Nasarawa 2019: Dissecting PDP’s Zoning Of Gubernatorial Ticket – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

In this report, our correspondent examines the chances of PDP in Nasarawa state ahead of the 2019 governorship election in the light of its zoning of the governorship ticket to Akwanga district

Recently, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party-PDP-in Nasarawa state, rising from what it called a stakeholders meeting, announced the zoning of its governorship ticket ahead of the 2019 elections, to the Nasarawa North Senatorial district of the state.

Indeed, the move which was seen by many especially the members of the PDP as a right step, is largely part of the grand design by the party to reclaim what it has lost in the 2011 general election when it defied all logic and well-meaning appeals, to field one of the worst governors the state ever produced, Aliyu Akwe Doma.

It is interesting to note that the Nasarawa North which has the highest number of occupants for the number two seat in the state: office of the deputy governor, has never had the rare privilege of producing occupant to the coveted seat.

The district, which comprises three local governments – Akwanga, Nasarawa-Eggon and Wamba, has never produced a governor since 1999 to date.

So far, it has produced no fewer than five deputy governors in the persons of Solomon Ewuga who had a brief stint before being appointed as minister of state for FCT by the Obasanjo administration; Professor Onje Gewado, a cerebral academic and leading elite from Wamba; Labaran Maku, Micheal Abdul, Damishi Luka and the incumbent deputy governor, Silas Agara.

Consequently, the move by the PDP to zone its guber ticket to the zone was seen by many as a calculated attempt to woo voters and indeed support from the zone, in its desperate move to recapture power in the state and regain its fast fading relevance.

Announcing the party’s decision, its chairman, Francis Orogu, who spoke after an expanded elders and state executive caucus meeting held at the state secretariat, said the decision was reached by all organs of the party “in the spirit of peace, unity, moral consciousness and political perfection”.

According to him, the zoning of the governorship ticket is in line with chapter 5, section 35(1 c) of the PDP constitution.

He said the party was working out modalities with stakeholders toward zoning other positions to other senatorial zones “to ensure justice and fairness”.

Response to long years of agitation

Good enough, the decision by the PDP is a response to long years of agitation by people of the Nasarawa north senatorial district, to be offered the opportunity to produce an occupant to the most coveted seat in the state.

Reflectively, in the build up to the 2015 general election, the zone, just like it did in 2011, made what could best be described as passionate appeal to political party stakeholders to consider offering it the opportunity to occupy the seat through the instrumentality of zoning.

In one of such calls, some stakeholders from the zone likened their condition to the precarious situation the present day Nasarawa state found itself while still with the old Plateau state.

Indeed, they recalled that while under the old Plateau state, what constitute the present day Nasarawa state which was then known as lower Plateau, never had the opportunity of producing occupant to the number one seat in the state.

They recalled, and perhaps accurately too, that in all the years of the former Plateau state, opportunity to produce occupier of the governor seat was hijacked by the then upper Plateau, a term used to described areas which constitutes the present Plateau state.

Will the zoning help North realise its ambition?

Although the move has been hailed by many, especially residents of the zone, analysts said the desire of the zone to produce the governor of the state is still a long dream judging by the precarious nature of its political dynamics.

Observers said the zoning arrangements, coming from a party which has no respect for its agreements, cannot and should not be taken as a dream come true by residents of the zone.

The state chairman, Francis Orogu who even announced the decision, has been accused of flouting his party’s decision on zoning when stakeholders of the party met and zoned the chairmanship position to Obi local government but he, from Keana, acted contrary to the arrangement, threw his hat to the contest and eventually emerged chairman, in defiance to the zoning arrangement.

“I laughed when I saw Orogu reading the decision to some lukewarm audience. This was a man who defied the zoning arrangements. So what assurance have we that he will even respect the so-called zoning which he just announced? To my mind, the whole thing is a ploy to dissuade the zone from joining APC only to live then hanging at the die minutes”.

Above were the views of Danladi Manga, a public affairs analysts.

But then, views are being expressed that the zoning gift from the PDP to the zone will only make meaningful impact if the stakeholders from the zone will set aside their selfish desire to govern the state at all cost and find a way of narrowing down on one credible candidate.

There are concerns that with the zoning arrangements, more and more people from the zone will come out seeking desperately to get the party’s ticket. Already, the longest governorship candidate, who has contested against all but one of the governors the state produced since the dawn of the current democratic experiments, Solomon Ewuga, is said to be making wide ranging consultations.

Ewuga, from Akwanga local government area of the zone, has contested severally under different platforms including defunct ANPP and PDP as he ran against former governors Abdullahi Adamu and Akwe Doma, and, attempted to run against incumbent governor Umaru Tanko Almakura before a more savvy politician, Yusuf Agabi, outsmarted him to clinch the PDP ticket in the build up to 2015 polls.

As far as the contest is concerned, Ewuga is a household name. But then, it is doubtful if an Ewuga candidacy will be a good sale for the PDP.

So far, another aspirant to the seat on the PDP platform is incumbent senator representing the zone, Philip Gyunka. Of the Mada stock, Gyunka who was a member of the state house of assembly, emerged the senator after a slim victory over his closest opponent, the candidate of the APGA, Sam Allu.

Already, Gyunka is said to have commenced high stake networking and bridge building in a bid to realise his dream of flying the PDP guber ticket and eventually governing the state.

While many see him as someone with the financial muscle that can outdo the likes of Ewuga, there are concerns that should he emerged as the party’s flag bearer, the chances of him getting the support of Eggons, Ewuga’s tribe, may be slim. In the event of that happening, it will scuttle the chances of the zone.

Indeed, the list of those said to be nursing ambition to fly the PDP governorship ticket from the zone included the name of former deputy governor, Damishi Luka; an erudite scholar and one time deputy governor under the former governor Abdullahi Adamu administration, Professor Onjeh Gewado; Senator Patricia Akwashiki and the current member representing Nassarawa Eggon-Akwanga-Wamba federal constituency, David Umbugadu.

Politics watchers assert that in few days to come, more people from the zone will join the PDP, just like Innocent Lagi, a former commissioner of justice under the current administration of Governor Umaru Almakura, did and ultimately indicate their interest to fly the party’s ticket since it has been zoned to the area.

It is presumed that most of those likely defectors, will come with the sole aim of testing their might in the scrambling for the PDP ticket and should their bid fail, they are likely to either return to where they are coming from or remain within the fold to  deal a deadly blow on the party and its candidate.

Already, a subtle scramble has commenced with views being expressed that as the days goes by, the struggle will increase in intensity.

PDP’s Strength in the state

In the face of all this, views are being expressed that if the opposition PDP can effectively put its axe together, ensure genuine fence mending efforts and ultimately, ensure the emergence of a credible candidate that is appealing to a wider spectrum of the state’s voting population, it sure will assume the governorship seat.

It is an established fact that the PDP still control some appreciable level of support from an average voter in the state owing to which the party now controls two out of the three senate seats, and, an appreciable number out of the about 7 house of representatives seats.

Additionally too, the increasing discontent with the incumbent state government, a discontent that stems from the government’s abysmal failure in addressing the welfare of workers especially prompt payment of salaries, has provided an ample opportunity for the PDP to bolster its alter ego in the state.

It is an established fact that in spite of his modest achievements in repositioning the state through what can mildly be described as aggressive infrastructural development, the current administration of Governor Umaru Al-Makura of the ruling APC, has failed woefully in addressing the pressing issue of workers’ welfare.

The administration earned notoriety for failing in discharging its responsibility of actively paying workers’ salaries as the best it did was to introduce a cliché into the wage payment: salary by percentage. For a very long period of time, workers were paid salaries in percentage which ranged from 50% to 80% and in some instances, some workers reportedly received as little as 30% salary, following which the state witnessed long period of strike by the labour force.

To say this has painted the state government and by implication the APC administration in the state in a bad light is an understatement.

As should be expected, the opposition PDP is repositioning to latch onto this in its determined efforts to clinch power. Whether this will work or not, time will tell.

One fact which is certain is that the party will sure get an overwhelming support of voters from the northern senatorial zone and with some bit and piece of support from the other two zones, its candidate may well coast to victory.

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HISBAH ARREST 70 TRANSGENDER, ESCAPE LYNCHING – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

BY ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI
Kano state HISBAH board has arrested 70 youths for being transgender and were allegedly engaged in the planning of a transgender  event to be  part of activities to mark this year’s Eid – Kabir festivities.
The suspected transgender, comprising mainly of male youths were apprehended at Nassarawa quarters, in Nassarawa Local Government area, while perfecting their plans to organize the event.
The deputy commander, in charge of operations at  Kano HISBAH Board,  Dr Maigida Katchako, who confirmed the arrest,  disclosed that, the board embarked on surveillance of the activities of the youths leading to arrest of  the suspected persons .
According to him, the suspects were planning to stage a transgender event, he said the planned event contradicts Islamic injunctions and traditions of Kano people.
He further disclose that, those arrested were youths, though some of them are under age, he said.
Katchako stated that, those arrested would be  arraigned before a court of law with the inherent jurisdiction to preside over the offence committed by the suspects.
He disclosed that, hundreds of HISBAH operatives will engage in special duties, prior, during and after Eid- Kabir celebration, to ensure safety of lives and properties.
He caution parents to monitor the activities of their  wards, during the Eid celebration, saying this will enable them forestall their children from  engaging in unlawful acts.
Katchako appealed to Kano resident and those visiting the state during the Eid celebration to collaborate with HISBAH operatives and other security agencies to ensure a hitch free festive season.
In a related development, HISBAH operatives yesterday(Wednesday) escaped from the wrath of angry youths, who attempted to lynch its men on operation along Abadie by France road.
The HISBAH operatives operating with two Hilux vehicles had conducted a successful raid leading to the arrest of commercial sex workers, drug peddlers and idlers, from various parts of Sabon Gari.
The shariah enforcement operatives on  approaching Abadie street were booed and jeered by angry youths, who proceed to mobilize other youths, armed with clubs they trailed the hilux to Abadie by France,  the operatives sensing the danger  zoomed off to evade the wrath of the angry youths.

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Ashara: Village, where dog is part of ‘dowry’ – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

By Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Located on a land area of about 1,206 square kilometres, Kwali is one of the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, with  a population of about 85,837, based on the 2006 census. The council was created from Gwagwalada Area Council  on October 1, 1996, by the military administration of General Sani Abacha.

Famous for pottery, Kwali is the hometown of the legendary woman potter, Dr. Ladi Kwali,whose image adorns the N20 bill. The inhabitants are also into cloth making, hunting and trading.

Strategically overlooking the Lokoja- Abuja expressway, the agrarian community, with massive arable land, is suitable for farming activities.

Kwali Area Council plays host to a number of important monuments, including Federal Government College, National Mathematical Centre, Sheda Kwali, Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Nigeria Education Research and Development Centre, National Fire Academy, Sheda, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation pump station, Awawa, and more.

On this particular day, our reporter’s mission to Kwali was not about the fanciful institutions that adorned the council, but to witness a marriage ceremony at Ashara village, where he was told dogs are used as part of the wedding dowry.

The village was in the news months back when some of its hunters tracked and killed a hippopotamus by the banks of River Gurara.

Usman Mohammed, a resident and hunter, who the reporter approached for guidance, said, before now, the hippopotamus had been terrorising residents and destroying crops, and even preventing fishermen from fishing in the river for many years.

He volunteered to ride with the reporter on his motorcycle as he meandered through the road that snaked through the bush leading to Ashara village.

Not long after we took off, the rains started threatening, with trees curling and bowing in the direction of the billowing wind.

Mohammed asked me not to worry about the impending rain as we could take refuge in a nearby settlement before the downpour.

He was right, a few metres away was a little settlement of four hunts and a local rest hall. We dashed into the rest hall in time to avoid the pounding rain that descended heavily on the red soil.

The angry rain fell ceaselessly for hours such that people started complaining about ruined business and farming activities as a result of the rain.

From the place where I took refuge, I counted 12 people in the hall. I used the opportunity of the rain to engage my guide on the purpose of my visit.

I asked whether it was true that his people used dogs as part of wedding dowry, since I was there to witness a ceremony where a dog was going to be presented as a dowry for the bride.

The question attracted the attention of other people in the hall in utmost bewilderment.

I introduced myself as a journalist and told them about my mission to their village.

They chuckled with laughter as they dismissed my story on the grounds that I was still living in the past.

First to react was a lanky old man with a cracky face whose name I learnt was Yusuf Ashafa, the head and owner of the compound.

Ashafa, who was in his late sixties, admitted that such a practice existed with their ancestors, particularly the Paiko people who are now settled in Niger State, but it has since been abandoned.

He disclosed that though the people of Ashara village eat dog meat, it has never been part of a dowry, but it could be used as a gift to show love and is not compulsory.

He took the reporter down memory lane to the days when the princes in Gbagyi-speaking areas had the right to marry any maiden of their choice. 

This, he said, was not a contemporary practice.

He explained that, if a member of the royal family identified a woman of his choice on a market day in the community, he would dash to the palace to mobilise the royal guard to go and fetch the lady for marriage.

“Many years ago, before western civilisation took precedence on our culture, if a young prince developed interest in a lady he just saw at the market square, all he had to do was to quickly run to the palace to alert the guards to carry bring her home for marriage.  He would inform the guards, who were trained for the purpose, to run off with the girl from the spot and take her straight to the palace. The only thing they did while she was being taken to the palace would be to find her parents and perform the normal marital rights of paying her dowry,” he said.

He further explained that the reason why market days were the most suitable for royal men to scout for wives was due to the fact that it was on such days that ladies came out in their best looks and wears.

In Gbyagi culture, according to him, market days were not only for the purpose of buying and selling, but also an avenue for young people to socialise and target their life partners. 

He added that it was a disservice to prevent unmarried people from going to the market in those days.

How did family members whose maidens were taken away on market days accept this tradition? 

Another occupant in the hall, Yaro, an accomplished hunter with reputable skills, explained that rather than take offence at the ‘kidnapping’ of their daughters, the ladies’ families considered it a kind of honour that their own was considered worthy to be married to the royal family.  

He stated that the attention of the community would be turned to the family, as the marriage would not only make them prominent but protected. They considered the prospects of being associated with the royal family, which was a great privilege.

“When a lady was taken by a member of the royal family, the whole village would declare a seven-day feast where communities were mandated to come with food, musicians and gifts to mark the wedding celebrations. Within that period, the people were expected to dine and wine with the royal family, as musicians, magicians and acrobats displayed their talent from morning till the early hours of the next morning for seven days.

The middle-aged hunter, however, pointed out that the tradition has since waned as a result of western education, and the powers of the royals have diminished as a result of human rights campaigns on the prerogative of the girl-child to make her choice of husband.

Despite the fact that they are all the same in most of their cultural heritage, our reporter was told that Gbagyi people have some differences in language and norms.

Explaining the differences among Gbagyi people across the Middle Belt states of Niger, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Kogi and Kwara states.

Mohammed pointed out that Gbagyi is the language they speak generally, though there are several other dialects peculiar to groups in the different states.  There are dialects like Gbagyi Yama, the Gbagyi Nkwa, which is spoken in Paiko, Gbagyi Nche, Gbagyi Matai and Gbagyi Ngbagun.

“The language Gbagyi refers to the central language we speak, as we are divided into different groups, cutting across the various places. 

By the time the rained stopped, it was evening and most of the day’s activities were disrupted and the reporter hurried back to town.

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