Ahead of the state congress of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) where members will elect officials of the state executive, the race to occupy the chairmanship position in Nasarawa State is gathering momentum.
So far, the trio of Dr John Mamman, the current acting chair of the party; Aliyu Bello, the party’s scribe; and Hon David Ayewa, the current executive secretary of Nasarawa State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, are in the contest to emerge the party’s chairman.
Expectedly, the trio have been lobbying key party stakeholders and congress delegates to boost their respective chances of clinching the seat.
The ruling APC is rooted in Nasarawa State having controlled the levers of power in the state for over 11 years beginning from when former Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura joined the party following the 2013 merger agreement.
Moreover, to the credit of the party stakeholders and leaders, APC has continued to wax strong in the state.
Our correspondent reports that APC has continued to receive key stakeholders of other political parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose members are defecting almost on a daily basis into the ruling party.
The defections into APC occur for different reasons, one of which, according to analyst, is the focused leadership of Governor Abdullahi Alhaji Sule whose commitment to repositioning the state has stuns even his most vociferous critics.
But the choice of who emerges chairman of the party is a different matter. Party members who spoke to our correspondent urge delegates who will elect the chairman and other party officers at the state congress to look at the credibility, integrity, political influence and experience of candidates while voting. These factors, according to the party members, are necessary to building a virile party.
“What we need to consolidate on the current gains is for the delegates to elect a credible, competent and experienced person as doing that will enhance the fortunes of our party and position us in a good stead to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the good people of Nasarawa state”, a chieftain of the party, Luka Shammah enthused.
An APC chieftain and former aide to governor Sule, who prefers anonymity said, “In Nasarawa State, we need as the party chairman, someone with requisite vision, foresight, vast experiences, credibility and courage to take charge of party affairs.
“We are approaching 2023 and so the party needs a bridge-builder, a tested grassroots politician who will galvanise the members and gather more support that will ensure huge victory,” he added.
Analysts assert that in order to consolidate on the gains currently recorded by the Governor Sule administration and ensure his second term bid in 2023 is a success, APC needs to have a vibrant and credible leadership.
The contenders namely, Hon David Ayewa, Dr John Mamman and Hon Aliyu Bello have since intensified their lobby to get the buy-in of key stakeholders and delegates ahead of the congress scheduled for this weekend.
Born on June 12, 1952, David Ayewa is the executive secretary, Nasarawa State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board. He has over three decades experience in politics including serving variously as elected council chairman and state chairman of the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement-GDM.
Groups of politicians loyal to David Ayewa have been drumming support for him as the campaigns gather steam. One of the groups in Karu Local Government area of the state, led by Elvis Joel, said it had consulted widely within the party, women and youth groups and concluded that Ayewa would make a good chairman that could lead it to victory in 2023 elections and beyond.
Joel said Ayewa’s antecedents as a grassroots politician are unprecedented stressing that having him as the party’s chairman in the state will further strengthen the party for more victories in future elections.
“Ayewa is a grassroots politician who has served as Chairman of Obi LG where his records of performance are stellar; he was the chairman of the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement where his track records are not in doubt,” Joel noted.
Also making a case for election of Ayewa as party chairman, Hon Rabiu Isa, convener of ‘A Better APC For All’ said with a vast experience spanning decades of engaging in politics, Ayewa stands tall and should be entrusted with the responsibility of leading the party because “He knows how to implement good political strategies for the party”.
Findings revealed that some stakeholders of the party currently rooting for Ayewa are doing so because they believe that he possessed the qualities and credibility of a leader who can pull every member of the party together for electoral victories.
As earlier noted, among those jostling for the coveted chairmanship of Nasarawa’s ruling APC are Dr John W. Mamman, who currently holds the position on a caretaker basis. He was conscripted to act following the gruesome murder of the erstwhile chairman, Philip Shekwo by gunmen in his Lafia residence.
Indeed, sixty two year old Mamman, a seasoned civil servant who rose through the ranks to the enviable position of a Permanent Secretary in Nasarawa state before his retirement, has not disappointed party members especially those who conscripted him to oversee the affairs of the party following the vacuum created by Shekwo’s murder.
The University of Jos graduate who served as TMC chairman of Kokona LG, until his appointment as the caretaker committee chairman of APC in December, 2020 was Special Adviser to the governor on Local government, Chieftaincy affairs and community development.
Analysts aver Mamman is relying on his position as part of the current state executive of the party. However, many believed that the fact that he has very little experience in party leadership might count against him.
Fifty-seven year old Aliyu Bello is the APC secretary in Nasarawa State. He hails from Lafia local government area of the state, has also indicated interest in the race for the Nasarawa APC chairman. A graduate of ABU Zaria, Bello worked with Nigeria Standard Newspaper, Jos but later left to join politics. He once served as councillor for Gayam Ward in Lafia. Bello joined the defunct CPC and contested for House of Assembly Member but stepped down in 2014.
He emerged state APC secretary shortly after the formation of the APC and has been holding the position until date.
Bello, it was gathered, has embarked on extensive consultations and is banking on his position as the Party Secretary, which those making a case for him insisted, puts him in a vantage stead.
A member of the APC who spoke on Bello’s ambition said: “The number of stakeholders supporting Bello is on the increase. Party chieftains are urging him to test his popularity on the ballot.”
However, as the race intensifies, key members of the party said the Nasarawa APC requires a man of vision, foresight and courage to take charge of party affairs insisting that the party cannot afford to experiment.
Speaking to our correspondent, a member of the party who prefers to remain anonymous said, “All said and done, who will eventually emerge as the party chairman is in the hands of the delegates who are constitutionally empowered to vote. However, there is also the possibility of a consensus since the party’s constitution recognises that.”