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Sokoto: Danger looms as APC, PDP rivalry intensifies

Sokoto State, like Nasarawa and Niger states, have governors and deputies from two rival political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, (APC).
Though, both Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and his deputy, Munktari Shagari won a joint ticket on the platform of the PDP, in 2007 and 2011 respectively but Wamakko, defected from PDP to the opposition APC alongside other four PDP Governors, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State who was later impeached. But, when Wamakko decamped to APC, his deputy, Shagari, refused to dump the PDP. Unlike Niger and Nasarawa, where friction between the state governors and deputies were more pronounced, in the case of Sokoto , there has not been much reported fracas between Wamakko and Shagari. This is why it is surprising, the huge rivalry that exists between followers of these two major political parties, the APC and PDP in the state.
Many residents fear, that the rivalry between the followers of the two parties, the in the state might disrupt the peace and serenity enjoyed by the people of the state, if nothing drastic is done to forestall the impending danger. The escalation of the activities of political thugs loyal to PDP and APC in the state, have started sending wrong signals to residents in the state. Daily Times investigation revealed that most residents are terrified already and many have been planning, on how to move out of the state before the March 28 Presidential polls and April 11 Governorship election if the hostilities continued.
Recently, the state police Commissioner, Mr. Salisu Abdullahi Fagge spoke of this ugly development at a press conference where he pointed out that, Sokoto state, despite being one of the most peaceful states in the federation, recent political activities in the state ahead the forthcoming general election has the potential of truncating the peaceful nature of the state, hence politicians are trying to turn the game into a battle field. The commissioner’s observation of this ugly trend might not be unconnected with the several clashes between rival political thugs in the state. Some of the clashes have resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Unfortunately, this trend has spread across the 23 local government areas of the state as observed by the Police Commissioner.
The Commissioner who laid the blame of this odious act on the door steps of politicians in the state, however warned, that politicians should desist from such act, as his men are ready to arrest anybody found wanting, in this regard, irrespective of his status in the society. Fagge who revealed that already over 135 persons have been arrested in connection with political violence in the state, however threatened that anybody arrested perpetrating such evil might remain behind bars till after the polls. Residents complained that once in a while, the thugs go out of their ways to attack innocent citizens. According to one Mr. Paul Stephen, a resident of Offa road who works at Bello road in Sokoto metropolis, he was once harassed by some thugs on a motorcycle close to his shop, and since then, he became terrified and has resolved not to stay for the election in Sokoto, because the miscreants if not controlled, could be used to unleash terror on innocent citizens.
Paul further revealed that, even his colleague, one Aminu Bala, was robbed by some political thugs coming from one of their political gathering. Unfortunately for Aminu, he was answering a phone call when one of the touts walked up to him and seized the phone from him with a threat to cut off his throat. This happened in the metropolis along Dogon Daji House, just by Mainstream Bank. Like Mr. Paul, other residents have faced one form of harassment or the other. Daily Times gathered that a number of persons who travel for Christmas have not returned, for fear of possible violence during the polls. Daily Times further gathered that, often times, posters and billboard of rival political parties were destroyed by political thugs loyal to either of the two major political parties. Of recent, Daily Times witnessed a mild drama at Mummy Junction, just by the Army Barracks in the state, where thugs of both political parties were keeping vigil to ensure posters of their party men are not destroyed.
Unfortunately, the drama at the Mummy junction later turned sour when a fight ensued between the two vigilant thugs, which left many people seriously injured. It was reported recently, that President Goodluck Jonathan’s posters and bill boards were destroyed by political thugs allegedly loyal to the opposition APC in Sokoto metropolis. Even during the recent proposed visit to Sokoto, by the First Lady, some youths, believed to be loyal to the APC were seen destroying posters and billboards of President Jonathan around the Sultan’s Palace Round About, an eye-witness told Daily Times.
Worried by the uncivilised development, a Sokoto-based youth group, under the auspices of Nigerian Youth Coalition Against Electoral Violence, (NYCAEV), raised the alarm over the dangerous path, being taken by politicians who are exploiting vulnerable youths using them as political thugs. The group warned that the nation might be heading to a rock if this trend is allowed to continue. The group, during one of their sensitisation workshops, on how to achieve a violent-free election in Nigeria through it’s National Secretary and the North-West Coordinator, Comrade Idris Salisu Rogo, raised a number of issues concerning the 2015 general election chief among was the way, Nigerian politicians have succeeded in turning Nigerian youths into instrument of political thuggery, electoral malpractices and violence among many other vices.
The group also expressed displeasure with the level of division that exist among Nigerian youths, particularly divisions along religious lines, which has become a major discourse on social media by the Nigerian youths. This they said potend a damaging danger for the country. Though religious difference is not too pronounced in Sokoto, people are not harassed on the basis of their faith, or even tribe. The problem here is just political as the political thugs are terrorising everyone. In fact, one can confidently said, Sokoto State, is a home for all Nigerians, as the number of non-indegenes from all part of the country, going about their individual businesses un-harassed is very massive.
No doubt, in Sokoto, both APC and PDP matched each others’ strength and this is why the skirmish might last longer than necessary as none of the parties would want to concede defeat easily. Followers of the two major political parties is so large that one could hardly say with certainty which party is bigger in terms of followership, but the fact remains that APC is in charge of the state having the Governor while the deputy Governor is of the PDP.
The governorship contest in Sokoto, between Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the APC and Senator, Abdallah Wali could not be said to be responsible for the huge rivalry, nor, the Wamakko- Muntari factor. But as analysts have said, that the battle for the soul of Sokoto state has being between, the incumbent Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko of the APC and the former Governor of the state, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, of the PDP. To ignore this damaging trend might be too costly for the state, and the needful thing to do now, is for a solution be found, in the best interest of the state. Though, the police Commissioner assured his men’s readiness to tackle the situation, but beyond the verbal assurance, it would be advisable for the security agencies in the state, to translate their word into action.
Like what has transpired at the Federal level, where the presidential candidates of the major political parties were meant to sign a peace-pact, other states of the federation have also followed the step. It would not be a crime to call on the various stakeholders in Sokoto State, with the security agencies in the state, to do the same. As the elections gathered momentum, the trend of political thuggery in Sokoto State is taking another dimension and if left unchecked, the cost of ignoring it might be too dangerous to bear.

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