governor of Sokoto, I could not deliver the state to the PDP in the presidential and National Assembly elections, Akeredolu in Ondo could not deliver his state to the APC, Obaseki with Adams could not deliver Edo to the APC.
“So it is not about the sitting governor delivering the states, it is about what the political situation is in the country and the given states and that is why I said PDP should be talking about how to win elections and not zoning.
“Not only how to win election but also coming up with leaders that can do the job. In Sokoto, the difference between President Buhari and Alhaji Atika Abubakar is about 120,000 to 130,000 votes, within two weeks, the dynamics changed and i won, yes with a slim margin but i won, which means we covered the over 120,000 votes difference, Sokoto that is largely seen and perceived as politically docile.
“So the dynamics may change, but when you are talking about presidential election, you must also consider demography, how are you going to get the votes, who are you fielding that can bring you the votes, that was what APC did, APC believed that President Buhari was having 11 million votes and it’s part of what was used to convince the leadership of the APC that we should go for Buhari.
“So you need to factor all of these, It’s not about the political party, APC won not because it was APC, certain factors were in place, certain variables were at play, so many things added up in favour of the APC. So 2023 candidates are going to play a very important role in which party gets it. And you must also remember the young people, they said they want a leader of their own generation, ‘Sorosoke’,” he said.
On his opinion about the direct primaries, Hon Tambuwal asked, “As it is, can we say INEC and other agencies can conduct direct primaries in Nigeria when you look at the implications?
“One, there maybe violence; do you have enough manpower to monitor the direct primaries in all the wards? Do you have enough security personnel to man it? Do you have the funds? Is it really feasible?
“I don’t want to mention names but I may be compelled by this questions to ask: how many votes did president Buhari get during the APC direct primaries? You consider a lot of things. How many did he get in Kano in direct primaries? He got 3,000,000 votes in direct primaries. In the general elections, how many votes did he get? He got over a million votes in Lagos direct primaries. How many votes did get in that general elections from Lagos?
“These are the two most populous states in the country. The same experience in Anambra state. Someone got 230,000 votes/direct primaries. Less than 50,000 votes in the Anambra governorship elections. What happened to the 180,000 people? So these are the issues and we must consider the general situation of the country – the economic downturn, fund, security issues and monitoring by INEC.
“It’s not about governors and National Assembly. Some members of National Assembly believe that if they go by direct primaries, they may get it, they should also be reminded that they will be facing two elections. One semi general election and the other one, general elections. I’m talking about the costs, the logistics. It’s not about the governors not supporting it, it’s not about National Assembly fighting governors.
“Let’s be objective, let’s be dispassionate, let’s look at our democracy, let’s look at our country. Even the cost of elections alone is humongous on government, how much more of funding the primaries of about 17, 18, 19 political parties through direct primaries by INEC monitoring and with the possibility of two political parties are doing direct primaries in all the wards in the country example if you are doing direct primaries for presidential ticket and two or three political parties are doing it the same time. INec must deploy in all of the wards, two three four venues, security personnel must be deployed.”