Following the death of Senator Ali Wakili (APC, Bauchi South) about two weeks ago, there are indications that moves to replace him have begun in earnest as the Electoral Act provides that a vacant seat should be replaced within 90 days.
Wakili who died on March 17, was buried in Abuja, and the mourning period was observed in his residence in Bauchi where thousands thronged and registered their condolences.
So far, over 20 interested people across party lines are being mentioned as likely contenders ahead of the by-election.
The ruling APC tops the list, with sources saying so far about six contenders have indicated interest.
Dr. Safiya Iliyasu had since before the death of late Senator Ali Wakili indicated interest to slug it out with him in 2019.
Another candidate, touted to be the “favourite of the powers that be” is the state Legal Adviser of the party, Barrister Lawan Ibrahim.
Many believe that Barrister Ibrahim, who hails from Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area as the late Senator Wakili, enjoys the support of party members.
Ibrahim was also said to be instrumental to various peace moves and headed a committee meant to reconcile Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar and APC lawmakers from the state, including the late Wakili, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and others.
Another likely contestant for the seat in the APC is Ahmed Shu’aibu.
It was also gathered that a former Governor, Isa Yuguda, who contested and lost the seat to the late Senator Wakili might likely contest for the seat under his new party, the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN).
In the PDP, Garba Dahiru, Hajara Wanka and others are said to be interested in the seat.
Barrister Hussaini Umar, a lawyer and property developer, is said to be another aspirant for the Bauchi South Senatorial District seat under the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). He had long ago started campaigning for the seat ahead of 2019.
Political pundits are of the view that replacing the late Wakili may not be an easy task for any candidate; especially with the present political atmosphere in Bauchi and the preparations for 2019.
According to many the APC holds the ace and that Governor Abubakar would love to have someone “who will not give him headache.”
It is also believed that Speaker Dogara might want the seat for “a like-mind.”