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Bye-election: It’s Two-Horse Race In Katsina Again

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be going into another round of political battle tomorrow in Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa Federal Constituency of Katsina State. ANDY ASEMOTA intrigues sorrounding the elections.

What is at stake in this Saturday’s bye-election is a constituency’s seat in the House of Representatives once won by Hon. Ahmed Babba Kaita of APC in 2015, which is now vacant after Kaita got elected into the Senate few months ago.

The APC goes into the November 17 poll brimming with confidence from the impressive victory of Kaita over his PDP rival in August 13, 2018 Katsina North senatorial bye-election with over 160,000 votes in its kitty.

Will APC continue her dominance over PDP in the past three and a half years? Some analysts believe that the PDP is determined to change the narrative and record its first victory over the ruling party in order to put smiles on the faces of its leaders and supporters.

However, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) spurred on by second republic governor of old Kaduna State and national leader of the party, Balarabe Musa, has expressed confidence that it would bounce back from political wilderness since the return of the present dispensation in the country and defeat the two top contenders for the National Assembly seat.

But Mannir Khalil, a retired civil servant turned politician, told LEADERSHIP Friday that there was nothing to worry over PRP’s aspiration, pointing out that the party can’t get things right in this weekend’s political battle.   

Khalil noted that causing upset was not part of the political game in this clime, insisting that it would be a bad day for the old battle horse, PRP, adding that “I can’t see neither the PRP nor the fourth contending party in the bye-election, Yes Electorate Solidarity (YES) recording an upset against APC or even its arch rival.”

Khalil’s position is one belief many political observers in the state share in common. Asking how PRP or YES could be forces to reckon with in the upcoming bye-election, an APC faithful, Zakari Ahmed Ibrahim, said his party is right now a formidable structure that will subdue any challenge.

“We can’t lose to PDP this time. We are ready for their challenge. The people in Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa have been mobilised to come out in their numbers on Saturday and re-enact the victory of APC in recent Mashi/Dutsi/Mani Federal Constituency and the Katsina North Senatorial District bye-elections,” Ibrahim added.

In a reaction, a Kankia-born political activist, Yakubu Abdullahi, boasted that “the party (PDP) has something to offer” in the bye-election despite the defection of one of its livewires in the area and 2015 governorship candidate as well as a top contender for the party’s 2019 gubernatorial ticket, Engr. Musa Nashuni.

In the words of the PDP supporter: “I can tell you that we have some major stakeholders that can play roles in all the three local government areas that form the constituency. In Kankia, we have the likes of Abdul Halliru, the Tafidan Kankiya, and the party’s senatorial candidate for 2019 general elections, Hon. Usman Mani Nasarawa.”

“They are all influential people and I believe they can make a difference there. They can impact positively on the chances of the party’s flag bearer in the bye-election, Abdulsamad Abdullahi Kusada. You cannot take away the fact that he is a very nice fellow and he did all he could when he was the chairman of Kusada local government area to improve on the lives of the electorate there and of course when he was a member of the State House of Assembly, he did what was expected of him. He contributed a lot in terms of influencing a lot of projects to Kusada and when it comes to character, he is a very nice person.

“When you go to Ingawa, the former Chief of Staff to former Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema, Hussaini Dambo, is now contesting for the state house of assembly under the platform of PDP. Dambo and a host of others in Ingawa are working for the party.

“The race is going to be a keen contest; very, very keen contest and I believe it is going to be hitch-free because in the history of politicking, the constituency is one of the most peaceful in the state. So, we expect a very good contest and the result is going to be very interesting and surprising,” he said.                                     

For the members of the APC, they feel the party is on the march again. Hassan Maikudi, a businessman and APC enthusiast, posited that: “There are issues you cannot do away with as far as politics is concerned; there is candidate’s factor. The thing I want to emphasis is the issue of our candidate, who is the serving speaker of the state house of assembly and has done his best for the state and the people. He is a very, very young man and he is credible, popular and going by his character, a very nice persons and you can’t do away with that.”

The name, Abubakar Yahaya Kusada, is not strange to many in the state unlike the flag bearers of YES party, Abdullahi Umar and his PRP counterpart, Nasir Kankia. For about two years, he has been in the saddle as the speaker of the Katsina assembly. Now, he is on the political turf, wearing the jersey of APC with his eye on the House of Representatives seat in this week’s poll.

The APC is going into the contest as an incumbent party in the constituency, the state and the country. Many political watchers believe the ruling party is going to mobilize all its arsenal to win the bye-election.

In addition to this, the Buhari factor will be very strong at play. The seat which PDP wants to wrest from APC is in the home zone of President Muhammadu Buhari. APC stalwart, who did not want his name in print, assured that the party would do all it could to win back the seat.

Pundits believe that another major factor in favour of APC is the influence of the immediate past representative of the constituency turned senator representing the zone, who is also from Kankia in the affected constituency.

Many explained that the machinery of APC had become stronger in the federal constituency with the likes of former chairman of Kusada Local Government, Mannir Murnai, and in Ingawa Local Government Area, Mustapha Kanti Bello, the son of four time senator, late Kanti Bello, who now a commissioner in the state and Hon. Bala Sani Yahaya, former local government chairman and erstwhile state assembly member, well positioned to influence the electorate and woo votes from their areas.                                                

Meanwhile, in the present dispensation, no opposition party has achieved victory in any bye-election since 2015 general elections when APC coasted home to victory. The party has won all the elective positions contested into both the state and federal levels.

Some pundits feel it will be particularly humiliating if APC loses its grip in the constituency which, as stated earlier, is part of Buhari’s home zone. This possibility is the major challenge confronting the PDP as the echoes of the drums for tomorrow’s bye-election are unmistakably clear.

It is obvious to many observers that at the end of the day the speaker of the state house of assembly and standard bearer of APC is the new member of the House of Representative-in-waiting.

Analysts believe that the speaker is to a large extent reaping the fruits of APC’s success in the past three and a half years. Checks suggest that his chances have been brightened by the achievements of Buhari and Masari administrations in providing new or rehabilitating socio-economic amenities and facilities across the state and beyond since they assumed office.

On the developmental projects the APC-led government has spread across the state, a teacher in Katsina, Muntari Saidu, said apart from the provision of infrastructure, rehabilitation of health facilities, schools and roads, the government is trying its best in terms of empowering the impoverished people and re-building their confidence by encouraging farmers and businessmen to stay back in their local government areas and communities by boosting socio-economic activities.   



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