Since the death of Senator Mustapha Bukar, the senator representing Katsina North in the senate last month, there has been an intense politicking among aspirants bidding to replace the deceased lawmaker in the Red Chamber.
So far, over 21 persons have indicated interest directly or indirectly their intention to vie for the office, with majority of the aspirants coming from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the party of the deceased senator.
It was gathered that high-level consultations and nocturnal meetings are taking place daily in the zone which has 12 local governments. Billboards, posters and banners have been placed at strategic places while some aspirants have gone further, issuing intent letters to stakeholders, declaring their intention to seek the vacant senate seat.
Even though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to issue a statement for a by-election to fill in the space, politicians are all out to seek the support of their constituents.
According to the spokesperson of INEC in its Katsina office, Buhari Abashe, no date has been fixed for the by-election.
Our correspondent reported that tension is increasing by the day in the senatorial zone as more aspirants spring up daily.
Several pressure groups can be seen campaigning for one candidate or the other. Social media platform groups, especially on WhatsApp and Facebook are being created and updated daily to sustain the tempo.
A closer look at the prospective aspirant from the APC shows that former Speaker, Katsina State House of Assembly, Umar Ya’u Gwajo Gwajo, who recently decamped to the APC is among the top contenders. He contested against the late Bukar in 2015 under his former party, the PDP.
The two House of Representatives members from the zone, namely Ahmed Babba Kaita( representing Kankia, Kusada, Ingawa) and Nasir Zangon Daura ( representing Baure and Zango) are also among top contenders. They mass supporters and the advantage of being in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
Also, among those being touted as gunning for the seat are the state commissioner of justice, Ahmed El- Marzuq, and that of resource development and son of a former senator who commands respect in the zone, Mustapha Mahmud Kanti. The special adviser of science and technology to the governor, Dr. Rabe Nasir, and that of investment and international relation, Ibrahim Zakari Talba, are also said to be in the race. Their close ties with the state governor for being members of his cabinet may pull surprises for them.
A businessman, Dr. Salisu Ahmad Ingawa, and Arch A.K. Ahmed, who in 2011 contested the APC gubernatorial primary, are also seen as possible contenders. Ahmed, who heads water control agency in Lagos, is said have gone far ahead in his bid, sending letters intimating stakeholders on the need to give him a chance to carry on with the late Bukar’s legacies.
Others include Hon. Musa Haro, a Buhari staunched supporter, Alhaji Abdullahi Bukar, AIG Sani Ahmed (rtd), former House of Reps member, Prof. Umar Adam Katsayal, as well as Hon Lawal Garba.
Political observers have concluded that the biggest battle would be at the APC primary to elect the party’s candidate for the senatorial seat. Anyone who emerges victorious at the exercise will be considered as being on his way to the senate because the main opposition PDP and its candidates are said to be exhibiting a nonchalant attitude to the election.
However, some of the critical factors that may play out in the emergence of the senator include the Daura Emirate council factor. The Daura zone, with 12 local government areas has five key councils that are strategic and they are: Daura, Zango, Baure, Sandamu and Maiadua. They determine things in the zone. Any candidate that is not from one of the councils is seen as an outcast. The late senator belonged to one of the five councils, hence the speculations that they may insist on getting his replacement from one of the councils.
Also, a candidate who is a member of the Daura Emirate council will enjoy an added advantage. The late Senator Bukar held the title of Madawakin Daura and was jealously guarded by the “powers” of the council.
The recently conducted APC congresses will also be a determinant. The elected officials will form the electoral bodies for the party primaries ahead of the by-election. The ability of each of the prospective aspirants to get more delegates shall be a plus to him in getting the ticket.
Also one’s closeness to the political pillar of the zone, President Muhammadu Buhari, can swing the contest in his favour.
However, for the PDP only two persons are believed to have indicated interest to seek the party’s ticket in the by-election. They are Mani Nasarawa, a former House of Reps member, and Kabir Babba Kaita, a strong opposition politician.
Meanwhile, INEC yesterday said it was awaiting the formal declaration of the senate seat vacant by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, before it could start the process of holding a by-election.
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said
“We are still waiting for a declaration of vacancy from the presiding officer (Senate President) in order to kick start the by-election in Katsina State,” Oyekanmi said.
The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had said on April 17, 2018 that the electoral body would organise four by-elections to fill vacancies in Takum Constituency in Taraba State, Lokoja/Koton-Karfe Constituency in Kogi State, Bauchi South Senatorial District in Bauchi State, and Katsina North Senatorial District in Katsina State.
Prof. Yakubu listed Katsina North Senatorial District by-election among the polls to be conducted this year.