Linus Oota, Lafia
Nasarawa State appears unique in many ways, one of which is that it is the only state in the country whose governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is disabled (hearing impairment), and he says so. It is also the only state in the country that produced a governor from the Muhammadu Buhari-led Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011. Al-Makura defeated the incumbent at the time who was seeking a re-election.
Interestingly, Al-Makura will be completing his second term in office on May 29 2019. But before then he has demystified three powerful political leaders in the state who hitherto dictate the direction of the state politics. The outgoing governor has confined them to compulsory political retirement.
These political actors are: former Information minister and 2019 All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate in the state, Labaran Maku, former FCT minister and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Senator Solomon Ewuga and a third term senator representing Nasarawa South senatorial zone, Sulieman Adokwe.
The three political gladiators had prior to the 2019 general elections vowed to perpetually retire the outgoing governor of the state, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura from active politics. But after the result of the 2019 general elections was announced, the reverse became the case as Al-Makura triumphed over the three of them.
Governor Al-Makura did not only defeat senator Adokwe with 113,156 votes against 104,595 votes to secure the Nasarawa South senatorial seat, his anointed governorship candidate, now governor- elect, Abdullahi Sule garnered 327,229 votes to beat PDP’s David Umbugadu who got 184,281 votes, leaving Maku of APGA with 132,784 votes.
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC) equally got 15 seats in the state assembly while PDP secured seven seats, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) got one each with APGA securing no single seat.
Ironically, two weeks to the February National Assembly election, Senator Adokwe had vowed to humiliate the governor at the poll, insisting that he was confident of defeating him because his people believe in his representation.
On his part, the governorship candidate of APGA, Maku had three days to the March 9th governorship election vowed to crush the Al-Makura- led APC in the state by defeating his anointed candidate in the first ballot.
He said “APC is in trouble because the people have gone beyond fielding a candidate that is not capable and but incompetent. In this state, I am a household name because I have worked here, I have served this state since my teaching career in the primary school up to deputy governor, so they know who I am, the election is not about party but candidate and the people know who to vote”.
But Governor Al-Makura during the campaigns equally boasted that the PDP and APGA will not exist again in the state after 2019 general elections.
“The PDP in Nasarawa State is in comatose even though the heart is still beating, but after 2019 elections, there will be no PDP in the state. My initial plans was that we will convert the PDP state secretariat to APC state office because PDP is finished, but I thought otherwise that how can we occupy such a desecrated, polluted temple as APC office” Al-Makura had said.
On APGA, Al-Makura said “APGA is a one man show without even a councillor, so how will anybody be afraid of them in the election, in APGA; Maku is the state chairman of the party, governorship candidate and the state secretary of the party, so it is a one man show.”
He challenged Maku to mention one single project he executed for his people when he served as commissioner, deputy governor and minister respectively, just as he accused him of promoting religious and ethnic politics in the state.
Daily Sun’s investigations revealed that selling the candidature of Abdullahi Sule as the APC’s candidate did not come easy either. But the achievements of the outgoing governor and the assurance that Sule will build on the foundation already laid by the governor, appear to have smoothen the way for the APC.
The Al-Makura administration is credited with driving the rapid growth of the physical and infrastructure administration in the state, with his capacity to judiciously utilise the little resources from the federal allocation. The administration is credited with starting and completing works on the Lafia Cargo Airport which is now ready for aircrafts to land and take off. It also built the multi -billion naira Comprehensive Special School for disabled, which is ranked as the best in the country.
The special school has accessible classrooms, disability compliant hostels and two state- of- the-art 600 capacity dinning and 1000 person capacity multipurpose halls, free transportation as well as comfortable residential apartments for the highly professional staff of the school. The school was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
The projects and many more may have helped Al-Makura broke the jinx of ethnic politics in Nasarawa State.
Prior to his emergence in 2011, the political and social rivalry between the major ethnic groups that make up the state has in so many ways appear to have retarded economic and social progress and this was attributed to the activities of some political class whose interest is to ensure that political and social animosity festers amongst the ethnic groups. They succeeded and kept the political and social relation between the major tribes of Alagos, Tivs, Egggons, Madas, Affos and other minority tribes in constant state of political tension.
In 2011, Al-Makura who hails from a minority tribe of Gwandara first broke the jinx when he defeated an incumbent government, led by an Alago man, one of the majority tribes in the state, late Governor Aliyu Doma and began to burn the bridges of political and social hatred of the past.
He began the vision at the time some Eggon leaders rolled out drums of war by allegedly sponsoring Ombatse cult militia group to destabilise his government.
But in spite of all that, Al-Makura embarked on his onerous task of neutralising the ethnic prejudices in the state, bearing in mind that without peace, consensus and unity, the state can never achieve development. He wasted no time in summoning the courage to demystify what many reefed to as “retrogressive and archaic mindset in Nasarawa politics.”
By 2015 when he was seeking a second term in office after surviving several impeachment attempts, allegedly orchestrated by the same elements, the then minister of Information and APGA governorship candidate, Maku and a PDP chieftain Solomon Ewuga join forces to stop the return bid of Al-Makura by introducing ethnic politics against the governor.
Again, in the just concluded 2019 general elections, Governor Al-Makura defied the logic of the parochial minds of the Eggons and the Alagos to support a minority Hausa man, Abdullahi Sule from the small Gudi community of Akwanga Local Government Area, dominated by the Madas.
“Al-Makura was not perturbed by ethnic cleavages. He believed that his decision will put paid to politics of hatred and will rescue the people from the hands of politicians who instigate ethnic hatred for political advantages, by their divide and rule tactics. The proponenst of this theory in the state are these three political gladiators led by Labaran Maku.
“The governor gave his best during the campaigns by enumerating his achievements believing that Abdullahi Sule possesses the required resume to sustain what he has done to guide the state in a new direction. Our governor discarded ethnic politics in preference for an all-inclusive politics. With the victory of Sule and APC in the state, he (Al-Makura) has completely retired Labaran Maku, Senators Sulieman Adokwe, Solomon Ewuga and their governorship candidate, David Umbugadu from active politics of the state,” an APC source told Daily Sun.