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Almakura’s challenge in Nasarawa and Shettima’s worries in Borno

Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
UMARU Tanko AlMakura was the only CPC candidate elected as governor in the last election. His campaign electrified Nasarawa state, where the gerontocratic incumbent, Akwe Doma, became a byword for incompetence. AlMakura connects with the people and despite state-sponsored attacks, won the election.

A dazed Doma spent the past few weeks planting political booby traps for the incoming AlMakura administration: promotions of traditional rulers and appointments into the civil service, etc. AlMakura is nevertheless determined to make a difference. His task is not easy, because he carries the weight of the huge expectations of the people of Nasarawa.

His state is poor and the elites are used to corrupt patronage.  Yet there are latent possibilities for progress. There is a rich vein of solid minerals which can be explored, especially with the Chinese. The Keffi-Mararaba corridor is very important in the effort to earn revenue for the state, because it is adjacent to the FCT. By opening it up for industrial, commercial and residential use, Nasarawa can tap into a rich vein of funds for development.

Similarly, Kashim Shettima in Borno is locked into low intensity warfare with the Boko Haram group, which suffered extra-judicial executions of its members in the hands of Nigerian security forces in 2009. Kashim has boldly spoken out for an amnesty; it is clear that the crisis cannot be solved simply as a “law and order” issue.

The state must provide a basis for these alienated young people to come back within the loop of society and of national development. I think Kashim Shettima’s decision is in the right direction; just as his plan to attack the fact that 72% of school age children in Borno are not in school.

It is scandalous that a people who have a tradition of literacy that has lasted for about 1000 years, can be so educationally challenged as Northern Nigeria is, today.  I wish Tanko AlMakura and Kashim Shettima well, because they have their work cut out for them.


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