BY LUKA BINNIYAT
GIVEN the predominance of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna State it was not difficult for the party’s candidates to emerge as the main contenders in all the three senate seats in the state. While the party’s candidates are almost seen as shoo-ins in Kaduna North (Senator Ahmed Makarfi) and Kaduna Central (Mallam Hamisu Abubakar), the situation is not the same in Kaduna South where it is a brawl between the beautiful daughter of the region and a political baron.
Incumbent: Senator Ahmed Makarfi (PDP)
Alh. Salihu Lukman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and former member of the House of Representatives Mallam Dati Baba-Ahmed of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC are both gunning for the seat that Senator Ahmed Makarfi is currently occupying and seem almost about set to retain.
Whereas both men have campaigned seriously and Lukman has been bolstered by his laudable testimonials as a labour activist, the two contenders to the former governor of Kaduna State, however, have a hard nut to crack in their quest.
Political observers in the state believe that the former Governor has a well oiled political machinery that starts from the grassroots and rolls up to the elitist class of his constituency.
He is said to have strong support from the traditional establishment and since he belongs to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state, are powerful influences that should easily swing victory for him.
Makarfi’s most unique selling point, however, is that he has given a good account of himself as an active Senator in his legislative obligations and has kept a close tab with his constituency since he went to Abuja.
Incumbent: Senator Jibril Kabiru (PDP)
When Senator Jibril lost the Senate primary election to Mallam Hamisu Yusuf Abubakar alais Mairago, its was not taken as anything so extraordinary by those who know the antecedents of Mairago, the first Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technolgy Development Fund (PTDF).
Mirago was at one time famed as a close associate of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and it was not surprising that he went underground after being declared wanted by the Economic Finacial Crime Commission (EFCC) in 2005 on account of his affairs at PTDF.
Though the EFCC later cleared Mairago, the allegation was enough for his political foes to move in and stamp him out of the scene that time. But he has since bounced back.
His rivals are little heard and known. Gen. Mohammed Saleh of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and Hannafi Aliyu of the (ANPP). Mohammed Sani Ibrahim and Hajia Halima Aminu Turaki of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), are still fighting dirty both in Court and even physically. Hajia Halima was battered almost beyond recognition at the State Secretariat of the ACN penultimate week over who is the actual candidate of the party in the zone.
The coast it seems looks cleared for Mairago, who gave Maikafi a chase for his money during the 2003 Guber primaries of the PDP
Incumbent: Senator Caleb Zagi (ACN)
The most intriguing race for the Senate in Kaduna will be that for the Southern Senatorial district.
It is going to be an intriguing battle between the incumbent, Senator Caleb Zagi and former Minister of Finance (2003-2007) Mrs Nenadi Usman.
Though another, young, erudite and charismatic contender, Mr. Kennedy Musa intruded into the race flying the banner of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he is looked more as the man to watch in the near future, and he seems to be building a solid political network from the main capital that he possesses- charisma and intellect.
But, the battle to represent the mainly Christian Southern Senatorial district is between Nenadi, one of the wives of the Emir of Jere and Zagi, a Christian from the same area.
Being Kaduna, religion is about becoming a central issue in the election.
The contest between the two, is seen as very crucial, since it is believed that the outcome may determine how the gubernatorial race, between its two main contenders would go.
The PDP Gubernatorial candidate is Gov. Patrck Yakowa, a Christian from the Southern part of the state,pitched against his main rival, Mallam Sae’ed Haruna Kajuru, a Muslim, also from the Southern part of the state who is flying the flag of the CPC.
There is no Senatorial zone in the state that has created so much interest and heat, like the political match between Nenadi, and Zagi.
Nenadi clinched the ticket of PDP for the Senate chair under controversial circumstances that prompted Senator Zagi to dump the PDP for the ACN, which instantly gave him its flag.
Nenadi is feared in political circles, as someone used to getting whatever she wants. The Mother of four and 1986 Geography Graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, who eventually became Minister of State for Finance and later substantive Minister all between 2003 and 2007, evokes opposite feelings among those she wants to represent.
Armed with good looks she has easily and sharply polarised the senatorial district with suggestions that she could be a channel for the expression of Hausa-Fulani ideas and customs over the region.
Those that like the woman say she is well connected and can get things done for her constituency when elected.
Zagi may be the most unpopular of the three Senators that the Zone has produced since 1999. He is, ironically, the only one of the trio with a chance of serving a second term, that is if he is able to beat the Nnenadi phenomenon.
The former House member (2003-2007) got the Senate seat almost unopposed in 2007 but has since then come under harsh comments from most of his constituents.
Those who claim to be familiar with him as an affable, amiable fellow before he became a Senator, say he subsequently became aloof after he became a Senator with very little visibility in his legislative and constituency duties.
But, Zagi has bounced back in a desperate attempt to hold on to his seat
He has been holding meetings with several groups swearing to improve. He has also been revealing what he believes have been his contributions both in the Senate and his projects in his constituency which many do not know.