Recently, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)mconducted senatorial primaries in the three Kaduna state senatorial zones and picked their candidates to contest the 2019 general elections. Our correspondent, AZA MSUE, reports that the three zones will face the toughest political battles since the return of democracy in 1999
Ahead of the forthcoming general elections, the battle for the senatorial race in Kaduna North, Central and Southern senatorial zones will be tough as powerful political gladiators in the All governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be locking horns to represent the constituents at the Senate.
Kaduna Central Zone
The battle of who fly the flag of Kaduna central senatorial for the APC is yet to be settled. The party’s primary has been conducted and Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s Special Adviser on political matters, Uba Sani, defeated Shehu Sani, the current senator representing the zone with a wide margin of 2,088 votes. Uba Sani’s main challenger and incumbent Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani got 15 votes, a difference of 2,073 votes.
Although the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) had earlier cleared Shehu Sani as the sole candidate in the race, and disqualified other aspirants contesting with the incumbent senator, no reasons was given for their disqualifications.
The APC national leadership’s decision was rejected by the other aspirants and party loyalists in the state. Reports said the APC later reversed its earlier decision and cleared other aspirants too and the primaries election was conducted.
Meanwhile, Prof. Eddie Floyd-Igbo, the party’s Coordinator for the Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone, had declared the results of the primaries held at Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Sports Multipurpose Hall, Kaduna.
Although, Senator Shehu Sani said he withdrew from the race, describing the primary as kangaroo and illegal, his Media Aide, Mr Abdulsamad Amadi, said the primaries conducted was illegal.
“The Office of Senator Shehu Sani has not, and will not send anybody as their representative or agent to that illegality that some desperate people are organising. This is because the national leadership of the APC has not scheduled any senatorial primaries in Kaduna Central”, he said.
Two days after the primaries, certificates of return were issued by the Chairman of the electoral committee in the state, Mathew Idouriyekemwen, despite the controversy surrounding the primaries for Kaduna central district, where the incumbent senator, Shehu Sani, insisted that he was given an automatic ticket by the party’s national working committee.
Apart from Uba Sani, who received certificate of returne for Kaduna central, Suleiman Abdu-Kwari and Kaduna deputy governor, Arch. Bala Yusuf Bantex collected Kaduna North and Kaduna south certificates of return, respectively.
Speaking while issuing the certificates to the winners of APC primaries elections, the state electoral committee chairman, Mathew Idouriyekemwen, said the primary was free, fair and has the backing of the party’s national leadership.
However, Gen. Mohammed Saleh (rtd), former lawmaker, representing the Kaduna Central Senatorial District who also participated in the zone’s APC primaries faulted the issue of automatic ticket reportedly granted to Shehu Sani, stressing that it was alien to the nation’s constitution and that of the party.
Saleh, who earlier pitched tent with Shehu Sani on the direct primary mode of election, made u-turn to support Uba Sani for the zonal’s ticket of the party.
Saleh, one of the senatorial aspirants who was at the late Gen. Usman Katsina House, Kaduna, to witness the presentation of results to the winners of primaries in the state, insisted that he had to follow the APC in the state and support Uba Sani.
He noted that as a loyal party member, they could not have gone against the decision of the party, since the leadership and stakeholders of the APC had directed that states could adopt indirect or direct mode of primaries.
Saleh, explained that their loyalty was to the national leadership of the party, which gave State chapters the democratic power of choice between direct and indirect mode of primary elections.
After the primaries, Iduoriyekemwen, alleged that Senator Shehu Sani, had offered him N10 million bribe to get an affirmation for his controversial automatic ticket.
He dropped the hint while answering questions over allegations that the committee was bribed to skew the primaries election results in favour of some aspirants of the APC in the State.
His words: “The only person in Kaduna State who offered me money was Senator Shehu Sani, through one of my committee members, who informed me that N10m gift was set aside for the Committee Chairman. And I said we don’t need the money, asking them what the money was for. Even after the primaries, before the announcement of results, Senator Shehu and his men put pressure on us to come and take the money. He called me several times but we made it clear to him that we don’t need cash inducement at all”.
The Electoral Panel Chairman said further that the incumbent Shehu Sani made last minute efforts to get him to accept the offer, stating that: “He (Senator Sani) tried to convince me that he was the sole candidate and that was why I must accept the money. I told him pointedly that I was in Kaduna on assignment for the National Working Committee, with a brief to do free and fair primary elections for duly-cleared candidates”.
Iduoriyekemwen, who is also a former Majority Leader of Edo State House of Assembly and one-time board member of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) also expressed readiness to forward the telephone number of his Committee member, through whom the pledge of N10m offer was announced to the leadership of the panel.
The Electoral Panel Chairman however, expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the election was conducted, describing it as “peaceful, orderly and rancour-free”.
Meanwhile, Senator Shehu Sani’s Political Adviser, Comrade Suleiman Ahmed, in a statement accused his opponent of been behind what he described as false and mischievous lies.
Part of Senator Shehu Sani’s statement reads: “The attention of the distinguished Senator Shehu Sani has been drawn to a fresh regime of lies disseminated and peddled by the APC Kaduna central primary panel chair as supported by elements of the Kaduna state Government that distinguished Senator Shehu Sani has through a proxy offered to “bribe” the chair of the electoral panel with the sum of 10m which he “rejected”. That is nothing but a condensed lies and outright falsehood”.
“The distinguished senator never delegated anyone to act on his behalf as far as the mischievous allegations are concerned. The distinguished senator has made it publicly known before the illegal primaries that he would not partake in an exercise that clearly violated the rules of the party and a court order obtained by the governor’s candidate Uba Sani”.
“The APC primary election committee were hosted and monopolized by the state governor’s aide in a hotel. It’s inconceivable that the senator will contemplate engaging in such an unwholesome and immoral act”.
As the battle for the APC Kaduna central senatorial ticket continued, political watchers opined that both the incumbent senator Shehu Sani and Uba Sani may lose out the seat to the opposition PDP candidate if the APC internal squabble in the zone is not settled amicably. They suggested that genuine reconciliation of the two APC camps in the zone should be embarked upon as matter of urgency for the interest of the party.
On the other hand, Lawal Usman Adamu, who decamped from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has emerged the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Kaduna central senatorial zone to challenge the candidate of the ruling APC in the next year’s polls.
The Kaduna northern senatorial zone witnessed less acrimony during the primaries. The state commissioner of finance in the state, Abdul Suleiman Kwari, emerged APC candidate for the zone. In the opposition PDP, Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Population and National Identity, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who lost the governorship ticket to Isah Ashiru, collected the PDP ticket for Kaduna North Senatorial District, leaving other aspirants who purchased the senatorial forms stranded.
It was gathered that PDP had allowed Hunkuyi the right of first refusal being one of the current set of senators that defected from the APC to the party.
Further checks revealed that Hunkuyi accepted and was allowed to contest alongside two others.
The politician, who scored 158 votes to emerge winner of the primary which took place at the PDP zonal office in Zaria defeated Jafar Mohammed who scored 90 votes and Bilkisu Soba who polled 74 votes.
In Kaduna southern senatorial district, the incumbent deputy governor, Arc. Barnabas Bala Bantex, of APC emerged winner with 2,287 votes defeating, thus Senator Caleb Zagi who scored 268 votes.
However, the incumbent senator of the zone, Danjuma Laah, defeated Adams Jagaba, a House of representatives member to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial ticket. The Peoples Democratic Party has been representing the zone at the Red chamber of the National Assembly since the returned of democracy from 1999 till date. Pundits observe that next year’s contest for the soul of the zone will be tough.
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