By Zaggi Rabo Zakka
I have heard and read news in all forms of media how Governor Tanko Al-makura of Nasarawa State has described the Fulani herdsmen that have been trooping into Nasarawa State since 2012 as “criminals”. This volt-face is surprising for the proceeding reasons.
First, these are the same herdsmen who have not only plundered communities in Nasarawa State but have accompanied their invasion and massacring of their victims with the raping of old and young women and female minors.
Second, at the height of their criminal behaviours, Mr. Tanko Almakura is on record to have threatened our farmers who spray their crops with herbicides to protect the crops against insects. Because he saw this plant protection action as an attempt to poison the herdsmen’s cows.
Thirdly, Mr. Almakura never once ensured that the law enforcement agencies went after the criminals who turned our communities and farms forcefully commandeered to their settlements and grazing lands respectively.
We are, however, aware how he deployed the instrument of power to intimidate our elders who would have provided him with useful advice on the perception of his government by majority of the people; an action that would have helped him re-order his priorities as a leader, unfortunately, insatiability, covetousness, nepotism, prejudice, fanaticism, extremism and mediocrity which are stratum upon which his government has been built, have always overwhelmed him.
Fourthly, what could have happened that the governor that was heralded into governance under popular mandate has gone this low in all aspects of governance?
Mr. Almakura was voted in as governor of Nasarawa State in 2011 after a bungling of people’s good-will by Alhaji Aliyu Doma’s government. Governor Doma, an experienced public servant had allowed some of his aids with no experience and knowledge on how the public service works to hijack his government which they used to square or even up or avenge or disgrace any of their competitors.
The patronage of misfits and irritants organized by that government and put forward as tribal leaders in some LGAs and the seeming commitment to disgrace civil servants if he won the next (2011) election were certainly not leadership qualities and were bound to fail.
This self-centered urge for power and its perquisites by Doma’s aids was allowed to snow-ball into disenchantment. And with the multiplier effect of this bad strategy resonating everywhere in the State, it was easy to vote him out in any electioneven if the devil himself was contesting against Alhaji Aliyu Doma.
This was the situation when Al-makura, escaped from the PDP to CPC where he climbed on the “back” of President Buhari, then Presidential candidate of CPC to win the governorship election of 2011 without any serious effort. Instead of working hard to build infrastructure, support agriculture, pay attention to education and health, he wasted his time scheming how to succeed himself in 2015; which is why, it is easy to suspect his government’s seeming complicity in the massacres that led to the loss of thousands of lives without a single arrest and successful prosecution of anyone of the criminals.
When one reflects on how silent and disinterestedness Mr. Almakura was throughout the times innocent people were killed daily in Nasarawa State, it becomes difficult to take down the allegation as mere rumours of his complicity in the goings-on at the time. One is therefore “at sea” to observe that Mr Al-makura has been reported recently as condemning same herdsmen he has always defended and protected to the extent that he published widely that he would not spare any farmer whose crops kill herds that have grazed on people’s farms.
At the peak of brigandage in the Northern parts of Nigeria - Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Damaturu, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger and Kogi States - the North-West governors, as good leaders, took decision to nip in the bud, the activities of cattle thieves whose mode of operation is the same as those treated with kid gloves in Nasarawa State.
In the course of their effort, they allowed the world to see in a televised programme, the cattle rustlers that were arrested. To demonstrate their degree of anger and frustration, the governors advocated death sentences for the cattle thieves.
These measures worked and immediately, stealing of cattle which most times leads to the killing of owners who resist became history in the North-West and North-East respectively. Where did they disappear to?
Nasarawa State of course; a place that had become a sanctuary for them since 2012. Here, they plundered maimed and burnt communities with impunity. On 5th April 2016, Mr Al-makura had defended these criminals by proclaiming them “residents in the area (Keana) not insurgents”. Encouraged by this support, they embarked on several attacks including the maiming in Agatu LGA, Benue State and settlements situated along the Benue river side of Nasarawa State.
Thereafter, they killed Rev Zakariya in the most gruesome manner in his farm in Obi. To demonstrate how dissatisfied they were with just killing him, they dismembered his limbs, including slashing off his head! Mr Almakura, known for silence when indigenous people are killed by these criminals did not disappoint. He remains mute up-to-date.
In view of the above, I call on our people to be wary of Mr. Al-makura’s antics. Angling for the senate election in 2019, he believes that people he had the opportunity to protect from the viciousness of the marauding herdsmen will forget so soon and endorse or vote for him in 2019.
To sum up, I want to encourage Mr. Al-makura not only to pay up all that he is owing public servants, but account for the second tranche of the bail-out funds collected from the Federal Government for the purpose of paying workers salary arrears.
Mr Almakura should also account for the State’s allocations for the period he used the first tranche of the bail-out to pay some of the arrears owed public servants. Furthermore, Mr. Al-makura should account for the over N8billion allocated for the abandoned cargo airport he had proposed for the State.