APC National Chairmanship: What Senator Al-makura’ll bring to the table
By Ali Abare
There is a common adage in Hausa language, which says that, if someone wants to give you a shirt, look at the shirt the person is wearing. Don’t imagine I am encouraging you to turn your back on the goodwill of your friend or neighbour. That person could mean well, by dashing you a shirt. But hey, look closer. Because, naturally, you can’t give what you don’t have!
Introducing Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura, two-term governor of Nasarawa State and the race for the position of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), takes a new hue and the stakes grow higher, in geometrical proportion.
Indeed, the stakes are high. Almakura’s pedigree and antecedents are there for all to see. Lots of those aspiring for the position, unfortunately, can be compared to that neighbour, that friend, who is willing to dash you a shirt. Did you care to check their antecedents? Look back at their political antecedents. Can such aspirants give what they don’t have?
Senator Al-makura came into power as governor of Nasarawa State in 2011. His political platform, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was nondescript, unknown. He was however able to mobilize support to oust the ruling government. I guess you will attribute this to mother luck. You will say Al-makura was only lucky for the CPC to have emerged victorious.
It would have been so, if not for the relentless persecution he suffered prior to his victory. Even the declaration of the result that brought about his victory in 2011, was a scene out of an old western. The then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was leading the CPC, with over 20, 000 votes after 12 out of 13 local government areas have turned their election results. Only Lafia Local Government Area was yet to declare the result.
Youth groups mobilised to protect and ensure that nothing happened to the collated votes leaving Ng the Abacha Youth Center, for the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), located along Kurikyo Road.
These sticks wielding youths lined the road, undaunted by the high presence of security operatives on the street. The police allegedly remained neutral, ostensibly as a result of the unbending resolve of the people. They perched on rooftops, on walls, determined to see the end of the PDP government.
Of course, you can attribute the end result of such collective decision, to mother luck. Senator Al-makura successfully mobilised the people of the state to stand by him. They not only stood by him, they defended their decision by withstanding intimidation through excessive use of force. They equally turned down the bribe meant to upturn the election result in Lafia Local Government Council.
This is the first stage. Someone that underwent relentless persecution in the hands of his political antagonists. A politician that went through the crucible of a desperate opposition party bent on retaining power by all costs, certainly have something to offer in the form of perseverance and withstanding the evil plots masterminded to cut short his aspirations.
That was just an inkling. Al-makura’s real test came after he became governor. The challenges came multifaceted. He inherited a system that is immensely aversed to prudent management of public resources, a wastefully inclined public service. Unimaginably extravagant. That was his second baptism of fire. He was a lone ranger in a forest full of jackals. Al-makura matched on toes. He wielded the big stick, drawing first his political appointees into line. They later became his apostles who preached the gospel of thrift, transparency and due process to the laity.
Senator Almakura’s administration was largely reformative. He embarked on a deliberate plan to cut down on the cost of governance, whittle down administrative extravagance and instilled the spirit of accountability and prudent management of resources.
Unfortunately for him again, that didn’t go down well with the state House of Assembly, dominated by members of the PDP, who are still ruing their loss. They descended on governor Al-makura with such ferocity, only the people of the state stood before him and the rampaging assembly.
In 2014, they moved to impeach Al-makura only because he is starving them of the usual largess. They couldn’t lay hands on easy public funds, so they conspired amongst themselves, to oust him. They failed and Al-makura survived to tell the tale.
From having only four members at the state assembly, Al-makura worked tirelessly to whittle down the influence of the 20-member PDP assembly. Presently, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly is being controlled by the APC.
There is nowhere Almakura effectively demonstrated his exceptional leadership than in the story of his leaving office at the end of his two tenures. After seeing the growth of the APC in Nasarawa State, Al-makura, with enviable foresight, picked on Engineer Abdullahi Sule to succeed him.
You get to hear lots of talks about Senator Al-makura being a godfather to his successor. Most uncharitable, especially to an individual like Engineer Abdullahi Sule, who has remained non compromising, incorruptible and resolute in disposition. It’s misleading to assume that Al-makura brought in someone he could control after he left office.
Instead, Al-makura brought in Engineer Sule because he trusted him to build on where he stopped. The Architect of Modern Nasarawa State had the foresight to recognise that Engineer Sule will provide the needed stewardship to take Nasarawa State to the next level of development.
It wasn’t much as protecting his back. It’s was about unblemished patriotism. The love for the party, state and country. And things are proving Al-makura right. Engineer Sule is already doing the state proud. A big lesson is being learnt on how to transmit power. In Nasarawa State, the wranglings usually associated with succession is virtually absent. Instead, both the APC and the state continue to grow in leaps and bounds.
Nasarawa State came first in the conduct of the APC local government congresses, having already emerged second during the ward congresses. The unity of the party can be attributed to the collective effort of critical stakeholders but especially that of the former governor and his successor.
Check out the antecedents of some of the aspirants in the race for the position of the national chairman of the APC. It will disappoint you to know the consequence of in-fighting between critical stakeholders on the party. Not in Nasarawa State. The APC continues to wax stronger, gradually swallowing up the opposition parties.
These qualities and more, are what Senator Al-makura will bring to the table as national chairman of the APC. The ability to unite the APC, especially, at such trying moments, when the ability and capacity to unite the party is uppermost. Parallel congresses in some states. Not in Nasarawa State.
Abare, a Muck Rack journalist, writes from Lafia.