Wave of APC Defections, Endorsements Boost Umar’s Chances in Sokoto

Onuminya Innocent reports that the increasing number of defections from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party, and endorsements from key stakeholders in Sokoto state are boosting the chances of the PDP candidate in the upcoming gubernatorial election, Mallam Saidu Umar.

There is no question Mallam Saidu Umar’s presence in the Sokoto State governorship race has reshaped the contest and sent shock waves through the camps of opponents. His candidature delivered a crippling blow to those who thought it was business as usual, as his passion for change in whatever position he found himself was well known.

From a small stream of endorsement by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders in Sokoto State in May, when he emerged the party’s governorship candidate, Umar’s followership has swelled to a raging river of support, demolishing everything in the way. This has surely been the case since the last few weeks, as the state readies for the imminent general election, what with a wave of defections and high profile endorsements.

In a strategic New Year gift to the governing party in the state, the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Jordan and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) at the national level, Faruk Malami Yabo, defected to PDP in Sokoto State on January 4. Yabo did not come to PDP alone. He came with his huge crowd of supporters.

The former Nigerian Ambassador to Jordan and Iran was an APC governorship aspirant during the last primaries, and he was the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the 2019 general election.

Yabo described his defection to PDP as homecoming. He stressed, “I have always been a PDP family and my defection today is like someone returning back home. I thank everyone who is part of this movement and I promise to help the party emerge victorious in the forthcoming general election.”

Governor Aminu Tambuwal commended the immense popularity of PDP in Sokoto State, describing Yabo’s coming as the icing on the cake.

Just before the good news from Yabo town, Umar met with Akwa Ibom and Cross River indigenes residing in Sokoto State in December. He gave the groups of stakeholders from the two sister states, under the aegis of Akwa-Cross, assurances of a new lease of life in his new administration, if elected. Umar also promised a level playing field for everyone in the state – indigenes and non-indigenes of Sokoto State alike – to pursue and achieve their legitimate dreams and potential.

In return, Umar got the endorsement of residents from Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, as well as the promise of their vote.

Last November, the PDP governorship candidate secured the recommendation of Sokoto State chapter of Association of Primary School Head Teachers. Alhaji Abubakar Moyi Gidadawa, who led the association on a visit to Umar on November 29, said Umar’s huge interest and investment in the education of many in the state qualified him for the endorsement.

“His educational background coupled with the background of his family triggered his increasing popularity in the state,” Gidadawa said of Umar.

He added, “In Sokoto, the 2023 contest is about a choice between a candidate with impeccable record and an encompassing resumè, and those with no records to show. It will be about a candidate with glaring qualities that are also tested and trusted with several high tasking responsibilities within and beyond the shores of Sokoto.”

Umar promised the visitors he would advance the legacies of the Tambuwal government, especially in the area of education. He promised to pay special attention to primary education, saying it is the bedrock of education.

Being a sociable person by nature, Umar was also a major voice during the Igbo Day Celebration in Sokoto last November. He promised to sustain a business-friendly environment created by Tambuwal, if elected governor during the March 11 poll.

“Today is our day, and today is everybody’s day in Sokoto,” he said at the event well attended by officials of the Sokoto State government, many tribal groups, and other stakeholders.

November was also a month to remember for PDP in Sokoto State in terms of defections.  A gale of defections saw many members of the opposition parties in the state, particularly APC, joining the governing party.

On November 20 last year, PDP received thousands of defectors from APC in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State. Umar assured the newcomers of fairness and inclusiveness. He promised to fix the security problem in the eastern parts of the state, especially Sabon Birni Local Government Area.

Just a few days before the Sabon Birni event, PDP welcomed into its fold thousands of new members from APC in Mainiyo area of Sokoto North Local Government Area of the state.

Umar received the defectors during the inauguration of the Ubandoma/Sagir Mainiyo Old Market Development Association and launch of an empowerment programme initiated by the association under the chairmanship of Sokoto-based businessman, Alhaji Abdulrashid Maccido. It was a particularly important event, as Mainiyo area is considered one of the metropolitan strongholds of APC in Sokoto State.

Early in January, as PDP took its campaign to Silame Local Government Area, it also received many former supporters of APC. Among the thousands, who joined PDP at the event on New Year’s Day, were then APC Youth Leader in the local government, his deputy, other executive members.

Wamakko Local Government Area also witnessed thousands of defectors from APC to PDP on the same day, as PDP campaigned in the council area. The defectors here were led by Alhaji Zayyanu Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, nephew of the APC leader in the state and former governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.

There was a tumultuous reception for PDP in Rabah and Wurno local government areas, as the party continued on its campaign trail around the state. 

In Rabah, Tambuwal declared that a PDP federal government from the next general election would end the scourge of insecurity in the area and the eastern parts of the state, by God’s grace. He assured that Umar would carry on with the current administration’s development projects across the state.

During the rally in Rabah Local Government Area, thousands of APC members abandoned the party for PDP. Hon. Tukur Sansani ‘Yar Tsakkuwa, who led the defectors, said they were motivated by PDP’s inclusive politics and dynamic leadership style in the state.

The defection galore continued in Wurno Local Government Area, as several thousand residents joined PDP from APC. Hon. Aminu Dan Maigujjiya, who led the new entrants, called PDP’s governorship candidate, Umar, the only marketable candidate ahead of the governorship election in the state.

Umar assured the new entrants to PDP that they were at no disadvantage compared to the existing members.

“We will always be fair-minded in our relationship all PDP members in the state,” the PDP governorship candidate stated. “Our governor, Tambuwal, has established that tradition, and we will take it even further, if given the mandate by the electorate in Sokoto State.”

If he emerged victorious at the poll, Umar said, “As usual, the whole state will be our constituency in word and in action.”

Many believe the wave of defections to PDP in Sokoto State is apparently an affirmative verdict on the scorecard of the incumbent government in the state.

“There is no denying the fact that it is also an explicable avowal of the continuity mode all over Sokoto State, as you cannot change a winning team,” as one Sokoto resident puts it.

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