Without reflection on the level of former governor Aliyu Magatakardan Wamakko’s influence in the building of his political empire on the Sokoto political firmament, an over-confident Governor Aminu Tambuwal thought he had already become his own man.
A seeming political overzealousness made Tambuwal felt he has already become Sokoto’s new political emperor. A larger-than-life political aura punctuated all his new political moves. He began to politically intimidate people believed to be loyalists of Wamakko, as a strategy for beating them into line. Majority of them refused to be cowed and a surprised Tambuwal trudged on, regardless.
To prove his new awesome political power and levers of control, Tambuwal decided to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The goal was to demystify Wamakko politically by proving that majority of the heavyweights in Sokoto were on the Tambuwal train, including cabinet officials. Much to his surprise, few people followed Tambuwal; they could be counted on finger-tips. As if to add insult to injury, majority of the cabinet members ensured that Tambuwal’s defection has lost its glamour as he could not pull any crowd into the PDP.
The last straw that broke the Camel’s back was the resignation of the Deputy Governor in a surprising twist that took away the political flavour of Tambuwal’s defection to the PDP.
It was a matter of time before political heavyweights of Sokoto reiterated their allegiance to Wamakko. A clever Wamakko held one of the biggest political rallies in the history of the State, as a show of force. The State was jam-packed with excited supporters cheering up Wamakko with a thunderous ovation. This marked the beginning of the gradual collapse of what was known as the Tambuwal political empire. The rally, during which Wamakko assured President Muhammadu Buhari of massive votes in 2019, went beyond the initial assumptions that it was just a political curtain-raiser by the Wamakko camp.
Evidently, Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s political empire has now been reduced to a crumbling tower by the strategic moves of the Wamakko camp. It could be said that at no time has any governor of Sokoto built a political empire that could collapse at such a dizzying speed. Analysts who rated Tambuwal’s higher, based on the prevailing dynamics of Sokoto politics were consequently taken aback. Some others are still wondering whether Wamakko had not mobilized a new army of political strategists to pull surprises for the incumbent governor.But those familiar with Wamakko’s surprise element as the hallmark of his politics consider the present scenario normal.They foresaw Tambuwal’s perching on the quicksand of political misadventure. They also reasonably predicted that at some point, Wamakko would have the last laugh.
A horde political advisers and strategists that are hanging around Tambuwal did little or nothing to convince the man that any political entanglement with Wamakko would not just be a picnic. They were said to have given the governor a lot of encouragement in this politic ego trip. Indeed they were said to have advised that all that Tambuwal needed was the blessing of the monarchy and the clergy of Sokoto State to stage a smooth come back to power. This advice was premised on the presumptuous political thesis that in Sokoto, the people always flow with the monarchy without questioning. The second presumption was that once the clergy attack you in their series of sermons (as a politician) you automatically lose voters’support and sympathy. But events of the past few months have proved that these are wrong calculations as far as Sokoto politics is concerned.
Significantly, analysts of modern political systems rely more on undercurrents than the dominant thinking, or what some erroneously consider as the prevailing dynamics.
Separating the whiff from the chaff in African politics is never a picnic. An unintelligent student of African or Nigerian politics may choose to think that going by the utterances of a political heavyweight like Wamakko, it would be easy to know where he stands politically. That kind of assumption is what has been misleading Wamakko’s political rivals and it explains why they have kept on finding the Magatakarda very unpredictable. And that is why the articulate Second Republic politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai once said there is one sure way to understand a politician: don’t rely on what he says but so much on what he didn’t say, because the area he is most silent about, is where his political interests are embedded.
For a very long time Aliyu Magatakardan Wamakko has confounded his critics and kept his rivals guessing on his next, deft moves. The more you come close to predicting his very next move, the more you get lost as to what such move would be.
For the incumbent governor and his co-travelers in the pull-down-the-Wamakko- political-fortress, it is still very daunting. Just when they thought they were done with the Wamakko hurricane, a bigger political Tsunami sends them back to the drawing board over and over again.
With the cycle of Wamakko’s political UFOs taking Tambuwal and his strategists off-guard, it should be easy to see that the former governor has proved to be the proverbial clever rabbit.
As the Tambuwal’s camp begins to show signs of fatigue from the Wamakko political strategy with limited time to even have correct reading of what is at stake, Sokoto promises to be a case study in 2019.
It would appear that the incumbent governor has stepped out of turn, a number of times that a backward slide is necessary. How he does that depends on whether he has a correct reading of the current Sokoto political chessboard and how to weather the Wamakko storm.
As the nation ambles towards the 2019 general elections, it is hard to say with pinpoint accuracy, whether the Tambuwal empire can be rebuilt before the general elections. It would be highly tasking for Tambuwal’s political strategists and foot soldiers to rebuild the collapsed empire or weaken the formidable Wamakko structure that has been on ground since 2015. As Pundits would now say, Tambuwal has learnt a bitter lesson in political consistency and loyalty.
Fatima wrote from Legislative Quarters, Kaduna and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org