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Saturday, August 18, 2018

APC vs. PDP: How 2 brothers battled for same Senate seat*

Relatives abstained from voting

‘They ate together after election’

Oftentimes, Nigerian politics, characterised by discord, acrimony, hate speech and unguarded statements, always proves tense. It is on these grounds that the by-election of the Daura Senatorial Zone of Katsina State attracted the most attention when it became clear that the two major contenders were, literally, brothers.

Kabir Babba-Kaita of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the older brother of Ahmad Babba-Kaita of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In fact, Daily Trust Saturday investigation in Kankia, the hometown of the two brothers, revealed that Kabir is like a foster father to Ahmad, because he brought him up.

Checks also revealed that Kabir can be described as a new entrant into politics. Being a Customs officer, he only joined politics after his retirement. The younger brother, Ahmad, has however been in politics for longer. 
Kabir was the sole candidate of PDP, and therefore emerged through affirmation. With his antecedents, where he was said to have assisted many residents of Kankia, the top echelon of the PDP decided to ‘block’ other contenders, with the belief that they have found a winner in Kabir, based on the goodwill he enjoys among residents of the other 11 LGAs in the zone. 

The senatorial contest, according to findings, was the first time that Kabir vied for any political office. On the other hand, since the beginning of the current political dispensation, Ahmad has been in the opposition until the APC took over the mantle of governance in 2015.
Ahmad, before his election, was a member of the House of Reps, representing Kusada/Ingawa/Kankia Federal Constituency. He was serving his second term in the House before his emergence as Senator-elect. He emerged the APC candidate after defeating ten other candidates at a keenly-contested primary election.
Ahmad is said to be a grassroots politician, with his emergence as the APC candidate testimony to a sound understanding of local politics.

Family’s neutrality
As the two brothers became set to slug it out on the day of the by-election, all members of the Babba-Kaita family in Kankia and other LGAs in the Daura Senatorial Zone abstained from voting. A resident of Rimaye District of Kankia and a political associate of Kabir Babba-Kaita, Ibrahim Sani, confirmed this to Daily Trust Saturday.
Sani said: “This shows that the family is a united one. Things are normal in the family as if nothing has happened. When you go there, you won’t know that there was any contest between the two brothers. Kabir is well-respected in the family, because he is the eldest son. He is therefore seen as a father.”  
Another friend of the Babba-Kaita family, Professor Haruna Kaita, said from the beginning he knew that the contest between the two brothers would not affect their kinship.

“Another interesting thing to note is that many indigenes of Katsina practice politics of ideology. There is Bashir Babba-Kaita, who is the elder brother of the two, and was with the PDP before he died. He was one-time chairman of Kankia LGA and was an ally of late Umaru Musa Yar’adua. Perhaps, that ideology made Kabir Babba to remain in PDP. This can further be buttressed with the example of the Yar’aduas. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua was largely a socialist with NEPU/PRP ideology, but his other brothers were largely conservatives and they remained one united family.”
Despite comments on the Babba-Kaita family, many residents of Kankia, especially those in the PDP, are suspecting foul play. This category believe that the contest between the two brothers was pre-arranged. One said: “The events that unfolded a day before the election and the day of the election revealed that something was amiss. As you know, the night before the election is used by politicians to ‘settle’ party agents and provide money for other logistics. This has not happened, as Kabir was not ready to give out anything. Some of us went to the field empty-handed. We just worked for the sake of the party.”
“Again, when Kabir cast his vote on the day of the election, he just went back home and slept. There was nothing to show that he was serious about the election that day. These and many other reasons made people like us to believe that he just used his influence and goodwill to block other serious contestants in PDP, to make way for his brother.”
But the Chairman of PDP in Kankia LGA, Usman Rabe Rimaye, described the insinuations  of connivance as wrong. He said Kabir has shown interest in contesting the senate seat under the PDP even before the demise of Senator Mustapha Bukar on April 4, 2018. “We discussed this severally with him. Therefore, I don’t believe that there was any connivance. Provision of logistics and party agents are supposed to be the responsibility of the party. Despite the challenges, we all worked for the party in the situation we found ourselves.”

“It is true that the Babba-Kaita family is a disciplined one, where younger ones respect the elders, but that doesn’t mean that they must be on the same page politically. Similarly, if the people saying all these things believe that the family is disciplined, then how could they connive to deceive a whole senatorial zone?” Rimaye posed. 
On the allegation that, Kabir went home after casting his vote, Rimaye said he did that for safety reasons. “You know this election generated a lot of tension. He went back home after casting his vote to avoid any drama.”
Other brotherly tussles 
While the Babba-Kaita brothers were dining with each other before, during, and after the by-election, same cannot be said of other brothers who contested against each other. Reportedly, a fight ensued during the election between Alhaji Tijjani Abubakar Sukuntumi, who is the district head of Tudun Wulli, Kankia, and his brother Alhaji Aminu Abubakar Sukuntumi, a retired Upper Shari’ah Court judge.
An eyewitness told Daily Trust Saturday that while the district head was working for APC, his brother the retired judge is a staunch supporter of the PDP. The disagreement between them, over the Babba-Kaitas, resulted to a fracas that is now being handled by the police.

Conspiracy theories aside, observers and residents of Kankia, as well as other local governments in the senatorial zone, believe that the election was keenly contested and the most popular party and candidate won.
The Daura Senatorial Zone is the home of President Muhammadu Buhari. The APC candidate won with 224,607 votes, against his brother (of the PDP), who scored 59,724. The result, according to Returning Officer, Professor Hudu Abdullahi of Ahmadu Bello University showed that APC won in all the 12 LGAs of the zone.

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