Unarguably, Nasarawa State, the nationally acclaimed “Home of Solid Minerals”, is noted to be “A State in a hurry!” This phrase “a state in a hurry” was popularized by Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura in the television series on NTA “Seeing is believing” which was eloquently produced and directed by Yakubu Lamai. Indeed form 2011 to 2018, Nasarawa State has proven to be “a state in a hurry” to move to the next level of overall development – for the good of the mass of the population and humanity.
With its complex ethno -cultural identity, the Nasarawa State under the inclusive leadership of Umaru Tanko Al-makura has been working assiduously to harmonize and unify the inherent contradictions within the political cum socio-cultural imbalances and give all citizens of Nasarawa a deep sense of belonging through fairness, equity and justice.
For years Nasarawa State has been seen as a microcosm of Nigeria with over 40 ethnic nationalities and three senatorial zones. With the religious dichotomy between Christians and Muslims almost at par, there has existed a unique sort of unity in diversity in the State, where power rotates between the three senatorial zones of Nasarawa State.
It is therefore quite commendable that the perceived structural political imbalances in Nasarawa State was unarguably rectified by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, during its recently concluded governorship primaries in the state, where the Governor supported the candidature of a candidate from the Akwanga zone to succeed him.
At the conclusion of the primaries, APC collectively zeroed into the candidacy of Engineer A.A. Sule against the political permutation and wish of some stakeholders who worked relentlessly against the concept of rotation of the governorship slot amongst the three senatorial districts.
Most political observers across the state are gradually seeing the wisdom of Governor Al-makura in “carefully” endorsing Engineer Sule, without any form of undue interference or imposition on the part of government.
All who contested in the APC primaries has adjudged the process as being fair, balanced and credible. They feel Governor Al-makura deployed persuasion and moral suasion rather than brash interference and imposition, and it is because of his sense of diplomacy and adroit management of a fragile political scenario that today Nasarawa State has healed fast from the brick brat and conflicts of the APC primaries.
Today gladiators across the socio-political divide hail the victory of A.A Sule as the preferred candidate of the APC in forthcoming governorship election in the state, but most crucially the entire citizens applaud the noble decision of the governor to ensure that power rotate amongst the three senatorial districts of the state. This political calculation is being hailed as not only a revolutionary action, but that only a visionary leader can work to make all have that sense of belonging. This, they say is a sharp contrast to age-long practice of “majority wins all the time” which kept the governorship slot as an exclusive preserve between the Lafia and Keffi zones.
The major explanation for the governor’s inclusiveness in the zoning or rotation of power formula is that, since the creation in 1996, nobody from Nasarawa North has governed the state. The first governor, Abdullahi Adamu, ruled for eight years, filling the quota of Nasarawa West. The reality therefore is that only the Akwanga zone which has the least population in Nasarawa State cannot boast of producing a governor for the state.
Al-makura’s inclusiveness, prompted in 2011, the creation of an office for National Integration where he appointed an Igbo man to head this office with the charge to strengthen unity among the people of Nasarawa State. Al-makura thereafter appointed the first ever female SSG and he also went ahead to grant automatic employment and scholarship to people living with disabilities.
Today, Nasarawa state has the most comprehensive school for people living with disabilities in the whole of West Africa, not to talk of the even spread of development to all nooks and crannies of Nasarawa State.
Prior to the coming of Al-makura, there was no single asphalt graded constructed road in Lafia, the state capital, but things changed as he embarked on vigourous construction work, thus opening up the state capital with an inter-linking roads with street lights, with a well-articulated policy of constructing 5 kilometres of road in every local government area of the state.
His model of inclusive governance has the singular objective to ensure that the benefits of development reach every citizen in every corner of Nasarawa State, including and especially the most vulnerable members.
From 2011 to 2018, Governor Al-makura has carried the rural people along in Nasarawa State in sharing the dividends of democracy by school feeding programme and free education and the payment of NECO fees for all students of the state. Al-makura has evenly spread his political appointments to reflect the ethnic diversity of the state and also accommodated religious tendencies.
With the example set by Governor Al-makura in showing support for Engineer A.A. Sule for the noble reason to strengthen unity of the state and safeguard the people from a backlash of injustice, perhaps the people of Nasarawa State themselves will now take a leaf from the inclusive spirit of Al-makura and cast their old fears aside and discard whatever prejudices they may have against each other; so that they can begin to engage each other in social dialogue that will ultimately spur a heightened sense of trust from which point they can tear down the walls of age-old prejudice.