Nasarawa’s Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura had during a media chat to mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of Nasarawa State, debunked a claim that he had plans to become a senator in 2019. The governor vowed during the media chat that he would not contest for any elective position after the end of his tenure in 2019.
Al-Makura had then said, “Contesting for the senatorial seat is not in my plan as some people are insinuating, and are already calling me a senator. These are mere speculations. I want to see myself as a leader and father of the state after my tenure as governor in 2019.”
But shortly afterwards, the governor’s vow not to contest soon turned to sheer irony on the streets of Lafia, the state capital. Without let, posters and billboards announcing Al-Makura as an aspirant for the Nasarawa Southern Senatorial District soon flooded the streets. It can as well be assumed that the posters and bills were sponsored by his well-wishers; even as groups and associations had also organized rallies calling on him to contest the senatorial seat come 2019. Remarkably too, the governor has not in any way distancing
himself from those political momentums being perfected to facilitate his entry into the senate, hence watchers of the political scenario have come to the conclusion that Governor Al-Makura has indirectly rescinded his decision not to contest in 2019.
However, if Governor Al-Makura has finally made up his mind to contest, some political analysts are pessimistic over his ability to maneuover himself into the red chamber, considering certain factors that may work against him.
According to the analysts, Nasarawa state solely relies on the economic viability of civil servants to grow, hence Governor Al-Makura’s alleged refusal to pay civil servants their salaries and other entitlements as and when due has thrown the economy of the state into a shamble. Pensioners are not left out as the state government is also greatly indebted to them. Same with local government workers.
ODDS AGAINST AL-MAKURA
Pessimists submit that since civil servants control the economy of Nasarawa State, workers in the state have since commenced campaigns opposing the governor’s quest to become a senator of the Federal Republic, though the governor has yet to declare his intention.
The demolition of the only private radio station in the state capital, Breeze FM 99.9, by the Nasarawa State Government, was also cited by some stakeholders in the state as a major factor that could abort the governor’s senate dream. People of the state are of the view that the radio station’s demolition was a serious threat to democracy as, according to them, “it will work against the governor’s dream of retiring to the senate in 2019 because, “he who murders sleep will sleep no more.”
But the governor said during the distribution of relief materials to crisis-ridden communities, that his administration did not regret the demolition of the radio station. “I don’t regret the demolition of the
Breeze FM. I cautioned Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, to be wary of issuing certificates of approval to just anybody anyhow,” he said.
Also, there are indications from other schools of thought that politics of ethnicity will play a major role in the Nasarawa South senatorial zone election come 2019, hence political analysts envisage that the four major ethnic groups-Alago, Tiv, Koro and Eggon that make up the senatorial zone can form an alliance to wage a political war against the governor’s ethnic nationality, Gwandara, which also belongs to the zone but considered a minority, in order to destroy Al-Makura’s political empire permanently.
It was against this backdrop that such watchers of political events in the state have seen a brick-wall already erected by the Alago indigenous ethnic nationality, which is currently occupying the seat of the senatorial zone at the National Assembly, to vehemently checkmate the emergence of Al-Makura as a senator representing the zone by 2019.
The Alagos’ countenance had changed, as it were, immediately after the 2011 general election, as they claimed that they were cheated out in 2011 governorship election when their own, former Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma, was defeated at the poll by the incumbent governor, thereby stopping them (Alagos) from completing their eight years tenure as governor of the state, which was in consonance with what was considered a gentleman’s agreement among the ethnic nationalities in the state.
Consequently, they have vowed to clinch the senatorial seat of the zone come rain, come sunshine, cautioning other ethnic nationalities in the zone to forget the dream of occupying the zone’s senatorial seat, as, according to them, “it is our exclusive birthright, for now.”
The other ethnic group which observers noticed might have been at crossroads with the governor and was ready to part way with him, are the Tivs. It was observed that the governor has failed absolutely in his campaign promises to the Tiv people, who are the second largest ethnic nationality in the zone.
The Tiv people were said to be brimming with brimstone and fire come the day of the 2019 election, as they were reported to be at home with the leadership style of the incumbent senator of the zone, Solomon
Adokwe, whom they claimed has fulfilled his campaign promises to the Tiv community by way of providing their settlements with portable water, electricity transformers, renovation of educational infrastructure and awards of scholarship to Tiv indigent students.
It was revealed that the bone of contention between the Tiv ethnic group and Al-Makura was the failure of the governor to fulfill his major campaign promise of creating a traditional chiefdom for the ethnic group, to emancipate it from the shackles of traditional marginalization being meted out to the group in the state for decades.
Nevertheless, the Koro (Migili) ethnic group, whose influence on the political landscape of the zone remains indelible considering its numerical strength, was said to be uncomfortable with the governor’s ambition to represent them at the National Assembly but they said they would not reveal their reason for public consumption.
The inability of the Nasarawa State Government to return the Eggon displaced persons back to their ancestral abodes, even when the crisis that had engulfed parts of the senatorial zone was far over, in order to allow them vote during the 2015 general election, was described by some school of thoughts as a minus to the governor’s senatorial dream.
This school of thoughts opined that the Eggons, who are found in large numbers in the zone, would likely vote against the governor in 2019 because of the inability of the government to either return them or collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to allow them participate in the 2015 general election, which Eggons were said to have viewed as a ploy by the power-that-be to disenfranchise them in the 2015 general polls; hence, to them, “it is now pay-back time”.
FACTORS THAT’LL HELP HIM
Despite the above factors dissected by pessimists, some political observers in the state are optimistic that the governor may make a surprise move and snatch the seat from the incumbent senator,
Solomon Adokwe, given his antecedent of having developed infrastructure greatly in the state, since his assumption of office in 2011.
Optimists lay emphasis on the massive infrastructural development of the state such as a network of asphalt roads, ultramodern markets, upgrading facilities in educational and health formations in the state, among others; which are adding value to the socio-economic lives of citizens of the state, as compared to his predecessors.
The optimists are also counting on the multiple contestants from the Alago thnic group; who are the majority in the zone and occupy the senatorial seat at the moment, to contest for the senate seat would definitely divide them ( the Alagos) therefore paving the way for the governor to capitalise on the intra-tribal political turmoil and thus maneuover himself into the National Assembly.
Also, with the recent cabinet reshuffle which saw some Alago sons occupying some sensitive positions as Head of the State Service; the Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs commissioner-who is considered as a mini governor in the state ,was either deliberately or intentionally designed by Governor Al-Makura to win the heart of the Alagos.
Optimists thus portray the development as a plus to the governor as the Alago’s ‘sons’ in the corridors of powers will no doubt, fight tooth and nail to see that they convince their kinsmen to vote the governor into the senate.
Another school of thought saw the recently distributed N300 million relief materials to flood, communal clashes victims in the state by Governor Al-Makura to cushion the effect of hardship suffered by the residents of those communities, whose situation was compounded by the biting economic crunch, as an added advantage to the governor.
This is because, the beneficiaries will sympathise and support his political dream of retiring to the senate, come 2019.