By Faruk Omonu-Ojoku
To say that Nigerians have come of age, politically, is to state the obvious, though not developed politically for want of political leadership and the will to engender growth in the society.
Another truism is the fact that since the return to democracy in 1999, most of the leaders have failed to win the people’s confidence owing to not living up to expectations of the people in terms of engendering growth in the society. So it will be an understatement to say that there is a huge mutual distrust between the leaders and the led.
One thing is, however, certain, that is the fact that not all political leaders have failed the people. There are exceptional ones. One of such is Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and the scenario that brought him to power. It was a conflict situation, a conflict between the forces of darkness and the will of the people. One thing led to another and at the end of the day, the people’s will triumphed. Al-Makura led that vanguard in a way, which succeeded in halting in 2011, the drift Nasarawa state sided into in 1999.
In 2011, the people of Nasarawa state forced an unwilling Al-Makura into the governorship race after he had intervened in the people’s suffering. He personally constructed a stretch of road in Lafia, the state capital; a road that was critical to the people but abandoned by successive administrations in the state. He reconstructed the road and brought huge relief to the people. Though Al-Makura had been involved in other philanthropic activities in the state, his doing this major road was a heavenly intervention.
Coming at an election year, the state government at the time saw the project execution as a dent on its image and a major drawback for the Aliyu Akwe Doma administration. The government moved quickly to rubbish Al-Makura as a pay back. However, the people refused to take that, they instead sided with him and snubbed the government. They mobilised themselves and rallied for Al-Makura who eventually became governor. That was the pivot of the Al-Makura first tenure. And his second term was a formality, because the two terms of four years each in a row was deeply rooted in a people-oriented regime.
It is with this spirit that he showed extraordinary commitment to the general administration of the state for eight years. Sectorally, he addressed them, especially education, a sector that has suffered neglect. There was a need to fix the foundation of this sector, because with education the basic needs of human existence can be addressed. Al-Makura did it.
He extended this midas touch to other sectors in the state, particularly, infrastructure – roads, rural electrification, water supply, empowerment of vulnerable groups such as the youths, women and senior citizens as well as raising the agricultural fortunes of the state.
Al-Makura did a yeoman’s job scoring A+ in securing the state. The senator, then as governor, among others, decisively resolved the deadly Ombatse cult phenomenon once and for all, just as through his maturity, he secured the state from invading criminals from neighbouring states of Benue, Kaduna and Plateau.
In short, Al-Makura simply prepared the state for more accelerated growth by his successors.
Al-Makura was not just a state governor, he is a core All Progressives Congress (APC) member and loyalist having been there, serving as a member of the team that midwifed the evolution of the party right from the onset. At the national level and in the state, he ensured justice and fair play in the activities of the APC. It may have been the reason the state was devoid of political rancour and factionalisation in the ruling party. This also has helped in neutralising whatever threat the opposition parties posed in the state.
Outside Nasarawa state, politically, through Al-Makura’s effort, who served as chairman of Ekiti State APC Electoral Committee, the party retrieved the state from opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018 governorship elections in the state.
His roles and activities in the Progressives Governors Forum, the umbrella body for APC governors, cemented weak relationships, mended cracked walls, aligned divergent thoughts and views. These have led to stability of the body, one of the strongest and pivots of the APC.
Talk of the APC as a ruling party at both the national and state levels, it is common knowledge that all is definitely not well with it. However, there is a consolation that there are no factions at the national level, which is not enough for a ruling party heading towards another election period.
The party’s membership and register revalidation exercise held this year nationwide, knocked the heads of some national figures of the party against its varetaker committee under the chairmanship of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state.
Also, some ministers are at loggerheads with their governors. For instance, Information Minister Lai Mohammed, his counterparts in aviation and Interior ministries, Hadi Sirika and Rauf Aregbesola, respectively, are locking horns with Governors Abdulrazak AbdulFatah (Kwara), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun).
The crises are infesting its state chapters in Kano, Kogi, Zamfara, Gombe, Rivers, Kaduna with their governors and other top notches of the party which include both serving ministers and members of the National Assembly, otherwise known unofficially as “Abuja politicians”.
This is not to talk of the recent congresses held at the ward, local government and state levels that further polarised the party in some states.
Of course, we don’t need rocket science to predict that these crises and the slippery issues of zoning of offices, especially the presidency, are all about the 2023 general elections that are less than two years from now. Of course, with a situation like this, the APC can’t comfortably and confidently approach the 2023 general elections and retain power, reclaim lost states and win more. Who is going to resolve all of these and stabilise the party ahead of the 2023 general elections? Certainly, it is not the Buni-led caretaker committee. It is going to be an onerous task for a National Working Committee (NWC) which the party’s convention has to produce. A tough road lies ahead for the APC, you may say.
But how does this concern Senator Al-Makura? As a founding member of the party, the former governor feels there is need to return to the root, which is unity of the aggrieved persons and resolving all the contentious issues where justice and fair play in tandem with the party’s extant rules and guidelines are upheld.
Already, stakeholders of the Nasarawa state chapter of the party have, typical to what happened in 2011, endorsed Al-Makura, for the position of National Chairman of the party. Al-Makura is currently the senator representing Nasarawa South senatorial district at the National Assembly.
Leader of the Progressives For Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, Makpa Malla, explained that “Senator Tanko Al-Makura is not only a son of Nasarawa, but he is also a nationalist whose legacies and achievements in leadership are worthy of replication on a wider scale.”
Al-Makura who has also declared to contest for the national chairmanship of the party, said his desire to lead the APC was borne out of his conviction to safeguard the good tenets of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He said: “I wish to contest for the position of APC chairman to ensure cohesion, party unity, to ensure that those values and attributes that came with the emergence of the legacy parties have been kept alive.”
The former governor who recalled participating in the merger that brought in the APC, noted that Nigerians have shown unity and commitment to national harmony, to inclusiveness, to Nigeria politics.
“Because of our quest, desire to ensure unity of purpose, direction, focus and vision for every Nigerian, we came together to form APC, and abandoned all those primordial sentiments.
“I believe at this material time, people who should manage the affairs of this party are people who know where the party is coming from, where it is and where the party is going,” he said.
He maintained that the reason being that all the legacy parties abandoned their tendencies of ACN in the south west, APGA in the east, ANPP in the north and CPC in the north.
“I can assure you if I become the national chairman, I will ensure equity, fairness, justice and ensure that those of our supporters who joined the party, even if it is today, are given a sense of belonging and participation,” Al-Makura maintained.
With a good deep rapport with national leaders and major stakeholders who trust in Al-Makura as a true party member, who, as a gentle man can be taken for his words, as well as his commitment to the ideals of the APC, the former governor can be trusted to take over the mantle of the party’s leadership to deal with the myriad of challenges threatening the very foundation of the ruling party.
Omonu-Ojoku, a chieftain of the APC Kogi state chapter, writes via email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily