With less than three weeks to the gubernatorial election, incumbent governor of Sokoto State, Barrister Aminu Wiziri Tambuwal, who is seeking a second term in office under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) opponent, Ahmed Aliyu, are battling it out in an increasingly stiff competition.
Indeed, it is a tight race involving a governor and his former deputy.
This is despite the fact that about 50 candidates of various parties are set to contest in the Sokoto State governorship race that is seen more as a fight between Governor Tambuwal and his predecessor in office, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko.
Wamakko is noted to have been instrumental to Tambuwal’s clinching the governorship seat in 2015.
However, since August 2018 when Tambuwal officially dumped the APC, the party that brought him to power as governor, and re-joined the PDP which he equally dumped ahead of the 2015 general elections, it has been a battle of popularity which the election may help unfurl.
Tambuwal, a 53-year-old former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is noted to have incumbency advantage.
He also enjoys the backing of prominent PDP stalwarts, including a former Sokoto governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and a former governorship hopeful and minister, Mukhtari Shagari among others.
Tambuwal’s campaign messages have targeted completion of projects started by his administration, stressing that he had laid a foundation for infrastructure and human development of the state.
The PDP candidate also points to his administration’s efforts towards improved water supply and electricity, as well as support for orphans and other vulnerable groups in the state.
“We will concentrate more on the completion of projects we started on education and health sectors in order to facilitate public benefits, before embarking on new ones,” he stated during one the campaign rallies.
He also said his government would focus more on improvement of education, security, agriculture and health sectors, if re-elected.
For his part, the APC’s Aliyu, a 49-year-old accountant who was Tambuwal’s deputy until November 2018, when he resigned after emerging as the APC governorship candidate in the state.
Aliyu, who did not defect with Tambuwal to the PDP, has the solid support of his godfather, Senator Wamakko, who is the undisputable leader of APC in Sokoto.
Wamakko is believed to have paved way for Aliyu’s emergence as the APC flag bearer.
Their relationship dates back to many years at the time Aliyu was a commissioner when Wamakko was governor. He became deputy governor to Tambuwal on the expiration of Wamakko’s tenure in 2015.
Therefore, the 2019 governorship contest is seen as “struggle for supremacy” by members of a big political family.
However, while Aliyu would definitely bank on the strength, connection and political sagacity of Wamakko, he too is seen as a master strategist.
Aliyu has promised to introduce plausible programmes and policies aimed at providing adequate social amenities to the people of the state.
He also pledged to accord top priority to education, agriculture, health, security of lives and property, women and youths empowerment, if elected.
Aliyu has also campaigned against Tambuwal’s “Education Levy”, which is a deduction from salaries of public and civil servants, as well as pensioners towards revamp of the education sector in the state.
He assured that if voted into power, his government will not only stop the ongoing monthly deductions from workers’ salaries for the said education levy in the state but will also refund them.
The APC governorship flag bearer also points to some programmes and policies initiated and successfully implemented by the APC-led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari as the selling point of his party.
Similarly, he had repeatedly extolled the achievements of Wamakko as governor of the state, saying his would also be a progressive government that will touch the lives of the masses in positive ways.
He promised to continue the high tempo of the execution of developmental projects and consolidate on those accomplishments recorded when Wamakko was the governor of the state between 2007 and 2015.
“If elected, my running mate and I would strive to emulate Senator Wamakko and urgently fill the existing wide gap in terms of the deficit of developmental projects, occasioned by the colossal failure of the incumbent PDP-led administration in the state,” he stated during one of his campaign rallies.
Many have put the chances of the APC and PDP candidates 50-50, even as there have also been accusations and counter-accusations by the major political parties.
The APC alleged that the PDP was dragging traditional leaders in the state into partisan politics as well as buying off the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) of mostly women, pointing out “their main aim is to buy off these cards, likely destroy them, and in the process, disenfranchise the teeming voters in the state.”
Trouble started when Senator Wamakko reprimanded traditional rulers against partisan politics.
Senators Wamakko had during a campaign rally in Tureta Local Government Area of the state, asked traditional rulers not to allow themselves to be dragged into politics.
Wamakko during the rally recalled all the good will extended to traditional rulers during his government but which never tried to involve them in active politics.
He, therefore, appealed to them to maintain neutrality by resisting any attempt to be lured into partisan politics.
Shedding light on the implication of this, the state spokesperson of the APC, Sambo Danchadi, said Wamakko was only cautioning the institution which was known for neutrality.
“So, we should not quote him out of context because he did not mention any name,” he said.
However, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Nura Hausawa, said there was never an attempt by the PDP government in the state to involve traditional rulers in politics.
“The governor only visited them to seek their blessing and support to his government during his campaign in their domains as our tradition entails, but not to drag them into politics,” he said.
“But we all know what transpired during his (Wamakko’s) time when traditional rulers were intimidated and removed for not supporting his party,” he alleged.
The PDP also dismissed the allegation of PVCs purchase as spurious and unfortunate.
However, as parties and their candidates continue to employ various political gimmicks and other tactics towards emerging victorious many wait to see who gets it.
In the words of Governor Tambuwal “we should know that only one person from among us will become the next governor because God has already crowned him.”