Political parties that fielded candidates in the Bauchi South senatorial district by-election will contest today to fill the seat made vacant by the death of late Senator Ali Wakili on 17th March, 2018.
Yahaya Mohammed, Head of Voters Education and Publicity Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Bauchi office, said that names of the candidates were submitted by the parties after their primaries or affirmation.
The candidates include Lawal Yahaya Gumau (APC); Haruna Ayuba(ADC); Aminu Tukur (APP) and Mallam Isah Yuguda (GPN).
Others are Usman Hassan (Kowa Party); Barrister Husseini Umar (NNPP); Usman Chaledi (PDC); Ladan Salihu (PDP) and Maryam Garba Bargel (SDP).
Of the candidates fielded by the different parties, some are seen as major contenders owing to their strong political platform, personality and grassroots followership.
The Bauchi South senatorial district by-election is crucial especially for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because the late Wakili was elected on its platform and the party wants to retain the seat.
The APC candidate, Lawal Yahaya Gumau was a two-time member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly before he was elected to the House of Representatives. He defeated the other aspirants with over 800 votes to emerge as the party’s candidate for the by-election.
Being from the ruling party and a grassroots politician may work in his favour despite some dissenting voices from within the party.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to flag off his campaign is however his greatest advantage as many believe that a vote for him is a vote for Buhari.
Many people however said that the endorsement by the president may not work in his favour as supporters of some of the candidates may not vote for him because of the defeat of their candidates.
Despite the seeming advantage, Gimau is facing some challenges as regards his aspiration. Many see him as a non-performer at the House of Representatives.
He may also have fewer votes or be out rightly rejected by the electorates in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa Balewa local governments being represented by the Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara who is not in good terms with Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.
This rejection had manifested in the primaries where delegates from the three local governments voted for Dr Safiya Iliyasu who came third in the primaries with over 500 votes.
Former Bauchi State governor, Malam Isah Yuguda of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) is another candidate participating in the election.
He contested for the Bauchi South senatorial district seat in 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after serving as governor for eight years.
Although he’s been out of power, he still remains a major figure in Bauchi politics and a candidate to reckon with. Yuguda is however coming into the race on what seems to be a weak political platform.
His political foes in the opposition PDP are said to be ganging up against him and have vowed to defeat him by voting massively for their party candidate, Dr Ladan Salihu.
Many however believe that he may deal a blow on the PDP candidate, especially with his past record of winning the governorship seat in 2007 after defecting from the then ruling PDP to the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr Ladan Salihu was a former Director General of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the proprietor of the popular Albarka Radio in Bauchi.
Salihu, who emerged the party’s candidate after defeating Hajara Yakubu Wanka and Garba Dahiru in the primaries, was a silent political strategist who conquered the party through subtle, clandestine approach to avoid frontal confrontation with the party’s old horses.
He was seen by many as more of a technocrat than a politician. His contribution to the growth and sustenance of the party in the state is acknowledged by many as a great advantage to him.
Another advantage Salihu has was the way he touched the lives of the youth. He was said to be instrumental to the employment of hundreds of young people in the media, especially FRCN stations across the country.
His establishment of Albarka Radio has also made him more popular because the station is now the most popular radio station in the state.
However, his supposed sponsorship by the former Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, has been raising dust within the party.
Mohammed, a governorship aspirant of the party is believed to have mobilised support for Salihu especially in Alkaleri, Kirfi, Bauchi and Toro as well as provided massive financial war chest to ensure his emergence.
Supporters of other governorship and other aspirants of the party were said to be angered by his presence at the venue of the primaries while other aspirants stayed away to maintain their neutrality.
They have therefore vowed to vote against Salihu in the election and will do same to ensure that Senator Mohammed loses the governorship primaries ticket.
Aminu Tukur, who defected from the APC after its primaries and joined the APP, emerged as its candidate.
Tukur, a fierce critic of Governor Mohammed Abubakar and the state APC leadership, is a close associate of Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
He was a former chairman of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and currently the member representing Lere/Bula constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly.
Tukur is said to be enjoying the backing of Speaker Dogara and comes from the same constituency with late Senator Ali Wakili. They were close confidants before his death, which many believe is an advantage to him.
Many opine that he may have a comfortable win in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa Balewa local government areas and may make a significant showing in Bauchi, Alkaleri and Kirfi. His main challenge in the by-election is however the political platform under which he is contesting.
Another challenge is that he is contesting against one of his associates and fellow lawmaker, Maryam Garba Bagel of the SDP who is currently the member representing Dass Constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly which many believe may spilt his votes.
Barrister Hussaini Umar of the NNPP is a lawyer from Toro, who cut his political teeth as a student unionist and activist.
He was once the national president of the National Union of Bauchi State Students (NUBASS).
Umar is the youngest person aspiring for the Senate seat in the by-election and has a large followership especially among the youth.
Being the sole candidate of the party, Umar is said to be also enjoying the support of almost all the powerful figures in the party including its governorship aspirants.
His major advantage according to observers is the wide and growing popularity of his party across the state as it has reached almost all parts of the state.
The party also has experienced politicians who left other parties, especially the PDP, and had held powerful positions in the Senate or elsewhere who also know the political terrain and how to win elections in the state.
The NNPP candidate is however seen as inexperienced; he was defeated in the past by Gumau, the APC candidate.
Many believe that although he has the financial wherewithal to confront other candidates including Gumau, he cannot match their political standing as many of the candidates have been winning elections in the past.
Maryam Garba Bagel of the SDP is the member representing Dass Constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly.
She was also elected to represent her constituency under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 election.
Bagel also defected from the APC and joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and emerged as its flag bearer in the by-election.
She is a popular woman politician because of her stand and support for pro-poor policies in the House and was a well known activist before her venture into politics.
Bagel is also a member of the late Wakili and Dogara-led camp and has her support Base from those elements. She was also believed like Tukur to be enjoying the support of the Speaker and other like minds.
Her party, the SDP, is also an advantage because of its acceptability in the state.
One major disadvantage for Bagel however is being a woman vying for a Senate seat in a conservative, male dominated political landscape like Bauchi.
For Bagel, confronting Aminu Tukur in the same election would be a great disadvantage as he is more politically powerful even in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa Balewa local government areas as well as the other four local governments in Bauchi South.
Other candidates in the election like Usman Chaledi of the PDC, Usman Hassan of Kowa Party and Alhaji Bashir Umar are not seen as threats to the major contenders, though it does not mean they may not make an impact in the by-election.
With the by-election being conducted at last, the people of Bauchi South would have somebody to represent them in the Upper Chamber, a representation they lacked since the death of late Senator Ali Wakili.