People Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is billed to visit Southern Kaduna next week. The visit will mean a lot to both the presidential candidate and the region. Apart from being the capital of the old northern region, Kaduna state as a whole gave Atiku 613, 318 votes, the highest votes given by any state during the 2019 presidential election and a chunk of it came from the Southern Senatorial zone.
PDP over the years have enjoyed drumbeat support from Southern Kaduna, the region in return has benefited immensely from such investment on its franchise during the PDP era. Even with the emergence of Labour Party (LP) in the political arena, which is holding sway in the middle-belt region of the country, PDP will still get the highest number of votes at the 2023 general election and it will win more seats (both at the state and federal).
It will be difficult for LP to change the voting pattern, especially when we take into account how the APC government has used its powers, from 2015 to 2019 and suppressed the votes from Southern Kaduna. The use of the Biometric Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) will help to augment the region’s votes by showcasing the actual voting strength of the region, which will directly benefit the PDP and by extension, Atiku Abubakar and Ashiru Kudan.
Kaduna state is the political heartbeat of the north, it is essential (just as Atiku thought) to kick-start his campaign in his stronghold (the north) and Kaduna, in particular. Kaduna state is cherished for both its electoral value and voting strength. The strategic position of kaduna in Nigeria’s politics cannot be de-emphasized, Atiku is aware of that – too.
Going by the political mentality of the Hausa and Fulani stock and what informs their voting pattern, it will be difficult for Peter Obi and Asiwaju Tinubu to get a significant number of votes from the region. However, after Atiku, Obi will get the second highest votes in Southern Kaduna and Tinubu will get the second highest votes in the Northern part of the state, Obi’s running mate, Datti Baba – Ahmed who is from Zaria cannot tilt the voting pattern.
The visit of Atiku to Southern Kaduna will give both parties the opportunity to discuss various issues and probably to negotiate for what will accrue to Southern Kaduna if Atiku wins the presidential race in 2023. In a way, the visit is to show appreciation to the people of Southern Kaduna for the support he got from its people in the previous election, further strengthen relations ahead of 2023 and tell the people the plans his government, if elected, has for Southern Kaduna.
On the side of Southern Kaduna political elites, the visit should not be an opportunity for individuals to bargain for themselves, it should be an opportunity to collectively bargain and discuss our pressing needs before going to the polls in 2023. By now, Southern Kaduna should have developed a well-articulated document that captures our demands. We must not confront Atiku verbally.