Three Wise Men in the Race for Nasarawa Government House


Emmanuel Ukumba writes that the contest for the office of governor in Nasarawa State is a three-horse race; featuring candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party

All things being equal, the governorship race in Nasarawa State is set to feature three titans who are equally matched in many respects. Perhaps, the race for the prestigious Government House, located along Shendam Road, Lafia has never been so hot. Against this backdrop, the towns and villages in the state have been flooded with billboards and posters with inscriptions of notable names of sons and daughter of the state, alongside their party’s logo, advertising their quest to replace the incumbent governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.


Labaran Maku:

He has been described by political analysts in the state as a perennial governorship hopeful. Maku has an intimidating profile in public service; spanning from a state commissioner, deputy governor, minister of information and ministry of defence. He contested for the governorship of the state on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA),but came second; behind the incumbent governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, during the 2015 general election.

Since then, Maku has remained very active in the political activities of the state and beyond; hence he was elected as the National Secretary of APGA, the position he holds to date. At several fora, he said he was anxiously waiting for the release of electioneering timetable for the 2019 general election to continue his struggle to occupy the Number One seat in the state. Maku is viewed by many as enjoying the sympathy of some people, considering his eloquence and knowledge of the historical heritage of the state, which he uses to convince some who care to listen to him.

Moreover, they also observed that given a level playing field, Maku could be in a trouble considering his Christian background, and as well, communal identity-coming from the same Eggon ethnic nationality with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship flag bearer, Emmanuel Ombugadu. This could mean that the Eggons people will split their votes, consequently giving the APC flagbearer, Abdullahi Sule; a Muslim, an upper hand.

However, some school of thought believe that Maku’s journey to the Lafia Government House would end in doom considering his sour relationship with the people of the state when he was a minister.
Notable among these people are the Christian community in the state who claim that he failed to redeem all of his financial pledges to some churches.

Though political observers have identified him (Maku) as one who parades with the most acceptable credentials to become the next governor of the state, the same people were also quick to fault the possibility of electing him because according to them, “Maku’s fame in the political sphere of the state was only triggered in 2015 general election by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Therefore his (Jonathan) inactiveness in the political stream of Nigeria would, no doubt, affect Maku’s chances to Lafia Government House.”

Abdullahi Sule:

He was born in Gudi Station, Akwanga-west development area of Nasarawa state. He is not new in the political annals of Nasarawa state having contested for the governorship seat of the state in 2007 on the platform of the defunct
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and lost.

Watchers of political events in the state foresee the victory for the APC governorship candidate due to the fact that Governor Al-Makura had four years ago planted all the APC structures in Nasarawa state from the wards to state levels. The governor used the exercise to affirm his grip on the structures of the party in the state.

Investigation by THISDAY revealed that given the prevailing political structure in Nasarawa state chapter of APC, Sule looks good to win the Nasarawa governorship race.

Perhaps, political observers see him as one of the most credible candidates, if not the best, on the platform of the APC. However, there are insinuations kicking against his preferred candidate on the pretext that he has never a time been generous to an average member of the society in his life.
Hitherto, the 2019 governorship hopeful was considered as a capitalist who doesn’t care for the less privileged persons in the society. Coupled with the above insinuation, he is likely to face difficulties in selling his candidature to the Nasarawa electorate.


Emmanuel Ombugadu:

He is currently representing Akwanga/Nasarawa
Eggon/Wamba federal constituency in the National Assembly. Ombugadu is the Nasarawa
State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Although some political analysts see him as a good replacement to Governor Al-Makura as regards to his consistency as a member of the National Assembly and the numerous infrastructure he has attracted to his constituency ranging from health, water and electricity.

It was observed that the PDP flag-bearer has the sympathy of women and youths of the state considering his youthful age, hence he has a large number of supporters among this group of people in the state.”

However, coming from the same Christian background and ethnic group as Maku may work against his victory, as their votes may be split, therefore unwittingly giving an advantage to the
APC, candidate, Sule. Nevertheless, Ombugadu is rated as one of the least who has the capacity to govern the state because of the peculiar nature of issues confronting the state. Analysts observe
that the lawmaker is rather a bench warmer who is always on the idle side. “He rarely sponsors motions, bills or makes contributions during
debates on the floor. He is only unpopular within the circle of lawmakers,” they posited.

There is a strong sentiment against Ombugadu’s lukewarm attitude to the displaced Tiv farmers, as a result of the suspected herdsman attacks on Tiv
settlements, as he never come to share in their travails by comforting them with relief materials. This is interpreted to mean that he cannot be trusted with governance of the state.