The All Progressives Congress (APC) has swept some recent elections and bye-elections conducted across the country in recent weeks. The party has already said that the wins signal the “confidence and trust by our people in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
The ruling party is surely entitled to its victory dance after recording victories in Ekiti, Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi. But in Bauchi, where President Buhari won in 2015 with more than 90% of the votes, APC strategists would be looking closely at the results of the recent Bauchi South senatorial bye-election and scratching their heads in concern.
Why the APC should be worried and why the PDP may be licking its lips
Here are the results as announced by INEC: APC got 119,489 votes; PDP got 50,256 votes, Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) got 33, 479 votes; APP got 11,217 votes; ANPP, 22,896 votes; ADC, 1754 votes; DA 467 votes; MMN 429 votes; PDC, 1,203 votes and SDP, 3700 votes.
That looks like a healthy lead. The problem for the APC however is that if you sum all the opposition votes together, the total comes to 51.21 per cent of total votes cast, while the APC candidate got 48.79 per cent. Again, in a state like Bauchi where Buhari won by 91 per cent in 2015, that’s serious cause for concern.
Consider the 2015 election in that particular Bauchi South senatorial district. Only two candidates contested back then, Ali Wakili of the APC and Isa Yuguda of the PDP (who was the incumbent governor of the state at the time.) Wakili won that election with 341,708 votes (74.76 per cent) while Yuguda – despite being the state governor – only got 115,341 votes (25.24 per cent).
In the space of three years, APC’s share of the votes has dropped from 74.76 percent to 48.79 percent. A win is a win, but if that figure declines further and the PDP puts its house in order in that state, it would make for an interesting play.
Some factors that are expected to still come into play before 2019:
- Several APC lawmakers in Bauchi, including the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, may be defecting to the PDP if no solution is found to their current clashes with the Bauchi state governor.
- Also, the PDP presidential candidate is expected to be a Northerner. Unlike in 2015 when the PDP candidate was an Ijaw man from the South South, a Northern candidate at the top of the PDP ticket may give the opposition party more inroads in that state.
- Opposition parties may field a joint candidate against Pres. Buhari. They have already agreed in principle on this, although so many things can happen between now and 2019. But if they come together, then it strengthens the challenge they pose to the ruling party.
So while it is in order for the APC to celebrate its victory, the signs are not all good And the PDP will definitely be looking to capitalize.