Five things we learnt from Nasarawa rally

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Nasarawa state recently concluded the first phase of its rally which took it to all of the state’s 13 local government headquarters. Here are five things we learnt from the rallies.

1.  Nasarawa state anthem is a badge of honour.

Nasarawa state is about the first state in northern Nigeria to have a national anthem. The anthem was first sung in public some two months ago, precisely on October 1, during celebrations to mark the 26th anniversary of the state’s creation and Nigeria’s 62nd Independence anniversary, both of which fall on same day. This twin event was celebrated at the Lafia Square with cultural dances, march pasts, culminating in a speech by Governor Abdullahi Sule. It was a fitting occasion to launch the anthem in public. And its first stanza goes thus:

Nasarawa the land of our birth

Home of solid minerals 

Rich in Culture and Agriculture 

Though, we differ in tongues 

We are undivided and steadfast

A land of our forefathers strive for

In hard work and dedication…

…of our grand heroes

A legacy we shall cherish forever

Land of promise we thrive

And the last sentence of the second stanza says: In God we trust, we are blessed

Both stanzas of the Nasarawa State anthem are now sung at public events, rallies, to start off an occasion, immediately after the national anthem. I observed at the APC local government headquarters’ rallies that many people are now familiar with its wordings as more and more people now sing it by heart, and solemnly too.

2.  ‘Let’s buga’ song is a g-o-a-l

I am not really a fan of modern-day Nigerian (music) artists for two main reasons. The first is their rather weird lyrics which is not edifying. Those of older artists like Sonny Okosun, Christy Essien, Osadebey and their ilk are more meaningful, educative, impactful. Secondly, our modern artists sing in Pidgin English which I detest. Make use of a language in its pure form. Write and sing in standard English. Pidgin is corrupted English, a distortion.  If a particular song is being played and you ask me for its title and name of the artist, I shall be starring at you, lost.  However, in the past few months, I have been forced by circumstances to be very familiar with one Nigerian singer and the title of his song. Why? Because it is pervasive, literally played everywhere; in the neighbourhood,  wedding ceremonies, gatherings of every kind including rallies. It is buga song by Kiss Daniel. Political parties have also caught the bug. 

 Political party rallies usually start in the afternoon (around 2p.m.) when the highest dignitary arrives. However, the venues are often already packed with people from as early as 8a.m.  In the meantime before arrival of VIPs, the crowd is entertained with Hausa campaign songs, praise songs eulogising the candidate(s), local artists and cultural dancers. There is never a dull moment.  Once the ceremony proper begins, the ‘official’ disc jockey takes over especially in the big towns and capital city. And in the interlude, when a dignitary is called up to give his/her speech as he/she is walking the distance to the podium, the music is played, buga. Then, the youths are let loose, so to speak, dancing away lustily to Buga song, adults seated under canopies would be seen shaking their heads or gyrating to the music. What surprised me is that virtually everybody, young and old alike were all singing along with the lyrics! 

3.  ‘Let’s Vote, not fight’ campaign  alive

Popular musician, Tuface (Innocent Idibia) whose home state is Benue which is next door to Nasarawa State, pioneered and founded the ‘’No violence” campaign/ foundation with the theme ‘Let’s vote not fight’ and a promotion album about  it. Members of this foundation were on ground at the Lafia, capital city of Nasarawa state, APC rally. Wearing a customised T-shirt and face cap, they walked round the venue, holding aloft placards on which is inscribed the words, ‘Vote not Fight’; ‘Ballot not Bullet’ and preaching the gospel of peaceful elections to the populace. The foundation’s Nasarawa State Coordinator,  Envoh Emmanuel Okoli told me in a chat that the organisation has branches in all states of the federation, and zonal directors in the three senatorial districts. He said that response to their campaigns has been positive. More grease to their elbows.

4. Gov. Sule lets down his guard

Nasarawa state governor, Engr. Abdullahi is a gentleman in all ramifications. Not for him the typical Nigerian politician’s way of politicking which is characterised by mudslinging, name calling and the like. He often overlooks bogus claims by opposition parties/politicians, laughing them off. Full stop. Apparently his many years in the United States where he worked in top notch companies and where decency is cherished by majority of the populace, rubbed off on him.  However, during APC’s rally the governor let down his guard somehow. The PDP had alleged that his APC administration has nothing to show for its years of governance.  And Sule replied, ‘’I did not care about opposition party because they are not my business. Until they look for my trouble, I don’t even mention them….The PDP was unable to construct even one kilometre of road in the state’’.

5.  Ghost of primaries still hovering around

Expectedly, as the ruling party, the primary election to pick candidates for the House of Assembly, House  of Representatives and the Senate was fierce with a plethora of aspirants jostling to get the tickets. There shall always be winners and losers in any election. At end of the primaries some of those who lost out left the APC to seek nomination in other parties while others challenged the outcomes in court. Some of the cases are still on-going. This has divided the party supporters into rival camps. Youths supporting an aggrieved personality sometimes exchange bitter words with the other camp, they shout down on some VIPs, etc. However, nobody was injured and no life was lost at the rallies.

 In a statement he personally signed, Governor Sule remarked, “I must condemn in strong terms, the squabbles amongst and between party supporters in Toto, Keana as well as the Emir’s palace in Lafia where disaffection and misconduct reared their ugly head attributable to the fall out of the APC primaries. I apologize to those party faithful who the unsavoury comments, chants and aggression borne out of youthful exuberance were targeted at. These attacks are indeed regrettable. We are carrying out full investigations in order to stop such unfortunate incidents”

Ikeano writes from Lafia, Nasarawa state via [email protected] 08033077519