By Abel Daniel
The 2015 general elections in Nasarawa State suddenly took a new dimension with the emergence of Labaran Maku, a former Minister of Information, who recently decamped from the PDP to All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to pick the governorship ticket.
The two major political parties – PDP and APC – and contenders least expected Maku to join the race after being defeated at the PDP primary election but resurfaced to join the race with Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura of APC and Alh. Yusuf Mohammed Agabi of the PDP.
Maku’s entry into the contest has altered the political equation in the state. Now you have a candidate, who is not just a Christian but also from Nasarawa north and the majority tribe (Eggon) that has never tasted governorship since the creation of the state.
If Maku had not maneuvered his way to clinch the governorship ticket of APGA, the contest would have been a Nasarawa south and a Muslim affair from the minority tribe. This is why analysts view the emergence of Maku as a balance in the political equation for the 2015 governorship race.
Feelers show that the APC and PDP see Maku as a threat and a candidate to beat in the governorship tussle. APGA in Nasarawa is also seen in the mould of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, that brought the incumbent governor, Almakura, to power in 2011.
While the PDP is worried that Maku might split its votes, the APC sees his resurfacing as a ploy by some king makers in and out of the state to shift the seat of power to Nasarawa north even after being defeated at the primary election, and also being the only governorship candidate that is a Christian.
In 2011, nobody could have envisaged then that CPC would take the governorship seat from the PDP who claimed that the governorship was its political birthright in the state. Nasarawa was the only state where CPC won the governorship in that year’s poll.
Analytically, without any grudge or sentiment and going by precedent, Maku stands tall amongst the three governorship contenders in areas of administrative experience in politics, competence, dexterity, persuasiveness, charisma and relevance.
Almakura, though a business tycoon before his election in 2011, certainly has demonstrated his ability to use meager resources to fix the infrastructure in the state. This is what the business minded governor is relying on to convince the electorate to vote for him for second tenure. Unfortunately, however, he failed in the past four years to secure lives and property of the people who voted him to power.
Nasarawa, celebrated in the past for peace, has now become an enclave of mercenaries and cultic strongholds where lives of citizens are shed for political interest on daily basis. Acute hunger looms in the state as farmers have been forced to desert their homes and occupation with their farm produce destroyed by Fulani insurgents.
In the case of Agabi, the governorship candidate of the PDP, a major opposition party which is supposed to be the hope of the masses, is viewed from the public domain as an unpopular candidate with no political structure. His popularity starts and stops at the level of having his posters and bill boards splashed across the state and the fact that he is running under the PDP platform.
A commentator once held, “It seems the PDP governorship candidates in the state are always treading the same path. Agabi seems to be tranquil because after all he defeated the likes of former Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma, Labaran Maku, and Solomon Ewuga at the party primary election and probably feels Almakura and others will be a walk over for him”.
But Agabi has continued to debunk such claim at every given opportunity, saying ‘he is the only cndidate who carries the symbol of peace and development’.
No wonder Almakura and the APC don’t see Agabi and the PDP as the forces to halt them from winning the governorship race in a couple of weeks.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the opposition party sponsored some candidates in the Labour Party in the state in a bid to frustrate Maku’s mooring in the party having being defeated during the PDP governorship primary election and was making moves to dump PDP for the LP.
However Maku’s dream to win the race will be a mirage if he does not swallow his pride and join forces with the likes of Ewuga and reconcile with his aggrieved kinsmen and supporters who are angry with him because of his utterances.
His defeat at the PDP primary election was alleged to have been premised on his arrogance. He needs others to succeed. But the question is whether he learnt his lessons from his defeat at the primary.
Findings showed that Ewuga was already determined to campaign for Agabi with the aim of deposing Almakura and may not want to revert back to working for Maku. But a source close to Ewuga said he is a gentle man and is willing to work in the best interest of his people.
Sadly for Ewuga and Maku, the Eggon as well as the electorate from Nasarawa north are divided. Except the two political leaders from the zone drop their personal ambitions for the benefit and political future of their supporters, a repeat of what happened to the PDP at the 2011 governorship election will inevitably happen in the forthcoming poll.