At both rallies held recently, the APC and PDP tried to showcase their acceptability as evident in the way they trade supporters.
The two parties received defectors, including new entrants from what politicians call “banana political parties.”
At the APC’s rally, the National Chairman, John Oyegun, received top politicians like Sen. Ibrahim Ida, a former Speaker of the Katsina State House of Assembly, Ya’u Umar Gwajo-Gwajo, and his Deputy, Bilyaminu Rimi; Abdulaziz Dan Yari, a former Director General of SMEDAN, Nura Khalil; the Director General of the 2015 Katsina PDP governorship campaign, Bature Umar Masari; and the Katsina State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Dr. Yusha’u Armaya’u, and thousands of their supporters.
However, in an attempt to counter the “offensive”, the PDP at its rally, showcased Sen. Yakubu Lado, a former Speaker of the Katsina State House of Assembly, Ahmed Kofa, Kabir Babba Kaita, Kabir Dankanjiba and Halliru Kafin Soli.
Others who defected include a former Chairman of PDM, Abdullahi Tafashiya, the 2015 gubernatorial candidate of APGA, Umar Tata; Nasiru Kankia, Mustapha Radda, Lawal Mobil Funtua and thousands of their supporters.
A close look at both lists shows that the PDP and APC are proud of the “catch” more so that preparations for the 2019 general elections have commenced in earnest.
Daily Trust reports that in terms of mobilisation, both parties did what they could to outshine each other.
However, each was accusing the other of paying handsomely to attract attendance; a claim that could not be substantiated.
One important issue of note is that the PDP rally was an affair that saw mobilisation from the six states in the North West, while the APC’s was a state affair that drew party faithful from all the local government areas in Katsina State.
Three serving governors attended the PDP rally: Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti).
Also, PDP presidential hopefuls: Ahmed Makarfi, Sule Lamido, Attahiru Bafarawa and Ibrahim Shekarau all took time to showcase “the virtues of the PDP” as the party to beat at all levels in 2019.
Another interesting aspect of the PDP rally was that it was the first time the immediate past Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, appeared at an elaborate political gathering.
Shema, who had remained off the political radar since leaving office three years ago, spoke at the gathering on alleged intimidation and harassment by the APC-led administration in the state.
He accused the government of continuous witch-hunt and incarceration, which the APC denied. The APC said Shema should be ready to carry his cross over any wrong doing.
The fierce rivalry between the APC and the PDP was evident at the rallies as 2019 approaches, with each of them feeling big and upbeat of winning the gubernatorial contest.
At the APC rally, Oyegun set the ball rolling with statements which the PDP felt were demeaning and unwarranted.
Oyegun had described the PDP as “dead and buried in Katsina State”, saying the APC as a party was working to change the tide in Nigeria.
He said some people were restlessly fighting back, but added that the determination of President Buhari would prevail.
“Despite all the distractions, we have a president who is single- minded, focused and determined; who has improved the foundation of this country destroyed by the PDP. Today, he is already building a 5000km railway network.
“Today, we can say that electricity is still very low, but for the first time, we enjoy stable 7,000mw in this country. When they handed over to us, it was 3000mw, but we have added 4000mw,” he said.
The chief host of the APC rally and Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, said the state APC was one happy family with equal opportunities for all and that it was working to ensure that the state gave President Buhari a resounding victory in the upcoming general elections.
On his part, Bala Musawa, the Funtua Zonal Vice Chairman of the party, debunked insinuations that defectors were lured with money.
“The defectors are well-to-do persons and have made it in life; as such nothing can one use to woo them. They left PDP on their own volition and conviction,” he said.
Although the two rallies are over, the APC is already taking credit for them. An aide of Gov. Masari, Ibrahim Muazzam, said the PDP owed Masari a big thank you for the free atmosphere granted them to hold their rally.
Muazzam said this singular action was a clear demonstration of Gov. Masari’s maturity and understanding of how politics should be played.
He said as chief security officer of the state, Masari allowed the opposition to gather and did what they did without harassment or intimidation.
According to him, Masari had suffered from the PDP which barred him from using venues and even airtime in state government media outfits, saying the reverse was the case now.
“Masari has liberalised and opened up the stations to everyone to air their views freely. The governor even went a step further by constructing the People’s Square that grievances and ill feelings can be said to the listening of all. This is what a true democrat is,” he said.
He assured the people of Katsina State that the government of Masari would continue to pursue and implement issues-based politics free of intimidation and harassment.