The Supreme Court judgment which reaffirmed the election of Nasarawa State’s Governor Tanko Al-Makura of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) rests the ambition of former Governor Aliyu Akwe-Doma of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s MUAZU ABARI examines the challenges ahead and writes that the scenario represents a governance test for the current administration to justify or betray the confidence reposed in it.
When business mogul, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura decided to challenge former Governor Akwe Doma for the gubernatorial ticket under the platform of their party (PDP) not many people gave him (Al-Makura) the benefit of doubt. This included his close political associates because many factors seemed disfavour him at the time.
Others have dismissed him as a political joker who never had the privilege of holding any political office and had no civil service experience besides being a teacher, a journalist and a full-time business man.
The assumption then was that he will not make a good gubernatorial material. However, despite this challenge, Al-Makura remained unperturbed and undeterred by the power of incumbency in addition to lack of support of the political juggernauts of the state as he continued the contest in the hope that ordinary people of the state would see him through.
Despite challenges facing Governor Doma’s administration at the time, most people believed that his return to Nasarawa Government House was a mission accomplished. Those who subscribed to this view believed that going by the history of Nasarawa politics, no one had ever dared a sitting governor and succeeded.
They cited the example of late Senator Haruna Abubakar to support their arguments. They also argued that Doma had firm control of the party structures in the state and enjoyed the backing of the presidency as well as political heavyweights of the state. Interestingly, then, this was apparently a valid argument.
Al-Makura’s defection to the CPC two weeks to the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP and the fallout of the various primary elections of the PDP were the final strokes that broke the camel back as people continued to defect en masse from the PDP to the opposition CPC in support of Al-Makura’s candidacy.
Arguably, the pains inflicted on the people of the state by the Doma’s administration awakened their political consciousness.
This apparently left them with no other option than to stage a political revolution through the power of ballot, finally sending the former governor out of power.
Governor Al-Makura’s journey to Nasarawa Government House will go down in history as the first of its kind in Nasarawa politics. It was a journey that was characterized with so much apprehensions, frustrations, and humiliations, including his arrest and detention while the citizens on their parts were not spared as some were victimized.
However, these actions more or less served as a tonic that increased the peoples supports, commitments and doggedness.
This culminated in the demystification of power of incumbency and the rest is now history. This means that posterity has bestowed on Al-Makura an opportunity to clearly and boldly write his name in gold or infamy.
Most observers of Nasarawa politics believe that this might not be the best time for Al-Makura’s governance capabilities to shine because apart from the PDP-dominated state parliament which he must contend with for the next four years, the governor is also saddled with the herculean task of governing a state that is steeped in weak infrastructure and poor socio-economic conditions at a time of dwindling resources and high expectations which resulted in conflicting demands on his government.
As a result of these challenges, Al-Makura is expected to either deliver and redeem his political image or fail and get crucified politically. However, his track record for contributing to the development of the state even before his election suggests that his administration will not disappoint. Only time will determine if that will be the case.
It is in view of this that the recent Supreme Court judgment is seen in many quarters, especially among residents of the state, as a golden opportunity for the new administration to remain firm and focused in its determination to take Nasarawa State.
And more - the steps so far taken by the Ciroman Kwandare have endeared him many people who see in his administration a vision and passion to take the state to greater heights.
It will also be recalled that immediately after he took oath of office, Governor Al-Makura paid an unscheduled visit to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) office in Lafia, where he described the epileptic power situation in the state as embarrassing and unacceptable to his administration with a promise to change the situation within the shortest possible time.
The present CPC-led administration has also improved the water supply, surpassing what the state experienced during Governor Doma’s. Doma claimed he spent a lot of resources in this sector and even included it in his 13-point agenda without anything to show for it except a bad memory of how a water project which millions of naira was claimed to have been invested on it instantly collapsed in the process of testing its effectiveness under the watchful eyes of the government that executed the project.
It is a fact indisputable that prior to the coming of Al-Makura’s administration the transport sector of the state was grounded as the state owned transport company popularly known as “On The Move” cannot boast of functional vehicles which prompted the governor to visit the company office and other outlets and inspect facilities where he described the situation as alarming which needed urgent attention.
Hence, his decision to purchase computer and buses for the company and statement that efforts are already in pipelines to procure more vehicles and reposition the company to serve the interest of ordinary people of the state.
As of today, the company has commenced inter-state services unlike in the past when it cannot even meet the internal movement within the state.
Additionally, massive roads construction is another area where the present administration have excelled unlike the immediate past administration who wasted one year in the name of planning on how to move the state forward and 3 years of nothingness.
Governor Al-Makura in less than one year did not only flag-off and commenced aggressive constructions of township roads in the state but some are almost on completion stages while rural roads have also been earmarked for construction.
As a further testimony to his administration’s commitment to take the state to another level, the governor has allocated the highest percentage of this year budget to the education sector.
He has also slashed the tuition fees of Nasarawa State polytechnic students which have since consumed the immediate past rector of the institution who was replaced with an acting rector that have since embarked upon massive renovations of structures and upgrades of facilities in line with the policy direction of the present administration.
This is coming at a times that the government have already announced the establishments of schools for the disabled within the 3 senatorial districts of the state and take up the burden of WAEC fees off the parents.
With this Supreme Court judgment which ended the prolonged legal battle in the state and the constitution of the state executive council, most citizens believe that the course is now clear for the governor to concentrate his attention on the work he has started so far.
Although Governor Al-Makura has a daunting task ahead with bumpy routes and obstacles which he must have to overcome if he must sustain his vision for the development of the state.
The administration was reported to have inherited 30 billion naira debt in addition to other liabilities and considering the poor financial standing of the state which solely depends on the federal allocations for its survival the new administration must go the extra mile to identify additional sources of revenue for the state.
They must fully exploit the abundant solid mineral deposit avail in the state and take the advantage of Nasarawa closeness to the federal capital and generate wealth to execute his laudable programs and policies.
As Governor Al-Makura settles down to face the real challenges of governance, the emerging consensus is that he should be guided by the fact that the world is watching with keen interest to see how the state will fare under his leadership.