The die is cast, literally rolling on the Nigerian political landscape, as the future has been poignantly pregnant with the expected delivery day, (EDD) 2019. In other words, our tomorrow that is fast forcing itself to becoming today as we are witnessing several political developments, alignments, re-alignments, political “mergers” and “acquisitions”, all in the build up to the forth-coming general elections. Political heavy weights, lightweights, jesters, paper tigers and carpetbaggers with their marabouts all are once again beginning to appear to us, cajoling and divising strategies to capture our mandates that would enable them, from 2019, become our masters and over-lords for yet another four years.
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has, indeed, expectedly, generated more interests, controversies and intrigues as the 2019 storms continue to gather and pour its variegated sandy winds on all of us. The ruling party has been bedeviled with internal wrangling and squabbles from within its rank to the point of subtly but steadily factionalizing. The various blocks that made up the formidable force that the APC was once, have since been melting away gradually to the point that the center no longer holds.
The nPDP, a major power block within the ruling party, has already spilled the beans and threatened to break away and join the main opposition PDP, where they came from and others to form a formidable force against President Muhammdu Buhari, and thereby, demystifying his hitherto, invincibility towards 2019. The emergence of the Reformed APC headed by Engineer Buba Galadima has only conpounded issues for President Buhari and the APC.
The nPDP has formidable politicians that can move mountains and shake skylines, figuratively. Their three arrow heads, the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara and the Sokoto State Governor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal have paid more than their dues in the formation and entrenchment of both the party and the government of the APC at the center and other tiers of government. They have equally, been at the receiving ends of devastating and humiliating series of treatment meted to them by the present arrangements from their party colleagues as alleged by many quarters. By way of reaction, they have willingly or otherwise became the symbols of resistance to the existing order. The rumor is thus rife in the air that the three will lead the others in breaking away from the Buhari camp of loyalists and find another platform, possibly, the PDP.
While the case of Dr. Saraki and Speaker Dogara will be left for another day , for geographical affinity, this writer will examine some salient points that may inform governor Aminu Tambuwal’s decision to either move to the opposition or stay put with the ‘blue-blooded’.
When you move around Sokoto city, you hear a lot of arguments for and against Tambuwal’s present dilemma of choice. Ethnicity and religious affinity to the person at the center as usual in Nigerian politics seem to be the blind posture of many people canvassing for the governor to continue his romance with the present arrangement. Others are canvassing intelligent reasons for urging the governor to lead other millions of Nigerians to present another alternative for the emergence of a true, democratic Nigeria while expressing vividly their grudges as people of Sokoto State for the treatment so far meted out to them in spite of their enormous contributions to the emergence of the Buhari Administration.
Tambuwal’s almost suicidal role in the struggle against the Jonathan administration and consequently the emergence of Buhari and the APC vis-a-vis his treatment by the same government he labored for despite all odds, has been the central point advanced mostly by the elites in Sokoto for urging him to walk away from the Buhari tent. The way Tambuwal shunned his then party, the PDP and its leadership including the serving President regardless of his status as the nation’s number four citizen for an uncertain congregation of some ragtag coalitions was definitely suicidal. And for the same group he sacrificed his privileged position as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and even his life to some extent, to treat him as a political non-issue has been seen by his admirers as intolerablle.
While Sokoto people gave the Buhari administration an overwhelming electoral support, electing all APC candidates from the presidential to the councillorship positions, they wonder how they have been compensated in terms of appointments and federal development projects in the state. The appointment of the two most senior positions for the citizens of the state is often mentioned to buttress the issue of non inclusiveness of the real supporters of the President in favour of some self appointed opportunists. The only minister from the state for example, was not even a card carrying APC member prior to her appointment and to date remains in-accessible to the generality of the party people and indeed the general public. The same goes to the second most senior official of government from the state is in the Presidency. The officer is said to have been picked up from the university at the prompting of some senior members of the presidency and does not see herself as a representative of the people of Sokoto. If this is how to compensate the people of the state then the governor has no reason staying with the Buhari camp, the people argue.
The various empowerment programs of the Buhari Administration have, among other reasons accentuated the feeling in Sokoto that Buhari’s admistration has a mindset of marginalizing the people of Sokoto. To buttress this point, the make a case of the nPower programme and various employment opportunities of the administration in which beneficiaries of the state are comparatively minimal when viewed against the numbers from other states. The recent talk in town is how for example, no Sokoto state indigene was found suitable on account of material poverty to receive a dime in the $322 million Abacha loot being shared to the most indigent of Nigerians.
Away from partisan politics, the people of Sokoto State, especially the older generation, have had a very long history of grudges against the President. It was he, after all, with his colleagues that staged and led a military coup against their own son, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was also incarcerated for more than two years. Coincidently, more than three decades later, another of their own and a Prince of the highly revered Caliphate, Colonel Sambo Dasuki has been in detention for three years by the same Buhari despite securing six court bails from courts of competent jurisdiction. This is surely one issue that has further diluted the ‘suspect’ relationship between the President and some older people in Sokoto thus making them wonder why their governor should continue to tow the path of an unfriendly President.
With the above and many other shades of opinions not canvassed here, the Governor is the only person that can make decision for himself and his team in the present circumstances. The President, on the other hand, has the moral albatross hanging on his neck to either make amends if there are really good reasons for that or stand to lose a friend who was a friend in need when it mattered most. The opposition parties, especially the PDP is ready to cash in on these and other failures of the APC, making political capital of the ensuing quagmire, razzmatazz, and governor Tambuwal is really a big catch and this catch may be the only one they need to make the much-desired difference. The combination of governor Tambuwal, the rAPC, the nPDP and others living on the fence may simply upturn the cart. Only time can tell.
Maishanu writes in from Arkila, Sokoto