LAST two governors that enjoyed the luxury of ruling Nasarawa State since its creation, Nasarawa indigenes lay credence to Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s strides while the immediate past governor, Aliyu Akwe Doma allegedly left the Government House with a barrage of debt,thus soiling the ruling party’s name. A major reason he lost to Congress for Progressive Change in last year’s governorship polls.
Unlike Senators, who debate and vote for issues, governors are executives who create and manage real programs. Voters can judge the effectiveness of those programmes.
A priority of Tanko’s agenda is addressing public employees’ benefits. “As we all know teacher’s are paid poorly considering the amount of work they do. The original intent of strong pensions and health insurance benefits is to help supplement the low salaries teachers often earn. The intent is to alleviate the financial burden of veteran teachers’ high salaries and benefits.’’ Al’Makura said.
The phenomenal political surprise last year April which occurred in Nasarawa State in which a former sitting governor, Aliyu Akwe Doma (of the Peoples Democratic Party) lost space and authority to Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (of the CPC) was never a tea party.
Characteristic of all those in position of power who do not cherish the idea of losing same to some other people,Aliyu Akwe whose background stems from the humanities , tried all he could to stop the wave of change in that central Nigerian state with over 70 mineral resources, whose wealth and potentials are yet to be tapped.
Doma, the past governor’s government was characterised by violence, thuggery, electoral manipulations, while equally forcing traditional rulers and security operative to work against the immensely popular CPC and its representative, Al-Makura.
Although, the immediate past government under Doma swore it was not going to lose its seat to Al-Makura. The strategic use of threats, repression, intimidation, hatred and even negligence of Mohammed Buhari (CPC presidential candidate when he visited the state on campaigns) all were orchestrated to engineer political loss of the CPC, while notable CPC stalwarts like Ishaq Kara and Musa Illu were arrested by the State Security Service, but at the end of the April polls, the Umaru Tanko Al’Makura led CPC won. Illu, a prominent CPC executive openly profusely wept, resolute that he could not believe that Doma would crash: “Disbelief made me cry.
I thought God was not going to hear the cry of the people of Nasarawa. I thought God was still going to allow the sheer weight of the office of the governor, to crush the people. The choice of the people prevailed. All the arrest of the CPC members including my humble self was defeated by that victory of the people at the election. I couldn’t control myself from crying”, he had told the press.
The big question that bugged the minds of political observers is why the CPC clinched the position of governor, the only state where it won. First and foremost ,people had sympathy for the CPC which suffered much intimidation and brutality, even when its vision and dreams are laudable and people-oriented. Again, most youths who had suffered in the hand of the old regime for want of jobs and support hated to identify with the lousy, misdirected administration. The public service was crippled; promotions were denied. The streets witnessed much insecurity. There was much poverty, underdevelopment and disease.
Al-Makura, a social engineer, businessman and a hardworking man of principles thus emerged in April 2011 as the people’s choice. He is the third man to hold the key of the state government 15 years since it was created. The Doma administration had threatened him a number of times. For instance, he was ordered to remove his campaign billboards close to the Government House, and to discontinue his community development project which he started years ago.
Like the typical Nigerian politician campaigning for elective post, the new governor came with promises to salvage the people from pain in the hands of those he called “a naïve cabal.” He said “my mission is be to harness the human and material resources of Nasarawa State for the benefit of all stakeholders so that our people can live and prosper in freedom and security.
“The core of my priorities, policies and programmes are be: Education, education, education, equipping our people with skills (notably information technology), agricultural production, markets and rural change, development of solid minerals and small-scale industries.
“The fostering of an enterprise society, better healthcare provision (including health insurance), Infrastructures (notably roads, water and power), beautiful, clean and safe environment, prudent financial management, good governance and accountability, public sector reforms; and grassroots participation and social justice”, he added.
For a people who felt short-changed by the two last administrations in the state, Al-Makura coming on a different political platform, provided them an opportunity for a change, so he won the election, clean.
This is now a year into the new administration. Al-Makura sits firm as head of the administration, with the rest of his cabinet thinking of what to do with the remaining period of the four-year mandate
In the word of Al’Makura, “ I remained courageous, resolute, confident, self-assured focused because I knew that the peace-loving people of the state wanted him replaced’’
Perseverance, belief in God and ideological obedience to the principles, and manifestoes of CPC, are some of his outstanding qualities. He has been described by many people as an honest, visionary and compassionate being. He has been a successful businessman, and he is modest, exposed and sociable.
Dr. Hassan Mohammed Lawal, former Nigeria’s minister of works “Doma deployed all arsenals in the battle to actualize his second term bid, using all resources including funds, coercive power, all government machinery, talk of security agencies, government controlled media outfits, all that he had at his disposal”.
On settling down into office to the challenges of the developing state, Governor paid an evaluation visits to all critical Government establishments in the state,ensuring that the residents of Lafia, the state Capital enjoy uninterrupted power and water supply .
On year down the line, ‘‘we have focused on the common man especially, education, equipping our people with skills, agricultural production, markets and rural change, development of solid minerals and small-scale industries amongst others”. Governor Al’Makura has in the last one year, focused on the provision of infrastructure, energy and road networks.
He also paid workers’ salaries, using this tactics, and avoiding to take the path to borrowing not less than N800 million from banks. Al-Makura simply stopped payment of contractors just, as he directed the mopping up of other accounts to gather funds for salaries.
Al-Makura’s close associate, Malam Abdulkareem Abdullahi Mohammed, a socialist and veteran broadcaster who provided inspiration for peasants and other common people to stand and protect their votes during the April 26 governorship poll in the state, said the governor’s attitude informs discipline, and is tailored towards complying with what the party stands for.
“It is the party for the talakawa (the poor). The governor’s actions are geared towards saving for the masses. This discipline and sacrifice are the cardinal points for change. By cost saving, it will save sufficient funds to provide the basic services for the masses. He has started well; and must continue like this,” he said.
Not too long after the drama, Al’Makura moved on to considering the huge debt profile and other landmines, how to address them, and not how to rush into early appointments and by extension create more burden for the state at the early days.” Besides, he said he would want to be assessed based on the principles of his party, which gave as “due process, discipline and order”, adding that “I will adhere strictly to these principles to make a difference so that in a matter of time, the CPC will become the party to belong to by all Nigerians.”
While complaints linger about Al-Makura’s way of doing things, his maintenance of those widely tagged “Doma’s men” in his government, has attracted more public concerns than the accolade he received for being matured to keep those who worked for Doma. These “Doma men”, most of whom are still in their old seats at Government House in Lafia, according to sources, have been holding clandestine meetings with their former boss who they are said to be still loyal to. “They are divulging every discussion, step and action of the governor to their former boss.
They can be dangerous”, a source said,.pleading not to be mentioned, however.
Al-Makura has continually faced pressures for not making fast changes so that he will not be eventually tied down by these elements of the old regime.
Barely a day after the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA), passed a resolution voiding Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura’s appointment of 16 administrators for development areas on the 14th july 2011, the House came under criticism from CPC stalwart, Alhaji Abdulkarim Abdullahi Mohammed who said the assembly was on a “revenge mission” against the defeat of the PDP at the governorship election of April 26.
Mohammed, a veteran broadcaster and close associate of Governor Al-Makura, told Daily Trust in Lafia yesterday that the members were acting the secret script of their godfathers who are using other means to avenge their defeat in the election.
The development areas provided for in the state laws are a creation from the 13 local government areas. The same laws give the governor the powers to appoint administrators for the areas but the state assembly sat and in one day amended the laws, cutting down the powers of the governor and conferring on themselves the power to approve such appointments.The House is made up of 20 PDP members and four from the governor’s party, the CPC.
According to Al-Makura ‘‘I know what good leadership is all about. To me, “I will depend on Almighty God to give me direction, to give me the wisdom to take continue and finish the challenge. I see myself as Governor of Nasarawa State who has made promises that convinced the people to vote for me. It was a covenant; it was a trust and a contract which I must find a way to execute to their satisfaction. Secondly, I see myself as a leader who should be the practical example of the ideals of CPC not only in Nassarawa State but in Nigeria as a whole”. Almakura enthused.
Almakura eulogising his programmes for the transformation of Nasarawa State in the last one year, “Those things are infrastructure; basic physical infrastructure. In a nutshell, road, electricity, water and social development; good schools and qualitative education are what my administration will focus on. Have good hospitals that are well kitted, staffed and stuck with drugs and other paramedical staff so that they can give their best to the people. Also give commercial leeway to the people for them to be able to excel and achieve their individual dreams and aspirations. ‘’ he said
My vision is to Provide for agriculture, commerce and provide conducive environment for people to excel in their vocations and to create an environment for peace to ensure that there is stability in the state to ensure that everybody goes about his or her business without any hindrance, fear or molestation. These are the basic things one needs to put in place and within one to two years, the state would be transformed.” He said
A broadcaster, Al-Makura had worked as an Assistant Producer of News and Current Affairs at the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria (BCNN). A workaholic, he was good, committed, and hard working. He is focused, honest, purposeful, and cares about his integrity. He had a good upbringing, and was a member of the PDP before he defected to the CPC where he hoped to achieve his wish in transforming the lives of his people.