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2019: Intrigues, power play among APC northern elite

From Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto

To many, the race for 2019 presidential election may still be far but it is obvious that political players believe that the earlier the preparation, the better their chances of winning. The strategising and body language of some political power players among the northern All Progressives Congress(APC) chieftains have confirmed that they are already tilling the ground for the next general elections. Some names which keep resonating in the public domain as possible presidential aspirants include ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal among others.
Though none of them has declared his intention publicly, they have also not denied the speculations that they have presidential ambitions
Daily Sun observed that, in the bid to maintain their relevance, many APC stalwarts have begun organising ceremonial events to attract political like minds into their fold. The recent convergence of the crème-de-la-crème of the political circle on Sokoto, to attend the wedding of Governor Tambuwal’s daughter was an attestation.
Several sources who confided in Daily Sun maintained that the occasion, in which Saraki and Dogara led a delegation of federal lawmakers was far from a social gathering.
According to a chieftain of the APC, “the personalities that attended the wedding speak volumes. I can tell you that after the dinner, many of them held private meetings in their various lodges before they departed the state.”
It was also gathered that most of the dignitaries spent not less than 24 hours in the state, which according to some political observers was unusual for VIPs.
An anonymous protocol officer who was part of the team that was stationed at the Sultan Abubakar III Airport, prior to the arrival and departure of some of the guests, confirmed that both Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker Dogara and some governors had arrived Sokoto, a day before the D-day.
Observers hinted that some progressive governors rooting for former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku’s presidency in 2019, may have anointed Tambuwal to lead a lobby team that could win more ‘political souls’ ahead of his declaration latter this year.
With obvious reason, the former Vice President’s body language leaves no one in doubt that he is still much interested in becoming Nigeria’s President in 2019, after few but failed contests.
The trio of Atiku, Saraki and Tambuwal were said to be scheming in order to upstage President Buhari’s re-election in the event that he seeks another term in 2019.
But another source said Tambuwal is being posited behind that of Atiku in case of any eventuality within the party politics in the coming primary election.
“Tambuwal is actually interested in 2019, but he wants to see how far Atiku can go in APC. If he cannot withstand the opposition that may come up against him within the party, then he (Tambuwal) will be called to replace him (Atiku),” Ahmad Altini, a Sokoto based grassroots politician submitted.
Recently, Governor Tambuwal led two other governors namely, Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara, and his Kebbi counterpart, Atiku Bagudu to celebrate Christmas feast with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
But the meeting, according to an insider was beyond the mood of yuletide visit but as part of the lobby task entrusted in Tambuwal’s hands to further woo some political bigwigs within South-South geo-political zone ahead of 2019.
Notably, the three governors still maintained strong political allegiances to their respective god-fathers and predecessors.
The governors’ activities have raised more concern among many stakeholders within their respective states.
In Zamfara for instance, the governor narrowly escaped being impeached by majority members of the State House of Assembly.
The Speaker of the House, Alhaji Sanusi Rikiji who spearheaded the move accused the governor to have abandoned his statutory duty to the people as a governor and barely stay in the state for official engagements.
Also, the main opposition party, PDP in Sokoto had also challenged Governor Tambuwal, to concentrate on good governance in the state. Speaking through his Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Yusuf Dingyadi, the party urged the governor to study the priority needs of the people in the state, rather than scheming for 2019 politicking.
The party noted that the governor seems to have deviated from the core aims he was elected for by the people of the state.  It said any sensitive government must prioritise the welfare of the people, noting that the current administration seems not to be interested in good governance that could better the lots of the Sokoto populace.  “Reading through his body language, it seems he is more interested in using his current position in lobbying for a more aspiring position in 2019, rather than governing the state.” the party stated.
The party also asked the governor to prioritise the welfare of the masses, lamenting that “there is hunger in the land. People are suffering and businesses are collapsing yet, billions of naira are being spent on a single school when the pupils are still receiving lessons on bare floor,” he explained.
The party also pointed out that the state’s healthcare sector needed urgent attention, and that a ‘state of emergency’ should be declared to revamp the sector. Tambuwal’s spokesman, Imam Dalhatu Imam, could not be reached when contacted on phone for more clarification on his principal’s political future.
However, in one of the previous statements issued to Journalists in Sokoto, Imam said the governor is only committed to good governance in his state.

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