By Emmanuel Ado
By 2006, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko,was politically dead, or so his political enemies thought.He was Kaput – German word for utterly finished,defeated or destroyed.The governor Attahiru Bafarawa wanted him impeached at all cost,in what many say was to stop him from succeeding Bafarawa.Wamakko eventually resigned putting his faith in God.
But Wamakko not only survived the machinations of Attahiru Bafawara,his former boss,but has emerged the undisputed political leader of Sokoto politics,a national force, and definitely the ultimate nemesis of Attahiru Bafawara Garkuwan Sokoto,who at one point bestrode the political landscape of Sokoto State like he owned tomorrow.Not many people remember that he once deluded himself by running for the presidency of Nigeria.
Wamako and Senator George Akume are studies in the art of political survival.They are come “back kids” like Bill Clinton,who despite being written off several times went on to win the presidency of the United States in a grand style.Akume had single handedly made Gabriel Suswam Governor of Benue State. A feat he was to repeat in 2015 elections when he “single handedly ” made Sam Ortom Governor.Like it has become the trend,Suswam ensured that Akume his political godfather was “pushed” out of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
Would Ortom attempt same? Ordinarily this shouldn’t be an issue considering that the Suswam misadventure is still fresh,but you never can tell with politicians and their thinking.Akume like Wamakko was written off for dead. But Akume,like Wamakko not only survived the Suswam onslaught,but taught Suswam some political lessons in spite of his power of incumbency and has obviously consigned him to the dustbin of history.
What made the difference between Wamakko and his former boss Bafawara?What are his survival secrets? The answers are critical for aspiring politicians and even “practicing”politicians who barely survive one term in office and they become history.The comparison between Wamakko and Bafarawa starts and ends that they both spent two terms in office as governors.
But Wamakko having been deputy governor from 1999-2006,and served a consecutive two terms as governor and winning his election to the Senate,definitely has the upper hand.The records in the royal rumble are obviously in the favour of Wamakko.In 2007,he defeated Muhammadu Dingyadi,Bafawara’s candidate,the reason why he was almost impeached in 2006. So in the true sense the contest was really Wamakko versus Bafarawa. Wamakko again worsted Bafawara in the rematch following an appeal, that annulled his election in April 2008,on the basis that he was still a member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) when he won the PDP nomination.Dingyadi and his god father were badly trounced and their political coffin nailed.
Wamakko’s political reach is amazing.And this has to do with his genuine love for the people.A welfarist – that practices an open door policy, amiable,very accessible and not haughty.
While Bafarawa on the other hand was aloof and considered arrogant. The other advantage Wamakko has over Bafarawa,is that has consistently been with the people since his return from the United States from further studies.He started life as a classroom teacher. At various times he was at Zuru,Sokoto ,Kaura Namoda Local Government Areas,and Director- General Career and Services,in the Governor’s Office- offices that gave him the platform to strike and build grassroots friendship,that has continued to yield dividends.The masses took note of his industry and trustworthiness.In the North living with the people,being part of their daily life – attending marriages,births and funerals is treasured. For Wamakko venturing outside Sokoto,was like a fish out of water,except for compulsory conferences that he must attend and the Muslim pilgrimages that are obligatory.
What further endeared him to the people is that as governor Wamakko was to tackle issues dear to them – education,access to potable water,health,agriculture.He declared emergency in the education sector. And to show his seriousness he allocated a whooping 22% of his budget to the sector.And it wasn’t just about massive construction,rehabilitation and expansion of primary and secondary schools,he ensured that more than 1,000 teachers were employed and he abolished fees and increased feeding allowances.The Shehu Shagari College of Education was also a major beneficiary of the war against illiteracy.The improvement in school enrollment was dramatic.Out of school women captured his attention and he established Women Education Centers for them to continue their education.
The jewel was the establishment of the State University.And While other northern states were emphasizing dichotomy between indigenes and non indigenes, he effected sweeping reforms including payment of WAEC and NECO fees for all.Events have proven the decision to establish the university as an indication of good foresight.It is good thing his successor has the good sense to build on and in fact expand the frontiers,as education is key.
Wamakko can be described as a pragmatist- for him the function of government is creating the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.Mindful that the happiness of the greatest number is the yardstick of a responsive government,he embarked upon the completion of the Asare Water Supply Project.The N2.6 billion water project took daily water supply from the existing 32million gallons of clean water to 52 million gallons.
The rehabilitation of the old water treatment plant and the construction of a new plant ensured the provision of the much needed potable water to the people.By providing water he also addressed many common health problems associated with lack of clean water,which consequently impacted on the quality of life of the people.
In furtherance of his stance that the business of government is creating the enabling environment,he embarked upon the construction of an Independent Power System,that will add an additional 30-38 mega watts to the grid.Sokoto presently gets below 15mega watts.
The strategic investment will help light up homes and provide cheap and constant energy for artisans,small and medium scale industries.Which will in turn boost the economy of the state.In addition he boosted the housing stock by building more than 3,000 houses across the state. Housing is a problem in Sokoto.
The achievements of Wamakko can be better appreciated against the resources available to him.Sokoto State generates about N6billion yearly internally and a monthly allocation that’s below N3 billion.Only prudent management of resources can make the achievements possible.
What as a sitting governor Bafarawa couldn’t do – installing his successor,Wamakko did so effortlessly.He made the installation of Aminu Tambawal look as simple as ABC,all because they trusted him to show them right direction and because he has never taken them for granted or treated them with contempt.Aminu Tambawal might have been Speaker of the House of Representatives,but Wamakko’s decisive support in the primaries ensured that Tambawal defeated Umaru Dahiru, an old war horse(he was a commissioner in 1979 in the Shehu Kangiwa administration) and went on to become the governor.A bitter Dahiru is still challenging Tambawal’s victory,because he “felt betrayed” by Wamakko whose “body language” he had taken for an indication of support for his governorship ambition.
But if Dahiru has continued fighting since 2014 because Wamakko refused him to support,is that not an admission that indeed his whole ambition was built on the support of Wamakko and that without that critical support his governorship ambition was a non starter?
The case has been sent back to the High Court for retrial by the Supreme Court.And having dismissed the efforts of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) candidate Ambassador Abdulla Wali to be joined in the suit,there is only one conclusion the court can reach – fresh primaries. Dahiru who was roundly trounced 3,000 votes to 23 votes is alleging irregularities- that it was a “free for all voting”,in this circumstance it will be difficult for the court to allow him benefit from a process that he has declared a huge fraud.
If the courts agree with him,it can only order a fresh election. But can Dahiru muster the financial resources to mount a formidable challenge in the event of a re- run? This is doubtful.He will however have the satisfaction of having “throughly harassed” Wamakko,the ultimate leader who denied him support.
Moving forward while many politicians that rode on President Muhammadu Buhari’s back to power in 2015, will be sweating in 2019,because the president has substantially lost that cult following. The reasons surprisingly include his appointments that are considered unfavorable to party stalwarts and failure to reconstitute boards of federal government agencies.One politician who will not be sweating is obviously Wamakko. He is in “firm control” of Sokoto politics.
And the partnership with Tambuwal is working and would continue to work. Tambuwal having betrayed Bola Tinubu,by backing Yakubu Dogara against Femi Gbajabiamila understands how costly political betrayals can be.
Tinubu not only walked him out of his house,but has continued to remind him that “blood is still dripping from that stab”.Bola Tinubu had supported him to emerge Speaker against the wishes of the PDP. Tambawal can’t afford another political fight or betrayal. Wamakko had long proven since 2013, when he decamped from the PDP to the All Progressive Congress (APC), that he has arrived.
Many analysts thought it was a strategic blunder.But he proved a strategist as the movement ensured the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan and the election of Buhari who had previously lost in the 2003,2007,&2011 general elections.What next for him?For now the success of Tambuwal and of Buhari seem his main preoccupation and contributing to growth of the educational sector- his first love,before politics.