As his home state, President Buhari has slated Katsina as last port of call for the APC presidential campaign, while his main rival, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who was in Katsina a few days ago, reminded the electorate of his long ties with the Yar’adua family, saying this was the time for them to appreciate his loyalty by dumping their son in his favour.
Katsina is ranked fourth in voter population in the country, with 3,251,927 registered voters.
Besides, the electorate has the huge task of ensuring that President Buhari wins convincingly, and Gov. Aminu Bello Masari has never minced words in telling the world that he and his people would fulfil this obligation.
At present, the state has set a target of three million votes in its new drive to address shortfalls envisaged from other North West states where the PDP may likely get some votes during the presidential election because of the internal crises bedevilling the APC.
During the 2015 elections, Buhari got 1,348,441 votes in Katsina ahead of PDP’s 98,937 when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was the flag bearer.
That time, the PDP was the ruling party at the centre and in Katsina, and for obvious reasons, including the need for the state to remain under the fold of the party, the then Governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, and other PDP loyalists campaigned vigorously against the APC and its candidates.
And even though they could not get the winning votes, the PDP recorded a wonderful outing.
This time around, the APC is at the centre and visibly in control in Katsina, hence setting the ambitious target of securing three million votes for Buhari.
Daily Trust reports that APC leaders are working round the clock to ensure they deliver this onerous task.
So far, 3,018,963 persons have collected their PVCs, which translates to 93 per cent compliance, according to INEC.
Only 232,964, seven per cent, PVCs are yet to be collected and there are indications that the few days extension granted by INEC would be used by those who are yet to collect their cards to do so.
Analysts believe that although President Buhari will carry the day in Katsina, PDP’s Atiku will also have several boxes to go home with.
They are quick to cite his affiliation to the Yar’adua family, one of the enduring dynasties highly cherished across the state.
Atiku and late Shehu Musa ‘Yar’adua, the elder brother of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, had a close tie dating back to the 1960s.
Atiku does not keep this relationship secret as he showcases it whenever the opportunity avails itself. He is good at referring himself as a political protégé of late the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua.
During his presidential campaign rally in Katsina, he pleaded with the voters to consider the relationship and vote for him.
Besides, ethnicity and religion which gave Buhari an edge during the 2015 election have vanished, especially in the core North, including Katsina, hence the projection that since the two leading candidates are Muslims and of Fulani extraction, some voters will consider other variables before deciding who to support.
Similarly, there is the likelihood of voter shortfall of from seven: Jibia, Safana, Batsari, Danmusa, Kankara, Faskari and Sabuwa, out of the 34 local government areas of the state that have security challenges, including occasional kidnapping.
A voter apathy is expected giving the insecurity bedevilling the areas, a situation which even INEC is pondering about.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Ibrahim Zarewa, said, “The issue of insecurity in some parts of the state has escalated recently, largely as a result of spillover of the happenings in neighbouring Kaduna and Zamfara states.
“Election requires a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. A concrete approach has therefore become necessary in order to ensure peaceful and hitch free elections.”
Aside this, other determinants have to do with what the president has been able to bring home, especially in terms of infrastructural development.
There are mixed reactions with some believing that Buhari has not done much, even as many others believe in the Hausa axiom, “Naka sai naka”, meaning “You can’t disown yours for another.”
Some of the federal projects in Katsina State include effort towards completion of Zobe and Sabke dams, the proposed refinery and transport university (yet to commence), establishment of military bases, ongoing work on the Kano-Katsina Expressway, partial completion of a wind mill project, among many.
Recently, the state APC Chairman, Shitu Shitu, admitted that APC in Katsina had a lot to do, especially towards ensuring its sound victory in the state and the North West in general.
Shitu said, “Zamfara has no candidates. We lost Sokoto to PDP, and in Kano, there is the Kwankwaso issue. These North West states together gave the president a total of 7.4m votes. He won with 15.6m votes; which shows the strength of the zone,” he said.
“Of all the seven North West states, only Katsina and Jigawa are free from political crises, and Katsina is the only acknowledged to be solely APC, as such, we must work towards mass mobilisation of people to free us of impending shame or not reaching our target,” he added
However, Gov. Aminu Masari said against all odds, the chances of APC winning the elections in Katsina were very bright given the influx of defectors into the party ahead of the polls.
Gov. Masari said about 90 per cent of those who mattered in the PDP had since crossed over to the APC.
He added that the greatest pleasure was that the APC had delivered in all sectors of human endeavour.