Governor Al-Makura and Nasarawa Killings

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Ring True

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com;  07013940521 (text only)

One name you can’t miss out on the list of President Muhammadu Buhari’s legion of sycophants is Governor Umaru Al-Makura of Nasarawa State. This governor is so obsessed with the President to the extent of persistently stabbing his own people in the back. While the governors of Taraba and Benue states have been screaming to high heaven over killings by herdsmen in their domains, Al-Makura finds it difficult to challenge Buhari to perform his constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property in his state. This governor simply looks the other way while Fulani militia massacres his people. Surely, the hapless people of Nasarawa State can no longer tolerate this absurdity. It was no surprise when this governor’s convoy was on Tuesday pelted with stones by some Internally Displaced Persons at Agwatashi, Obi Local Government Area, during his visit to the camp.

Following the attacks by Fulani militia on many communities in Keana, Obi and Awe local government areas last week, thousands of Nasarawa State citizens were displayed. 32 persons were killed in Agwatashi alone. Al-Makura visited the camp with security chiefs but attempts by the governor to address the IDPs were rebuffed. The youths in the camp were defiant and forced the governor to leave, pelting him with stones. The police had to disperse the IDPs with tear gas. The Nasarawa governor added insult to the injury suffered by his people, by declaring that the problems in some of the affected communities were self-inflicted. “If people can conduct themselves in this way, then you know that there is more to it than what is happening. If you want to take laws into your own hands, you will be left to defend yourselves,” Al-Makura remarked cynically.

Suleiman Adokwe, who represents Nasarawa South in the Senate, has every reason to be disappointed in Al-Makura and the federal government. He paints a pathetic picture of the dreadful, professionally-coordinated and simultaneous carnage across Awe, Obi, Keana and Doma local government areas thus: “Throughout the weekend and up to this moment, herdsmen have unleashed mayhem on the people of the senatorial district, leaving many dead, numerous wounded and creating hundreds of thousands of IDPs. Their victims were largely the Tiv-speaking ethnic nationalities with a reported death toll of 32 persons.
“The tragedy lies in the fact that for four days running, this mayhem continued unhindered, unchecked and unstopped by any arm of the law and security enforcement agencies. It is shocking that in Nigeria, with all the security forces, a whole senatorial district is being punished by militia and no action was taken by the government. This is a sad commentary.
“This country is gradually falling into anarchy and we need to wake up to our responsibilities. It is no wonder that very eminent citizens have urged Nigerians to defend themselves because their lives are in their own hands and no longer in the hands of the Nigerian security forces. I am very emotional on this matter. I am not one given to emotion very easily, but what I have gone through this weekend is very horrifying; it is very distressing and sad. It is as if we are in a lawless society where life is brutish, where there is absence of state powers. We call on the Federal Government to stop this carnage.”

Senator Barnabas Gemade concurs, saying: “This country is becoming a state without control; it is becoming a state that is experiencing anarchy. It is a state in which we have seen ethnic cleansing… It is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today; rather than rise and take very decisive steps against it, we embark on denials and simply shield this evil by just explaining with flimsy excuses that these are communal clashes in those communities. Indeed, the carnage in Nasarawa South affects mainly people of my ethnic group, who are in large population in Nasarawa. It is the same kind of killing that is going on in Goma, Logo and Gwer West local government areas in Benue.
One would have expected a sober and pragmatic reaction from this governor of Nasarawa State, considering the persistent and horrendous attacks on his people by the prickly Fulani herdsmen. Unfortunately Al-Makura remains a tangled man. His reign as governor has brought endless pain to the people of Nasarawa State. Aside Al-Makura’s lethargic response to the Fulani militia killings, virtually everybody in the state is in anguish because of his crooked government.

For example, Nasarawa State civil servants and their families have been going through hardship in the last three years because of irregular payment of salaries and other entitlements. Al-Makura is unperturbed by the suffering of these star-crossed workers. The NLC and TUC at the national level must step in to save these unfortunate Nigerians from the pangs of this governor.
Many will not forget in a hurry how Nasarawa civil servants were brutally suppressed on August 5, 2016, when they went to the Government House, Lafia, to protest unilateral and illegal cut in their salaries by Al-Makura. They were led by the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba. Unfortunately, while fighting for their rights within the precincts of the laws of our land, they were viciously attacked by policemen stationed at the Government House. Their offence was that they dared to stage a protest at the Government House. At the end of the cruel attack by the policemen, one of the workers, Ali Umbugadu, a staff of the state’s Ministry of Education was killed. Musa Saliyu, a staff of the Finance Department, Doma Local Government Area of the state, survived with gunshot wounds; Mrs. Salamatu Mohammed, a judicial worker was badly injured while Mr. Rabiu Mohammed, a journalist with the Nigerian Newsday, a state-owned media outfit, was unconscious for several hours. Several other civil servants were badly injured. The policemen read Al-Makura’s body language perfectly and moved against the workers. The blood of Umbugadu remains on the head of Al-Makura.

Al-Makura also assaults local media. He is extremely intolerant of criticism and ever-ready to destroy anybody that points to his failings. This was exactly what Al-Makura did to Breeze 99.9 FM, a private radio station based in Lafia. The building housing the radio station was demolished with a rickety excuse. This station has been very critical of Al-Makura’s activities. The Nasarawa Urban Development Board demolished the building, citing alleged violation of land approval laws. It also claimed that its action became necessary because the station’s facilities posed a health hazard to residents living close to it. This story was obviously made up. The station’s Executive Director, Dr. Nawani Aboki, noted that the demolition was swiftly carried out without requesting for approval documents from the owners. He added that Al-Makura was angry because the station consistently gave voices to all shades of opinions, especially oppressed civil servants.
There is so much suffering in Al-Makura’s Nasarawa with decaying infrastructure. Hospitals, schools and other public institutions are in a mess. This state has been turned into a personal estate by the governor. Al-Makura’s wives and children run the show here.

NEMA DG, Maihaja, Please, Step Aside
So many elites are still feeding fat on Internally Displaced Persons in the North-east under Buhari’s watch. One of them is strongly suspected to be the current Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Maihaja. Stories emanating from the ongoing investigation of NEMA’s activities by the House of Representatives are not palatable. The House alleges that it has uncovered a N3.1 billion contract scandal in NEMA under Maihaja’s watch. The money was released to NEMA for procurement of rice for IDPs in the North-east. But supply contracts were alleged to have been shabbily awarded to companies without legal qualifications to get contracts from the federal government. Two of the rice contracts were said to have been awarded to companies that did not meet standard pre-qualification conditions.

In separate reports adopted by the committee, the FIRS claimed that the two companies had no tax clearance certificates, and had not paid any tax to the federal government as required by law before they can be awarded any contracts. The committee also reported that only 110 out of 271 containers of rice donated to IDPs by the Chinese government had so far been cleared at the port since July last year and took a swipe at the NEMA DG for paying over N800 million as demurrage on 110 rice containers, allegedly caused by the inefficiency of NEMA under Maihaja’s leadership.
The Committee was angry with NEMA boss over his claim that documents relating to the rice donation by the Chinese had been scattered and tampered with by unknown persons.
The allegations against Maihaja are weighty. He is struggling to account for the N5.9 billion spent on food intervention in the North-east; another N3.1 billion for food intervention in the same North-east; N1.6 billion spent on Libya returnees; N1.6 billion spent on flood intervention for 16 states; the payment of about N800 million demurrage on the rice donated by the Chinese government and the N10 billion received from Ecological Funds.

It is very sad to note that tons of rice meant for hunger-stricken IDPs in North-east had been abandoned at Lagos Port by NEMA. I am particularly pained by this.  Ineptitude aside, Maihaja has apparently been exploiting loopholes in the Public Procurement Act to the detriment of the country. His explanations about how NEMA expended about N23 billion in one year on emergency activities is uninspiring.  For me, Maihaja should be man enough to step aside as NEMA DG. This critical agency of government requires an honest, pragmatic and selfless leader.

Who Will Save Residents of Anka LG?
The anguish in over 20 communities in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State has been on for over one year. Hundreds of people have been killed by bandits without appropriate response from security agencies. The communities worse affected include Bawar Daji, Kuru-kuru and Jarkuka. It is excruciating. Residents have been fleeing their homes in droves to avoid being attacked by the bandits. As usual, this government has failed to perform its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property in these communities. The Emir of Anka, Muhammad Attahiru Ahmed, said many villages in his domain have become ghost villages, with many fleeing into the town centre. Those still staying back are now living in fear following incessant attacks by bandits. The Emir who spoke through the Waziri of Anka Emirate, Muhammad Inuwa, lamented that the bandits again attacked Kuru-kuru and Jarkuka villages last week, killing 26 innocent people with threat of more attacks.
“These bandits usually announce the schedule for their attacks before visiting any of the targeted village in their list. This is why Anka Local Government’s headquarters has become overpopulated. Security agencies fail to protect the people but only provide security for the burial of those killed,” the Emir lamented. Federal government’s failure to tackle banditry in Ankar has left him depressed. Emir Attahiru Ahmed is in search of a miracle and has since ordered a three-day mourning and fasting to seek God’s intervention in his domain.

Federal government’s lethargy aside, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has been of little help to the devastated people of Ankar. Globetrotting Yari is hardly in Zamfara. His frequent trips abroad are evidently impacting negatively on the day-to-day running of the government. That was why elder statesman, Saidu Dansadau, petitioned Buhari, asking him to declare a state of emergency in Zamfara State. Yari’s tenure is riddled with controversy. Many will not forget in a hurry how he viciously killed moves by legislators to impeach him last year. He simply got operatives of the Department of State Service to harass the leaders of the lawmakers. As Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Yari is notorious for doling out fees to ghost consultants.