There are strong speculations that the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is planning to pick its presidential candidate for 2023 elections from northern Nigeria. This thought must have shaped the early plans made by the current governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, when he started underground preparations for his presidential ambitions last year. This is following his consultations with eminent personalities.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal started with former Senate President, David Mark. He subsequently visited former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), just to feel their pulse on his presidential bid.
Tambuwal is stepping into the race as one of the youngest participants with loaded credentials both in the executive and legislature arms of government.
Born 10 January 1966, Tambuwal attended Tambuwal Primary School, Sokoto State. According to Wikipedia, he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1979. At Government Teachers’ College, Dogon-Daji, he obtained the Teachers Grade 11 Certificate in 1984.
He then proceeded to Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, where he studied Law, graduating with an LLB (Hons) degree in 1991. He completed his one-year compulsory legal studies at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and was called to Bar in 1992.
Tambuwal started learning the legislative ropes between 1999 and 2000, while working as a Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then-Senate Leader.
In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Few months to the 2007 general elections, he defected to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), alongside the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa. But when DPP denied return tickets to former ANPP legislators, Tambuwal swung back to ANPP, where he eventually picked up a ticket for the election.
But then again, when the ANPP governorship candidate for Sokoto State in the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, dumped the party for the PDP, Tambuwal followed suit.
In 2005, Tambuwal became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP. Upon his return to the House in 2007, he was elected the Deputy Chief Whip.
At various times, Tambuwal was a member of several committees including the House Committees on Rules and Business, Communications, Judiciary, Inter-Parliamentary, and Water Resources. He was also a member of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review.
Aminu Tambuwal was Speaker of the House of Representatives for four years and is about to complete his two-term tenure of eight years as governor of Sokoto State. He is currently the deputy chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), as well as the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum.
The Sokoto governor is believed to enjoy massive support of PDP governors and has been tipped as the northern candidate to beat, especially with the belief that at 77, former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who is also a frontrunner, would not radiate the kind of appeal he had in 2019 as age is no more on his side.
Many supporters of Tambuwal’s ambition point to his spectacular days at the lower chambers of the National Assembly. As the then number-4 man of the nation, Tambuwal did not only supervise vibrant legislations, he also ensured that no crisis rocked the unity of the red chamber.
Observers also point out that as governor of Sokoto State, Tambuwal has been able to bring character, decency, honesty and accountability to the business of governance in the seat of the caliphate. He runs a state where the Assembly is entirely controlled by the opposition APC, yet he has been able to work amicably without the usual rancour associated with such a strange bedfellows relationship.
This unbroken executive-legislative cord is seen by many as a major turning point in the history of governance in Sokoto state. In fact, the serenity and cooperation he is enjoying seem to attest to Governor Tambuwal’s purpose-driven, all-inclusive leadership, in which justice, equity, and unity are the fundamental objectives of his administration.
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Some observers also point out that to demonstrate his government‘s commitment to quality education in Sokoto, Tambuwal allocated 24 per cent of the N202.4bn state budget to education in 2020. The amount represents N47.8 billion of the state budget. Only a few governors have allocated such a handsome percentage to the education sector.
According to Wikipedia’s analysis of Tambuwal’s political profile and his 2019 presidential bid, “Tambuwal was one of the long lists of 12 candidates; including four from his northwestern region that contested PDP presidential nomination. Tambuwal was popular in the race and was among the top four candidates (Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Bukola Saraki) widely expected to win going by political permutations around his candidacy.
“A number of factors, including his young age among the contestants, political experience, his untainted records from corruption indictment, boosted his chances going into the primaries. Analysts had predicted that should Tambuwal clinch the PDP ticket he would be a formidable challenge to the incumbent President…”
Now 2023 is fast approaching. Can Tambuwal, touted as a unifying force, excellent administrator, untainted leader, and cognate politician live up to that billing? Will Nyesom Wike, Tambuwal’s main backer in 2019 sustain that support or is Wike planning to join the race himself as speculated?
Nevertheless, Tambuwal is making serious plans to ensure that what happened the last time he squared up at the PDP primaries in 2018 does not repeat itself.
Analysts equally reason that apart from showing great capacity to handle the country’s economic and security backdraught, only candidates capable of handling the delicate ethnoreligious challenges would stand any chance of success in the quest for political power come 2023. This is where the Sokoto State governor is expected to have the upper hand.