24 September 2018

Nigeria: 2019 - Tambuwal Hanging Tough

opinion

As the debate over who becomes the consensus presidential aspirant of the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP takes the centre stage ahead of the October, 2018 national convention, uneasy calm pervades the political scene across the country, as the party is now at a crossroad and highly polarized between those in support and those who prefer all the aspirants to test their political popularity and acceptability across the country.

The gathering storm is also being threatened by the fear that those who failed to pick the party's ticket might create some political issues which if not properly managed might set the stage again for an easy ride for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in the 2019 presidential polls.

However, the would-be presidential candidates have stepped up their political campaigns through consultations with different political, cultural cum religious groupings in the country in an effort to bring the party out of its present show of shame and reposition it to challenge for the 2019 general elections.

Amongst the leading political gladiators is the Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, others include the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, the Gombe State governor, Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and Sule Lamido. But the political calculation is too close to call, since the party has zoned the presidency to the North.

It will be recalled that Tambuwal came into national political prominence in 2011 when he emerged as the Speaker of the House of Representatives against his party's choice, as that position was zoned to the South West by the PDP on which platform he was elected from Kebbi/Tambuwal Constituency of Sokoto State to the National Assembly.

But with the help of lawmakers from the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State, Tambuwal became Speaker against the position of his party. This maverick political calculation prompted many to question the desirability of a Tambuwal as the preferred PDP presidential candidate

This also has manifested in the current drama playing out in Sokoto State where Governor Tambuwal has decamped from the APC to the PDP without taking into confidence former governor and now Senator Aliyu Wammako who helped to make him governor after he had decamped from PDP in 2014.

Since he decamped in pursuit of a presidential ambition, it is widely alleged that he has been trying to rubbish Wammako, the man who paved the way and pulled all the political strings to make him the Governor of Sokoto State. He has been giving the impression that he, Tambuwal, was the main issue in the politics of Sokoto State. When he organized a rally to formally decamp to the PDP, Tambuwal had expected all the key political actors in the State to come on board with him.

But unfortunately this was not the case. Wammako and his supporters stayed back, proving a point that Tambuwal was on his own. To the disappointment of Tambuwal, about half of the members of the State House of Assembly refused to go with him to the PDP. Most embarrassingly, his personal aides numbering over 500 also resigned their appointments and refused to join him.

To many political observers, it will be a tight rope for Tambuwal to pick the party's presidential ticket.

They reasoned that the forces within the Sokoto caliphate have set a torturous political roadblock for him to actualize his age-long political ambition to become the PDP presidential candidate and are working tirelessly to ensure that this dream did not come to realization. But Tambuwal is still hanging tough, and roaring to pick the PDP presidential ticket.

As the political drama continues to unfold ahead of 2019, the All Progressives Congress, APC is watching with keen interest who the PDP will throw up as its presidential candidate in 2019 presidential election.

-Ismail wrote from Abuja

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