Not fewer than 100 persons have declared interest to contest various elective positions including the governorship, Senatorial, House of Representative and state House of Assembly in Nasarawa State.
Billboards and posters have floated all the nook and crannies of Lafia, the state capital and other major towns. In fact, constant meetings, high-level consultations, cliques and interest group aggregations have taken the centre stage in the political parties. Besides, discussions are held, platforms being put together and strategies for consensus or otherwise are being explored across the state. This surely signals the intensity of the political climate.
As old war horses are sharpening their arsenals in preparation for the contest, the dark ones are scheming and plotting how to assert themselves in the battle field.
The major factor heating up the political atmosphere in the state is the clamour for power shift to northern part of the state which is yet to govern the state since it was created in 1996. Although there are some other factors that are contributing to the trend, the issue of zoning the governorship position to the north will continue to dominate.
Another factor that has encouraged a good number of the governorship aspirants is that Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is serving his second and last term in office and his silence on who to support to take over from him.
The governor’s posture has paved way for many in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the race but may also serve as stumbling block for Al-Makura’s senatorial ambition and whoever emerges as the governorship flag-bearer and running mate. Perhaps that might be the reason why the governor is carefully studying and managing the situation not to temper with his interest.
Political actors, parties, groups, associations, opinion leaders and traditional rulers are among the agitators for the zoning of governorship position to the north. In August last year, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state zoned its governorship ticket to the northern zone.
The state chairman of the party Francis Orogu, who announced the zoning, said the decision was that of critical stakeholders of the party for fairness and equity and opted to give every part of the state a sense of belonging. “Nasarawa South has governed the state for 12 years, the Nasarawa West has governed the state for eight years, therefore, it is only fair for Nasarawa North to produce a governor for the state,”he said.
In July 2017, the Chun Mada of Mada Kingdom in Akwanga Local Government Area, Chief Samson Gamu-Yare, while receiving members of the Mada Development Association (MDA) Youth Wing charged them to ensure that Nasarawa North Senatorial District produces the next governor in 2019.
The royal father said that in the quest to produce the next governor, all sons and daughters of the district must speak with one voice on election day.
“We have an agenda to secure the gubernatorial election victory for Nasarawa North Senatorial District come 2019. So we must be resolute, united and focused on that set objective. This is one agenda too many. We are bound to pursue it with all vigor…,” he said.
A check showed that 20 persons are aspiring for the governorship position with the APC in the lead. Those that have shown interest are the Deputy Governor Silas Agara, a former Member, House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, Architect Shehu Ahmed Tukur, Member representing Nasarawa/Toto Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Architect Muhammed Jafaru Ibrahim, Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Company, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Muhammed Musa Maikaya, Barrister Danladi Halilu Envulanza and Ishaq Ahmed Kana among others.
In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the contenders include Senator Philip Aruwa Gyunka, a former deputy governor, Dameshi Barau Luka, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, 2015 gubernatorial candidate of the party Yusuf Agabi and Musa Ahmed Muhammed among others.
Other aspirants are a former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Suleiman Musa Nagogo, Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Iliyus Favor of Independent Democrat (ID) who also contested 2015 election and the duo of Hon Dilo Tabami Auta and Alhaji Muhammed Lawal Sardauna in the Advanced People Democratic Alliance (APDA).
Although the APC has not zoned the governorship position, the real struggle will be a tough one between aspirants from the Northern and Western Districts. The North has Agara, Sule, Envulanza, Idde while from the West has Wadada, Tukur, Ibrahim and Maikaya.
On the part of the PDP, the struggle will be a straight contest as the party had already zoned the position to the North but Daily Trust gathered from an impeccable source within party that its leadership is working to woo Maku from APGA and other strong opposition figures so as to have a formidable force to wrestle the governorship position from the APC.
One other factor that would make the 2019 gubernatorial contest interesting is the tendency to have strong contenders defecting to other parties. In the event some of the aspirants lose in the primaries especially in the APC, there are indications that some are having a “Plan B” even though some are said to be in the race as a bargaining tool for political positions.
Another factor why many people have declared interest to contest the governorship position is to test their popularity and political relevance.
The race for Southern Senatorial District position would be between the PDP and APC with Governor Al-Makura topping the list of the APC and Muhammed Ogoshi Onawo, the former Speaker of the state house of assembly and a two-term member of the House of Representatives in the PDP and APGA’s Musa Saidu, a former state chairman of the party. The only probable person from the APC to slug it out with governor in the senatorial battle is Salihu Egyebola, who earlier won the 2015 seat but was upturned by the tribunal.
The drama for the senate position in Nasarawa will be tough in the Southern Senatorial District because the present occupant, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, has also indicated interest to re-contest and is serving his third term in the Red Chamber. Many political watchers believe that if the governor is able to tackle the lingering labour unrest, he might likely have an easy ride.
However, 30 persons have joined the battle for the Senate, National Assembly, House of Representatives seats with Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency having most of the contestants from the APC. They include the current occupant, Hon Sarki Dahiru and Iliyasu Anzaku, the Commissioner for Urban Development, and Sonny Agassi while Joseph Kigbu, Obed Joseph and Ahmed Ibrahim Dallah are in the PDP and Elisha Angwadu from APGA.
The drama might be interesting for forces in the House of Representatives for Doma, Awe, Keana Federal Constituency as the current occupant, Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, has indicated interest to run for the Senate.