“It is our firm belief that if our people must be rescued from years of neglect and take their proper place in the social, economic and political development of our country, then we must all be at peace with one another and be our brothers keepers. As a government freely elected by the people we cannot ignore the plight of our people. If there is no peace in any part of the state, there can be no peace in the entire state. Humanity has always been forced to pay a high price for the folly of few. When we promote peace and unity we wield our strength together and forge the iron of brotherhood that becomes a bulwark against the storm of hatred and the wiles of animosity”.
Those were the words of the former and first civilian governor of Nasarawa State now serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Nasarawa West, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu [Turaki Keffi] published in the News Magazine, November 4, 2002.
The statement advises the people of Nasarawa State on the need to eschew violence and embrace peace. He also said at different fora that it was time for all people in the state and indeed the entire country held hostage by needless strife and violence to learn the vital lesson of history that no community or nation torn by war can progress.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s reign as governor witnessed pockets of violence like the crisis that engulfed the Southern Senatorial Zone as a result of the assassination of one of his Special Advisers, Sarkin Azara on June 12, 2001 and the protracted Toto conflict.
Though he met the Toto crisis, he made concerted efforts to see that the crisis was resolved; the first step he took was extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders in and out of the conflict area as well as making people know the importance of having a neighbor.
His words. “Let us never fear to be neighbors but we must never be neighbors out of fear because neighborliness bound with the cord of intimidation is doomed”.
The message of peace- building and neighborliness preached by Adamu was well received by all ethnic groups in Toto, the warring factions in the conflict forgave each other and this resulted in government putting in place a machinery that saw to the return of the Bassa ethnic group to their places of abode in a ceremony attended by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on July 3, 2000, owing to the steps taken by Adamu to stop the circle of violence in the area.
He brought to an end similar crisis in Awe Local Government Area when the Tiv/Fulani people were in crisis. Adamu has the ability to resolve complex crises. There is no better testimony about Adamu’s capacity to solve problems and achieve peace than the one former president Obansanjo gave in 2005 when a powerful delegation from the state led by Adamu himself, paid the president a courtesy visit in Aso Rock. Obasanjo said, “One thing I like about your state is that it is a very peaceful state. Even when the peace of the state was threatened from outside you handled the situation well.’’
As a peace maker he did not limit the gospel of peace to Nasarawa state alone. In 2002, when members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) clashed with the Hausa community in Lagos, the tension it generated was so high that a reprisal attack from the northern states was almost inevitable. Adamu went to Lagos and calmed the situation. Adamu was also instrumental in resolving the crises between the presidency and the National Assembly in 2002. According to him peace is the most important ingredient for stability.
When he was governor there were instances when his car was stoned but as a matured politician his reaction was “I cannot do anything against this kind of young people, they don’t know what they are doing”.
As the first democratically elected governor of the state, he laid structures which his successors are now building on for a better Nasarawa state. He established Nasarawa State University, Keffi in 2000; Nasarawa State Polytechnic Lafia (now Mustapha Agwai polytechnic); School of Health Technology Keffi, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Lafia as well as many science secondary schools in the state. Like Mungo Park who was interested in discovering the source of River Niger, Adamu discovered Farin Ruwa Falls and brought it to international limelight. His priority on education was based on the concept that education is light “There is no tomorrow without education, you don’t have a future without it. In the beginning according to the Holy books, God said ‘Let there be Light and there was light’, the same way I want light for my people. If there is anything I owe my people over any other thing, it is to get them educated, no matter what”.
The peaceful atmosphere and good human relations Adamu brought to the state earned him and the state a wide range of friends across the globe. Renowned world leaders including two former presidents of the United States of America, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Howard F. Jetter, Queen Elizabeth 11 of England and Pastor Mark Craig visited the state during his tenure.
Elder Statesman, Alhaji Ahmadu Tanko who was his Headmaster in Laminga Senior Primary School once commented on Adamu thus, “Yes, I was Headmaster of Laminga Senior Primary School when Governor Adamu passed through the School from 1957 to 1959. I recalled that Abdullahi Agwada as he was then called was a very popular pupil right from the day he came to Laminga Primary School. He was an extrovert with a wide circle of friends inclusive of his seniors.
“He used to talk and argue a lot with friends but never at any time fought anyone in the school. Abdullahi still exhibits fine qualities, very much the same as I knew him in his childhood years. Anybody who knew Abdullahi Adamu in school would agree that he still behaves the same way he did as a pupil. He would talk all day but immediately he saw his teacher he would run away. He was very law-abiding and respected his seniors. Up till today Abdullahi will trek from my neighbors’ houses and come here to pay respect to his own master despite his exalted position as Governor. Go to his house and farm in Keffi, you will find his own mates enjoying talking with him as they used to do at Laminga. When talking with friends, Adamu forgets he is a governor”.
–Tukura, a Lafia-based journalist, worked with former Governor Adamu for 8 years