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Hazy contest for Sokoto Government House

Ahead of the March 11, 2023, governorship election in Sokoto State, contenders in the Seat of the Caliphate are leaving no stone unturned to clinch…

Ahead of the March 11, 2023, governorship election in Sokoto State, contenders in the Seat of the Caliphate are leaving no stone unturned to clinch the seat. 

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the election will be a tough one as the gladiators move to outdo one another in their quest to woo voters.

The contest is more or less among candidates of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Sa’idu Umar Ubandoma; All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto; New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Umaru Dahiru Tambuwal; and that of Labour Party (LP), Aminu Umar Ahmed.

The PDP candidate, a professional banker, is a former Commissioner for Finance and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG). He got the ticket following the blessings of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that Ubandoma’s emergence as PDP gubernatorial candidate raised dust within the party as many members who were supporting the present Deputy Governor, Muhammad Manir Dan’iya, kicked against it.

On his part, Aliyu of the APC is a second-timer in the race for the government house, having contested for the same seat in 2019 but was defeated by Gov Tambuwal.

Aliyu held many public and political appointments. He was director of finance in various LGAs of the state before he was elevated to the position of Commissioner for Social Welfare and later redeployed to the Ministry of Health in the Gov Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko-led administration.

In 2014, Aliyu was picked as the running mate of Tambuwal who was then the governorship candidate of the APC. They jointly won the election in 2015.

He, however, resigned from his position as the deputy governor in 2018 after his boss decamped to PDP. He subsequently secured the governorship ticket of APC.

After losing in the election in 2019, Aliyu was appointed Executive Secretary of the Police Trust Fund by President Muhammadu Buhari. In 2022 he voluntarily resigned to aspire for the governorship ticket of the APC; which he eventually won.

Senator Umaru Dahiru Tambuwal of NNPP, a lawyer, has been in politics since the Second Republic. A one-time commissioner in the old Sokoto State and former senator (Sokoto South) for four consecutive terms, he aspired for the governorship ticket of APC in 2014.

Ahmad of the LP was a seasoned civil servant and unionist who ventured into politics after he retired from the civil service last year. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and former Director General of the Sokoto State Contributory Health Scheme.

Candidates on the scale 

The PDP candidate, Umar, is enjoying the support of Tambuwal and a former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa.

Another factor that will work for him is the choice of Bafarawa’s son as his running mate.

However, Umar has many thorns to clear on his path to victory; one of which is the lingering internal crisis in his party which emanated as a result of his emergence as the flag bearer.

Daily Trust on Sunday observed that some prominent members of the party, including a former Minister of Water Resources and two-term Deputy gGovernor of the state, Mukhtari Shagari; and Alhaji Umaru Kwabo appear to be skeptical about their support of his candidature. 

A political analyst in the state, Malam Abubakar Umar, believes that as a DG of the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s, campaign organisation, Gov Tambuwal’s effort at the national level may diminish the impact of his presence and contribution to Ubandoma’s campaign. Meanwhile, at the moment the governor participates in the campaigns at the state level.

He noted that, “Something similar happened when Bafarawa was the presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). His Nationwide campaign depreciated his presence in Sokoto to campaign for the current Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi, who was then the governorship candidate of the party in Sokoto State.

“Gov Tambuwal is certainly on the edge and has to maintain a delicate balance between trying to install a governor in the state and contributing towards the installation of Atiku as a president.”

Prof Yahaya T. Baba of the Department of Political Science, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS), also opined that the incumbency factor would allow the PDP candidate to use the machinery and resources of the state to win the election.

He said, “We have seen how Rivers State governor appointed hundreds of special advisers and other political appointees for political purposes. Gov Tambuwal has recently appointed many commissioners, special advisers, directors general, special assistants and other political appointees to win the election.”

The lingering internal crisis within the APC in the state will also be an added advantage to the PDP’s candidate, as according to him, several APC members, including members of the National Assembly, have decamped to PDP courtesy of the crisis, noting that, “These people will certainly work for the party’s victory during the election.”

For the APC candidate, Prof Baba said, “Even though the APC is not controlling the state, the party’s support base is fairly good in terms of followership.

“The party also has strong leaders in the state that include former Gov Wamakko and Maigari Dingyadi that can mobilise votes for the gubernatorial candidate.”

He, however, said despite the federal might factor which the candidate was enjoying, APC didn’t have the control of power in the state and that, that could be his major weakness, arguing that the “incumbency factor matters a lot when it comes to election.”

On the NNPP and LP candidates, the political pundit said the two political parties were not visible in Sokoto, hence that their gubernatorial candidates might not make any significant impact during the election.

He said, “The PDP and APC influences have overshadowed those of the NNPP and LP in Sokoto. Many people do not even know who is contesting for LP in Sokoto because you hardly see its candidate on posters or billboards on the streets. It is highly unlikely for the NNPP and LP to even make a significant impact during the election, not to talk of forming the next government in Sokoto State.

“Maybe on based on the dynamism of the election, NNPP and LP can make an impact during the election if they make an informal alliance with either PDP or APC to alter the balance of votes between them.

Dr Bashir Muhammad Achida, another political analyst in Sokoto, said the PDP candidate was seen by many people as a subservient person who joined the race on the directives of his master.

He said, “Although Ubandaoma worked in the private sector, many people see him as somebody who lacks the experience to man the public sector. Even though he served as commissioner and later SSG, you cannot compare him with politicians like Bafarawa and Wamakko who started politics from the grassroots.

“However, the man came from a reputable family; that would equally be an added advantage to him when we are talking about the qualities of a leader.”