For the people of Nasarawa State, the forthcoming governorship elections are already triggering deep thoughts and raising grave issues that evoke memories of a better past amidst worries over the prevailing uncertainties of insecurity and political future. In many ways, the 2015 elections will be another unique opportunity for the people to choose between sinking into the quicksand of misguided politicking or swimming out of the swamp with the unity and pragmatism that actualized aspirations for their own state. They are at the crossroads of posterity after experiencing both the bliss of peace, stability and development on one hand and the painful pangs of socio-political unrest, killings and mutual antagonism, on the other. Perhaps this situation will also encourage them to appreciate the need to make meaningful use of the opportunity of election as a chance to retrace steps in the wrong direction, which they seem to have taken since 2011.
We only need to recall the strange political outcome of the 2011 elections to see that something went wrong somewhere in the affairs of Nasarawa State, particularly the emergence of Tanko Almakura as the governor, waving the out-of-character flag of opposition at the top of an overwhelming PDP dominance in the state. The notion of a “popular” change in the political culture of the people was quickly debunked by the ridiculously thin margin between Almakura and Aliyu Akwe Doma as well as the predominance of PDP victories in local government, state and national assembly elections. It was difficult to dismiss the widespread belief that a vicious vendetta targeting Aliyu Doma was initiated by the old brigade of regional renegades who were rattled by Doma’s commitment and determination to emancipate the people of Nasarawa State from the shackles of political oppressors, as demonstrated by his unwavering support for the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, during his eventful first term.
Since the emergence of the Almakura Administration, Nasarawa State stopped being the haven for peaceful co-existence, unity in diversity and steady development strides it was reputed for throughout the first term of Aliyu Akwe Doma, which all right-thinking citizens of the state cherished and wished to preserve. From the evidently vindictive posture of Almakura as a governor riding on razor edge victory to the uncharacteristic brigandage of his supporters, it was a foregone conclusion that all the gains of the Aliyu Doma era would be reversed with reckless abandon. Rather than carrying everyone along as any reasonable governor should have done, Almakura set out to carve a niche of rancour and rioting among hitherto harmonious communities in the name of a “changed” incumbency. He carried on with the brazenness of an emperor until his imagined supremacy was swept away in torrents of ethnic and sectarian violence.
Against this background, it is understandable that the disillusioned majority of people of the state are now desperately demanding a return to the good old days of peace, unity and development as witnessed during the Aliyu Akwe Doma Administration 2007-2011. With the horrifying experience of an abrupt “change” in political leadership that turned out to be a rude and ravaging reversal of the fortunes of the state and Almakura exhibiting a clueless incapacity to salvage his disastrous failures, the opportunity of the forthcoming elections is simply irresistible for despondent masses earnestly yearning for a rescue operation.
At the centre of the dynamics of the imminent date with destiny is former governor Aliyu Akwe Doma whose calm temperament and fatherly disposition to the generality of traumatised citizens of the state, reflects the new realization in the hearts and minds of the masses that the fault was not with “Baba” as he is now more fondly called, but with those unforgiving external enemies of the emancipation of the oppressed people of Nasarawa State. This nostalgia stems from the heroic and selfless endeavour of this same Aliyu Akwe Doma as the arrowhead of the Movement for the Creation of Nasarawa State, in a gesture of “giving back” to his area of origin the dividends of his own illustrious civil service and political leadership career that saw him becoming Nasarawa’s most prominent ambassador and advocate.
Doma’s administration spanned 2007-2011 and recorded some of the most impactful legacies in laying a solid foundation for the meaningful socio-economic development of the state, definitely far beyond the fits and starts of his unsuccessful successor. Doma was the main victim of the intrigues that gave the 2011 governorship elections in the state a treacherous twist. His election petitions convincingly articulated the travesty resulting in a split decision that stopped short of upholding his case. Yet he maintained the responsible posture of a statesman ever since even as his Abuja home became a destination of numerous delegations from the nooks and crannies of Nasarawa State, reiterating their solidarity and desire to have him back in Government House, Lafia.
This is why he still stands out eminently in the midst of a motley crowd of jostling aspirants already unleashing thugs against each other’s blind ambition. None of them has Aliyu Doma’s singular track record of experience, career, performance and achievements as living legacies of his leadership and development of Nasarawa State. That any one of them can turn out to be “another Almakura” adds to the predicament of the people who would rather embrace the angel they know than be enticed by the devil they don’t know only to end up in the frying pan.
Today, Aliyu Akwe Doma’s thoughts are swamped by the ceaseless clamour for him to rescue the state and people as the ideal person who can heal the wounds of imposed intolerance and violence while also resuscitating the paralysed development process. As a founding father of the state, his good conscience must now be like the proverbial open wound that is healed by truth. The truth that evokes a guilt feeling should he turn his back on his own people in their time of need. The truth that the masses must rally round to pursue the objective they desire without monetary distraction. And the truth that if the people of Nasarawa State can find someone who shares the same vision of the founding fathers of the state, enjoys the confidence and support of the generality of people of the state and has the integrity to serve them selflessly, they would have resolved the dilemma they face today. May God give the people and leaders of Nasarawa State the wisdom to know the truth and the courage to stand by it at all times, amen.
MUSA ILYA WROTE FROM JOS