Ahead of party primaries that would see to the emergence of candidates that will fly the flags of contending political parties in the coming 2015 election, the situation in Nasarawa State is not too different, with political gladiators already warming up for the showdown with incumbent Governor Umaru Tank Al-makura over who occupies the Shendam road Lafia Government House.
Like what obtains at the national level, with the contest existing between only the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) for the coveted seat of the President, in Nasarawa it is however the reverse with the PDP rejuvenating itself to seek to vanquish and banish the APC administration under Governor Al-makura.
Judging from the level of preparations by each of the parties, it is apparent the battle for the soul of Nasarawa would be an epic reminecent of the ancient biblical confrontation between David and Goliath, with the ruling APC ostensibly the underdog, considering that the PDP has been ruling the state since 1999, with structures across all the nooks and cranny of the state, as evidenced by the last local government election where the party scored a bulls eye winning four out of the 13 local government areas.
Coupled with the party’s rebirth which saw to the defection of political heavy weights like senators, House of Representatives members and state legislators into the PDP that was only recently ravaged by internal wrangling which saw to the fractionalization of the party leading to its eventual defeat and banishment by the defunct neophyte policy entity, the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in 2011.
However, in spite of the seeming leverage in favour of the PDP, the odds may after all tilt towards the administration of Governor Al – makura who since inception has left no one in doubt of his zeal and determination to change the fortunes of the state and to place it on the pedestal of genuine growth and development.
The PDP still has several militating issues to contend with, particularly the herculean task of zeroing down on a single candidate among the plethora of candidates seeking to fly the flag of the party in the 2015 gubernatorial election. Presently the ranks of gubernatorial aspirants vying to become governor is swelling by the day with the last count standing at 13.
The apparent lack of consensus among the aspirants, with each refusing to agree to an internal arrangement that could see to the emergence of a single aspirant, like the case used to be in the past, may after all sound the death knell for the party, as it is also possible that in the process of selecting it’s gubernatorial candidate, the party may inadvertently step on some toes that may likely lead to another implosion.
Already there were bickering between contenders, with for instance, Sen Solomon Ewuga, former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku and the immediate past national president of the Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA), Chris Mamman embroiled in a consuming battle of supremacy on who would fly the PDP flag in the gubernatorial election.
As a result of the obvious disunity among the PDP aspirants, the ruling APC is already considering the job done, as according to Musa Ilu, the director-general of the Taal Campaign organization, “for now we don’t have a challenge from the opposition because up till now the PDP has no gubernatorial candidate.”
Though the APC in Nasarawa is not counting on the impending implosion within the PDP following the discord resulting from the inability of the aspirants to reach a consensus, to win the coming election, with the APC administration under Al-makura rather banking on its achievements in terms of spreading the dividends of democracy across the state, which has endeared the administration to the people at the grass roots, proponents of the ruling party are emphatic that the Al-makura administration is the one to beat.
“Before the advent of the CPC and now the APC in Nasarawa State you knew the difference. Nasarawa was nowhere to be compared with any state in Nigeria. Today, we can stand tall anywhere, in the area of education, infrastructure, healthcare and in every department of governance. Check out and see, Al-makura has done it all. We are sure he has already bought himself a ticket in 2015” the Taal campaign DG stated.
“We don’t have any challenge from the opposition as long as they don’t have a candidate. Until they are able to present a candidate, we can say right away that there is no contest for the seat of the governor. The PDP is in disarray, with almost everybody coming out seeking to become governor. Let them first put their house in order” Ilu explained further.
Also commenting on the matter, State Commissioner for Information and Re-orientation, Mohammed Hamza Elayo, said the odds are already tilting in favour of the incumbent because of the massive development projects Al-makura has undertaken.
“People who are residents of Nasarawa State, people who are even passing through the state before the advent of this administration, would attest to the fact when they come back, that something revolutionary has taken place in Nasarawa State. In every local government area, in every nook and cranny, in every sector, educational development, infrastructure in terms of health facilities, the civil servants, everybody has something to benefit from what this administration has done. And it is a development initiative that has never taken place since the creation of the state.
“People are clamouring, yearning for more and they know, he is the only one that has that capacity to deliver development aspirations. I do know that this, in itself, is enough to tilt the electoral fortunes in his favour, against others who are coming out as pretenders, especially for the PDP which has ruled the state for 12 years with nothing to show for it.
“You can see within three and a half years, the massive development that has changed the face of the state capital, changed the faces of all local government headquarters, has provided enough, functional educational facilities for the people of the state” Elayo elaborated.
Elayo however, said in spite of these achievements, the people of the state still have something to be done in order to ensure that such development initiatives continues beyond 2015, urging the electorate to make sure they turn out en masse to register and get the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) without which they may not be able to save the governor.
“Now that PVCs are about to be distributed, our prayer and appeal to all citizens of Nasarawa State who are desirous of the continuation of this administration, in terms of the provision of the dividends of democracy, to go and collect their cards, because that is the only weapon to prevent detractors from taking away their hard earned asset, that is Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura” he stated.
Speaking on the matter, Alhaji Ayuba Wandai, deputy chairman of Nasarawa Local Government Area, said Al-makura’s chances in the 2015 guber election is clear as according to him, the people will only vote for a performer and that a vote for Al-makura and the APC is a vote for development.
According to the former TMC chairman of Nasarawa LGC, Governor Al-makura has introduced sanity into the local government system in the state, quite unlike what obtained in the past where local governments lack even adequate statistics on the number of workers, creating rooms for abuse and theft of resources.
“He made sure that the salaries of local government workers are in consonance with the new national minimum wage, meaning that local government workers in the state earn more than what state government staffs are collecting in some states” he said.
In terms of infrastructural development, Wandai was of the view that local governments in Nasarawa have witnessed unprecedented development under the APC administration as never experienced since the creation of the state.
“There is an ongoing construction of an e-library, an ongoing construction of a new general hospital, as well as an ongoing 4km asphalt township road in Nasarawa. Al-makura’s chances are clear, the people of Nasarawa, because of the development so far recorded, will not allow any room for rigging, no more cash and carry politics. Our people are definitely going to vote for a performer, our people are definitely going to vote for Al-makura because they know that a vote for Al-makura and the APC is a vote for development” Wandai concluded.