Former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is itching to become the next national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress and behind this unusual ambition by a sitting senator is his successor, Governor Abdullahi Sule, reports Igbawase Ukumba
That Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura made Nasarawa State proud by being the only governor, who presented a party to the merger of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has encouraged Governor Sule to be crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country, rallying support for his predecessor to be elected the next national chairman of the APC. And this, no doubt, has received the blessing of citizens of the state.
Perhaps, Governor Sule’s door-to-door campaign to elect Al-Makura might pay off since of all the three main legacy parties that formed the APC, only the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has not occupied the chairmanship seat of the APC. Moreover, with the President exiting in 2023, a school of thought opined that the APC would be a good bargain to the occupation of national seat of the party.
This school explained that the CPC elements were pushing for the chairmanship slot because since the birth of the merger, it is the only legacy party that has not produced national chairmanship of the APC.
The first national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, came from the former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc, Chief John Oyegun from the bloc of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and the immediate past national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was also from the ACN bloc.
Perhaps, it was against the above equation that Governor Sule, when flagging-off the state membership registration and revalidation exercise of the APC at his polling unit at Gudi Station of Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, pleaded with Nigeria to be kind to CPC, as Nasarawa State is the place to look at when choosing the next national chairman of the APC.
Sule said: “If Nigeria would be kind to CPC, Nasarawa State is the place to look at so that you can be kind to CPC. That is my message to Nigeria today, because I believe that if in any other way we want to say Nigeria wants to be kind to us, then, we should be kind to Nasarawa State at any level. That is my message.
“Today is history for us in Gudi Station and I think for the rest of the life of Gudi Station, this is a very special day. Gudi has always strived itself in identifying itself with distinguished Senator Tanko Al-Makura; the architect of modern Nasarawa State, from the time he brought CPC, and CPC having the only state of Nasarawa that was used as part and parcel of the alliance that formed the APC today.”
Excited at the Gudi registration and revalidation exercise, the governor said Al-Makura has made Nasarawa State proud by being the only governor, who presented a party to the alliance that gave birth to APC. In addition to that, the governor said Gudi Station has always been proud in identifying with Senator Al-Makura, even when some of them were not in the CPC.
“I remember on the day of the election in 2011 in front of me, because being in Dangote, I would not have been in any other political party than the ruling party at that time. So, openly, I was in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But my brothers and sisters were voting CPC right in front of me.
“Before you (Al-Makura) came and took Gudi Station to CPC, Gudi was purely a PDP town, where our first executive governor, Abdullahi Adamu, came and led us and we continued in that direction until you came over and took us to CPC,” he narrated.
The governor was also glad at the unity he saw during the flag off of the APC membership registration and revalidation exercise at Gudi, saying he would not forget it for the rest of his life. “If anybody is thinking there is problem in Nasarawa APC today, that person has been proven wrong. Even in our small place of Gudi, you either say I am for AA Sule or I am for Silas Agara. Silas Agara and I are saying anybody that comes to be registered, register them because at the end of the day, Silas Agara is not contesting for governor.
“So, everything is actually falling into place. Therefore, all the grammar about differences in our party is not there. When we came in, there was enough within our party to work together for everyone to benefit,” Sule concluded.
President Muhammadu Buhari had never won election in Nasarawa State since the advent of the forth republic until 2019, when Senator Al-Makura rectified the impediments militating against the president hitherto culminating in the first ever victory of election by Buhari in the state.
Nevertheless, the maiden victory of Buhari in the state convinced some political observers in the state that Senator Al-Makura ws really the laboratory technician to the APC.
A breakdown of the 2019 presidential election results in Nasarawa State as announced by the Returning Officer for the state, Professor Azuibike Nwankwo of the Nigeria Science Academy (NSA), showed that out of the 13 Local Government Areas of the state, President Buhari won in eight Local Government Areas, while the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, won in the remaining five council areas of the state.
THISDAY gathered that the outcome of the 2019 presidential election marked the first time the PDP lost Nasarawa State in a presidential election since the return of democracy in 1999, even as the president got his highest number of votes in Lafia, the state capital, where he polled 55,254 votes, while Atiku Abubakar got his highest votes in Karu Local Government Area after polling 49,292 votes.
Addressing supporters of the APC, who thronged the Government House, Lafia to celebrate Buhari’s victory in Nasarawa State, Senator Al-Makura, who was then governor of the state, said he was overwhelmed by the president’s victory in the state hence he lacked words to express himself because the state has broken the jinx in its political history.
According to the former governor, “Today, I am happy that Mr. President has won Nasarawa State, because the state, been a state that is cosmopolitan and infiltrated by all kinds of difference, has become a difficult state to deliver especially, on the exercise like this because sentiment of emotions and other things.
“But since the beginning of political dispensation in 1999, we have not seen an election that has become a game changer, a decisive factor in killing and burying politics of sentiments, emotions than the emergence of President Buhari as the winner of the presidential election in Nasarawa State.”
Nevertheless, political observers in the state recognised another jinx that was broken by Al-Makura in the state, where the APC clinched all the three senatorial seats of the state at the National Assembly as well as winning four out the five seats in the House of Representatives.
Thus the observers were of the views that there was every indication the erstwhile governor has converted the state from a PDP state to an APC state hence making him a candidate to beat for the position of national chairman of the APC at the party’s forth coming national convention.
Despite that the 2019 general election has come and gone, it however left behind memories that are still caressing as Senator Al-Makura is still basking in the euphoria of supremacy, perhaps, due to the sudden takeover of government affairs in Nasarawa State by the defunct CPC, which was structure-less at the time.
The sudden takeover, which brought Al-Makura to the saddle of leadership in Nasarawa in 2011, no doubt, stung both the state and national hierarchy of the PDP on the back like a wasp.
Perhaps, the PDP loss of Nasarawa State at the 2011 governorship race to the defunct CPC after it had governed the state for 12 years was analysed by political analysts as a plus for Senator Al-Makura as he guns for the national chairman seat of the ruling APC.
Be that as it may, it was against the above backdrop that political pundits in the state were of the opinion that the PDP-controlled legislative arm of government, then was instigated to, by either by hook or crook, uproot Al-Makura out of the Lafia Government House through impeachment, which at the end of the day did not see light of the day.
Consequent upon that, the then Chief Judge of the state, Justice Suleiman Dikko, constituted a probe panel to investigate the 16 allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Senator Al-Makura, who was the then governor of the state, by the Nasarawa State House of Assembly.
But the panel’s last public sitting on August 5, 2014 dismissed all the charges leveled against the erstwhile governor that, “the refusal of the state assembly to participate in the proceedings implies that it had failed to tender evidence to prove its case.
“The rule of natural Justice and our criminal laws put the onus of proof on the complainant, failure to which the accused is deemed innocent. The House has failed to advance evidence of the 16 allegations. The panel agrees to the prayer of the counsel to the governor and has no option than to dismiss each and every of the charges against the governor.”
It was against this scenario that Senator George Akume, when speaking sometime ago during an APC rally organised by the southern senatorial district of the state in Lafia, classified Al-Makura as one of the greatest men in the northern region that valued and focused attention on education especially, the level of development he was undertaking at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi. He added then that Al-Makura was a transformer of the state that is beyond compare since creation of the state. “Al-Makura is a man that loves the state and the nation. He cares for education. Everyone, who passes through Nasarawa State, must appreciate the quality of work; and for the first time in the history of Nigeria, primary schools are constructed like universities. Those edifices were only seen in Nasarawa State under Governor Al-Makura.
He noted further that it was only in Nasarawa State that teachers and other civil servants were being paid to date while schools were being constructed and renovated across the three senatorial zones of the state.
Akume, who is presently the Minister of Special Duties and had governed Benue State for eight years, said: “For such a man to be discarded, that can never be in tandem with the history of this country following his developmental strides.”