BY ABDALLAH  EL-KUREBE

AFTER Governor Aliyu Wamakko, who is next? This is the reigning question on the lips of politicians and observers in Sokoto State.

The question was stirred by Niger State Governor, Mu?azu Babangida Aliyu, during his recent visit to Sokoto to commission some projects executed by Wammako?s administration.

During one of his speeches, the visiting governor commended Wamakko for the number of people-oriented projects he had executed. He wouldn?t stop there. For him, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari is one of the most loyal deputy governors, one according to Aliyu that had ?been committed to Wamakko?s policies and programmes? and had refused to be engaged in any face-off with Wamakko.

?Wamakko should allow Shagari to succeed him because he had shown to be dependable and loyal over the years without any rancour. I have never heard of any quarrel between the governor and the deputy.

He performed well as Minister of Water Resources for six years and as such is competent to succeed Wamakko as the governor of Sokoto State come 2015,? Aliyu suggested.

Obviously, he made the suggestion unmindful of the workings of the personal politics of Governor Wamakko or that of the PDP in Sokoto.

Wamakko has firmed his grip on the reins of governance since he assumed office after Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa in 2007 though he was, on two occasions, interrupted by court interventions.

Although political opponents gave him a fierce fight at the polls in his first coming, he has managed to hold his own. And at the February 2012 governorship election, most of the opposition parties except the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, put up a feeble resistance to Wammako?s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

As the undisputed political leader and incumbent governor, he is expected to anoint his successor, and until Governor Aliyu?s suggestion, the issue of who would succeed Wammako in 2015 was on the back burner.

Gov Wamakko

As expected, Aliyu?s suggestion is raising dust in the Sokoto political landscape. As he dropped the bombshell, some heads shook in bewilderment as to how a visitor would come to a place and make such serious comments based on mere assumption that all was well.

?This man should have found out about how politics works here before he anoints a successor to Wamakko that we have never seen in Mukhtari Shagari,? a political bigwig told Vanguard at the occasion.

Yet, some other heads nodded in agreement with the postulations of Governor Aliyu. ?In fact, they say that this man makes too much noise but he has never said it so right. There is no better successor to Wamakko than Mukhtari, the man having been prevailed upon to step down for Alu,? a man, who simply identified himself as Yahaya, told Vanguard.

The division is anchored on the perceived existence of two PDP in Sokoto: those who were in the party before Wamakko and his supporters joined and the new entrants.

However, Wamakko has on many occasions debunked the alleged dual status of the PDP in Sokoto. ?The PDP is one indivisible entity in the state and I am the leader of the party,? he has repeatedly said.

Issues for determination
Shagari had sailed through as the PDP governorship candidate in 2007 when, determined to win Sokoto State for his party and for the fact that Wamakko, presumably had wider support, then President Olusegun Obasanjo solicited his defection from the ANPP. Shagari became the running mate and PDP won overwhelmingly.

Those who support Shagari to succeed Wamakko argue that the former was ?magnanimous? enough to have stepped down for Wamakko, an act they insist is enough to make Wamakko reciprocate.

Another argument is that Shagari has wealth of experience that would put him ahead of other aspiring politicians in terms of democratic deliverables.

However, some pundits see it differently. ?It?s not about wealth of experience. It?s about the capability to, not only garner popular support but also align yourself with the people. Democracy is about the people.

It is about being ready to cater for the people; be with them; identify yourself with them by being there for them when they need you. This found in governor Wamakko and we need someone who will thread his path,? a PDP chieftain in the state said.

It is observed that in this era when welfare politics is the in-thing, ?Shagari is doing very little to lubricate the rough road that lay before him to the Government House. He is not simply in touch with the people,? an observer said, adding that he did not accompany Wamakko to the PDP national secretariat to submit his nomination form.

Zoning
Although there doesn?t seem to be a written agreement on zoning of the office of the governor, since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999,  the office has rotated between Bafarawa, who hails from Sokoto East Senatorial District and Wamakko, who is from the North (some call it Central) Senatorial District. So  if zoning is anything to go by, the next governor should come from the South Senatorial District.

Likey contenders in Sokoto South
Notable among likely contenders from Sokoto South  are the Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Deputy Governor Mukhtari Shehu Shagari who is also Mu?azu Babangida?s anointed and Faruk Malami Yabo.

The Tambuwal Factor
Speaker Tambuwal was visibly and solidly behind Wamakko during his travails when he was confronted by the ambitions of Sen. Abubakar Gada and former Minister of Sports, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman.

The Speaker was said to have influenced other members of the National Assembly from Sokoto to declare their support for Wamakko, which they did unequivocally.

Insinuations that the Speaker is angling for the top job in the State have refused to die despite denials by his close associates and aides.

The Speaker?s Special Adviser on Media, Imam Imam, told journalists recently in Sokoto that he was more focused on his people?s mandate at the House of Representatives and would not be dragged into the politics of the state.

?As you are aware, the Speaker just spent a year of the four-year-term in the House and should not be dragged into idle talks because it is just a mere distraction,? Imam had said.

Yabo
He was Commissioner of Finance during the first term of Wamakko administration and now that of Ministry for Local Government and Community Development. Described as a financial disciplinarian per excellence and one whom Wamakko used to instill financial discipline in government functionaries, Yabo is also soft-spoken and described as generous, humble and simple.

He relates with people of all shades. What you see when you pay a visit to his office, supports this assessment that he is peoples loving. Some say that Yabo has the attributes of Wamakko.

Wamakko as a determinant
Foremost desire of any leader is to have a successor that would continue with his policies and programmes. Therefore, not to be left out of this desire, who becomes Wamakko?s successor as governor of Sokoto State should largely be seen to be determined by him.

In Mukhtari Shehu Shagari, there is a wealth of experience as seen by some pundits. He was Minister during Obasanjo and has been deputy governor to Wamakko since 2007. Therefore, as deputy governor, he has the experience but is that all?

The discomfort of Wamakko lies with what observer see as the PDP having ?original? and ?new? members, resulting in negating the authenticity of those who joined the party from the ANPP, including Wamakko.

These utterances have not been stopped. And, to an extent, has created discernible marks especially on the minds of outsiders who have been made to hold that Wamakko favours his own ?new PDP? members more than the ?old PDP.?

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