It was time for the Muslim Magrib prayer. Depending on the weather, this particular prayer is said between 6.30 pm and 7pm. On this day in 2011, it was around 6.30pm when the call to prayer was made. But about a hundred or more persons were still on the queue waiting to cast their ballot at the Camp/Link Road polling unit, Kaduna.
In the end, majority decided to heed the call to prayer, while a few others waited on the queue. Inside the Mosque, once the Magrib prayer was over, a voice shouted from behind a hada sallah (combine the prayer.) Another voice asked Dalili? (Reason). And the first speaker explained that voting during an election was like a war situation. And since Islam permits praying Muslims to combine their prayers during war, the day’s Ishai prayer, the last for the day, which is usually said between 7.45pm and 8pm depending on the weather, should be said immediately.
He argued that it would enable them to concentrate on the voting process, and prevent those who wanted to rig from rigging the election. Once he was done, the Imam led the congregation to say the Ishai prayer at some few minutes past 7pm, at Al-Manar Mosque, situated on the street the then vice president, Namadi Sambo, also lives.
In the end, Sambo, who was a running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, lost his polling unit to the rampaging Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which fielded Muhammadu Buhari, as its candidate.
Although, Buhari eventually defeated Jonathan in that election in Kaduna, the margin was slim. While Buhari polled 1, 334, 244 votes, Jonathan polled 1, 190, 170 votes. But in the final analysis, Jonathan won the contest, beating Buhari in seven of the 19 northern states and the FCT. The states included Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba.
In the North, Daily Sun investigations reveal, politics is like war. But in prosecuting any war in the North, be it political or otherwise, religion and ethnicity play major role. These two factors may perhaps be responsible for why Buhari posts 12 million votes and above each time he runs against a southerner and a Christian.
For instance, in 2003, which was the first time Buhari was coming into the race, he polled 12, 710, 022 votes against Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP, who polled 24, 456, 140 votes. Buhari ran on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which was in firm control of the North at the time.
But in 2007, when he ran against Umaru Yar’Adua, a fellow Muslim and northerner, also of the PDP, Buhari only managed to poll 6, 605, 299 votes, against Yar’Adua who polled 24, 838, 063 votes. Yar’Adua, who was rounding off his tenure as the Katsina governor at the time, also floored Buhari, a fellow Katsina man in the state.
However, when Buhari again squared up against Jonathan, a southerner and a Christian in 2011, he recorded 12, 214, 843 votes. But Jonathan carried the day with 22, 495, 187 votes.
Again in 2015, when Buhari ran against Jonathan, he not only defeated Jonathan in the North, he went ahead to win the contest for the first time, polling 15, 424, 921 votes, against Jonathan’s 12, 853,162 votes. He might have won because of the crisis that hit the PDP ahead of the contest.
In 2019, having declared his intention to run again, except he later decides otherwise, it is unlikely for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to present any other candidate, other than Buhari.
As for the PDP, which for now remains APC’s major challenger, the only Christian presidential aspirant is the immediate past President of the Senate, David Mark. But it is unlikely if the PDP would want to gamble the second time, considering the fate that befell it in most parts of the North, especially the North West in 2015.
Where it decides not to look the way of Mark, the party is most probably going to settle for a Muslim, who is likely to come from the North West like Buhari. If and when that happens, Daily Sun investigations reveal, the election could go either way, especially considering the pattern of voting in the North since 1999.
Interestingly, any party that wins the North West zone overwhelmingly in 2019 may as well win the presidency. This perhaps may explain why Saturday last week, the PDP took the battle to Buhari’s home state, Katsina, where it held a rally, to canvass support ahead of 2019.
The rally was the first time the party was making an appearance in Katsina after its disastrous outing in 2015. It seized the occasion to welcome back its former members that had defected before the 2015 elections, to APC, Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) among others.
Prominent among the returnees were the PDM 2015 governorship candidate, Senator Yakubu Lado; his APGA counterpart, Umar Abdullahi Tata; former APC Treasurer in the state, Nasiru Kankia; former House of Assembly Speaker, Kabir Kurfa; and former Coordinator of Youth Vanguard for Aminu Bello Masari Movement in 2015, Mustapha Radda among others alongside their supporters. The rally grounded social and economic activities in the state capital, while it lasted, with PDP faithful sloganeering “Akori Yunwa (let’s chase hunger away).”
Responding on behalf of other defectors, Lado asked the PDP National Chairman to sleep with his two eyes closed because the party would reclaim the state from the APC in 2019.
PDP stalwarts who attended the rally included former governors, Mohammed Makarfi and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna State), Alhaji Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto State). Serving PDP governors in attendance included Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom) and Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe).
Also in attendance was Senator Walid Jibrin (BoT Chairman), Sen. Umar Tsauri (National Secretary), Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure (North West Zonal Chairman), former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, former minister, Buhari Bala, former Minister of Special Duties, Kabir Turaki, and former aviation minister and Kaduna State PDP chairman, Felix Hyet.
Party leaders speak
PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, bragged that his party would dislodge the APC in 2019 because the ruling party has collapsed, and that it lacks leadership. He also noted that the party brought crises, division, hunger, and poverty to the country, promising that the PDP would reverse the trend, bring back unity, love, and put food on the table of Nigerians if returned to power.
“APC came with crises, division, and hunger. APC has collapsed and has no leadership. PDP will win in 2019. We will defeat APC in Katsina. Katsina is the home state of PDP,” Secondus said.
Former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, said the colourful outing showed that the PDP is alive and very much on the ground in the state and country at large. He called on the people to translate their support to votes in the forthcoming election. He urged them to keep their voter’s card safe and use it judiciously to elect leaders of their choice.
Makarfi said those defecting from the party to other parties were bad eggs while those remaining in the PDP are its true sons. He urged party faithful to unite ahead of the poll in 2019. Former foreign affairs minister and a presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Alhaji Sule Lamido, declared that Nigeria would be in deeper trouble if Buhari returns next year.
Lamido, who is also a former Jigawa State governor, warned Nigerians not to make the mistake of re-electing President Buhari in 2019, so as to save the country from sliding into more troubles. He said the country, at the moment is at a standstill and that nothing was working, except bloodbath and insecurity.
Lamido, who went down memory lane while insisting that Buhari must be stopped in 2019, said that when Buhari first came into power in 1983, he closed down the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Katsina Steel Rolling Mill.
His Niger State counterpart, Babangida Aliyu, said Nigeria would burst if the APC wins again in 2019. He stressed the need for Nigerians to vote out the APC next year.
The immediate past governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, who was appearing in public event in the state for the first time after a very long time seized the opportunity to dispel the allegations that he left the state in debts and challenged the government to publish bank documents showing that his administration collected loans from foreign and local sources:
“We left N14.5billion in the coffers of the state. We challenge them to publish a report that we solicited for loans from foreign and local sources throughout our tenure in office. We gave your children free education, paid their WAEC and NECO fees. We built Government House and stadium of world standard and they were challenging and faulting us. Are all these wastes?
“Whoever says he is going to continue to witch hunt us, we leave them to God. To fight corruption is necessary for Nigeria but it must be fought with a clear objective, fairness, and equity.”