WITH just weeks to the election, the four leading presidential contenders, Senator Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress( APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerians Peoples Party (NNPP) and Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) have raised the stake in the bid to secure votes of the North.
Findings by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that their foot soldiers stepped up consultations and electioneering at the grassroots at the weekend as a follow-up to the campaigns by the party candidates at different state capitals in the defunct Northern Region.
It was observed that since last week, the region which currently comprises the North-West , North-East and the North-Central zones, has been a beehive of political activities by their foot sol- diers and party leaders.
This is not unconnected with to the recent statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that there are more that out of the 93 million registered voters for the coming election, 49 million of them are from the North.
A breakdown of the 49 million, showed that the North-West has the highest numbers of registered voters with 22. 67 million; while the North-Central has 14. 1 mil- lion and North-East, with 12. 8 million registered voters.
Thus, there are frenetic actions by the candidates of the main parties to control the political space of the North-West as the general election beckons.
For instance, in the North-West, APC presidential candidate met with religious leaders from the zone, where he picked a fellow Muslim as his running mate, curry their favour ahead the elections.
Also, the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima visited the palaces of Emirs of, Kazaure, Katsina, Zazzau, among others, as part of efforts to get the support of the traditional institutions.
For PDP, it was gathered that the main opposition party was reaching out to some prominent northern politicians from the APC and other political parties to rally for their support for Atiku.
According to a chieftain of the PDP, who pleaded for anonymity, “we don’t want to make noise.
“In Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kaduna states in recent times, we are receiving defectors to our party. For instance, the son of Senator Wamakko, the leader of APC in Sokoto, recently defected to PDP,” the PDP stalwart said.
So far, states like Kaduna, Katsina,Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi will be between Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar appear to be the veritable battle-ground for the elections.
Kwankwaso and Obi are believed have a marginal presence in the North West at the moment.
For instance, Obi has support in the southern part of Kaduna because the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate, Jonathan Asake is from area, while Kwankwaso has an appreciable following in both Kano and Jigawa states.
However, some analysts be- lieve that the North-Central is regarded as the strong hold of the Peter Obi, because a significant number of the Ig-bos reside in in Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau states and the main promotes of the Obidient Movement.
They are said to be reaching out to the locals for their support, with a preponderance of the youths in involved in the movement.
In the North-East, Borno and Adamawa are states regarded to be key for both the APC and PDP, in view of the fact that both Shettima and Atiku hail from the two states respectively.
Other key states are Bauchi, Gombe that Obi and Kwankwaso could get some votes, while, Taraba too could go to Obi because of the influence of General Theopilus Danjuma