The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will hold by-elections tomorrow to fill two vacant seats in the Senate and one House of Representatives seat in Katsina, Bauchi and Kogi respectively.
Political pundits say the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would use the by-elections to test their strength in the three states, all believed to be strong bases of President Muhammadu Buhari going by the results of the 2015 presidential elections.
Brothers go to ‘war’
In Katsina State, where Buhari hails from, the fight is between two brothers: Ahmed Babba Kaita of APC and Kabir Babba Kaita of the PDP [the latter is an elder brother to the former born of the same father].
While Ahmed is a serving member of the House of Representatives, Kabir is a retired Customs officer. The two will slug it out to fill the seat for Katsina North in the Senate, which became vacant with the demise of Senator Mustapha Bukar.
Katsina North Senatorial District (popularly called Daura Zone) is where President Buhari comes from and both the APC and PDP, which separately held their campaign rallies yesterday, will want to outwit each other in the contest to make a strong statement.
Osinbajo, Oshiomhole, Tinubu, others lead APC rally
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo led APC’s grand rally at the Kangiwa Square in Daura yesterday. He was accompanied by the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) Boss Mustapha, APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika, his Water Resources counterpart Suleiman Adamu, Senator Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South), Senator Umar Kurfi (Katsina central), among others.
Kwankwaso, Lamido, Shema, others lead PDP rally
On its part, the PDP had its own rally in Kankia. It was led by Kano State former governor and presidential hopeful, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; another PDP presidential hopeful Sule Lamido, former governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, the National Secretary of PDP Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri, a former senator Garba Lado, and many other members of the PDP from the North West states took part in the campaign rally.
In the two separate rallies held, one thing was clear: the two political parties attracted mammoth crowds.
Hot contest expected in Bauchi
In Bauchi State, Rep Lawal Yahaya Gumau is the candidate of the ruling APC. He is going up against Ladan Salihu Ladan of PDP, former Bauchi governor Isa Yuguda of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Maryam Bagel (SDP) and Hussaini Umar (NNPP), among others.
They are vying to fill the vacant Bauchi South Senate slot created by the death of Senator Ali Wakili. While analysts say Yuguda could stage a surprise, the major fight is between the candidates of the APC and PDP.
On Thursday last week, President Buhari had graced the mega rally held for APC’s candidate Gumau.
In Kogi, where by-election for the Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency seat will be held, the battle is believed to be ultimately between Haruna Isa of APC and Abubakar Bashir Mohammed of the PDP.
Although there are other political parties participating in the three by-elections, political observers are of the view that it is ultimately a battle between APC and PDP.
Thus, analysts believe that both APC and PDP would truly test their might in the three by-elections to be held tomorrow, which may serve as a reflection of what will happen in the 2019 general elections.
INEC distributes sensitive materials in Bauchi
In Bauchi State, INEC has already commenced the distribution of sensitive election materials for the Bauchi South Senatorial District by-election which holds tomorrow.
The Bauchi State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ibrahim Abdullahi, disclosed this during the flag-off of the formal distribution of the materials in Bauchi yesterday.
Abdullahi said the sensitive materials were customised according to all the polling units of the seven Local Government Areas of Bauchi South senatorial district.
Also, the police have announced restriction of movement from 12 midnight of Friday, August 10 to 8 pm of Saturday, August 11, across the seven Local Government Areas of Bauchi South Senatorial District.
The LGs are Bauchi, Toro, Alkaleri, Bogoro, Tafawa Balewa, Dass and Kirfi.
In a statement issued by its spokesperson, DSP Kamal Abubakar, the command said the restriction did not affect those on essential duties, who must however carry their valid identification cards.
It also reminded important personalities and politicians that they had been barred from moving to any polling unit with their security details.
7,800 ad-hoc staff for Katsina by-election
In Katsina State, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Alhaji Jibril Zarewa said a total of 7,800 ad-hoc staff will take part in the Katsina North Senatorial by-election.
The zone has 12 LGs namely: Daura, Zango, Mai Adua, Kankiya, Baure, Mashi, Mani, Ingawa, Dutsi, Sandamu, Kusada and Bindawa.
Zarewa said this in Daura on Wednesday, adding that the ad-hoc staff members were recruited from the NYSC and tertiary institutions.
The Police Commissioner in the state, Mr Habu Hamisu, said adequate security measures had been taken put in place to ensure a free and fair election, adding that policemen would be drafted to safeguard the credibility of the senatorial election.