In 2015, it was not very difficult for the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State to defeat the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) due to overwhelming clamour for change. However, this is another season with a lot of determining factors that would define the forthcoming elections, including that of the Presidency.
Undoubtedly, the APC is quite popular and is widely accepted in the Kaduna State. The people of the state and the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, has a long history going back to when he was in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which later became part of the merger that gave birth to APC.
This has influenced the voting pattern in the state in the past and is bound to determine vote swing in the next elections as the president still enjoys the support from the people.
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But the PDP is also quite popular. Having won elections and formed government at the state level in four consecutive elections, it has been able to sustain visibility on the minds of the people even after losing out in 2015.
The party after losing in both the presidential and governorship elections in 2015, suffered a depletion in its membership that left the party with no clear-cut leadership.
However, the party’s primaries last year helped to swell its rank after bringing back many of its stalwarts who had left the party.
The PDP was able to recover within a short time and put its house in order.
Being the ruling party in the state for 16 years, its leaders have structures and many of them still retain their structures at the grassroots and can influence the voting pattern in the state.
The 2015 elections which altered political configuration in the state saw Buhari defeating then President Goodluck Jonathan in Kaduna, with 1, 127,760 to 484,085 votes.
The APC won in 14 of the 23 local government areas of the state, leaving the ruling party with only nine local government areas.
At the end of the governorship election in 2015, Malam Nasir El-Rufai of the APC polled 1,117,635 votes to defeat Mukhtar Ramalan Yero who scored 485,833 to come second in the election.
El-Rufai widened the gap winning in 17 local government areas, while Yero won in six local government areas.
The number of registered voters in the state stands at 3.9 million while uncollected PVCs in the state stands at 1 million as at December 2018.
Both the APC and PDP presidential candidates pulled a lot of crowd when they came to the state for their campaigns confirming the fact that both are popular.
But, there are other factors that will determine who wins in Kaduna at the end of the day.
While President Buhari has remained a popular and towering figure, Atiku is using the structure of the PDP leaders in the state to sell his candidacy.
The individual efforts of the governorship candidates of the two major parties would also come into play.
By implication, while El-Rufai would deploy all the resources at his disposal to ensure Buhari and by extension, all APC candidates for the National Assembly win on Feb. 16, his counterpart in PDP, with support of the likes of ex- Governor Ahmed Makarfi, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, among others, would do all that it takes to ensure that Atiku carry the day.
For the electorate, the achievements and policies of the current administration in the state are being compared with what the opposition party is offering on a scale and that may serve to convince more than a few on where to cast their votes.
But both parties are doing well in terms of efforts to sell their candidates.
Officials of the two parties who spoke with our correspondents maintain that their candidates are popular and would carry the day.