The election has come and gone. Hon. Lawal Yahaya Gumau of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been declared winner of the Bauchi South Senatorial District by-election. He polled 119,489 votes to beat five other contestants from the PDP, Green Party, NNPP, APP and SDP.
Former Governor Isa Yuguda was among those who contested, under the Green Party. He came third. It was a hotly contested fight. There was no doubt about that. All the contestants fought gallantly, traversing the nooks and corners of the state canvassing for votes, taking no chances.
The victory of Gumau is a victory for the APC and a victory for President Muhammadu Buhari, who personally visited Bauchi, prior to the election, to solicit for favour from Bauchi people on behalf of Gumau. But the greater victory goes to Governor Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar, who successfully ‘delivered’ Buhari’s message to the Bauchi electorate, and who in turn kept the faith by voting for Buhari’s choice. Had Governor Abubakar failed to deliver Buhari’s choice and APC candidate, both Buhari and the party would have lost confidence in him.
Another area governor where Abubakar scored a point of victory was in the peaceful conduct of the election. There was no recorded case of violence, ballot snatching and acts capable of breaching the peace.
Everything was carried out free of crises. As the chief security officer of the state, Abubakar ought to take responsibility for the success or failure of the election exercise, and he was lucky the exercise was a success.
The greatest victory Abubakar scored was in how he dealt a severe blow to the opposition. Nobody could tell why and how the opposition parties failed to unite and present a single candidate to face the ruling APC. The governor used his political strategy and skills to take advantage of the disunity among the opposition parties to campaign vigorously for the APC candidate, pretending as if the opposition did not exist or was not a threat at all. Throughout the campaign period, the governor and the APC did not waste much time speaking on the other candidates.
The outcome of the Bauchi South senatorial election and the subsequent victory of the APC have also sent a signal of what is to be expected in the 2019 elections. The message is clear: the APC and the governor are unstoppable. If the party could marshal such a formidable force to fight and win a by-election to the Senate, what more of the much-awaited general election coming up in 2019?
There is no doubt that both the governor and the APC might have used the by-election to test the waters ahead of 2019 and, so far, the waters are free of crocodiles.
For Abubakar, this is not the first time he would survive the ‘holocaust’ and emerge victorious in political ‘troubled waters.’ In the past, opposition did all it could to frustrate President Buhari from visiting Bauchi State but in the end Buhari came there twice. There was a time when leading heavyweights of the APC from the state went to Abuja and laid several complaints to the President against the governor. Nothing came out of it. Recently, some senior citizens from Bauchi South have also pitched their tents with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogora, against the governor, and even paid for an advertorial in one of the national newspapers to present their case to the President. Nothing came out of it.
It is clear that whatever anyone might say about the governor, the fact is President Buhari has soft spot for him. This was demonstrated during the recent visit of the President to the state, when he was quoted as publicity commending the governor for keeping the trust.
Besides, the opposition has failed on ‘check’ the governor who has so far demonstrated his cunning ability to weather the storm and achieve his aims, in spite of all odds. Prior to the Bauchi South senatorial election, two leading APC members in the state House of Assembly left the party and joined the SDP and APP, respectively, in what may appear to be a serious blow to the party, the governor was not moved by their defections since he never for once referred to them either in public speech or throughout the senatorial campaign exercise. That was not the first time senior party members or officials of government would leave. As far as the governor is concerned, it is forward ever, backward never. In the heat of his disagreement with members of the National Assembly from the state, popularly called the Abuja politicians, the governor had to fight the battle of his life, but in the end the governor has emerged victoriously, since nearly all the members are now with him.
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The senatorial by-election and the subsequent outcome must have taught a lesson or two to both the winners and losers. For the winners, it is clear that the “Buhari phenomenon” is still very much alive, since the greatest factor responsible for their victory was because Buhari raised Lawal’s hands. The winners have also read the writing on the wall as far as the current political situation is concerned and must make amends where necessary, especially as 2019 is fast approaching. It must have become clear to the winners, too, that victory only comes after painstaking efforts and nothing good comes easy. For the losers, the bitter truth is a house divided against itself cannot stand and personal ambition should not be allowed to override the greater interests of Bauchi State, if at all the intention is noble, sincere and honest.