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#2019Election Buhari basking in popularity, Atiku on affinity in Bauchi

With almost 2.5 million registered voters, Bauchi State will be an interesting arena on February 16, 2019, as presidential candidates look up to prospective voters…

With almost 2.5 million registered voters, Bauchi State will be an interesting arena on February 16, 2019, as presidential candidates look up to prospective voters for support.

Like Kano State, Bauchi is gradually becoming politically enlightened.

While President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC always wins with a landslide in Bauchi, analysts believe Atiku Abubakar of the PDP is anticipating many votes for being “son of the North East.”

Similarly, candidates of other parties such as the Social Democratic Party (SDP) may likely “take their share” as some voters will go to the polls not necessarily based on party leanings.

The voters, like others in all parts of Nigeria, will throng the 212 wards and 4,074 polling units across 20 local government areas of the state to elect the president.

The APC became the ruling party in Bauchi State in 2015 and President Muhammadu Buhari, Gov. Mohammed Abubakar, three senators and 12 House of Representatives members, including the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, were elected on its platform.

However, crises in the ruling party led to the defection of Speaker Dogara, Senators Isah Hamma and Sulaiman Nazif, Salisu Zakari Ningi and Ahmed Yarima to the opposition PDP.

Some members of the APC who contested for tickets on its platform also defected to other parties. Notable among them is Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate, who joined the opposition Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

However, former Governors Isah Yuguda and Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu and other prominent personalities, including a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Sen. Babayo Garba Gamawa, joined the APC.

Many believe that movement across parties will have little effect on the voting pattern during the presidential election in Bauchi State.

However, some observers believe that while the voting pattern may swing in other elections such as the governorship and national and state assemblies, it may not be so with the presidential election.

Factors that may shape the voting pattern

Alliances may be the first factor that will determine how people will vote in the presidential election in the state.

Parties that do not have presidential candidates may support candidates in other parties.

Major opposition parties like the PRP, NNPP and others have reportedly endorsed President Buhari as their candidate in the election, while others have pitched their tents with Atiku.

Despite having internal crises, especially after its primaries, the ruling APC is believed to be having an edge over other parties ahead of the presidential election.

Prospecting for oil in Bauchi State has raised the hopes of people of the state of having a brighter economic future as they have seen the determination by the Buhari administration to exploit the hydrocarbon potentials of the state.

The appointment of the state’s indigenes into key positions is also seen as another factor that will play a key role in the presidential election. The appointments are viewed as reward to the state for its loyalty in elections over the years.

The successes of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) in Bauchi State will also be used as a tool for mobilising voters in the state as hundreds of thousands have been engaged and are benefiting from the various components of the programmes like the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Home-Grown School Feeding Programme and others.

While the voting pattern may remain constant or slightly altered in Bauchi North and Central because of the presence of President Buhari’s appointees and the APC bigwigs, same cannot be said of Bauchi South, particularly Dogara’s Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency.

In 2015, when he defected to the APC, Dogara won the election with the highest votes, but the PDP won the presidential election.

Many people believe that as a candidate of the PDP for the National Assembly, people of Dogara’s constituency may vote for the party’s presidential candidate again in 2019.

However, others believe that other parties, including the PRP, SDP and others have made inroads into the constituency in 2019 and that this may split the votes.

Apart from President Buhari, no other presidential candidate has visited the state for campaign, including Atiku.

The PDP in Bauchi State, especially its governorship candidate, Sen. Bala Mohammed, and Dogara have been the arrowheads of its campaign.

Although they have been vigorous in their campaigns, little is being done to project Atiku as the PDP candidate except for his posters on vehicles and billboards.

SDP which has an indigene of the state, Shehu Musa Gabam, as running mate to Donald Duke, the party’s presidential candidate, has not shown enough prospect to make any impact in the presidential election.

A political analyst, Sanusi Mohammed, said the voting pattern in Bauchi State in the 2019 elections might be different from what happened in 2015 as many of the dynamics had changed.

Mohammed said, “Many people voted based on religious sentiments in the 2015 elections. This time, that has reduced. There was also protest votes from members of PDP in 2015, which I believe the APC will not benefit from in 2019.”

To Danlami Inuwa, the presidential election in Bauchi State cannot be determined by campaign crowds as all the major parties have their supporters.

Inuwa recalled that there were parties that did not have presidential candidates, but that they had supporters, and added that nobody could tell who they would vote for in the presidential election.

“We will wait and see how things will play out in the coming days. There will be last minute endorsements and other things which may alter our expectations,” he said.

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