No fewer than 13 political parties have fielded candidates for the Katsina State governorship election slated for March 11, according to the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Of the13, candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the Labour Party (LP), are the top contenders.
Dikko Umar Radda
Some residents of the state and political observers believe that the governorship candidate of the APC, Dr Dikko Umar Radda would succeed Governor Aminu Masari. This is premised on the fact that he has the backing and support of the state governor and other top government functionaries and enjoys the support of the people in the state.
He is also said to have the backing of APC candidates for different positions. This, pundits say, would give Radda a smooth sail in terms of availability of resources for the campaign and subsequent emergence as winner of the election.
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In terms of personal qualifications, Radda is a PhD holder, former local government chairman, former chief of staff to Governor Masari and the immediate past director-general of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Agency of Nigeria (SMEAN).
Political observers see Radda as a strategist who can change the tide of events at the last minute, taking cognisance especially of his last year’s display at the governorship primary of the party, where he edged out bigwigs and chieftains of the party to emerge the flag-bearer.
However, the major weakness of the APC candidate in the state is indeed the problem of insecurity and economic hardship faced by the country, which many see as the party’s failure at both federal and state levels.
Another setback for the APC candidate is the aftermath of the governorship primary, where some party bigwigs and other political gladiators in the state felt shortchanged and left the party. Some political juggernauts, including the former secretary to the state government, Dr Mustapha Inuwa, left to other parties.
A political analyst and public affairs commentator in the state, Yusha’u Abubakar Mani, said that despite the incumbency factor, APC’s inability to fulfill its campaign promises could affect its flag-bearer’s chances of becoming the next governor of the state.
“The APC has failed woefully in terms of provision of dividends of democracy to the people of Katsina. The party has not done much to the people, and this may affect its chances of winning the election in the state,” he said.
Mani, however, said the internal crisis in Katsina PDP could be an advantage to APC’s candidate, as according to him, less than two months to the election, the party has failed to resolve its internal crisis in the state.
Yakubu Lado Danmarke
Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke is the candidate of the PDP. His party has been campaigning against the APC, using economic hardship and insecurity in Katsina State as major campaign tools to woo potential voters in the state.
Danmarke was a local government chairman, member of the House of Representatives and senator. As a businessman he also has the resources required to run a gubernatorial election, with support coming from the Atiku campaign as an added advantage.
Pundits say that politically, Danmarke is a force to reckon with, going by his political pedigree, having won elections at primary and secondary levels. It is said that the way he has been financing the party at the state level made him popular among supporters.
Similarly, with the defection of Dr Mustapha Inuwa, a former secretary to the state government and Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita into the PDP, his chances are bright.
But the internal crisis in the party is being considered as its major weakness.
Another challenge of the PDP is that despite the cries, people are still supporting the APC, perhaps because of the power of incumbency and the social intervention programmes of the party, which many have benefitted from in the state.
Similarly, some politicians have painted Danmarke as a “Kano-based politician” whom they accuse of having virtually all his investments and family in Kano.
However, Dr Kabir Musa Yandaki, the head of the Department Political Science at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina, is of the opinion that the PDP has much strength in the state, as according to him, people are more sympathetic to the party and its candidate than candidates of other political parties.
“The people of Katsina have enjoyed more dividends of democracy under the 16 years of the PDP-led administration than under the APC,” he said.
But he added that the education of its flag-bearer was not impressive and could be another major weakness of the party in the state.
“Many people, especially the elite, are looking at the PDP gubernatorial candidate in terms of education as unfit to govern the state. Although he has held several positions in government, Katsina, being a state that always values education, considers him unfit to be the next governor,” he said.
Dr Mani also added that the credibility of Danmarke’s running mate, Alhaji Ahmed Yar’adua, a seasoned public servant, could be an added advantage to the candidate.
“Many people, especially the Katsina elite, have respect for Yar’adua. They have the hope that with Yar’adua as deputy he would use his vast experience to guide Danmarke on how to man the state effectively if elected,” he said.
The candidate of the NNPP is seen as a ‘complete gentleman’ and many political observers believe he should be entrusted with power.
His combination with Dr Muttaqa Rabe Darma as running mate also gives the party an additional strength because Darma is seen by many as a trustworthy and dependable politician, going by his track record in the previous positions he held at both state and federal levels.
But analysts say his party is not strong enough to win the election in the state.
Khalil is also seen by many as a candidate who shows up in the state only when it is election season and disappears almost immediately mostly to foreign countries.
He is also considered as someone who lacks the resources or financial strength to mobilise the electorate.
Dr Yandaki said, “Many people in Katsina State did not even know the NNPP’s logo, and the party’s flag-bearer does not have a broad political structure. Most of the candidates fielded for the National Assembly seats were invited just to fill the gaps; they were not fully prepared for the race.
“Most of them are not politically robust enough to reach out to the electorate to present themselves. They have influence only in few local government areas of their respective constituencies.”
Labour Party has Comrade Ibrahim Abu-Musawa as its flag-bearer in Katsina State. He contested three times for the governorship of the state in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Dr Yandaki said the presence of the party is not much felt in the state and its governorship candidate is not as financially buoyant as candidates of other parties to vigorously pursue his ambition.
It was further observed that if politics of region and religion would play any role in the election, the LP candidate would have no place in Katsina as the emergence of Peter Obi has painted the party as belonging to a particular ethnic group and section of the country (South East).