Safiya Ilyasu, a retired permanent secretary and one of the nine aspirants defeated in the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries for Bauchi South senatorial bye-election has vowed to reclaim the seat in another primary scheduled ahead of 2019.
Ms Ilyasu, who came third in the keenly contested primaries, however promised to help the declared winner, Lawan Gumau, succeed in the bye-election.
There are currently grievances amongst the other candidates that the outcome of the primaries was largely influenced by the state government.
The seat became vacant following the death of the former occupant, Ali Wakili.
It took the Senate more than the stipulated 60 days to declare late Mr Wakili’s seat vacant.
But when the seat was eventually declared vacant by both the Senate and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Ilyasu was the only female amongst ten contenders in the APC.
Even as a first timer in an elective contest, she managed to beat seven other prominent male politicians to emerge second runner-up.
She scored over 519 votes tailing the winner and the first runner up, who got 847 and 776 votes respectively.
Unlike some of the contenders who kicked in protest that the winner of the contest, a serving member of the federal house of representatives, was an imposition by the Bauchi State Governor, Muhammed Abubakar, the female politician said she would rather congratulate and support him to make the party retain the seat.
However, Mrs Ilyasu has said her support for Mr Gumau will only last for a short while.
She noted that she will challenge Mr Gumau, if elected as a senator, again in the next few weeks when the party will be holding yet another primary this time around, for the 2019 general election.
Whoever wins the bye-election will spend a few months before the National Assembly prepares for the next democratic session.
The next senator who wins the slot will probably spend most of his or her time campaigning to be re-elected or preparing to vacate the seat if he/she does not get party’s ticket.
Given this background, the female politician, who is currently relishing her impressive outing at the primaries, said she has better chances of being the district’s senator in 2019.
Addressing journalists at the NUJ Press Center in Bauchi, Mrs Ilyasu explained why she conceded defeat, though she admitted that she did not consult the other aspirants on that decision.
“I congratulate our amiable governor for hosting the president, Muhammadu Buhari who was here in Bauchi two days ago to kick-start the APC campaigns for the bye-election after the recently concluded primaries.
“I believe that in every contest there is always a winner and a loser. One of us emerged the winner of the contest and as all of us are loyalists of the APC, we therefore ‘support’ the winner.
“I want to use this platform to commend the APC leadership in Bauchi, especially the state governor; and I want to call on my teeming supporters to support our candidate in the bye-election which is coming in a week or so. And I call them all to come out en masse to vote and elect the APC candidate,” she said.
She called on other defeated aspirants to put differences aside and forge a common front for the APC in the coming bye-election.
“The bye-election is just a constitutional provision to fill up the vacancy created by the sad death of our brother, late senator Wakili; the 2019 election is a different thing entirely and I am gearing up to contest the election, by the grace of God.
“I have made my teeming supporters to understand the difference between a bye-election and a main election. And what we are doing now is just to support our fellow party man who won the bye-election primaries to win the next election; but shortly after that the primaries for the 2019 will come up and hoping that we are all well and alive, I will go for the senatorial seat of Bauchi South.
“I have been a politician most of my life, but I have never faced an elective contest until now; and as a first timer, I am really happy with my achievement in the primaries, even though I had hoped to win. It was a novel experience and I have learned even better, and I and my campaign team are going to build on the lessons learned to see that we clinch the ticket and even win the general election come 2019,” she said.
Ms Ilyasu’s press conference came hours after one of the defeated aspirants, Ahmed Shuaibu, told journalists at a separate conference that he was not happy with the outcome of the primaries.
He alleged fraud and threat by officials of the state government “who were insisting that the governor’s anointed aspirant must be returned elected.”.
Mr Shuaibu argued that under a free and fair atmosphere, “there was no way the current APC candidate would have emerged.”
According to him, Mr Gumau has not been able to ‘distinguish’ himself in the house of representatives to merit getting the support of delegates to run for the bye-election.
He alleged that the state governor had tactically backed a “misfit’ to go for the senatorial seat thereby holding forth for him (governor) ahead the 2023 general election when the governor might have ended his eight years term in office and would want to go for the slot himself.
The aggrieved politician, who said he also petitioned the APC national chairman, threatened to lead his loyalists in a mass defection out of the party.