By Ayuba Wandai Usman
Events leading to the 2011 general elections in the state witnessed intense politicking as never witnessed in the history of the young state; it became even more intense when a frontline contender for the governorship Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-makura led other notable Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bigwigs to decamp to the then relatively new and unknown Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to further his ambition of governing the state after being marginalized albeit controversially by the PDP executives in the state. The election was a straight fight between the then incumbent Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma of the PDP and Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-makura of the CPC, the campaigns witnessed large scale horse trading and intimidation mostly of CPC supporters, at various points the CPC governorship candidate and the director general of his campaign were arrested not to talk of their numerous supporters and sympathizers that were clamped into detention across the state.
The 2011 general elections were a redefining moment for the politics of the state as for the first time ethnic, religious and sectional/zonal interest did not really play a part in determining the eventual winner, the PDP’s slogan for the election was consolidation while that of the CPC was change and both parties traversed all the nooks and crannies of the state to seek for the peoples support, the campaigns were generally based on issues and for the first time the people of the state demonstrated genuine interest in who governs them, they came out in their thousands, men, women, young and old to show support for various candidates of their choice, they people ensured they guarded the whole electoral process to safe guard against manipulation even at the risk of their lives.
After the elections, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate Alhaji Umaru Tanko Almakura emerged victorious with a margin of less than four thousand (4000) votes. For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it was a very bitter defeat as unfolding events would unveil, Almakura’s CPC’s greatest undoing was not winning majority of seats in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, the PDP won twenty (20) seats against CPC’s four (4) seats, this was not a mere coincidence as most members of the PDP who won the seats begged and came into some sort of understanding with their constituents to support the governor when they win but reneged to do their own bit.
The PDP filed a petition at the State Governorship Election Tribunal seeking to nullify Governor Al-makura’s election, the petition was vigorously pursued up to the Supreme Court but they failed to un-sit the governor as his election was upheld by the court. Governor Al-makura immediately after assumption of office settled down for the serious task of governing the state, as he knew with the kind of support the people gave his mandate he was not in a position to fail them, in his characteristic manner of a workaholic and perfectionist it was not long after, the people of the state began to witness rapid infrastructural development and strategic programs for the overhauling of various sectors of the state for development.
Every keen observer of events in the state knows that Al-makura is the best governor of the state so far, he is the only governor that has been able to bring real development to the people, he is the first governor to construct an asphalt road, he is the first to access Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Universal Basic Education funds by paying the state’s counterpart fund which he has put into good use to transform the rural areas and education, he has established a state of the art Nasarawa Geographic Information Systems (NAGIS) to bring about credible land administration and to improve the state’s revenue through land, he has brought respect, dignity, decorum and transparency to the way and manner government business is conducted.
He has touched the lives of ordinary people by ensuring that they are not short-changed through sharing of government’s money like the past but is sharing it through development, he has transformed the state capital from a glorified Local Government Headquarters to an ideal city, he has involved the women and youths in governance like has never been done before, he has brought a feeling of greatness to indigenes of the state amongst so many things he has been able to do within a short while, the general feeling is that he has surpassed the PDP’s achievements in twelve (12) years so many folds in less than four (4) years in office.
The recent move to impeach the governor was one of the plans the PDP to try to put the APC onslaught against it at bay, in conceiving the plan they undermined the popularity of the governor thus pitching themselves against majority of the people, in their bid to impeach the governor they threw law, decorum, integrity and caution in the wind which catapulted against them. They succeeded in making the governor more popular both within and outside the state; he did not only survive the impeachment move but also made history as the only governor to have survived such move in the history of the country, the ordinary people showed their total solidarity with the governor and that in no small way frustrated the move, it also gave the governor the opportunity to clear his name of all corruption allegations raised against him by the House when they failed to prove them against reasonable doubt and the panel of enquiry was left with no other option but to dismiss the allegations.
As things stand, it is a cat and mouse game with the PDP’s onslaught being perpetrated and spare headed by the House of Assembly and the APC’s angle being headed by the governor, but one thing that remains evident is that the governor enjoys the support of majority of the populace and many observers are of the view that the PDP and the House are determined to impeach the governor because with him on the saddle their chances in 2015 remains bleak and they will prefer their fellow party man in the saddle to enable them have an edge by using government machinery to manipulate the processes leading to the 2015 polls, they also want to use government machinery to intimidate and harass the APC.
Ayuba Wandai Usman via [email protected].