Governor Umaru Al-Makura
As the security situation in Nasarawa State creates ammunition for Governor Umaru Al-Makura’s opponents, George Okoh, in Lafia, looks at how the governor is dealing with the problem
Following the recent ethnic clashes in Nasarawa State, which led to many deaths and destruction of property, many are wondering how the hitherto peaceful state descended into the orgy of ethnic violence. The latest clash was between two dominant tribes in the state – the Eggon and Alago. This, in addition to the pockets of attacks by Fulani herdsmen, has led to an uneasy calm in the state.
The governor, Umaru Al-Makura, has ordered the security agencies to arrest sponsors of the violent clashes in the Agyaragu area of the state. Al-Makura, in a broadcast, said the state government was determined to bring to book all persons or groups involved in the crisis, irrespective of their status in the society. “It is, indeed, sad that our state is being made to assume the status of a theatre of communal violence. This is regrettable and unacceptable,” the governor said.
According to the governor, the Agyaragu crisis, like other recent communal problems in the state, is perpetrated by miscreants and enemies of the state. “These miscreants are bent on causing communal disharmony and economic dislocation of our society and we shall not allow them to succeed.”
He said government was aware that ethnic militias were being used to unleash mayhem on innocent people, reiterating that the “the activities of all the ethnic and cultural militia remain illegal.”
He added that government would enforce the provisions of the Nasarawa State anti-thuggery law to bring offenders to justice.
But the issue of frequent security breakdowns in the state has been traced to political disagreement between the governor and sections of the elite in the state who often complain about his leadership style.
‘One Man Show’
Al-Makura, who was elected last year on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change, is seen by many people as prudent in the management of the state’s resources. But he has also been accused of running a one man show.
On several occasions, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the state has levelled accusations against the governor on issues ranging from lack of disclosure of state’s finances to tempering with local government funds. The governor touched on this during the recent visit of the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, to Lafia as part of the good governance tour of Nasarawa State.
Al-Makura said the allegations were untrue, stressing that the allocation to the local government councils are too insignificant for any government to temper with it. He disclosed that the state government had only deposited N2 billion in a fix deposit account for the councils, which has yielded interest for them.
The governor said rather than accuse the state government wrongly, people should be grateful that government had saved money for the councils, in addition to disbursing N400 million to each council in the state. He said that the state government was paying a monthly debt of N250 million for loans collected by its predecessor, besides paying the Plateau State government N260 million for debt owed the Paris Club.
Al-Makura lamented that the local government system was bloated in terms of staffing and also ridden with corruption, calling for assistance in the attempt to rid the local government system of the ghost workers syndrome.
Threat of Impeachment
However, the PDP in the state has continued to blame the governor for inability to stem the tide of insecurity and halt the frequent ethnic clashes. The PDP-dominated House of Assembly recently threatened to impeach Al-Makura on account of the security situation in the state.
Plans to impeach Al-Makura became evident recently after an emergency session of the House of Assembly, when a warning letter was read to the governor. The letter warned that the governor risked impeachment if he failed to end the violent crisis rocking parts of the state within seven days.
The impeachment move was initiated by Speaker of the Assembly, Musa Ahmed Mohammed (PDP, Nasarawa-Central), after declaring the emergency sitting open. He read out the resolution of the previous sitting that asked the governor to urgently take steps to end the violence that had engulfed the southern zone of the state.
House Majority Leader, Godiya Akwashiki (PDP, Nasarawa-Eggon-West), who read out the day’s order titled “House Resolution on Security Issues and other Sensitive Matters in the State” and “Deliberation on the House Resolution on Security,” also read out the warning letter to the governor. It was seconded by the Minority Leader, Adamu Maikatako (CPC, Lafia-Central).
Akwashiki, who spoke after the speaker had introduced the motion, observed that the governor failed to comply with an earlier resolution which asked him to take steps to end the violence that had affected many communities and displaced thousands of people. Unfortunately, he said, the governor folded his arms to watch citizens being killed daily in cold blood.
The majority leader said the governor’s reluctance to deal with the situation had led to a virtual breakdown of law and order, resulting in arson attacks on some communities and the latest case in which over 10 people were killed in Agyaragu, on the outskirts of Lafia. He said this was just not disturbing, but it was a clear demonstration of the Al-Makura government’s insensitivity, incompetence and total disregard for the constitutional provisions, which mandate him to protect lives and property in the state.
Having made his position clear, Akwashiki on behalf of his colleagues, stated that the House had resolved that Al-Makura be given seven days to end the violence in the zone, or members will invoke Section 188 (1) to impeach him.
In Defence of Al-Makura
But the state government has risen to the defence of the governor. Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Hamza Elayo, said the government had been trying its best to prevent the breakdown of law and order in the state.
“When the Asakio ethnic clash occurred, the government quickly intervened, restored order and set up a special committee to look into the crisis. We are working very hard to ensure that these crises do not occur again,” Elayo said.
Seven days have since passed from the time when the House of Assembly issued its ultimatum to Al-Makura. The Assembly has not declared impeachment proceedings against the governor. But indications are that PDP in Nasarawa State and the Assembly, which it dominates, would continue to go hard with the governor, intensifying their move to weaken him politically as the 2015 general election nears.