Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita, who represents Katsina North Senatorial District, where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from, and Nasiru Sani Zangon Daura, the current member, House of Representatives, Zango/Baure Federal Constituency, are set for an epic battle for the Senate seat.
Our correspondent assesses the chances of the two candidates, both of whom joined the National Assembly in 2011, ahead of the 2023 national elections.
Like Daura, Senator Babba Kaita was a member of the House of Representatives (Kankia/Ingawa/Kusada) federal constituency, from 2011 until 2018 when he moved to the Senate through a by-election following the death of the occupant of the seat, Senator Bukar Mustapha.
He is seeking re-election in the coming election. Kaita lost confidence in contesting for the governorship of Katsina State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Political observers link his defection to his feud with the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari.
On his part, Daura, who is a third termer in the lower chamber, and as one of his campaign chiefs, Rt Hon. Shehu Usman Bala, would say, “decided that Zango local government has had its fair share in the lower chamber, let us move it to the other component member of the constituency, Baure”.
While both of them enjoy the fact that they are still serving as legislators, Zangon Daura, has the power of incumbency at both the state and federal levels to his advantage.
Katsina State under the APC is doing whatever is possible to see that the party retains its seats at both the federal and state levels, having swept away almost all the local government areas of the state.
On his part, Babba Kaita, apart from being the current senator, his widespread reach will add to his strength as he had taken development projects to, not only within the senatorial district, but all parts of the state, especially when he was nursing the governorship ambition.
Another advantage of Kaita will be the massive defection of members of the APC to PDP some months ago in the zone, due to what they called their dissatisfaction with the APC administration.
Adding to the strength of Babba Kaita, his Media Aide, Abdulkadir Lawal, said, “His performance at the national assembly gives him an edge over his opponent.
“For example, he has done well in terms of youth empowerment, especially by securing jobs to over 600 youths in different federal establishments only from 2019 to date.”
“Secondly, in his primary responsibility, Senator Kaita has done a lot in terms of sponsoring bills. No senator has done close to him in this aspect in Katsina State.
“One of the most important bills he sponsored is that of local government autonomy and that is what caused the rift between him and the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari, that eventually led to his exit from the APC.
“He sponsored other bills, like the Federal Colleges of Education Re-enactment Bill, which seeks for the overhaul of federal colleges of education to conform to international standards.
“He also sponsored a bill to rename the Daura Federal Polytechnic after his predecessor, late Senator Bukar Mustapha, to immortalise him. This is in addition to his efforts at ensuring that the school construction is completed.
“There is also a bill to establish a teaching hospital for Federal University Dutsin-Ma.”
Lawal added that, “In terms of projects, Senator Kaita has constructed over 500 classrooms across the state.
“He brought, as his constituency project, the Federal Fire Training Institute, Kankia, the first of its kind in the North West.
“He has built about 22 maternity clinics within the zone; he constructed the National Open University study centre in Mani; many computer training centres and many more.
“So, I will assure you that people now have reasonable political awareness to vote for a person rather than a party.”
On his part, Bala, believes that his candidate is confident of winning the Senate seat, going by his performance at the House of Representatives in the last 11 years.
“Number one, in terms of youth employment, we lost count of the number he has assisted to secure jobs in the Federal Roads Safety Commission, customs, immigration and central bank amongst many other federal agencies and parastatals.
“This is not limited to Zango/Baure constituency or even the Daura zone, as Hon Nasiru has helped anyone that is from Katsina State.
“One other good aspect of Hon. Nasiru, is his simplicity. For example, during the 2015 governorship primaries, he slept amongst the delegates at the Polo ground.
“That endeared him to the people to the extent that those from Bakori were saying was there a possibility of swapping members of the house, they would have exchanged theirs with Hon. Nasiru.
“Secondly, Hon. Nasiru is not greedy; he is working for the welfare of the people. This has to do with his family background. We all know the kind of person his father, Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura is.
“I am a member of the family and I can tell you the time I left Katsina State House of Assembly as Speaker, I did not have up to N100,000, and that had to do with the constant admonition by Nasiru’s father, that we should be as accountable as possible.
“Even in this primary election that Nasiru contested, his father had to support him financially, because he did not have enough to do it,” he said.
In terms of his legislative duties, Bala said Daura has done a lot in the area of attracting dividend of democracy to his people, citing the role he played in the actualization of the Federal University of Transport Daura as well as Federal Polytechnic Daura through the bills, amongst others.
The two gladiators; Daura and Kaita have some issues to deal with in their political parties. The APC is facing issues with the people, not only in Katsina State, but across the country, due to the economic situation that people attribute to the leadership style of the party despite their claimed performance in all aspects.
The PDP is also engulfed in crisis in Katsina State, particularly with the controversial change of state leadership, which could affect the chances of the party.
There are two people claiming the chairmanship of the party, Alhaji Lawal Uli, and Alhaji Lawal Magaji Danbaci, who is from the Daura Zone.
In an interview on Liberty TV, an APC stalwart, Senator Abu Ibrahim, described Babba Kaita as a good politician, a grassroots mobilizer that “nobody will wish away.”
On his part, a resident of Daura, Malam Muhammad Salisu, said, “Here in Daura, majority of people are more hopeful on Babba Kaita, because he relates better with the people.
“Recently, the APC contestant, Nasiru Sani, distributed some support items to the people, but other people are still grumbling over the matter.
“The party (APC) has been losing its members in this part, honestly due to perceived injustice. For instance, there are allegations about the recent N20,000 distributed by the federal government.
“There are allegations that many of those who were given slots were asked to return N15,000 after receiving the money,” he claimed.
Also speaking, a resident of Kankia, Malam Bello, said, “You know, no one knows the future, but honestly Babba Kaita is more popular in this part. One other factor is that a lot of people will not vote based on party loyalty but based on personality.
“Babba Kaita has brought a lot of projects in different parts of the state and that will make people vote for him, even those that are not in support of his party,” he said.