2019 Guber poll: PDP put up surprising performance in Sokoto

Contrary to what some persons have believed to be the outcome of the 2019 election in Nigeria, especially as the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was expected to clear the majority of states in the gubernatorial election particularly in northern Nigeria, this scenario did not play out in Sokoto state.

In reality, the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had put up surprising performances in some states, especially in Sokoto,  where the odds were in favour of the ruling APC, and in which case, the party failed to defeat the incumbent governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal.

However, just before the 2019 general elections, there were some rumours making the round that the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was expected to enjoy just the kind of winning it enjoyed in the 2015 elections. This is because the party, after it declared President Muhammadu Buhari the winner over erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, went ahead to take a majority of the states in the gubernatorial elections across the Northern and Southern parts of the country.

According to the Guardian Nigeria reports, it was expected that the ruling party would deploy federal might, just as it is also expected to harp on the ‘myth’ surrounding President Buhari’s popularity across the North to overrun Sokoto State in the presidential, National Assembly, and State House of Assembly elections. Although the ruling party succeeded in trouncing PDP in the legislative elections in the state but failed to maintain the same success in the gubernatorial poll.

As a matter of fact, the result of the last gubernatorial election in Sokoto was one of the outcomes that dismissed such myth and popularity associated with Buhari and APC in the North, the Guardian Nigeria has reported. Continued, it said that the state, being one of the core northern states and the seat of Caliphate, has always aligned with the government in the centre since 1999 when Nigeria returned to civil rule until former governor and now Senator representing Sokoto North Senatorial District, Aliyu Wamako, defected along with some PDP governors to APC just before the 2015 general elections.

Giving some instances, the report said that Sokoto was ruled under the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which controlled the Federal Government from 1979 to 1983 before the military intervened in politics. Prior to February 23 and March 9 when the Presidential/National Assembly and gubernatorial elections were conducted, it was expected that the APC would overrun the entire north, including Sokoto as soon as Buhari was reelected. It was, however, a different scenario in the gubernatorial election.

It said that the incumbent governor came into national political prominence in 2011 under PDP to emerge as the Speaker of House of Representatives against the preference of the erstwhile ruling PDP, which at the time zoned the speakership position to the Southwest. But with the support of lawmakers from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Tambuwal was able to emerge Speaker. He defected along with other PDP members to APC before the 2015 election on which platform he contested for the governorship of Sokoto State and won.

As Speaker, Tambuwal consolidated his position, but his relationship with ACN members in the House was not too cordial. They (ACN) members complained of being sidelined in the distribution of chairmanship of juicy committees in the House under Tambuwal. But as governor, he still retained strong control in the House, which of course enabled him and others to sway the election of the outgoing principal officers of the 8th House of Representatives in favour of the incumbent Speaker, Yakubu Dogara against the preference of APC’s party leadership which at the time favoured Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. It was the crisis of leadership of the National Assembly coupled with other unresolved internal wranglings in the ruling party that pushed Tambuwal and others to return to PDP before the last general elections.

He further alleged, “With the declaration of the election as inconclusive as a favour to the opposition APC, the party used the period to garner the support of neighbouring states and source over N5 billion through the treasuries of two states of Zamfara and Kebbi as well as some selected Federal Government agencies. These monies were used to facilitate the vote-buying spree of up to N30,000 and a bag of rice per vote, which is unprecedented in the history of elections, not only in Sokoto State but also in the whole country. The vote buying phenomenon created and started by the APC, a party claiming to be fighting corruption, further testified to the fact that APC and its government are aiding and abetting corruption up to the grassroots level.

“The unsubstantiated, outright rigging by PDP as claimed by the opposition APC; the question here is, who rigged who? With the massive deployment of 10 units of Mobile Police from Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Lagos States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and in addition to about 250 DSS personnel in favour of APC to harass, intimidate and instill fear in the minds of peaceful and good people of Sokoto state, there is no way our party can even attempt to rig an election in which we have confidence only in God.”

He added that this was in spite of hiring of political thugs from the neighbouring states of Kebbi and Zamfara, who publicly brandished dangerous weapons to endanger the lives of innocent voters in Kebbe, Tambuwal, Rabah, Tureta and Goronyo Local Government Areas. With PDP and its candidate’s victory, the ‘Alu Phenomenon’ has finally been demystified and given final, befitting burial by the people of Sokoto.”

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