In what continues to be a disquieting if not alarming sign for the opposition parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, this weekend continued its winning streak in the three by-elections that took place this Saturday 17 November.
In all three elections; Kankiya/Kusada/Ingawa federal constituency of Katsina State, Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero federal constituency of Kwara State, and Toro federal constituency of Bauchi State, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the APC candidates winners of the elections.
In Katsina, Alhaji Abubakar Kusada (APC), a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly defeated his PDP rival, Alhaji Abdussamad Yusuf by polling 48,518 votes against PDP’s 20,193 votes. INEC said of the 193,904 registered voters in the area only 70,742 votes were validly cast. Nasiru Kankiya of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Abdullahi Umar of the Yes Electorate Solidarity (YES) had marginal votes of 1,810 and 221 respectively.
At the Toro federal constituency in Bauchi State, Alhaji Yusuf Nuhu of APC again defeated his only rival, Shehu Umar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by polling 27,337 votes to PDP’s 18,235. According to the returning officer, a total of 41,532 votes were cast, out of which 40,552 were valid and 970 votes invalid. Toro federal seat became vacant when the former representative Lawan Yahaya Gumau contested and won the Bauchi South senatorial seat in the Aug. 11 by-election held because of the demise of late Senator Ali Wakili in March 2018.
In Kwara State, where PDP henchman and current senate president holds sway, PDP’s Jimoh Alatise was floored in the hotly contested Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero constituency by Raheem Olawuyi of the APC who scored 21,236 votes against his closest PDP rival who came a close second with 18,095 votes. Labour Party had 150 votes, the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) scored 76 votes and UPN 42 votes.
The returning officer Professor Adesoji said of the 40,930 total votes cast, 39,599 was valid while the rest were rejected.
The election in Kwara was portrayed as the beginning of a decisive struggle for the control of Kwara politics between the current Saraki political dynasty and the emerging new power block headed by information minister, Lai Mohammed of APC.
There were conflicting reports about the conduct of the election in Kwara State depending on who you spoke to. But reacting to the news of the defeat of Jimoh Alatise, PDP’s candidate, senate president and also the director-general of the presidential campaign organization of his party, Dr. Bukola Saraki, thanked the people of Ekiti/Oke Ero/Isin/Irepodun, who “came out to vote today — defying the heavy intimidation and the siege laid by the security agents and thugs invited into the 4 LGAs by the APC.
He said, “The public should note that today’s #KwaraByElection was simply between PDP and security agents plus APC. This was due to the heavy deployment of police, soldiers and other security agents who gathered to support APC and harass PDP leaders and supporters.
“This is the first time that elections in Kwara State will be held under such charged, tensed and militarised conditions. We had INEC officials complaining about their own safety — and PDP supporters were brazenly intimidated, which resulted in low turnout of voters.
“It is important to reiterate that ahead of the 2019 elections, such open displays of intimidation are sending wrong signals. Our democracy is being undermined with this misuse of our nation’s security apparatus.”
The ruling APC have been winning nearly all elections conducted by INEC under the administration of president Mohammadu Buhari amid accusations of rigging, vote buying and intimidation of opposition supporters by security services under the control of the APC-led federal government. Election observers roundly condemned the elections in Ekiti and even moreso in Osun States in September and October won by the APC.
In the atmosphere of allegations of election rigging, it is difficult to determine if the ruling party’s electoral victories are a reflection of its popularity or a measure of its willingness to apply the raw power of incumbency.
Whichever way, the opposition may be waking up to the herculean task of unseating an APC party determined to hold on to power after 16 long years of playing opposition to the PDP.