There was disquiet at the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday following House of Representatives Speaker Mallam Aminu Tambuwal’s presence at a rally for suspended Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko.
In spite of pressure, Tambuwal said he could not abandon the wish of his constituents to back Wamakko for the caprices of the PDP National Secretariat.
The rally, organised by Sokoto PDP, was designed to show the party that Wamakko’s suspension was unpopular and unacceptable.
Wamakko was suspended last week by PDP for allegedly not picking National Chairman Bamanga Tukur’s phone calls and for not recognising the PDP Governors Forum, which is headed by Governor Godswill Akpabio.
The forum was created when it became clear that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi would run for chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) – an election, which he won, but over which governors are divided.
Tambuwal left Abuja yesterday in the afternoon for Sokoto defying security reports and threats from some PDP stalwarts not to attend the rally.
It was gathered that Tambuwal took the decision to stand by Wamakko because of “available reports” indicating that the governor was suspended also because of him.
According to sources, some PDP stalwarts and forces in the Presidency got wind of Wamakko’s plan to make Tambuwal his successor in 2015.
It was gathered that the Presidency prefers one of the strategists of President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Abubakar Umar Gada, to succeed Wamakko.
The forces in the Presidency have been uncomfortable with alleged hostility of the House of Representatives to government policies, especially budgeting in the last two years.
Tambuwal’s closeness to opposition lawmakers also allegedly drew the ire of the forces in the Presidency .
It was learnt that the plot against Tambuwal reached its climax following intelligence reports that the Speaker played a key role in convincing some governors from the Northwest to re-elect Amaechi.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Speaker made up his mind to stand by Wamakko in his hour of need because the persecution of the governor by PDP was aimed at him. The forces in the Presidency and PDP are being calculative in moving against Tambuwal; they believe they should start from his home base.
“Several times, some party stalwarts accused Wamakko of backing Tambuwal but the governor refused to withdraw support for the Speaker.
“Now that it is becoming obvious that Wamakko has plans to handover to Tambuwal in 2015, the party has decided to suspend the governor.”
To the source, who pleaded not to be named, alleged anti-party activities, including non-picking of Tukur calls and disdain for PDP Governors Forum, are mere smokescreen for the real issue – 2015 politics.
The Presidency favours one of Jonathan’s strategists, Senator Abubakar Umar Gada, as successor to Wamakko.
“The bigger picture behind the suspension of Wamakko is to hijack the party structure from the governor ahead of 2015 to pave the way for the emergence of Gada. Initially, the President had opted for Senator Gada as the Minister of FCT before some members of the Northern Senators Forum recommended the present Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed,” said the source.
The plan, it is said, is to compensate Gada with a governorship slot. “Yet, being a grassroots man, the forces in the presidency and PDP believe that Wamakko can fix governorship slot for Tambuwal,” the source said.
The Speaker is branded an ally of the opposition. There is a plot to stop Tambuwal from contesting for any office on the ticket of PDP in 2015.”
Asked to comment on the Speaker’s presence at the rally, Tambuwal’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mallam Imam Imam, said his boss attended the Sokoto rally because “he is a grassroots politician who panders to the wish of his constituents”.
Quoting former US Congress Speaker, Tip O’Neil, who said “all politics is local”, Imam said: “Tambuwal is first and foremost a representative of the people of Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency of Sokoto State before being the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Speaker Tambuwal was in Sokoto (for the rally) because he believes in the saying that all politics is local.
“Any politician worth his onion must understand and influence the issues of his constituents.
“The people of Sokoto came out in large numbers to welcome their Governor; why shouldn’t the Speaker be there? He is in Sokoto because that is what the people of Sokoto want and he is happy to be part of the gathering.”
A PDP source said: “This party does not expect Tambuwal to be at a rally or welcome reception for a suspended governor. This will amount to condoning indiscipline when Wamakko is undergoing disciplinary procedures.
“We will wait for the outcome of the rally or why the Speaker was in Sokoto before we can take a position. Whatever enquiry you are raising now is based on hearsay.
“All I can tell you is that we are monitoring development in Sokoto with keen interest.”
Source: The Nation