The battle line for who governs Nasarawa State in 2019 has been drawn between Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and ex-governor Abdullahi Adamu, current senator representing Nasarawa west senatorial district, Emmanuel Ukumba reports
It is on record in the annals of Nasarawa State political history that since the creation of the state in 1996, the northern senatorial district has never governed the state, whereas the southern and western districts of the state have been governing the state right from the inception of the present democratic dispensation. Nevertheless, it is arguably certain that history could repeat itself as the 2019 governorship poll in the state may not be an exception.
Perhaps, the move by the incumbent governor of the state, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, to break the jinx of the political marginalisation of the northern zone of the state might have sparked a battle of wits between him (Al-Makura) and one of his predecessors, who is also the current senator representing Nasarawa West senatorial zone in the National Assembly, Abdullahi Adamu.
Investigation by THISDAY revealed that the two political heavyweights had disagreed on which senatorial district to produce the next governor of Nasarawa State. Whereas an impeccable source, who speak on the condition of anonymity, said Adamu was insisting on the return of the governorship seat to the west after the zone had occupied the seat for eight years during his (Adamu’s) tenure from 1999 to 2007.
On the other hand, Al-Makura insisted he must break the jinx of political marginalisation being meted on the northern senatorial district of the state by accelerating the district’s ascension to power this time around.
THISDAY further gathered that the major offence of the ex-governor was his alleged refusal to support the governor’s anointed candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket, Abdullahi Sule, Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery.
The ex-governor, who is regarded as the father of Nasarawa State politics was alleged to have opposed the candidature of Sule on the basis that it was not in the interest of the people of the state, and that the process should be thrown open for a more popular and acceptable candidate to emerge.
Adamu’s opposition to Sule was said to be on his feelings that the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari might not win the state, since the predominant tribes in the state such as the Eggons, Alagos, Madas, and the Tivs will vote against the APC governorship candidate in favour of any opposition party that fields one of their own, more so that the anointed candidate is not popular among the people and majority of them had vowed to vote against him, because despite his deep pocket, he has never done anything for anybody in the state.
But Al-Makura has consistently told the people at every opportunity that he had no anointed candidate in mind and that he is not going to sponsor or impose any candidate on the people, noting that he would provide a level-playing field for the most popular candidate to emerge. He kept singing this at every gathering, till he recently openly declared his interest in Sule and ordered all the local government chairmen, government appointees and party executives to go and work for him.
Earlier in the year, Secretary to the State Government, Abdullahi Mohammed Hassan, had rolled out his campaign machineries to challenge Adamu in the primaries for the Nasarawa West Senatorial district. His aspiration generated heat in the state before the governor waded into the matter in April and prevailed on his SSG to withdraw from the race against Adamu.
But when the governor fell out with the ex-governor over the APC governorship ticket, an obviously angry Al-Makura quickly mobilised his Commissioner for Education, Tijjani Ahmed to pick the APC senatorial form at the last minute against the ex-governor with a vow to kick him out of the senate in 2019.
Speaking recently in Keffi while addressing ward and local government officials of the APC, Adamu too vowed to teach the governor a political lesson of his life for attempting to dethrone him from the senate and as well trying to impose unpopular candidate on the people, vowing that such would not happen in the state. He said any attempt to impose a candidate on the people would be rebuffed by the party and the people, noting that the anointed candidate was not popular among the people and therefore unelectable.
He contended the opposition party would humiliate the APC in the state if the anointed candidate was given the governorship ticket and expressed concern over what he described as ‘l-Makura’s game plan and nonchalant attitude”. He said all of the governor’s action towards the party was a deliberate strategy to ensure that the opposition takes over the state in 2019 general election. “I, Abdullahi Adamu, the son of Aisha, I have never betrayed Al-Makura, I have never betrayed APC, but Al-Makura has betrayed me, he has betrayed the party, and anybody who claims he loves APC should not do something to jeopardise the party. Al-Makura is still alive and I warned him even before now not to destroy what he has built and also not to allow his cabal to mislead him, if he does, he will end up regretting it,” Adamu said.
He claimed that the highest thing Al-Makura could do to him was to ensure that he did not go back to the senate in 2019.
“No cause for alarm. I have been a governor for eight years, now a serving senator for seven years, hoping to complete my tenure successfully. He did not even know whether he could reach up to my peak, anybody who betrayed me will regret his life. I have spent time and energy in building APC in Nasarawa State. I will never allow anybody to disgrace me,” he maintained.
But Al-Makura immediately fired back at Adamu, saying his outburst was a misreading of history and vowed to retire the ex-governor from politics, noting further that there are no two political leaders in the state. He said Nasarawa was no longer interested in the politics of godfatherism and if the senator attempts doing anything funny, he would demystify and retire him politically.
The governor, who spoke through his Director-General of Strategic Communications and Press Affairs, Yakubu Laimai, said the governor has the right to support any candidate of his choice, noting that he has respected the ex-governor enough and it was time to demystify his political credentials in the state.
To make matters worse, Al-Makura immediately set up a committee to probe the administration of Adamu, who governed the state from 1999 to 2007.
A statement by the SSG, Abdullahi, said Al-Makura had approved the setting up of a committee to review the concessioning agreement of all the Nasarawa State government-owned Hotels and other related facilities, which include, but not limited to the new Keffi hotel and Keffi club.
The committee was also mandated to review and investigate the circumstance that led to the failure of the Farin Ruwa Independent Hydro-power plant project, as well as the Zimbabwean farmers’ project and to advise government on measures to take to mitigate the attendant problems and the likely costs required to ameliorate the situation
But reacting to the development, Adamu said: “Al-Makura is fighting me because of 2019 governorship candidate. Whatever is my offence the governor should go ahead and probe me! I am not afraid of his probe, but our eyes will remain on the board. His decision to probe my administration 11 years after is diversionary. He is going on a shadow-chasing spree and I won’t be part of it. So, let him probe me; he is the governor. He can afford to do what he wants”
According to Adamu, the governor should not forget that his administration was coming to an end, noting that, “What goes around comes around. If the governor is doing what he is doing to scare me, he is fighting a lost battle,” Adamu said.
Soon, Al-Makura went nuclear by opening can of worms of Adamu, when the latter governed the state between 1999 and 2007. Al-Makura, in another press statement, said the charges against Adamu are serious and include the abandonment of the multi-billion naira Farin Ruwa Project.
“Other aspects of the investigation are contained in a petition by a civil society organisation, NAS TRANSPARENCY, in which Senator Adamu is further alleged to have used government resources to upgrade the Keffi Club by constructing a swimming pool, tennis court, and meeting rooms and bar and converting the facilities to his personal use. Built three personal “retirement homes” at state expense and sold one for personal profit; Behaved unscrupulously in transactions regarding the Abuja and Lagos Liaison Offices of the Nasarawa State government,” the governor said.
Al-Makura therefore said those were charges to which Senator Adamu was privy, even as the petition by the civil society group, NAS TRANSPARENCY, was handed to him more than a year ago, but there has been no response from the senator till date.
“The attention of Governor Al-Makura has been drawn to a press statement credited to Senator Adamu, who avers that everything he did was done openly and transparently. As the 2019 elections draw near, this is not the time for personal attacks against an incumbent governor, whose duty it is to seek and obtain answers to disturbing allegations of financial impropriety. It is Governor Al-Makura’s view that the appropriate forum for such rebuttals should be the committee set up by the Nasarawa State government.
Thus, amid the ongoing haggling over who becomes the standard bearer of the APC in the 2019 elections, a coalition of Directors-General of APC governorship aspirants in the state, led by the campaign organisations of Hon Arch Ja’afar Mohammed and Barrister Danladi Envuluanza, has completely rejected the candidature of Sule as proposed by the outgoing governor.
The APC governorship aspirants, who were represented by their campaign DGs told the public in a press conference that they had discovered a grand plan by the governor to impose Sule on the party as its governorship candidate and if the governor did not rescind his decision and leave the primaries open for a popular candidate to emerge as he has consistently promised, they would be forced to take decision in a collective manner.
However, watchers of political events in the state are of the opinion that Al-Makura, like other governors in the country would, no doubt, produce his successor under the APC platform come 2019. This they posited on the grounds that the recently conducted wards, local governments and state congresses of the APC in the state showed that almost all the governorship aspirants under the platform of the APC had lost control of the party’s structure in their respective council wards.
Nevertheless, Al-Makura had four years ago planted all the APC structures in the state from the wards to state levels and had recently at a stakeholders meeting at the Government House, Lafia, prior to the just concluded congresses to elect new executives of the party at all levels of the state, directed that all executives of the party in the state be returned unopposed.
The governor’s directive was however carried out without hesitation by the teeming members of the party during the aforementioned congresses in the state, a development which has foreclosed the chances of any governorship aspirant picking the governorship ticket against the governor’s wish.
The governor had used the exercise to affirm his grip on the structures of the party in the state. The exercise was also done with mixed fortunes for all the governorship aspirants under the platform of the APC, and their faith of picking the governorship ticket of the party now lies solely in the hands of Al-Makura.