Sokoto Assembly: How Tambuwal humbled Wamakko

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Sokoto Assembly: How Tambuwal humbled Wamakko

Ismail Omipidan

In the build-up to the 2015 governorship contest in Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who was then Speaker of the House of the Representatives was not the preferred choice of his predecessor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, who was then rounding off his second term office.

But he was accommodated by Wamakko, whose inroad into political arena has been widely described as unprecedented in the political history of the state. He reached the peak of his civil service career as a Permanent Secretary at several ministries in the civil service.

He joined politics in1999 and emerged deputy governor on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) with Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa as the governor.

Wamakko as deputy governor was made to oversee the administration and finances of the local government councils as commissioner in charge of the ministry from 1999 to 2004. This, Daily Sun gathered, gave Wamakko the singular opportunity to build his political structure, comprising mostly of grassroots politicians in the 23 councils of the state, a thing that made it easy for him to dislodge his boss, Bafarawa, in 2007, when he was first elected governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At the expiration of his tenure in 2015, he was again elected a Senator, but now on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

But in the build-up to the 2019 elections, Tambuwal and Wamakko parted ways. While Wamakko remained in APC, Tambuwal returned to the PDP.

Following his political exploits, many had thought that Wamakko would end Tambuwal’s political journey in 2019. The former Speaker however beat all the political landmines placed on his path and survived the onslaught against him as he won his re-election.

After the election, however, APC maintained its majority in the State House of Assembly and Wamakko had plotted to produce the Speaker, with which to further “harass and intimidate” the governor.

But by the time the election of the leadership of the House was done with, Tambuwal again humbled Wamakko, as the former governor’s anointed candidate was roundly defeated by a candidate, though of the APC, backed by the governor.

Tambuwal’s candidate, Alhaji Aminu Achida, is the new Speaker. There are 30 members in the House. The APC has 16, while PDP has 14.

How Tambuwal pulled a fast one

Daily Sun gathered that the first sign that the governor was up to some political brinkmanship emerged when he took advantage of his party’s dominance of the 8th Assembly to send the list of his nominees as commissioners to the lawmakers shortly before its tenure expired. He also sought for and got the lawmakers’ approval to appoint special advisers.  This is even as he sought for and got the nod to borrow N27 billion for some pressing expenditures, including the 2019 Hajj exercise, which commences in few days.

Investigations revealed that the governor did all these at the time because he was not sure of what the disposition of the 9th Assembly would be towards his administration considering the bitter political rivalry that trailed the 2019 elections. Besides, Wamakko too, did not hide his resolve to seize control of the House for the sole aim of getting at Tambuwal.

For instance, apart from vowing to ensure the APC members-elect have no contact with Tambuwal, Wamakko also stopped them from attending the House’s retreat that was held in Kaduna State, and instead he organised another one for them in Abuja.

At the Abuja retreat, it was alleged that the APC lawmakers swore to an oath not to betray the party in the election of the presiding officers of the 9th House.  But from the voting pattern, it was clear that at least two of the APC members-elect might have sworn to anything but an oath.

On the day of the inauguration, Tambuwal proved he had mastered greatly the act of political intrigues and manoeuvring. To ensure only the members-elect decided who their presiding officers would be, management of the assembly restricted movements to the assembly by ensuring that those who were not lawmakers to be, were denied entry into the premises.

By this singular action, leaders and supporters of the APC who had stormed the assembly in hundreds, whose presence might have intimidated the members-elect, were barred from entry.  Journalists too were denied access by armed security operatives from observing the ceremony.

When it was time for nomination of members-elect to the position of Speaker, Aminu Achida, was nominated to the chagrin of other APC members by Ibrahim Sarki of the PDP. Achida eventually slugged it out with the APC’s anointed candidate, Abdullahi Sidi.

The inauguration of the 9th House and its election of the presiding officers were supervised by the Acting Clerk of the Assembly, Abdulrazak Shehu.

At the end of the voting exercise, Achida, polled 16 votes to defeat Sidi, the APC’s anointed candidate who scored 13 votes, as one vote was declared invalid.

Reminiscence of the scene that played out on the floor of the Senate during the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly, where Dr. Bukola Saraki, then of the APC, emerged President, while Ike Ekweremadu, who was Deputy President in the 7th Senate on the platform of the PDP, also defeated an APC candidate to emerge Deputy President of the 8th Senate,  Abubakar Magaji of the PDP, who was a former deputy speaker in the Sokoto 8th Assembly, also retained his position in the 9th Assembly.

Although nominated by a fellow PDP member-elect, Mallam Muhammad, Magaji polled 17 votes to defeat Isa Harisu of the APC, who managed to garner 12 votes. Again, one vote was declared invalid.

Understandably, the outcome of the election threw the APC off the balance.

In his acceptance speech, the new speaker commended his colleagues for giving him the opportunity to lead the house, just as he assured his colleagues of better leadership for the overall

well-being of the state. The house has adjourned sitting till July 9.

Last line

From all indications, Tambuwal appears to be a good student of history. For refusing to humiliate his deputy and even Wamakko, his successor, the Sokoto electorate may have decided to compensate him as well, same way they had done to others in the past, by returning him as the governor for the second time despite all odds.

Daily Sun’s findings revealed that the people of Sokoto State were in the habit of siding with anyone they felt was unjustly persecuted. For instance, it was learnt that during the administration of Mallam Yahya Abdulkarim as governor in the old Sokoto State, Bafarawa who was then the state party chairman of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) was persecuted by the governor. As it later turned out, when in 1999 it was time to elect new governor for the state, his ordeal in the hands of the then governor was what made the people sided with him and he was subsequently elected governor.

But after about seven years as governor, Bafarawa and his own deputy, Wamakko, fell out. And in 2007, Wamakko was compensated by the people. And to show that Wamakko indeed learnt from history, long before he defected to the APC, even while in the PDP, he was never on the same

page with his deputy, Mukhtar Shagari. But he never did anything, at least not in the open, to humiliate him, let alone try to remove him from office, the way Bafarawa did to him. As such, there was no much sympathy from the people to Shagari, the same way it happened in the build-up to the 2007 polls for Wamakko.

Like Wamakko, despite his defection, Tambuwal too did not do anything, at least in the open to humiliate either his deputy, who refused to defect with him or Wamakko who did not go with him to the PDP, after they had both initially agreed to leave the APC together in the build-up to the 2019 polls.

As things stand today, Wamakko may have to devise another political strategy to curtail the rising political profile of Tambuwal in the state of the Sultanate.

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