Nobody can tell whether it is by accident or otherwise, but the by-election for the Daura Senatorial District election scheduled for August 11, would be interesting as the two dominant political parties in Katsina State – the APC and the PDP, picked their candidates from the Kaita family. Indeed it is going to be a fight between two brothers from the same father.
The by-election for the Daura Senatorial District was necessitated by the death of Senator Mustapha Bukar on April 4, 2018.
However, it took the senate three months to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that there was a vacuum in the senate from Katsina State; a prerequisite for INEC to set the stage for a by-election.
Therefore, few days after INEC received the notification, it fixed August 11, for the by-election which would be conducted alongside by-elections for Bauchi South Senatorial seat that became vacant following the death of Sen. Ali Wakili, and a House of Representatives seat that became vacant following the death of Hon. Buba Jibril, the Member representing Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency.
However, for the by-election in Katsina State, the fierce rivalry between the APC and the PDP will once again play out.
What is more interesting this time is that aside political differences, both aspirants fielded by the PDP and the APC are brothers from the same father, with different mothers.
The elder of the brothers is the PDP candidate, Kabir Babba-Kaita, who polled over 1,000 votes during an affirmation meeting, being the sole candidate of the party.
The younger brother, Ahmad Babba-Kaita, is the APC candidate and a serving Member of the House of Representatives representing Kusada/Ingawa/Kankia Federal Constituency.
Unlike his elder brother, Ahmad did not pick the APC ticket on a platter of gold as it was after a fierce contest with tested politicians, including another Member of the House of Representatives, Nasir Zango, and a former Speaker of the Katsina State House of Assembly, Umar Gwajo Gwajo.
Others who contested in the APC primary were some members of the Katsina State Executive Council: the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmed El-Marzuq, the Commissioner for Resource Development, Mustapha Kanti, the Special Adviser to Governor Aminu Masari on Science and Technology, Rabe Nasir, and Honourary Adviser to the Governor on Investment, Zakari Ibrahim.
The rest were Ahmed Jamo, Lawal Garba, Lawal Haruna, AK Ahmed and Prof. Umar Katsayal.
Ahmad Kaita polled 1, 723 votes to defeat his closest rival, Nasir Zango, who is representing Baure/Zango Federal Constituency, who polled 1,474. It was a tensed contest where the indirect primary mode was used by the APC.
Observers believe that the election on August 11, will be very interesting because the PDP will do all what it takes to win simply to score a political point at the national level, considering that the zone is the constituency of President Muhammadu Buhari. What is not clear, however, is the pedigree of its candidate; Kabir.
APC supporters have already concluded that the election has been won, alleging that Kabir was a novice in politics.
Findings reveal that Kabir is coming unto the open stage for the first time, having been a customs officer who had never contested nor aspired for any political office.
Analysts in the state believe that Kabir might have been a strong financier of political activities or movements all this while, but that his pedigree in politics was unknown.
Also, the party he represents may be a stumbling block for his victory. The PDP lost its majority status in the state since the last general elections as in 2015 as the APC swept all the available political offices in the state, including the governorship.
In fact, it was the APC that won the recent House of Representatives election for Mashi/Dutsi after a heated contest with the PDP, although the PDP is challenging the election in court.
Pundits believe that the Buhari factor will also play out in the Daura by-election, saying it will be disastrous for the APC to lose more so that this is coming on the heels of the 2019 general elections.
Supporters of Ahmad Kaita in the APC say he is a dogged politician whose personal worth is enough to lead him to glory.
They say the two-term member of the House of Representatives has earned for himself greater followership; hence his ability to navigate his way during the primary.
Some sources say in the last decade he did well in reaching out to people across political divides; not only in his constituency, but the entire state.
They say he is loved by many people in the state for his visible representation on the floor of the house to the extent that people in other federal constituencies in Katsina State mock their representatives, saying they should learn from Ahmad what it takes to be a legislator.
His underground moves within the shortest time to the extent of winning the senatorial ticket of the APC is seen as a great feat.
Observers believe that his victory at the primary is his ability to break barriers in the five core local government areas in Daura Emirate.
Ahmad had for long been a critic of government. His then weekly column: “Viewpoint with Ahmad Babba Kaita” in the Leadership newspaper was a hit across the North West for its continuous criticism of the then PDP administration.
A cross section of APC members in Daura have commended Gov. Aminu Masari for ensuring that a level-playing ground was provided for all the aspirants to test their popularity.
Interestingly, the State Chairman of the PDP, Salisu Majigiri, said the party was not threatened by APC’s candidate in as much as INEC, security agencies and government officials would be just and fair during the poll.
Majigiri said, “These three stakeholders are our greatest challenge in the by-election. We have seen what was done in the Mashi/Dutsi election which a court of justice confirmed by ordering for a re-run.”
He added that, “We have all it takes to win and we shall win if these issues are checked properly.”
However, his APC counterpart, Shitu Shitu, waved away the allegation, saying, making allegations against INEC, security officials and government in power had been the norm of opposition parties in Nigeria.
Shitu said, “It is the usual cries of defeated parties.”
He said the PDP fully knew that the APC was the peoples’ party in Katsina and had continued to prove that in all elections.
Already, INEC has allayed fears of political parties during a meeting held with stakeholders where its officials promised a free and fair election.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Katsina State, Jibrin Zarewa, said INEC was non-partisan and was fair to all parties, saying that all mechanisms for a smooth conduct of the election were being worked on.
Zarewa said the mode and procedure of the by-election would not be different from what the parties were used to, adding that only people with Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) would participate.
During the meeting, political parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) raised concern over electronic collation of results at the ward level, alleging possible involvement of government officials in election matters.
A breakdown from INEC shows that the election will be conducted in 12 local government areas in the Daura Zone which has 128 registration areas, called wards, 1,577 polling units and 248 voting points.
The zone, as at 2014, had a total of 855,092 registered voters, and out of these, 835,013 have collected their PVC, with 20,079 PCV yet to be collected.
A total of 7,727 ad hoc staff would be deployed for the by-election.