In Nasarawa State, opposition parties mull alliance against APC
If democracy is truly the game of numbers then it is imperative for the two main opposition parties in Nasarawa State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form an alliance in order to be able to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections.
The two opposition political parties seem to share similar intention of zoning the governorship position in the next round of elections to the state’s northern senatorial district that has not produced the occupier of the top seat since the state was created.
The two other zones, the western and southern zones have ruled the state eight and twelve years respectively, but the northern zone with all its potential leaders has never had the opportunity of producing the governor.
Although it is not expressly stated in the constitution, the opposition parties have been clamouring for rotation on the ground that the northern zone had worked tirelessly to support candidates from the other two zones in the past.
Borne out of the understanding of power rotation and spirit of inclusiveness, the idea according to its proponents, is to further strengthen the unity of all the elements that made up the state. However, if this desire of zoning must be actualized by the opposition parties in 2019 governorship election, an alliance between the APGA and the PDP in the state may not be an option.
In 2015 when the same alliance was consummated between APGA and PDP during the presidential election, it gave Goodluck Jonathan victory over General Muhammadu Buhari in the state even while the sitting governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura belonged to Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
That victory was possible because the APGA under the leadership of former Information Minister, Labaran Maku who dumped the PDP for the party, had within four months, mobilized his supporters to massively vote for Jonathan during the exercise.
But the victory of the alliance could not be extended to the governorship election, which held two weeks later, as Maku came second in the balloting that gave the incumbent a second term although the former Minister, claiming victory followed the matter unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court.
A major factor that has been identified as blocking the emergence of a governor from the northern zone is however the inability of politicians from the area to unite to produce a single candidate.
In 2015 there were over six candidates who contested the primaries from the zone, which eventually led to the emergence Yusuf Agabi the candidate from the south zone. Eventually Agabi lost that election with PDP taken the third place below APGA.
The six candidates from the northern zone then were advised by the elders’ forum to shelve their ambition and rally round Maku, the pillar of the party then but the advice was rejected.
According one of the elders, Elias Adokwe, “We advised all the candidates after considering so many factors that they should step down for the popular candidate in the person of Labaran Maku but they all refused, and we told them that Maku will win that primary.
“At the end of the day Maku was ahead of all the candidates from the northern zone though Agabi from the southern zone won the PDP primary but lost the governorship election in the state.”
Adokwe, a prominent elder statesman lamented that the greatest challenge before the northern zone is their inability to come out with one candidate.
The recent order by the national leadership of the PDP calling on the party to form alliances with other political platforms to wrest power from the APC both at the state and national level, should serve as wake up call for the PDP in Nasarawa to join forces with APGA that is already gaining popularity across the state.
The fact that the PDP had many times beckoned on Maku to return to the party is an indication that both parties share same ideology and could unite for the interest of peace in the state.
Although Maku has maintained that his APGA has gained wider popularity and acceptance in the state judging by the current structures and volume of supporters, an alliance with the PDP will create a winning structure.
The ruling APC is however not unaware of the increasing acceptance of the APGA and the performance of the party in the 2015 governorship election even though it has the backing of the political structure at the federal level.
With the incumbent governor on the last lap of his second and final term of office, political analysts in the state have argued that Maku seems to be the strongest of all the aspirants that may throw their hats into the ring for the next governorship election.
But the APC, as a strategy to maintain its hold on power is believed to be contemplating picking its governorship candidate from the northern zone to satisfy the yearnings of those agitating for zoning.
Recently an APC chieftain blamed politicians in the northern zone for their failure to rule the state as governor on lack of unity to produce single candidate.
He sad the zone is enriched with competent and influential political big wigs like Maku and others who have all it takes to govern the state but lack of unity amongst them has continued to militate against them.
Sources within the state political circle said efforts are already being made to ensure that an alliance of opposition platforms is achieved to defeat the APC.
According to a source, “Political alliance has helped to wrest powers from strong ruling parties the world over. The PDP and the APGA can form this alliance to end APC rule in Nasarawa state. That is the way to go, if the opposition wants to win the state.”
And as the drumbeats for change in the political leadership of the state gets louder, all hopes are on the PDP and the APGA to harmonize their differences and unite to bring a new government into power in 2019.
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