In the aftermath of the gale of defections that blew across the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two leading political parties in the country will today test their might and popularity in the senatorial and House of Representatives by-elections holding in Katsina, Bauchi and Kogi states.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that there is tension in the two political parties at the national level over the by-elections to fill the vacant seats in the federal legislature.
Stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent from both camps said the two parties consider the polls crucial because it would determine how Nigerians view them after the gales of defection in both the APC and PDP.
In Bauchi, Senator Isa Misau caused a major upset for the APC few weeks ago when he joined 13 other Senators that defected from ruling party to the PDP, while another Senator from Kogi State, Senator Dino Malaye, was also among the 14 APC Senators that defected to.
In Katsina State, two brothers from the same parent, Kabir Babba Kaita of the PDP and his younger brother, Ahmad Babba Kaita of the APC, are the two major contenders who will slug it out in the senatorial bye-election for Katsina North district today.
The seat became vacant last April following the death of Senator Mustapha Bukar, an APC lawmaker.
The elder Kaita, a retired Customs officer, had emerged the PDP candidate by consensus as his only opponent, Mani Nasarawa, withdrew from the race before the primary polls.
Ahmad Babba Kaita, a serving member of the House of Representatives, received the highest votes of 1,723 to beat 10 other aspirants during his party’s primary election for the senatorial seat.
The Katsina State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Jibrin Ibrahim Zarewa, said four other political parties are expected to contest the seat alongside the APC and the PDP.
During the APC rally held on Thursday in Katsina, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had said that the APC must win Saturday’s Katsina North senatorial district by-election.
He stated that the party’s victory at the poll would honour the late Senator Mustapha Bukar who occupied the position before he died on April 4 this year.
Osinbajo added that APC victory would also ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari who hails from the senatorial zone would be honoured as the party’s leader.
In Bauchi, the APC candidate in today’s Bauchi South senatorial by-election, Hon Lawal Yahaya Gumau, said all the wards that constitute Toro federal constituency which he represents have felt the impact of his representation at the National Assembly and that he is sure of victory in the by-election.
But the PDP in the state said the “APC is jittery of losing the senatorial seat in their desperation for power apparently to used it to impeach Saraki”.
The PDP Bauchi spokesman, Alhaji Yayanuwa Zainabari, stated that APC is no longer popular and accepted among Nigerians having failed to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people, stressing that the PDP is the party to beat in today’s senatorial bye-election.
He said, “They know the party is not popular again; that is why they are hell bent in intimidating even their supporters resulting to the recent gale of defections to PDP which prompted Buhari’s leave for England apparently to recover from the shock he suffered from the defections of Saraki and others.”
We’ll Reconfirm Kogi AS APC State After Today’s Poll – Fanwo
In Kogi, the state government said yesterday that APC candidate, Isah Haruna, would clinch victory in the bye election to fill the vacant House of Representatives seat for Kogi/ Lokoja cederal constituency.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Director General of the governor’s Media and Publicity team, Kingsley Fanwo, expressed confidence in the candidate of the APC, saying the PDP stands no chance in the bye-election.
Fanwo noted that the ruling APC is better positioned than the one that won the 2015 general election in the state.
He said, “I was told their leaders are campaigning in the Federal Constituency. But our party, the All Progressives Congress went from House to House to campaign hard for this election.
“I am happy nobody molested the former governors when they were campaigning for their PDP. It shows that our people listened to our plea to avoid any form of violence before, during and after the elections. But we are prepared to show them a glimpse of how 2019 will look like.
“When they were governors, nobody dared campaign against their party because of the reign of terror. Today, Kogi is different and the electorate will speak with their voter’s cards”.
Fanwo said the security agencies in the state have promised a peaceful environment to guarantee a free, fair and credible poll today, even as he called on the citizens to remember Kogi State has zero tolerance for violence.