Two brothers – Kabir Babba-Kaita and Ahmad Babba-Kaita – will fly the flags of Nigeria’s two major political parties in Saturday’s election to fill the vacant seat of Katsina North Senatorial District.
While Ahmad is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Kabir is the flag bearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
The election is being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the death in April of the former occupant of the seat, Mustapha Bukar. Mr Bukar was a member of the APC.
President Muhammadu Buhari hails from the district, also known as Daura senatorial district.
It comprises 12 local government areas, namely Kankia, Ingawa, Bindawa, Dutsi, Kusada, Mani, Mashi, Baure, Zango, Sandamu, Maiadua and Daura. Mr Buhari is from Daura council.
The two brothers of the same father but different mothers hail from Kankia where they are traditional titles holders.
While Kabir is the Garkuwan Kankia, Ahmad is the Sardaunan Kankia.
Kabir, the elder of the Kabba-Kaita brothers, was the first to emerge a candidate. The retired Customs officer won the PDP ticket by affirmation in the primary election of which he was the sole aspirant as his only opponent, Mani Nasarawa, withdrew from the race before the exercise commenced.
Ahmad, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kusada/Ingawa/Kankia federal constituency, emerged the standard bearer of the APC in July.
The 49-year-old polled 1,723 out of 3,879 votes of accredited delegates to beat nine other contestants in the party’s primary.
Some of the contestants were his colleague in the lower legislative chamber, Nasiru Sani Zango, who polled 1,474 votes; and a former Speaker of the Katsina State House of Assembly, Umar Gwajo; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmed El-Marzuq; and Commissioner for Resource Development, Mustapha Kanti.
Others were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Science and Technology, Rabel Nasir; the Honourary Adviser to the Governor on Investments, Zakari Ibrahim; A. K. Ahmed; Umar Katsayal; Ahmmed Jamo; and Lawal Haruna; and Lawal Garba.
Although, there are other candidates in the race, the election is basically between the two Babba-Kaita brothers.
The APC candidate appears to be more visible, not only because of his involvement in politics but because of his weekly column, “Viewpoint with Ahmad Babba-Kaita,” which he maintains in the Leadership Newspaper.
In contrast, the PDP candidate is fresh in politics but has the financial war chest to prosecute his campaign.
Even so, the contest between the two promises to be a fierce one. In the last few days, their parties have tried to outdo each other to ensure their candidates emerge victorious in the end.
A few days ago, the PDP team comprising the former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shema and two former governors of Kano and Jigawa States, Rabi’u Kwankwaso and Sule Lamido, were on ground to campaign for Kabir.
Only two days ago, the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, the party’s national leader, Ahmed Tinubu and the governors of Katsina and Kano, Aminu Masari and Abdullahi Ganduje, led the APC faithful in a last ditch effort to win the poll.
Also on hand were the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.
For the APC, this election is a must win, not only because it has to retain the seat it had won in 2015 but also because Mr Buhari hails from the district. A defeat of the party will only expose the president as a politician without a home base.
And for the PDP, a victory in Saturday’s election will not only return the district which it had maintained until 2015 to it, but also shows that it has truly rebranded after it suffered defeat in some of the elections that year.