The current unfolding drama pertaining to the impeachment process involving the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura, has been interpreted as being fundamentally the handiwork of forces external to the state’s legislature as opposed to a struggle either for supremacy or survival, or for whatever motive between the state’s legislature and the executive arm of government. Attempts have been made of recent, by some political pundits, particularly since the eruption of the latest and, indeed, ongoing attempt to impeach the governor, to portray to the world that the episode unfolding in Nasarawa is largely a move engineered by the state chapter of the PDP acting either independently, or in concert with the presidency to reverse the gains recorded by the CPC in the 2011 governorship election. The dummy being consciously and calculatedly being sold to the world is that the ensuing fierce struggle between the APC, which currently controls the executive arm of government and the PDP, which predominantly controls the legislature, is with an eye on 2015.
The essence of this approach to the issue, which deliberately seeks to paint the PDP as a desperate party striving to redress the balance of power in its favour, at both the state and the national levels, preparatory to 2015, is to generate and garner sympathy for Al-Makura, considerable enough to turn the tide of events in his favour and, thus, unltimately, frustrate the impeachment process.
The dubious strategy is largely centered around creating a scapegoat represented by the PDP as well as some chieftains of the party particularly at the state chapter. It is, indeed, with a view to achieving this purpose that those who cunningly and desperately strive with little or no success to invent the ‘external interventionist theory’ in analysing the impeachment saga in Nasarawa, with little or no regard for the imperative to scientifically verify their assumptions, quote names such as those of Aliyi Akwe’s, Labaran Maku’s and Solomaon Ewuga’s, as being the principal characters behind the move to unseat Al–Makura.
In an article carried by the Daily Trust of Wednesday, 13th August, 2014 page 20, titled “understanding the impeachment palaver in Nasarawa, Rufa’i Ibrahim, a renowned journalist, literally adopted this same unscientific, populist, scapegoatist and, thus, simple approach in his analysis of the factors behind the predicament of the embattled Al-Makura:
In the article referred to above, Rufai has, of course, done well by critically analysing the circumstances leading to the situation where Al-Makura currently finds himself. He has, indeed, pointed out in clear terms, that governor Al-Makura was and still remains, the mastermind of the events that led to his present debacle. He has, for instance, recalled with a sense of precision, that the present effort to remove the governor by the lawmakers represents the eith in the series of intermittent attempts to scuttle his tenure.
And yet, the writer, a close friend of the governor and a beneficiary of the administration’s appointments as chairman of radio and television house, simply out of desperation to preserve his appointment, could only perceive the invisible lands of Aliyu Akwe, the former governor of Nasarawa State, in the current bid, and completely disregarded the previous moves to sack the governor for reasons highlighted by his notice of impeachment.
The motive as to why the writer chooses not to see the present move as an integral aspect of a continuum and as a culmination of the hitherto series of attempts, spanning over three-and-a-half years of Al – Makura’s tenure is, thus, laid bare for even the most gullible mind to comprehend.
The writer also refers to the careless and unmindful manner Al – Makura all along treated the issue of the compelling need for him to woo the PDP lawmakers, who constitute preponderant majority in the Assembly recalling, specifically, the initiative the PDP lawmakers themselves had seized by reaching out to the governor to cross-carpet to APC, a move which was, for all intents and purposes, repulsed by the governor. The writer also makes mention of occasions Al-Makura’s colleagues in the APC had to caution him (Al-Makura) of the potential danger of allowing the status-quo to persist for more than a short period of time.
While all these constitute a sufficient ground for any reasonable thinker to believe Al-Makura was largely the architect of his own unmaking the writer has, surprisingly, chosen to persist in his mischief by shifting the blame for Al-Makura’s current situation to the door-step of the PDP and its leaders in Nasarawa State.
Perhaps, what Rufa’i has failed to inform the readers was Al-Makura’s resolve to systematically annihilate the defunct CPC and APC at its debut, through a deliberate policy of Zero-funding and, making sure that meetings of the party executives at different tiers were never held. His tactic was calculated, it seems, to incapacitate the party at its initial stages with a view to paving way for his eventual decampment to PDP or at least to have it impressed upon the presidency that he was, indeed, ready to play ball. No doubt, the tactic clearly demonstrates the governor as a typical Nigerian politician, with no party loyalty, but personal interest to just remain in office, irrespective of the party he represents.
One concrete evidence suggesting that Al-Makura attempted to snatch life out of both the CPC and the APC is the latter’s virtual lack of spread and its confinement practically to lafia metropolis. The party’s hold over the rest of the state remains, at best, tenuous. Indeed, nothing lend credence to this assertion better than the recent local governments elections conducted in the state, the announcement of whose result had to be rudely interrupted and, suspended midway when it was suddenly realised that PDP was, surely, coasting to victory.
This suspension of the results midway served as the only saving grace from what would have turned out to be a monumental disaster and embarrassment for APC and, Al-Makura, in particular.
It would be recalled, that as at the point the exercise was prematurely terminated, of the nine results announced, the APC had won in six (6) while the PDP had won in three local governments. The remaining four (4) local governments, whose results were withheld were and, still, are clearly PDP strongholds.
In other words, the PDP would have clearly and squarely won in these four (4) local governments and that would have turned out to be a historical landmark for PDP in a country where the entire seats in local government elections, with no exception whatsoever, are traditionally won by the ruling party.
Rufa’i in his analysis of circumstances leading to the embattlement of Al-Makura, should have told us also about how the governor has succeeded in antagonising not just the state members of the legislature and the state chapter of the APC, which he had persistently denied breathing space, but even members of his own cabinet, majority of whom, out of share maltreatment and subsequent frustration, have metamorphosed into his sworn enemies and are neck-deep involved in the current conspiracy to unseat him.
Whereas in his first, which also represents his last cabinet reshuffle, the governor seemed to have taken notice of this unfortunate situation, it appeared he lacked the necessary temerity it took to decisively resolve this internal contradiction that may turn out to be, yet, his greatest undoing.
While of course, some few commissioners were dropped and others swapped, there still remains, a handful of others who, in spite of their questionable and dubious character, have succeeded in constituting themselves into untouchables, largely on account of their being privy to certain transactions that transpired behind the scene.
Malam Rufa’i in his write-up, attempts to create the impression that the protests that took place in Nasarawa, at the heat of the impeachment move were genuine, not sponsored, and aimed to show concern and sympathy for Al-Makura. Well, to this claim I can only say that he knows better how not to be politically naïve in a state like Nasarawa. And, in any case, rallies were also held in support of the action of the lawmakers and like Rufa’i well knew, so do we, how the protests all were organised and by whom.
The writer, however, has done well by accepting the fact that the factors that engendered the protests were, indeed, multifarious. What he has, however, unsuccessfully tried to deny was the fact that the protests were largely sponsored and masterminded.
Let us, for instance, take the issue of Al-Makura’s performance for the past three-and-half years he has been in office. A casual survey of the projects he has implemented readily reveal that the bulk of them are but elephantine in nature with little or no immediate bearing, at all, to the material conditions of the vast majority of the populace.
They are, indeed, projects essentially designed, firstly, to create false impression especially to the gullible, that gigantic strides are being made. Secondly, to serve as an easy and expedient escape route from the tedious task of pursuing meaningful development – strategy that involves systematic planning and, thirdly, to create opportunity for perpetration of misapplication of funds by way of rationalisation of otherwise apparently outrageous and prohibitive contract sums.
There is no gain saying the fact that construction of asphalt tarred roads, airport, model schools, traffic light and such other elephant projects that characterise the governor’s development strategy, particularly in urban centres, cannot immediately address existing pressing and fundamental issues like unemployment, disturbingly low purchasing power of the people, mass illiteracy, poverty, power outages, and diseases. Such projects do not immediately and positively, impact on the lives of the people.
Indeed, from the look of things, the more Al-Makura implements such projects the more the people become impoverished. This, the people have, in an unequivocal and poignant terms, pointed out to him in more ways than one.
A typical example of this misplacement of priorities is the road construction projects on which more than N15 billion has so far been committed without any noticeable evidence of transformation in the standard of living of the people. This is partly because of the outrageous cost of the contracts and, partly, because the projects are often awarded to non – indigenous firms who invariably and readily repatriate the profits, thus denying the state the benefit of having huge liquid cash being ploughed back into the economy.
This unpatriotic action constantly depresses the state’s economy with all its attendant negative effects in terms of existing acute scarcity of capital available for investments, low purchasing power and others that have contributed to making the economy of the state what it is: the poorest in the country.
It is in this light that one can appreciate see why, despite the number of years he has spent in office and the staggering amount of billions of naira his administration has expended in executing projects, Al-Makura cannot, to date, pinpoint outside the narrow circle of his family a single individual he can claim to have adequately empowered in Nasarawa State.
Given all the revelations above, it is difficult for anyone to fathom how on earth, people in Nasarawa State would want to die for Al-Makura in his last hours of travails, when he wasn’t there for them in their critical moments of needs and when all his present predicaments are but self inflicted as Rufa’i has noted.
The kernel truth is that, contrary to what Rufa’i would want us to believe, the protests that accompanied the bid to impeach Al-Makura were largely masterminded, particularly as huge sums of monies not only reportedly changed hands but that, strenuous efforts were made to whip up religious and other primordial sentiments.
Moreover, the protests can also be viewed largely as a function of the normal lip or eye service typical Nigerians’ pay to an incumbent leader in anticipation of reward or sanctions so long as he/she remains in office. However, we are also fully aware of the fact that the same typical sycophantic Nigerians would have deserted him, (Al-Makura) if, for instance, the impeachment had successfully pulled through.
By Mohammed Y. Mohammed
No 17 Millionaires Quarters
Lafia, Nasarawa State.