When the cat is away, they say, the mouse will play. This age-long adage appeared to find its full expression in Sokoto State penultimate week in a popularity contest between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and his estranged godfather and former governor of the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
Tambuwal had belled the cat when on August 1, he sought to rub in his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a massive rally in the state capital. Backed by 18 of the 30 members of the state’s House of Assembly and politicians from across the 23 local government areas in the state, the massive rally was seen by many political observers as a sign of how well Governor Tambuwal was in charge of the state’s political machinery.
But that was until Wamakko, the former governor of the state and the senator representing Sokoto North in the National Assembly got wind of the incident and waved it off as nothing but impudence on the part of the incumbent governor. He wasted no time in declaring that Sokoto remained an APC state in spite of Tambuwal’s defection to PDP.
Speaking on national television shortly after Tambuwal’s rally, Wamakko said: “Let me assure you that the Sokoto State where I come from is an APC state. The entire state is APC. Whatever you might have seen or might have been told, just take it as a mere story.
“The people of Sokoto are behind Mr. President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. They are certainly behind Senator Wamakko, their former governor, and all other leaders who chose to remain in APC.
“Insha Allah (by God’s grace), by Saturday or Sunday when I get back to Sokoto, I am assuring you that there is no cause for alarm.”
His words would later turned prophetic as a counter-rally Wamakko held in the state a few days later clearly dwarfed the one earlier held by Tambuwal. True to Wamakko’s words, the entire state was in a carnival mood a day to Wamakko’s planned visit to the state. Residents in festive mood openly expressed their support for Wamakko and President Muhammadu Buhari in songs and slogans, particularly the women and youths who sang ‘Masu gudu, su gudu (anyone who wants to go can go) in apparent reference to Tambuwal and his supporters.
Instructively, Wamakko was accompanied into town by Tambuwal’s deputy, Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, among other eminent politicians from the state, in a mega rally that literally shut down the state capital and sent an unambiguous message to Tambuwal as to who owns the farm between the hunter and the squirrel.
The foregoing state of affairs has led many to wonder if Tambuwal who became the Speaker of the House of Representatives in a fortuitous manner and gratuitously won the last governorship election in Sokoto State has not pushed his luck to a point that could spell danger for his political career.
Seven years ago, he had become the speaker of the House of Representatives against Mulikat Akande-Adeola, the candidate preferred by PDP, the party they both belonged to. This he did with the bloc vote he got from members of the then opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the House.
Tambuwal, would later tell the PDP when the party request that he should vacate his office after defecting to APC (following the merger of ACN with other parties to form APC in 2013) that the former party had no hand in his emergence as Speaker. He said although he was a PDP member at the time he emerged the Speaker due to the support he got from the opposition lawmakers and other Nigerians, it was clear that his erstwhile party was rooting for someone else to occupy the position.
He said: “The mistake people are making is saying that the PDP made me the Speaker. The PDP candidate was Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola. Although I was in PDP at that time, I was not the party’s candidate. It was legislators from other parties and other Nigerians that presented me as a candidate, and I contested and won.”
Indeed, if there is one political office holder who deserves to be called Goodluck in the current political dispensation, it would be Tambuwal. But not a few people believe that he might have pushed his luck to the edge after dumping the party that made him Speaker and made him governor at a time he is believed to be eyeing the Presidency.