Sokoto 2023: Between The Godfather, The Godson And The Banker - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, July 4, 2022

Sokoto 2023: Between The Godfather, The Godson And The Banker



| The Daily Crucible | Monday, July 4, 2022

By Manuga Buba Milgoma

In surveying the political terrain of Sokoto state in light of the struggle for the coveted office of the state governor in 2023, the first point that comes up crystal clear on the turf, is the fact that, it is strictly going to be a two-horse and a half (sic) race. With other political parties playing the role of side attractions, it is in fact, a clash between the standard bearer of the ruling People's Democratic Party, PDP and that of the All Progressive Party, APC.
Also, anyone with a cursory knowledge of the political dynamics of the state will understand that the two candidates, Alhaji Saidu Umar of the PDP and Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu of the APC, are more or less, the mask faces of the two real political masquerades in the state: Senator Magatakarda Wamakko of the APC and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the PDP.
The two principal gladiators had previously encountered each other in 2019 only that, then, Governor Tambuwal was on the field directly as a candidate while Senator Magatakarda was throwing punches from the shadows, using Ahmed Aliyu as a proxy arrowhead. The Senator, a former two term governor, was trounced with the defeat of his candidate after a long drawn, energy-sapping contest finally decided after a rerun and at the electoral tribunals.
The emerging re-enactment of the encounter can be aptly described as a version of an unabating political duel of supremacy in the control of the Seat of the Caliphate. Will Wamakko's tenacity and desperation pay off this time? With Saidu Umar who doesn't have the leverages of incumbency, will he be having it easier, now that, it is a different ball game due to a change in the opponent that is in the ring with his protégé?
In other words, is Saidu Umar, the PDP standard bearer equipped with the requisite political assets and arsenals for the decisive battle ahead? That's; is he possessed of the political strength, surefootedness and steadied enough to repeat the 2019 feat of Governor Tambuwal by inflicting another defeat on the APC? 
People in political circles in Sokoto are curious and pondering on the political wisdom of throwing up again someone who was roundly rejected by the electorate at the polls in a previous outing as the party's preferred candidate?  Could it be that the powers propelling Ahmed Aliyu are aware that he has acquired new strategies, tricks and weapons in his war chest to avert the humiliation of another disastrous experience this time around? Or is it that the APC talisman and eggheads regard the PDP candidate as a walk-over for reasons of his political antecedents?
To underrate the capacity of Saidu Umar in the 2023 election will obviously tantamount to gross miscalculations  to a wrong perception of the man and a gross miscalculations of the prevailing political dynamics in the state.  Yes, he is not a dye in the wool politician as can be said of the APC candidate via the godfather of the APC.  He has however, covered such a long mileage on the political turf over the short space of time of his political Odyssey that has made him a force to reckon with in the political tableaux of the state. Or else, he could not have emerged the flag bearer of the PDP in the face of the several people of calibre who had aspired to do so.
Alhaji Saidu Umar first forayed into political scene with his appointment as Commissioner for Finance by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in 2015. As Commissioner for Finance, he brought to bear the ethics of prudence, discipline, due process, diligence, probity and accountability of an astute Banker and a Finance Administrator. Under his supervision, the state government, for the first time, introduced the Treasury Single Accounting system, TSA, which immediately blocked several avenues hitherto used as drainpipes of plundering the treasury. The measure also led to the recovery of over 1.5Billion Naira stashed away, lying dormant in different bank accounts within and outside the state.
Governor Tambuwal has been widely celebrated for having the vision and for mustering the political will power to initiate radical and transformative paradigm shift from the preceding culture of a recklessness, brazen kleptomania, wastefulness and rudderless drift in the management of the state resources hoisted and pursued as governance policy direction up till 2015.  For his role as a dutiful, diligent lieutenant who held then forte in the engine house of the state finance machinery, the self effacing Saidu Umar must be accorded a measure of those accolades. Indeed, his elevation to the position of Secretary to the State Government, SSG, in 2019 was a mark of recognition and reward by an appreciative Governor Tambuwal to an astute, prudent and focused Administrator.
As he goes flying the flag of the PDP in the 2023 governorship race, Alhaji Saidu Umar will definitely enjoy the advantage that goes with his grandeur in the Sokoto traditional setting and establishment as the holder of the prestigious title of, MALAM UBANDOMA of Sokoto who is a Senior Adviser to the Sultan on education, Islamic jurisprudence, the sharing of proceeds of Zakkat, trade and commerce among other critical functions that catalyse social and economic advancement of the society.
On the other hand, his opponent, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu of the APC, is going into the race from the background as a background politician. His partisan politics began as a, "storm trooper" in the youth vanguard of the then embattled Magatakarda Wamakko in the build up to the 2007 governorship election in the state. His transition from an obscure, zestful youngster into political limelight started with his appointment into the cabinet of Governor Wamakko during which he served as Commissioner between 2007 and 2015 only subtly qualify him as a side-kick and an attachment politically, to insiders who know better. 
Ever since his début in the corridors of power, Ahmed Aliyu has remained a flying object under the powerful wings of Senator Wamakko. Theirs is a cozy relationship between a protégé, "a godson" and a dotting mentor, a "godfather” that has manifested in a series of political appointments for the ‘forced’ APC candidate further giving him away as a tool rather than as an implement.  This further culminated in in his appointment as the Executive Secretary of the Police Trust Fund, PTF, from where he resigned on the eve of the last APC convention amidst rancour and other things.

Coming into the battlefield, Saidu Umar enjoys a groundswell of the goodwill and support of the elite who are desirous of keeping the state on the lane of progressive and focused leadership that has been unfolding since 2015. With dazzling landmarks of accomplishments in his tracks and also capped with the obvious formidable pillars of support from Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and former Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, whose son is on the ticket as a running mate, the Ubandoma appears like a Colossus, as towering and lethal before his opponent in the ring.
In weighing the prospects of the APC candidate, it is also pertinent to take cognisance of the political gadfly, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko who, as it is, 2023 is a battle royale.  However, most observers believe that Wamakko might have substantially lost the powers of the political magic wand that had held the people spellbound in his hey days, years ago. With the floodgate of prominent members of the APC defecting to the PDP at this crucial stage in the march to 2023, the erstwhile strongman of Sokoto politics is being depleted of the foot soldiers that had fought his battles in the past. Talk of a General without an army! 
Whether or not the people of Sokoto are naive and always go for “street sprays” as against good and responsible governance would be manifesting this time around. If their  outing in 2019 was a fiasco, in spite of the massive resources and efforts invested, the godfather  and godson certainly have a great deal of work ahead in the 2023 edition of the battle for the political soul of the Seat of the Caliphate. The Governor and the Banker, from all indications are battle ready for the godfather and the godson combined.  The politics of divide and rule seem to be approaching it’s extinction in Sokoto sooner than later.

Manuga Buba Milgoma
bmm@gmail.com

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