The consultations by the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in the North-West geo-political zone towards gauging whether or not to aspire to the highest office in the land in 2023 has ended on a successful note.
The effort which spanned weeks between February and early March 2022 was based on what most people in Sokoto State and, indeed, Nigeria knew and believed about the governor – his sterling records as Speaker of the House of Representatives, governor of Sokoto State and chairman of Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum. The exemplary leadership qualities displayed in these offices had lent momentum to a growing clamour for Tambuwal to vie for president.
Before embarking on the tours to states in the zone – Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara and Kaduna, the Sokoto PDP stakeholders had endorsed him to run for president in the next general election. Their central message was that Sokoto State and, certainly, Nigeria could not afford to lose or ignore a winning player in the selection of contestants for the critical political of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Tambuwal hearkened to the calls and thus embarked on a nationwide consultation to try to figure out how to approach the issue. “I have listened to our party leaders, women, and youths on the call that I should initiate and begin the process of consultation with a view to running and contesting for the president of Nigeria under the banner of our great party,” he told the stakeholders during the meeting held at the PDP state secretariat in Sokoto on January 31, 2022.
The lawyer and graduate of Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, began the first leg of the nationwide consultation on February 1 with a visit to Jigawa where he met with former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, at his home in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of the state.
Tambuwal was accompanied on the visit by former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa; Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Mahdi Gusau; former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari; former Minister of Power, Engr. Bello Suleiman; and former chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bello Muhammad.
Others included former Director, Counterterrorism, in the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Gen Sarkin-Yaki Bello, and Hon. Aminu Koko.
Tambuwal’s entourage was welcomed at Dutse International Airport by a large and joyous crowd led by Mustapha Sule Lamido, son of their host. The Governor’s motorcade rode at a snail speed for about two hours in a journey that should take less than thirty minutes to Bamaina, Lamido’s town.
In Bamaina, former Governor Lamido said Tambuwal possessed the track record and national outlook needed to overcome Nigeria’s current challenges, which had been worsened by a worrisome spate of ethnicity and religious division under President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC, government.
“Our son here is like me. We have similar and parallel positions in government,” he said of Tambuwal.
Lamido said he looked forward to seeing Tambuwal on the country’s highest political seat, emphasizing that he is eminently qualified to run for the highest office in the land.
He described Tambuwal as a “pan Nigerian that will be just,” and that Nigerians need him to put the country back on the path of peace, progress, and harmony.
His words: “We can reach out to all Nigerians across the geographic and other divides in our bid to support him.
“This does not suggest that we are beggars hungry for power. Instead, we are worthy stakeholders with friends in many parts of the country who we can persuade to see reason with us in the realisation of the Nigerian project.”
Former Governor Bafarawa thanked Lamido for receiving Tambuwal and his entourage. “You are not just a former governor but a great political mobiliser whose people still respect and follow, despite the fact that you have been out of office for almost seven years now,” he said.
A week after, Tambuwal and his entourage were in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, and was to a rousing welcome by Zamfara State Deputy Governor, Mahdi Aliyu Gasau, as well as the state PDP leader, including the state chairman.
In his speech, Tambuwal sympathized with the people of the state over the insecurity that had claimed many lives and stressed that it was imperative for leaders of PDP in the state to close ranks so as to take over Nigeria and Zamfara State in the 2023 general election, saying that the rollback of the fortunes of the PDP in leading Nigeria and Zamfara State will soon be over.
His words: “If we succeed in our bid, the country will witness a reversal of the current bad fortunes.”
Deputy Governor Gusau, in his remarks, said he was solidly behind Governor Tambuwal’s Presidential ambition and urged him to carry the entire Zamfara PDP along in his quest to become Nigeria’s President next year.
“There’s no turning in our determination to back him all the way,” Gusau said, while listing the sterling political credentials of Tambuwal,” he said.
The next day, Tambuwal’s consultative train moved to Kebbi State. The entourage was accorded rousing welcome by the Kebbi State PDP leaders and members, including the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ibrahim Abdullahi; former Minister for Special Duties, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN); former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Rinzi Bamaiyi (rtd); former Director of Counterterrorism in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Gen. Sarkin-Yaki Bello; former General Officer Commanding 8 Division, Sokoto, Gen. Aminu Bande; and former National Women Leader of the PDP, Hajiya Maryam Waziri.
Welcoming Tambuwal, former acting National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bello Halliru Muhammad, said Nigeria needs a competent, trustworthy and courageous leader, like Tambuwal.
He said: “Nigeria is in bad shape after years of (misrule) by President Muhammadu Buhari. The country has never been so divided along ethnic and religious affiliations like now. If a worthy person doesn’t take over (Nigeria) risks breaking apart.”
The Kebbi State PDP Chairman, Alhaji Bello Usman Suru, in his own remarks, gave an unequivocal endorsement of Tambuwal for President and pledged the unalloyed support of Kebbi PDP. Suru said: “Historically, we in Kebbi are one with the people of Sokoto. You don’t need to campaign here. All the state delegates, chairmen of local government wings and members of the executives in the state will vote for you.
“When it is time to decide who becomes our party’s Presidential candidate, we may exceed even Sokoto state. I say this because there may be some black legs in Sokoto, but here we are behind you one hundred per cent.”
In his remarks, Tambuwal said: “The PDP in Kebbi state is united. The PDP in Kebbi state is compact and strong. I appeal to you to work together as a family to attract more members from the opposition because there is a lot of trouble in the other house.
“I know they will leave and come here. When they come, I implore you to be very magnanimous so that when they come, you should be accommodating and carry everybody along, so that together, God willing, we shall win the elections here in Kebbi State and in Nigeria come 2023.”
Tambuwal also spoke on the state of the nation, lamenting “Nigeria was on the verge of collapse as a result of insecurity, debilitating healthcare system, poverty, falling standard of education, corruption and other ills that have become the hallmark of the APC administration thus far.”
When the train got to Katsina, Tambuwal and his team met PDP leaders and stakeholders and pleaded for unity among party members, adding that it would be easier to reclaim power from the ruling APC with a united front.
While pledging an all-inclusive government that will bring back hope to Nigerians if elected President, Tambuwal said Nigeria had “never been this divided with several agitations and insecurity at a very alarming level.”
He therefore said reclaiming “power from the APC is a must to save the nation from the current decay.”
The team also had a whistle-stop in Kaduna, where Tambuwal visited former Governor Ahmed Makarfi. Here, the presidential hopeful emphasized the need for unity in the party as a precondition for reclaiming power from the APC.
He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the footsteps of former President Goodluck Jonathan by bequeathing free, fair and credible election on the nation in 2023.
He also counselled the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to conduct free, fair and credible elections and thus leave a lasting legacy for himself. He said: “As I said before, the head of the electoral umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has only one option. That option is to leave a lasting legacy. From my knowledge, he is from very good family background.
“So, he needs to actually make sure that he did not soil that his family history and his own personal history by ensuring he conduct a free and fair election.”
A party stalwart said the impressive retinue of leaders and supporters that accompanied Tambuwal and those that received him in the states in the North-West geo-political zone he traversed has demonstrated the quality of endorsement he has secured at home so far and hopes this will translate into a broader national appeal.