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SOKOTO 2012: WAMAKKO, GADA LOCK HORNS OVER PDP TICKET

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• Wamakko
TUNDE OMOLEHIN writes on the ongoing political cloud that is gradually engulfing the Sokoto State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the forthcoming governorship primary election

During the just concluded April general election, four governors on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the North-West geo-political zone secured automatic tickets to contest the governorship poll.

The incumbent Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, was the sole candidate selected to pick the party's ticket after he emerged un-opposed in the state before the cancellation of the process.

Wamakko had no fewer than 2000 party delegates queued behind him during the party's governorship primary last February that led to his emergence as the consensus standard-bearer of the party. They all unanimously voted for his candidature as a standard bearer of the ruling party.

But, such scenario might not be obtained again, with the declaration of one of the party's stalwart and Wamakko political associate, Senator Abubakar Umar Gada who has vowed to contest the ticket with the incumbent ahead of March 10th, 2012 poll in the state.

Gada, a former Senator, believes that he has the support of many, hence, he made public his intention to confront the incumbent. He explained that his coming to the governorship race was fuelled by his passion to transform the state for the better. 'The youths in the state have been compromised and we cannot fold our hands to see this happening. The current administration has failed in all ramifications,' he explained.

Gada who believes he could unseat the incumbent argued that no society would satisfy the expectations of the majority where its youths are bastardized. He also cited the leadership failure on political, moral and socio-economic fronts in the state as one of the core reasons for his gunning for the exalted seat. The aftermath of Gada's declaration, which is now significant among some aggrieved members in the ruling party have also formed a political force to challenge the Governor if he held onto the intention to retain the party ticket. The reasons are that party ticket should not be a willing gift but rather should be a laurel for political change and acceptability by the electorate.

It was also gathered that the readiness of Senator Gada to challenge the incumbent may have primarily been borne out of his mindset over the unending belief that the old PDP members in the state of which he is one, would not have the feel of political belonging if the incumbent is not challenged. There were unconfirmed reports of fears and anxieties in Wamakko's camp which indicated several plots to stop him from contesting on the party's platform. This might have been hatched at the presidency.

Although, Wamakko was not without political foot-soldiers who are determined to work for the success of his re-election, these supporters are now clamouring for his second term. The affirmations of PDP members from the eastern geo-political zone to endorse him as their candidate, among other stakeholders from Gada's home-front have further compounded the political horizon. At a press conference held recently, the Executive members of the Party in Gada local government disassociated themselves from the governorship aspiration of the senator, citing 'lack of due consultation from his political home front'.

The party stalwarts were led by a former minister for Culture and Tourism, Jubril Gada where he explained that he (Senator Gada) has not consulted them over his aspiration to seek for party ticket,  'as far as he (Gada) is not in touch with people of his constituency, his aspiring to get our party mandate should be jettisoned,' he averred.

On another part, the state Co-ordinator of Sokoto Youth Development Group (SOYDO), Dr Aliyu Mai Fada in a statement made available to Daily Sun averred that the state is in dire need of change to ensure positive transformation and good governance.

According to the statement, 'The present administration has lost focus and also created many havocs to the survival of the system of good governance in the state, hence, we need new people on board to inject their experience and national exposure in order to move the state forward.' The group cited Gada's contribution to the development of his constituency during his time in the National Assembly which includes rehabilitation of Kware-Olela road, securing scholarship and employment to many youths and building of three higher educational institutions.

This has impacted positively on the lives of the people better than all the uncompleted projects embarked by the state government. Interestingly, the battle to wrestle the party ticket from Wamakko as gathered was not started in daylight,  but a yearning mission of its founding members in the state that includes Wamakko's deputy Mukthar Shagari and his main challenger for the party ticket, Senator Gada among other stalwarts.

According to an insider who pleaded anonymity, a merger agreement was sealed between the then All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) led by Wamakko who was then Deputy Governor during Bafarawa's administration but fused into the PDP caused political misunderstanding between the two gladiators on who to succeed the later (Bafarawa).

But Shagari's quest to test the number-one seat of the state dated back to 1999, but he was given ministerial slot rather, under the former president Obasanjo regime. Gada on another part was picked for the party's deputy governorship position, though the PDP later lost out to the ANPP, spear-headed by the then governor Attahiru Bafarawa.

In 2006, Shagari declared his intention to vie for the governorship seat under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having resigned his appointment as the Minister for Water Resources while Gada also picked the senatorial seat slot of the party and emerged winner. With Shagari clinching the party's governorship ticket, there was a political uproar in the camps of the then Governor Bafarawa and his erstwhile Deputy (Wamakko) who was forced to pitch his political tent with PDP and formed the present administration.

With this development, Shagari who emerged as the candidate of PDP was persuaded by the then President Obasanjo to relinquish the ticket to Wamakko as part of the political 'marriage' between the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and PDP led by Shagari. They formed an alliance. Daily Sun recalls that, during the merger agreement, Wamakko emerged as the party's candidate while Shagari was picked as his deputy. The union was however a success and ousted the political structure of former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa in the 2007 general elections.

At the beginning of 2011 general election some party members of the old PDP had drawn attention of the party leader to a merger agreement reached in 2006 that literally spelt out a tenure of four years in office for Wamakko in order to pave way for his deputy (Shagari) or any other qualified founding member. By implication of the agreement, the Deputy Governor or any founding member of the party in the state ought to have eligibility to succeed Wamakko, in the spirit of power sharing formula among the stakeholders involved in the political marriage in 2006.

'It is true that there was an agreement of the power-sharing during the merger exercise, but with the intervention of our elders at the national level, all these have been resolved. In fact, Senator Gada who is one of the leaders of the old PDP should be persuaded to shelve his ambition and wait till 2016,' a party stalwart who does not want his name in print disclosed this to Daily Sun. But Wamakko's camp had said that since Wamakko is still eligible for another term in office, it is rational in politics to gun for second term while others like Gada holds on in the spirit of peaceful conduct ahead of the forthcoming party primaries in the state.

It was also argued that since Wamakko has distinguished himself and stands out as the most qualified candidate within the PDP fold there is no need to throw open the party ticket. The moves to cede the ticket to Wamakko was also reasoned to have been necessary in order to present a formidable candidate to the electorate, especially, in the face of oppositions, threat to unseat the ruling party in the next year elections.

Nevertheless, either Wamakko or Gada would be logging horns with other aspirants who are yet-to emerge in their respective parties. But whatever happens thereafter, it would be a strange fight between the ruling party and others aspirants whose candidates are seeking to occupy Sokoto government house come March 10, 2012 poll.