From LINUS OOTA, Lafia
The texture of the 2019 senatorial contest is getting more pronounced in Nasarawa South senatorial district where outgoing Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wants to abort the 12-year uninterrupted ride of the senator representing the district, Sulieman Adokwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Adokwe desires another term and Al-Makura has reached out to Adokwe’s kinsmen (Alago) to stop him, and he has done so in collaboration with the Eggon, Tiv and Kolos who are the dominant tribes in the senatorial zone.
The elections will kick off with the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February, 16, 2019. As it stands in Nasarawa South Senatorial District, APC candidate representing the district, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is the most favored to win the seat at the expense of his opponent, Senator Suleiman Adokwe.
A lot of factors are currently working in his favour, chief among them being the popularity he earned as governor of the state for almost eight years. He has so far garnered over 21 endorsements from eminent political groups in and around the senatorial district stemming from his sterling qualities and achievements as governor of the state.
The people of Nasarawa South senatorial district are also disenchanted with Al-Makura’s closest rival who incidentally is the incumbent senator representing the zone. By June 2019, senator Adokwe would have spent 12 years in the Senate and those spoken to say they were tired of his representation, and that they have not felt the impact of the senator.
Al-Makura’s vision and plans for Nasarawa south which directly touch on quality representation, laws on less privileged, disabled and attraction of federal presence seem to have endeared him the more to the electorate.
He wields enormous influence within the senatorial district and could leverage on his political clout, cultivated over the years across the senatorial district, to clinch the senatorial seat. His developmental strides as governor of the state speak volumes.
Indeed, Al-Makura’s candidature has received the nod and blessings of the three major ethnic tribes in the senatorial zone (the Alagos, Eggons and the Tivs). He is also being supported by the traditional institutions, religious leaders, political leaders of different divides, market men and women, traders, academia, students and youths, farmers and workers as well as the general people at the grassroots who have much trust in his personality and integrity.
The Tiv communities are predominately found in the southern part of Nasarawa state and constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in the zone. Speaking exclusively to our correspondent, the leader of the Tiv community in Nasarawa state and Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr Clement Uhembe said the Tiv people had a voting population of about 146,000 votes and about 80 per cent of the votes will go to Governor Al-Makura.
“We believe a fresh candidate will bring something fresh to the table for our own benefit; we had followed governor Al-Makura’s painstaking effort to develop our area, so he is the most suitable person for the job now.
“Above all, we the Tiv people benefitted so much from his government; he did so much to make life comfortable for us through his development plans, now it is payback time as one good turn deserves another; the governor has told us why he is going to the senate, the reasons are quite important to the Tiv people and we shall put him there and hold him accountable thereafter”, he said
The Alago communities equally declared their support for governor Al-Makura and their leaders, Mr Auta Eshi Samuel and Abdul Ari Keana expressed their desire to have him represent Nasarawa South senatorial districts at the national assembly in 2019 for a change in status quo, and for the sake of progress in the area.
According to Samuel, “there was urgent need to vote in another experienced politician like Al-Makura to continue from where the current Senator representing the zone will stop in the next few months after the general elections, noting that it was necessary to attract sustainable development to the area which has faced utter federal presence neglect for so long.
He said though the incumbent Senator Suleiman Adokwe has been there for about 12 years now, the people of Nasarawa South cannot feel his impact in the zone as every part of the senatorial district according to him, smells backwardness. “The time has come for dynamism to be introduced into representation in Nasarawa South senatorial districts to make our people smile for once”, he added.
Mr Keana said: “It is our belief that His Excellency, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura can carry our torch well; we want to try him, what he did for the whole of Nasarawa state, we trust that he will also do for our area; we are not interested in ethnic politics, all we are interested in is who will bring better life to us; we have suffered federal presence neglect long enough and we don’t want to continue with it beyond 2019; we are impatient to witness true change, at the moment, only Al-Makura can achieve this.”
Though the governor’s opponent in the PDP, senator Adokwe had told a large audience during one of his rallies that he was not panicking as he has no challenger in his bid to return to the senate for the fourth consecutive term.
The senator noted that he was with his people and that his people were fully with him, stressing that with the support being enjoyed from his constituents, there was no cause for alarm in his re-election bid, noting that the governor is not a threat to him.