Lessons from APC’s bye-election loss in Kaduna

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may have been accused of hypocrisy when it last weekend mocked Governor Nasir El-Rufai over his party’s loss of the State House of Assembly bye-election in Sabon-Gari, State Constituency, in Kaduna North.

The PDP said that its victory in Kaduna, “particularly in the political melting point like Sabon Gari Constituency, is a foretaste of the crushing defeat that awaits the APC in Kaduna and other states of the federation in the 2023 General Election.”

The PDP’s reaction articulated by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodinyan, was, however, mute on the outcome of the higher-level House of Representatives bye-election that held the same day in Jigawa State.

In the Jigawa House of Representatives bye-election in Gwaram Federal Constitutency, the All Progressives Congress, APC easily retained its victory in that constituency.

But why the PDP would celebrate its victory in the House of Assembly bye-election in Kaduna and keep mute with its loss in Jigawa easily shows the selective amnesia of the political class.

However, the development in Kaduna was nonetheless significant. Indeed, very, very, significant.

The Sabon Gari seat that the PDP took away from the APC is in the heart of Zaria, the political headquarters of Kaduna North, and not too far from where Governor El-Rufai votes.

Also significant is that the seat was won by the APC in 2019 and occupied by the immediate past Speaker of the House of Assembly, Aminu Shagali who was forced to resign as Speaker in February 2020.

According to reports, he failed to show up in the House after his resignation prompting the declaration of the seat, vacant.

The Sabon Gari state constituency like the Gwaram federal constituency in Jigawa State had been swept by the APC on the coattails of the change mantra inspired by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and 2019.

The reverse change in Sabon Gari last weekend despite the powerful influence of the APC political actors from the state in the present dispensation is indeed, weighty.

The two ministers from Kaduna State, Muhammad Mahmood (Environment) and Zainab Ahmed (Finance) occupy grade A ministerial offices. That is beside the weighty influence of the governor and several political office holders at the federal and state level from the state and the Zaria region in particular.

That their influence could not stop the PDP from taking the seat is bound to elicit important commentary and study for the PDP in its plots to outwit the APC in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.

An important question to ask is if the APC’s loss of Sabon Gari was an indictment on the APC as a party either at the state or the federal level?

Another question to ask is the comparison of the APC candidate, Musa A Musa with that of the PDP’s candidate, Usman Baba.

While the El-Rufai government in Kaduna has been generally praised for its urban renewal programmes and enthronement of good governance systems, the nuances of the same government in other areas have been largely negative.

The mass sack of civil servants in a largely civil service state was an issue that was bound to affect the APC despite the government’s assertions of diverting the savings towards the collective good.

The election came as students of the state university mounted high-level campaigns against the increase in school fees.

Even more deleterious is the spate of bandit attacks in the state and notably now, even in Zaria.

Reports of bandits abducting citizens even in daylight from Zaria have surfaced now and again. Given that security is not in his control, Governor El-Rufai has almost looked helpless and even agonizingly made to rue his denunciations of President Goodluck Jonathan who fared better than President Muhammadu Buhari in that sector.

The governor’s principled stance not to negotiate with terrorists has been received with mixed reactions putting the citizenry in a quandary given the laxity of the APC controlled Federal Government in that sector.

So, voters looking beyond the foibles of Governor El-Rufai may have decided to punish his political leader, President Buhari by turning against the APC in the election.

Another factor that has also been raised is the process that led to the emergence of Musa as the APC candidate. Some have alleged that he was imposed on the party and that he was the only one that was allowed to buy the party’s nomination form.

Whatever, whether true or not, the fact that the APC lost a comfortable seat to the PDP is bound to be cheery news to critics of the party and the political opposition.

It shows that there is hope at the end of the tunnel and that true change can come if the people unite to effect their will on who should lead them.

The election should also be a reason for inward searching for the APC as regards the three-point agenda of security, economy, and corruption on which the party’s leader, Buhari was brought to power in 2015.

Almost everyone including some APC leaders now say that the party has failed in those three key areas.

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