As May 29, 2012 draws near, the government of Nasarawa State have begun elaborate plans for a grand celebration for the first year in office for the Congress for Progressive Change [CPC] party led Al-Makura administration. This is as information available to 247ureports.com through principal sources within the State government indicates a whooping sum of N915million has been reserved for the May 29, 2012 grand celebration – amidst a fast developing tension within the State administration circles suggestive of Governor Tanko Al-Makura’s slippery grip of the State and its administrators.
Gov Al-Makura’s accession to the seat of governor through the Gen Buhari led CPC struck the political watchers in Nasarawa State as surprising – but came as highly welcoming to the common citizenry who welcomed the new change as probable signs of new hope. The glaring fanfare was welcoming. But unfortunate for the Governor, the fanfare appeared short lived -partly due to preexisting conditions and partly to the governor’s inability to steer the various opposing political players towards a unified direction.
The governor, in his early days, made broad sweeping promises of what will become his defining agenda and marker for his term as governor of Nasarawa State. Among the promises made were six action items which he specifically tasked the people of Nasarawa State to expect achieved by his first year in office. These include –
- Erection of a 3-Arm Zone at the State capital;
- Free Medical Program for the disadvantaged;
- Special Schools for the disadvantaged;
- Construction of 3km roads at each local government area [LGA];
- Making each Ministry and School Information and Communication Technology [ICT] compliant;
- Construction of Mono-Rail to connect Nasarawa State to the Federal Capital Territory [FCT].
With barely eleven  working days away from May 29, 2012, the Governor appears short on delivery. And many within the government circles are unhappy as a result of the possible tarnishing image on a new northern party as the CPC.
One of the more aggrieved governor’s aides who appear to show a gradual shift in loyalty tell our correspondent that “the governor has shown no indication of initiating the promised projects“. The aide states that the Governor’s focus is more on appeasing the political “hound dogs” in the State. Independent inquiry by 247ureports.com confirms the governor may have shifted priorities away from the original promises. Our correspondent found no evidence the governor had flagged off any of the aforementioned projects.
Adding to his fast growing troubles is the unfriendly Nasarawa State House of Assembly.
The 24-man House of Assembly is populated by 20 Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] lawmakers against 4 CPC lawmakers. As expected, the governor found the State Assembly a hostile ground – as the lawmakers practically toyed with the governor at every opportunity.
One of such many opportunities came when the Governor attempted to appoint new administrators for the LGA and the 16 Development Areas. The lawmaker refused and instead sought to re-instate the administrations whose tenure had been over and since dissolved. The lawmakers went on to call for a seating to reinstate the dissolved transition chairman/administrators – against the passionate pleas of the Governor. But the Governor’s quick action of employing the services of thugs and off-duty security agents to man the State Assembly grounds before the arrival of the lawmakers – averted the lawmakers actions. As reports indicated, the lawmakers upon sighting the thugs and armed men, ran away – and some ran into the speaker’s office for safety.
Having survived the attempted coup d’etat by the lawmaker of the LGA and Development Areas, the governor sought to set up his cabinet. He submitted the names of 18 Commissioners and names of 20 names of Special Aides. Of the 18 names submitted for the position of Commissioner, the lawmakers reduced the number to 15, telling the Governor that 15 Commissioners was too many – that he should do with 15. The governor accepted. The lawmakers did not stop at that – they decided to screen only 12 out of the 15 names – citing the the remaining 3 had petitions against them. It required behind the doors “settlement” with the governor before the remaining 3 could be screened and approved. Of the 20 names submitted for the position of Special Aide, the lawmakers reduced the number to 18 – citing that 20 Specials Aides was too high. The governor accepted.
The governor also submitted the names of persons to be promoted from Director of Personnel Management [DPM] to Sole Administrators of the 16 Development Area and 13 LGAs. On this, the lawmaker put their foots down. It took the attention and intervention of the national representatives of PDP and CPC to reach a working solution. The solution reached was for the governor to appoint 60% of the sole administrators while the lawmakers get to appoint 40%.
Observing the situation with the lawmaker appeared destructive to his grip of the State, the governor sought to pacify the lawmakers.In his first attempt, the governor extended an invitation to the lawmakers to join him at the Presidential Lounge located along Shendan road in Lafia, the state capital. But the lawmaker shunned the invitation – in appeared embarrassing to the Governor. But the governor did not relent. He then raised the sum of N4.5million each for the lawmakers [totaling N108million] for medical check ups in India. The lawmaker accepted the money. It is uncertain if they travelled to India for the medical check up.
Having believed the lawmakers were placated and sedated, the governor turned his attention to the Ministries, particularly the Permanent Secretaries. In a sweeping decision, the governor took the bold step to sack all seating 28 Permanent Secretaries – including newly appointed Permanent Secretaries who were only two months old at the seat. He gave no public reason for his decision. To the governor’s surprise, the lawmakers were quick to rise to tell the governor that he does not have the power to arbitrary sack Permanent Secretaries. With the lawmakers urging, the Permanent Secretaries sued the governor. Responding, the governor invited the sacked Permanent Secretaries for a closed meeting – after which the entire 28 Permanent Secretaries publicly decamped to the CPC and were re-hired. The lawsuit was then abandoned.
While the governor faced the lawmakers in the battle to control the affairs of the State, domestic governance of the State appeared to have been severely ignored by the Governor – in a manner that has begun to show disturbing symptoms.
Housing for the newly appointed Commissioners appear unresolved. As 247ureports.con gathered from one of the governor’s aides, the “Commissioners are still squatting”. Two Commissioners are made to share a 4-bedroom bungalow at the governor’s lounge located along Shendon road. Of the 12 bungalows available, some are shared with the staff of the federal university at Lafia. The Information Commissioner “comes to work from Agwanga because of the housing problem” states the aide who disclosed that the secretary to the state government [SSG], Hamza Elayo made a recent announcement that N1billion has been expended constructing the residential quarters for government officials.
On the economic front, the governor appear losing grip. No payment of workers salaries has found normalcy at the State, LGA and at the Development Areas. The SSG in talking to our correspondent attributed the non-payment or delayed payment of workers salaries to an earlier screening exercise which took place in November 2011. But the SSG failed to explain why the glitches in the salary payment system continues. On Thursday May 10, 2012, workers in the LGAs of Doma and Kokoma took to the streets to protest the non-payment of April 2012 salaries.
Amidst the biting effect of erratic disbursement of workers salaries, the governor, according to the aide, managed to make available “staggering amount of money running into billion of naira to sponsor politicians, thugs, to this year’s Hajj operation to the Holy lands of Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem“. Inquiry by 247ureports.com indicated no fewer than one thousand people were sponsored.
The governor’s grip appears also to have lost grip of the health care sector. His failure to decongest the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital [DASH] located at the state capital serves as evidence. A visit by our correspondent to the health centre served an unpleasant eyesore as casualties/patients were observed receiving treatment on bare floor- including expectant mothers.