Source: His problem is self-inflicted
BY ABEL DANIEL
Alhaji Umaru Tanko Almakura came to power under the umbrella of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011 as the third governor of Nasarawa State after beating the incumbent, Aliu Akwe Doma of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in that year’s general elections.
All efforts by Doma through the tribunal and subsequently the Supreme Court to challenge his defeat only worked in favor of Almakura. At the tribunal, it was established that Almakura had 30,000 votes more than Doma. However, at the Supreme Court, it turned out to be only 300- vote-difference which gave Almakura the edge.
Meanwhile, Almakura ordinarily should not have won the election, especially in this political clime where the power of incumbency matters in elections. But Doma, who was vying for re-election in the 2011 polls, was believed to have been sold out by his god father, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu. Adamu, who Doma succeeded, once said he single-handedly removed Doma because he made him governor in the first place. The alleged anti-party activities played out by Adamu and his group actually culminated into the defeat of Doma.
Sources told Sunday Vanguard that the game-plan, prior to the general elections, was that if Almakura emerged as governor on the platform of CPC, he would decamp to the PDP. This happened after Adamu began to have problems with Doma and the former hatched the plan to remove the latter at all costs. By then, Doma already had the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP to contest the election in Nasarawa.
Almakura was said to have consented to the plan. After the election, however, the governor reportedly refused to keep to the terms of the agreement but rather was busy working for the merger of his party, the CPC, with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to become the All Progressives Congress, APC, which eventually was realized. This was the genesis of Almakura’s problem with the powerful forces in the Nassarawa PDP.
At the time of Almakura’s emergence as governor in 2011, the state House of Assembly had 23 members out of which PDP had 21 and CPC two. Later in 2012, one member representing Awe constituency died. In the ensuing bye election, CPC won to increase its lawmakers to three. But the House, even with this overwhelming number as opposition, never had it smooth with Almakura. Analysts believe the Nasarawa Assembly, with its forces as opposition, actually played soft on the ruling party probably due to the numerous crises that besetted the state since Almakura took over power three and a half years ago.
Though allegations have in the past been laid against the governor over misappropriation of state funds and contempt to Assembly resolutions, the lawmakers never went this far because Almakura allegedly kept manouvering to stop any attempt to impeach him.
However, on July 14, 2014, the Assembly, during a plenary, raised a motion for the impeachment of the governor over 16 allegations of over N13billion misappropriation/misplacement of the state funds, gross misconduct and abuse of oath of office.
Despite the provisions of Section 120 Sub-section 2,3and 4 which prohibit all sorts of expenditure without an appropriation/virements, the state government allegedly over-spent N2,200,371,212.67 in 2012.
Another allegation borders on mis-appropriation/misplacement of funds in local governments joint account.
“A discovery by the committee revealed a lot of financial misappropriation/misapplication to the tune of N4,054,121,967.76”, the lawmakers said.
On local govt SURE-P fund, the House alleged that after a critical examination of the local governments. records, it was established that from the inception of the SURE-P program in April 2012to April 2014, the ministry of local government. and chieftaincy affairs under Almakura received N2,710,903,656.10 and expended N765,682,226.94 inappropriately without authority from local government councils chairmen.
The lawmakers alleged the transfer of local governments SURE-P money to a fixed deposit account.
“A review of the bank statement shows that an unauthorized sum of N1,789,796.000.00 was transferred to a fixed deposit account in a bank and N33,972,972.59 was generated as interest representing 1.9 percent but cannot be traced anywhere in the state govt. record books,”they said.
According to the House, its joint committee revealed that between May 2012 and May 2014, N44,496,869 was missing from the local government SURE-P fund.
The House pointedly accused the Almakura government of the falsification of Nasarawa State financial report for the year 2011 and diversion and misapplication of flood fund.
The lawmakers claimed that the Almakura government’s release funds to NASIEC for payment of salaries and other expenditure even in the absence of appropriation of the funds to NASIEC was a gross misconduct.
“See the salaries of NASIEC members as paid for the month of June 2014 by the state govt. even on zero allocation, against the position of the Constitution in Section 120 Sub-section 2 which says no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by the Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an appropriation law, supplementary appropriation law or law passed in pursuance of section 121 of the constitution,”they said.
“His excellently the governor of Nasarawa State bluntly refused to respond to the letter conveying a resolution signed by more than two third of the House of Assembly members in demanding for the removal of the NSIEC chairman/commissioners over their misconduct.”
The lawmakers recalled that the governor, on assumption of office in 2011, terminated the appointment of over 7,000 workers of both the local and state governments without due process. The House said: “These workers were legitimately employed by elected local government chairmen/ administrators and the relevant authorities in the state e.g Nasarawa State Transport Service to whom funds are appropriated by the state House of Assembly via Ministry of Finance Head 483 sub-head 014 and which the state House of Assembly is empowered to investigate and express its opinion in accordance with Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“The House faulted and passed a resolution that the governor should restore the workers back to work considering the consequences of the massive unemployment and the risks associated with the same and the security challenges danger which could encourage high rate of crime like the one being experience in the state today. The governor in his usual style refused to implement the position contained in the resolution of the House. The House views this as an act of gross misconduct under Section188(11) of the Constitution.”
Governors won’t go down without a fight
In the meantime, Almakura is giving the lawmakers a run for their money. As it were, if he has to go down, it won’t happen without a fight. He has refused to be personally served with the impeachment notice. And without being personally served, the effort to remove him from office may amount to a breach of the Constitution.
Several visits by the clerk to the Nasarawa House to the Government House to serve the governor the notice have yielded no result. Consequently, the lawmakers resolved to serve him the notice through the media. How far the lawmakers can go in their bid to unseat Almakura will be known in a matter of days or weeks in the face of the protests by a section of Nasarawa residents against the impeachment move last week.The protests reportedly claimed about three lives.
Fixing dilapidated Nasarawa
At the weekend, observers of the Nasarawa impeachment crisis said Almakura shall be remembered for his infrastructural development of the state. The governor was said to have met a dilapidated Nasarawa when he took over power in 2011, and, from that time till now, various sectors such as the education, road, social service have received face lift.
“When you tried to compare his administration with those his predecessors, you will come to the conclusion that none of his predecessors came near him,”an observer said.
On assumption to office, he proposed an eight-point agenda, tagged, Action Points or Road Map to Nasarawa Recovery. His intention was that at the end of his first term, the people of the state could use this as mirror in passing judgment on his second bid to the Government House on Shendam Road, Lafia. Nasarawa under him was the first to implement the new minimum salary wage proposed by the Federal Government in 2012, when many other states in the country were contemplating whether or not to implement.
It is no longer news that one major sector that received a boost in Nasarawa is education. He did not only encourage parents to take their wards to school but also made it free. Every secondary school in each local government state wears a new look of TA’AL model structure.
The construction of roads, government buildings and private houses have also given urban areas a new look. The glittering solar street lights are a testimony to a governor with vision. It’s an incontestable fact that the present administration in Nasarawa has recorded several achievements in the aspect of rehabilitation and construction of roads as well as the development of infrastructure at the grassroots.
Though there are still a few areas he needs to focus on like water supply to every home in Lafia the state capital, for the opposition planning to unseat him, it will be a major herculean task despite other strong allegation laid against him by the state house of Assembly.
However, the major setback Almakura’s administration will be negatively remembered for is his gross inabilities to manage human relations which earned the state the huge crises that placed the administration among the eras that witnessed the largest number of people killed and properties lost to tribal conflicts in the country.