Gladiators Gear Up For Gubernatorial Polls

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GovWamakkoBEFORE the January 27 judgment of the Supreme Court, which reconfigured the polities of five states, including Sokoto, political activities in the seat of the Caliphate were on a languid pace. Until the electoral tussles, which emanated from the shoddy 2007 polls, the polity was relatively stable under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

But since the Supreme Court judgment, which cleared the way for the February 18 election, some urgency has crept within the system space.

Political gladiators are now scrambling across the length and breathe of the state in a bid to get the backing of the electorate.

Come February 18, ousted governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamako would, alongside other candidates of the opposition, await their fate, in the hands of voters. His being out of power notwithstanding, Wamakko would surely be in an upbeat mood, as the clock ticks.

Last week, as if to demonstrate the enormous support he enjoys amongst those who matter, both within and outside Abuja, as far as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is concerned, activities in Sokoto were grounded as President Goodluck Jonathan presented Wamakko as the party’s flag bearer.

The presentation and the subsequent take-off of Wamakko’s re-election bid was attended by other bigwigs in the presidency, and others who call the shots at the national level of the party. The list includes vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark, and Speaker of the House of Representative, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, alongside other governors, especially from the North.   Unlike Timipre Sylva, his colleague in Bayelsa State, who stepped on presidential toes and was unrepentant about it, and was subsequently thrown into the political wilderness, Wamakko, in spite of rumours that he too had incurred presidential anger sometime ago, now seems to be enjoying the full support of the powers that be.

Wamako could also pick a few tips from the Adamawa helmsman, Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako, who in spite of a good showing from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was able to pick up the victory in Adamawa. Already, Wamakko has begun making promises that if elected, he would do his best to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the state and that he would ensure that the ideals the PDP stands for are fully respected.

All his promises notwithstanding, Wamako would have to slug it out with the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), which is already in the kind of fighting mood typical of Nigerian electoral contests. The CPC in the build up to the contest has been pointing accusing fingers at security agencies, particularly the Police. According to the CPC, the law enforcement agents have been doing the bidding of the ruling party.

According to Alhaji Ibrahim Magaji Gusau, running mate to the CPC candidate, the Police have been acting with bias and sympathy for Wamakko.

Meanwhile, the CPC has continued to fancy its chances, describing itself as “the factor” in the gubernatorial election because the PDP “has nothing to show for its four year rule in the state.”

Gusau said people have come to realise that CPC is the party to watch in the governorship polls.

He also described CPC as a party with strong grassroots support. That claim is not far from the truth, going by the party’s outing during the presidential election of last year. The Buhari factor worked well in the party’s favour.

Wamakko’s road to the governorship of Sokoto, began when he took up a job as Principal Assistant Secretary, and later as Secretary of Zurmi Local Government. He also worked at Kaura Namoda Local Government in various capacities before becoming Chairman of Sokoto Local Government from 1986 – 1987.

He became General Manager, Hotel Management and Tourism Board, Sokoto, and was later promoted to Director-General in the Governor’s Office in March 1992. He held the same position in various Ministries and Commissions before his election in 1999 as Deputy Governor to Governor Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party. Wamakko and his principal were re-elected for a second term in April 2003, but he (Wamakko) voluntarily resigned on March 15 2006.

In 2007, he crossed over to the PDP in a deft political move, and ran for governorship. He won, but the courts ruled in 2008 that he was still a member of the ANPP when he won the 2007 elections on the platform of the PDP. Wamakko later won the re-run election in March 2008, with the mind that he would run a fresh term. That was not to be, as the apex court judgment has now forced him to face an electoral contest before the time he anticipated.

In the eyes of Wamakko however, Sokoto State has witnessed huge developmental strides because he “has brought his wealth of experience garnered in scores of appointment in the public service.” The opposition does not think so, and come February 18, the people will decide whether those claims are true or not.

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