By Ali Abare
Ahead of the October 6 local government election in Nasarawa State, an unprecedented number of aspirants jostling for the position of chairman across the 13 local government areas, have been cleared by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
This number is indeed unprecedented in the history of local government election in the state, especially with the initial cries that, the one million naira cost for the party’s nomination form, was on the high side.
According to reports, 81 chairmanship aspirants bought the nomination forms, with 80 personally appearing before the party’s screening committee led by Hon. Philip Dada, ahead of the primary election slated for Monday, July 26.
A breakdown of the aspirants shows that, Doma local government has 19 aspirants out of which one is a female. Akwanga and Keffi have eight each, while Nasarawa Eggon and Lafia have seven aspirants each. Karu has six aspirants while Keana and Awe have five each. Kokona, Nasarawa and Wamba have four aspirants each. Toto has five aspirants but 4 were screened. Only Obi Local Government Area has one aspirant following the consensus agreement.
This high number of aspirants in the local government election in Nasarawa State, remains to be disputed. What however cannot be disputed is the high level of motivation for the people of the state, to desire to participate actively in the democratic process.
Even with complaints about the alleged high cost of nomination forms, it’s obvious that the people repose such level of confidence in the process, to have turned out in such high numbers, in order to participate in the election.
There are several reasons why people participate in politics. Joanne M. Miller, a researcher at the University of Minnesota in the United States of America, opines that at the heart of democratic theory and practice is the notion that citizens participate in the political process, stressing that, the question of why people choose to participate in politics is of fundamental importance in a democracy.
According to Miller, motivation is a critical factor when it comes to reasons why people participate in politics.
What is the source of this motivation, that is making the people of Nasarawa State brave the odds, churning out their hard earned resources to contest in an election? It won’t take long to figure this out.
The government of Nasarawa State, under the leadership of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, is providing good governance and exemplary leadership, that is motivating the people to participate in the democratic process.
In fact, the transparent, accountable, fair, all inclusive governance, effective and transformative policy strides of the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration, is succeeding in not only collapsing political opposition in the state, but is serving as motivation for people to actively participate in the democratic process.
Engineer Sule’s character, personal and sterling leadership qualities, combine to instil confidence in the people. People of Nasarawa State now believe in the government and are willing to support the government, in order to deliver good governance to the people.
Again, the people are equally motivated because the state government is guaranteeing the independence of the Nasarawa State Independent Electoral Commission (NASIEC), which is going about preparing for the local government election in a most transparent and open manner, that is drawing high level of confidence across political divides.
It’s obvious then, that political apathy may be a thing of the past in Nasarawa State, since with this high turnout of aspirants for the coming local government election, the people at the grassroots, are coming out in droves, to participate in the democratic process, which will further enhance good governance, as well as bring about the much needed dividends of democracy.
This is so because public participation in democracy improves quality leadership which in turn, leads to good governance.
Engineer Sule is gradually building trust in the people, who are now encouraged to participate in the democratic process. This is no mean feat, when considered against what obtained in the past.
Even the process of nominating candidates that will represent the APC in the coming election, is another selling point. After agreeing to a consensus arrangement, the APC will still go ahead to conduct a primary election in 12 local government areas because only Obi Local Government Area, reached consensus on the chairmanship position.
As aptly cited by none other, than the interim Secretary of the APC, Hon. Aliyu Bello, who said that, consensus means unanimous opinion and that where there’s a single dissenting opinion, aspirants will go to the polls and the electorate will decide.
Engineer Sule is providing the right and required leadership, with both the APC and NASIEC left with no choice than to do only what is right, thus paving the way for the people to join in and participate actively in the democratic process.
Agreed, less will be heard about other political parties in the state, even though all are taking part in the preparations leading to the October 6 election. This may not necessarily be as a result of political apathy like obtained in the past but mainly because there is no virile opposition in Nasarawa State.
Abare is a special assistant on media to the Nasarawa State governor.