Sokoto: PDP'S Road to Golgotha - By Suraj Oyewale
Sokoto state PDP chairman and commissioner for education, Alhaji Arzika Tureta, may not be totally wrong when he questioned my moral justification for - to use his words - criticizing his state government when one family lord over my own state unchallenged.
That was four year ago, when, as a serving youth corps member in the state, I wrote an article titled 'Wammako's Umimpressive Start' (Sunday Sun, August 19, 2007) and I found myself in trouble with the Sokoto state secretariat of NYSC and the state government, culminating in meeting the commissioner in his Giginya office for final reconciliation after series of meetings. Since 2007 to date, I had actually followed Sokoto state poliics and written more on it than on my home state of Kwara.
Sokoto state is in the political news again and if what I read in papers are anything to go by, the People's Democratic Party may deny Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako (Sarki Yamman Sokoto) its gubernatorial ticket ( a la Timpre Sylva of Bayelsa) in the 2012 elections in the state. This is one of the happiest news coming from the state I have come to love since spending one year there as a 'rebellious corper' some four years ago. I will explain.
Let's take a journey through memory lane to revisit some of the events that shaped things in Sokoto state ahead of 2007 elections. As his tenure drew to an end, the then Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa had irreconcilable issues with his deputy, Wammako, resulting in the number two man vacating his position. Both were elected under the platform of ANPP but with Bafarawa not clinching the presidential ticket of the party, he switched to Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), along with his anointed guber candidate, Sani Dingyadi, while ANPP positioned Wammako for its flag. Within a short period of time, driven mainly by the sympathy Sokoto people had for Wammako who was believed to be unfairly treated by Bafarawa, ANPP's Wammako became the candidate to beat few weeks to the April 2007 polls. He pulled crowds wherever he went. Songs were composed for him. This was the time I arrived Sokoto as a youth corps member. I have never seen any godfather-less politician command such popularity. This Sarki Yamma craze reverberated through Sokoto state. I saw it myself. When the ever calculating PDP saw the trend, they lured the man of the moment, Sarki Yamma Wammako, into their fold. It was too good an offer for the estranged deputy governor, not with the federal weight that will come with it; after all, ANPP was just a struggling party. After some talking to, reportedly by President Obasanjo, Wammako agreed to cross over to PDP, and pronto, he was given the party's ticket, with the already decided party flagbearer, Mukhtari Shagari, relegated to running mate. The rest is history. The beautiful bride delivered the state to PDP, a party that was only third in order of popularity in the state before the big catch.
But either due to their incurable amnesia or naivety of the new PDP men at Abuja, it appears this history is lost on them, just four years after. They appear to have forgotten that Wammako, on whose crest the party rode to victory in 2007 when it trailed ANPP and DPP weeks to 2007 elections, is still their poster boy today. As a hater of PDP (yes, I hate PDP because frittered away begging opportunities to transform Nigeria in the last 12 years they have been in power), this is good news for me. The more the states PDP lose, the better for Nigeria.
Discerning the reasons why PDP may mete the Sylva treatment to Wammako is actually no brainer. No one challenges the PDP emperor without getting his hands burnt. Far before newspaper speculations, some of us saw it coming. Wammako is the only PDP governor that stood on zoning till the end, when others, like Sule Lamido of Jigawa, that had initially questioned President Jonathan's decision to violate the party's clear agreement on zoning, for which he was a signatory, chickened out. Wammako stood by the agreement and delivered Sokoto presidential primary votes to a northern candidate. From being his critic four months into his tenure in 2007, Governor Wammako had actually won me over with his above average performance in subsequent years, but his principled and courageous stand during the politics of PDP zoning finally delivered me to him as a fan. I admire principled men.
Newspaper reports also had it that, in addition to being in the President's 'bad book' for not supporting his breach of agreement, Wammako also supported ANPP's Yari in Zamfara against his own party's Shinkafi. In any case, I happily look forward to PDP dropping Wammako and paying dearly for it at the poll next year, for that will effectively mark the end of PDP in Sokoto state and the Emperor will realize he is unclothed. I hope CPC strategists are on the sides to receive this impending big catch. To reduce PDP's hold on Nigeria is a task that must be achieved.