Twenty-four years after Nasarawa State was created, the emergence of a technocrat as its governor was unprecedented. But, after he emerged as the fourth democratically elected governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule has started encountering the hard tackles of political godfathers. The Guardian reports it is a battle the governor cannot avoid, and one that would not only define his years in office but also his achievements. The main challenge Governor Sule confronts after the state celebrated its 24th anniversary is how to change the political misfortune that has sabotaged the wheel of economic growth and social liberty in the state. The governor told some journalists recently that God brought him at a time when Nasarawa people need one another badly, stressing, “I need Nasarawa State to gain experience in the public sector and I think Nasarawa State needs my private sector experience to be able to blend. “It’s been a sweet-sour experience. I have come across a few things that I am not used to, but I had to just swallow. God so kind, I come from a family that is very patient. My dad is the most patient human being I have ever come across, he has been patient with everything and I think that’s why God gave him long life, this is fiftieth (50) year as the traditional ruler of our village.
“He has taken a lot and sometimes I wonder how he has been able to do that. God has given me a little bit of his patience, so I try to be patient to take so much. It is a very interesting experience. There is no money like the way we have it in the private sector. Like we do in Dangote. This is about service. There is satisfaction in touching the lives of people.”
Limitations It is a matter of public acknowledgment that Governor Sule is in a hurry to touch lives, but godfatherism has become a major concern in Nasarawa State politics, especially following recent developments that have continued to attract public outrage. Although the state is blessed with huge economic potentials, including solid mineral deposits and proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, it has not been lucky with visionary governors to explore those advantages before the 2019 general elections. The immediate past governor, Senator Tanko Almakura, has been telling whoever cared to listen in the state that “I contributed 80 per cent in making Abdullahi Sule the governor” in the last election. However, in his humble disposition, Governor Sule acknowledges that and continues to laud the role played by Almakura in the election that brought him to power.
In the midst of Sule’s commendations too, he never ceases to pray, “What happened between (former Governor Akinwunmi) Ambode and (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu would not come between him and his political godfather, Senator Almakura.”
What comes to mind each time governor Sule makes such prayers in public is, what could possibly be reasons for such prayers? Citizens are poised to ask, does former governor Tanko Almakura have any skeleton in his cupboard that governor Abdullahi Sule is struggling to unearth someday that may put asunder their relationship?
Another thought that comes to mind is would Sule withdraw his loyalty to build fresh political realignment different from what has been the trademark of the state?
One is prompt to ask the details of what Gov. Sule is keeping to heart. But a good guess could hover around issues of transparency and accountability. Certainly no godson who wants to live in peace with his political godfather dares to probe such matters.
These are certainly the reasons why godsons and godfathers hardly maintain a prolonged relationships, except where the godson does not know his right from left. It is a popular opinion that there is hardly any past governor in the country who is free when it comes to the management of state resources. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC can bear witness to this.
Recent findings reveal that godfatherism is trying to cover up atrocities and imposed 10 names on his godson for appointment as commissioners out of 14 ministries. That is the Nasarawa example. Today in Nasarawa state 80 per cent of governor Sule’s appointees are loyalists of Al Makura. This has created a situation of interference and imposition that is likely to create friction in a manner that is likely to impede Governor Sule’s speed
While in his second year, there seems to be some pressure on Governor Sule to run for only one term. Sule seems aware of this gang up and had told close allies that he is not crazy about ruling for eight years. In his words: “I don’t want to be distracted by those who are making noise about two terms when I am just barely one year in office.”
Meanwhile, chants of 4+4 by political allies and admirers rent the space any time governor Sule appears at public functions and his response testifies that he may not be against eight years even though he is barely one year in office.
Incidentally Sule’s recent closeness to Senator Abdullahi Adamu who initially did not support his candidature when Mr. Almakura presented him in 2018 to Adamu as his anointed governorship candidate now appears to be his saving grace.
It is hard to forget easily what ensued between Senator Almakura and Adamu when the latter advised Almakura the former to give everyone a level playing ground at the party primary. Senator Adamu was forced to shed tears because Almakura vowed to retire him from the Senate for challenging him over his chosen successor (Sule).
To prove Almakura’s determination to end Adamu’s political career then, Adamu’s case file was revisited and made public to the media in several press statements. In matching words with action, Almakura’s right-hand man; Aliyu Tijani from same senatorial zone as Abdullahi Adamu was pressured to purchase a senatorial nomination form to contest against the incumbent Senator Adamu.
However, when it became obvious that Adamu, representing Nasarawa West, was about to be retired by Almakura, it took the intervention of the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiohmole, to insist that all incumbent senators in the party should be given automatic ticket.
Adamu, though confessed to having forgiven Almakura, but it appears the wound is still bleeding considering the exposure of his indictment in connection with the Farin-ruwa project and Keffi hotel fraud allegations.
The outcry out there is that if Mr. Almakura as governor could expose unsavory past of Senator Adamu, who contributed hugely in crowning him in 2011 against Akwei Doma, then Sule should also ask Almakura some hard questions on how state resources were spent.
Going by the recent allegation by the state assembly of the misappropriation of a billion naira school renovation contract by Almakura’s then education commissioner and his removal as secretary to the state government, there may be an opportunity to bring Almakura to account.
Sources close to both Sule and Almakura have disclosed that presently there is a rift between the godfather and his political godson. The sources further said that Senator Almakura is not happy with Sule because of the reversal of some policies of Almakura, such as the closing down of the state investment company and a keen eye at the manner in which properties of the state government were sold out by Almakura at the tail end of his last tenure.
At the end of the day, Governor Sule might find it convenient to align with Senator Adamu to broaden his political base. As a boardroom technocrat, Governor Sule should also know how to balance his credit and a political liability, such that he will also not becoming too hard on his mentor, Almakura.
But, it is a game of survival and the aces seem to be with him- good public appeal and sound economic management.