Call him the only man standing, and you'll be right in a way. Gov Tanko Al-Makura is the only governor currently serving on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He is the helmsman at Nasarawa State. Since 1999, Nasarawa had been ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), first through Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, who did two terms, and then Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, whose attempt to get second term in office did not succeed at the polls held in April, this year. Doma was defeated by Al-Makura, who incidentally was himself a PDP stalwart before he decamped to the then newly formed CPC.
Six months down the line as governor, Al-Makura is badgered and buffeted from all sides by PDP forces. Akwe Doma is at the elections petition tribunal (well, it's his legal right), and the State House of Assembly, with PDP majority, has made the going quite tough for the governor. The strategy is clear: make life so uncomfortable for Al-Makura that he will have no alternative than to return to PDP, if he would ever make impact in office.
If Al-Makura leaves the CPC for PDP, he would not have committed sacrilege, at least not by the standard of Nigerian politicians. Isa Yuguda did it in Bauchi, dumping the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) for the PDP. Heavens did not fall. In Zamfara, Mahmuda Shinkafi left ANPP also for PDP. Hell did not boil over. Ikedim Ohakim of Imo State jettisoned the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) for the PDP, the seas did not overflow. And in Abia State, T. A. Orji abandoned the PPA, first for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and then for the PDP few hours later. The mountains did not melt or crumble. They all left without being decent enough to relinquish the mandates they held on behalf of their erstwhile parties, but a competent court has since ruled that they did not have to. So, the matter is laid to rest. In Nigerian politics, morality has no place. The more Machiavellian you are, the better a politician you also are.
But will Al-Makura leave? That was a question I put to him pointedly in Lafia, the capital of his state, recently. You see, I believe that the PDP has taken this country for a ride for 12 years, not touching the lives of the average Nigerians positively despite the huge funds that had accrued to the country. So, I'm always looking for alternatives. Any state that the PDP loses is a plus for our country, and her democracy. How did Al-Makura respond to my question?
'As the only CPC governor, I take my success as a very big challenge. I have a covenant with the people of Nasarawa State. It's a contract. They elected me based on trust, and based on my electoral promises. It's an obligation that I must discharge.
'Secondly… when people are talking about my going back into PDP, what am I looking for in PDP? Am I looking for hardship? Am I looking for want? Already, the people in PDP are with me. The people in CPC have permeated the nooks and crannies of the state, so should I abandon them and start all over again? As far as I'm concerned, it does not make sense. We have come, seen, conquered. Why do we have to be the conquered again? I am in CPC for good, and any insinuation of going back to PDP is like making the sun rise from the West and setting in the East, which is an impossibility.'
Very bold, firm and re-assuring words. But can we believe Al-Makura? I choose to. At least, till he gives me cause to change my mind. I want to believe that we now have a partner for Olusegun Mimiko, the Ondo State governor, who has kept faith with the hitherto relatively unknown Labour Party, despite all the overtures for him to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), or return to the PDP where he came from. Despite the law now being on their side to cross carpet at will, it is inspiring that we have governors who can swim or sink with the parties on whose platform they got elected into office.
Morality should not be alien to politics, and it is heartwarming that in this land and clime, we have governors who have recognised that fact. 'Other people's resolution may fluctuate on the wild and changeful billows of human opinion. Ours, now and forever, is anchored on the rock of ages (Sir Walter Scott).' May God continue to strengthen their resolve, and help them to remain true to their convictions. Nigeria needs men of character, of steely resolve, who can swear to their own hurt, and prove that the end does not always justify the means. Al-Makura has the burden of fidelity - to his party, and to the people who elected him on that platform.
Another burden on the slim shoulders of the Nasarawa State governor is that of true development. Created in 1996 by the Sani Abacha regime, Nasarawa is a state yet to truly take off in terms of development. Lafia is yet to grow from a rustic town into a true state capital. All over the state are projects started by the first civilian governor, Abdullahi Adamu, but abandoned by Akwe Doma, the man who succeeded him. At Karu, just outside Abuja, is an international market complex sitting on many hectares of land. More than 90% completed, the place had been abandoned in the last five years, and is now home to vagrants and miscreants. Also at Karu, you have the Cultural Centre built by Adamu, now home for reptiles of all sorts.
At Mararaba, you have the Medical Centre, worse than a dispensary, in terms of quality facilities. In other parts, you have the Masaka Meats Processors Limited. One thing you'll surely not find there is meat in any form. Well, except huge bush rats and other wild animals that have taken over the facility. How about the Nasarawa Packaging Factory, meant to produce sacs and bags? The resources of the place were long carted away in Ghana-must-go bags. Water projects? Even the water schemes themselves are thirsty and famished. Completing the picture of decay and abandonment is the Farin Ruwa Power Project, which has consumed over N6 billion, and would still take another N6 billion to complete.
If they tell you N100 million actually was spent on the project, you would be ready to exchange fisticuffs with the person spinning the yarn. N6 billion? Robbery! And many other projects in various stages of criminal decay and abandonment. Gov Al-Makura calls them 'grandiose and flamboyant projects,' which had been mere drainpipes to the resources of the state. What does he do with them, after they'd consumed many billions of naira? Resuscitate, discard, or sell them off? Nasarawa needs infrastructure to become a true state, yet, it earns just about two billion naira monthly from the Federal purse. And Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is nothing to write home about. But it's not enough for the governor to throw up his arms in surrender.
He must put on his thinking cap, and lift the state from the morass in which it is currently consigned. Nasarawa has poor roads complex. No water, no electricity. Water just started running in the state capital since many years, after Al-Makura spent money on the abandoned old waterworks. The past government had reportedly embarked on a new waterworks that was to cost N2.5 billion. The money was spent up to about 50%, but not up to 10% of the job was done. Yet, this state must rise from the ashes, and take its place among the comity of states. How will it be done? Well, that's a question for the governor to answer, as he was the one that voluntarily ran for office, and was voted for.
Another burden. The burden of transparency. It seems Nasarawa is one big gravy train that has been looted at will till now. I'm not saying they are guilty yet, but the fact that the past two governors are answering charges of graft filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), shows that the purse string of the state may be rather loose. Can Al-Makura tighten things up? Can he lead that state selflessly, truthfully and honestly? Can the money of the people be made to count for the people? It is a burden. The burden of integrity. The burden of accountability, of rectitude. I hope Al-Makura rises up to the occasion.
From the current cynicism and scepticism, I believe we should get to a point we can begin to trust our politicians. Al-Makura is a test case. What he does with his vow to stay true to his party, and what he does with the finances of the state, will determine how far we can trust him.
T. A. Orji on fire (2)
Sign of failure
For the governor of Abia to send non-indigenes to their states is a sign of failure. He cannot deliver dividends of democracy to his people. • Sunday Chuna, Akpajo, Rivers State
Soon, he'll send cattle dealers packing
Gov T. A. Orji will soon start asking cattle dealers in Umuahia to go back to their various states. What a man! • Victor Udunze
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. T. A. Orji sure has bad advisers. • Miyakee, Owerri
You didn't get it
You really didn't get the point. What else did you expect from a such a governor? All government ministries, departments and agencies are virtually grounded and idle. Abia is now known as 'Contract or Hire Purchase State.'
• Don Chigozie, Abia
Don't mind T. A. Orji. This is what you get from a person with no agenda.
• John Lands, Umuahia
Mean and horrible
It's a disaster if we still parade parochial leaders with myopic views and archaic ideas. It sounds rather mean and horrible. T. A. Orji will send people to early graves in this country
• Akintayo Omoyele, Lagos
T. A. Orji is a confused man. Why not generate funds from other sources than to send non-indigenes packing? • Gordon Nnorom, Abia State
I was a victim
T. A Orji is not the only governor who has engaged in 'indigenisation policy.' I was a victim of such policy in 1991 when I was almost denied admission into a polytechnic in the South-west in spite of my brilliant performance in the entrance examination. The rationale for the near denial was because I am not from the state where the institution is located. Much of the problem in Plateau is due to indigene and settler dichotomy. Even after state creation exercises this issue always crop up. I do hope we can lay this to rest in the next round of constitutional amendment exercise.
• Jide Ojo, [email protected]
He truly needs forgiveness
T.A. does not know what he is saying or doing. He is saying; I am contented with what I have in Abia State, I want only my brothers and sisters around me, I don't need the help of other Nigerians, I can fly from Abia to Abuja. If he is stopped from entering Enugu road built by Enugu indigenes and Imo does the same, how will he get to Abuja? Don't worry, Orji will soon realize that he does not know what he was doing. I pray it will not be too late.
• Barr Ikenna Onah, [email protected]
Maybe the Governor wants to create 'Abia Haram' to compliment the forces of Boko Haram in order to deepen the tension in the country. However, no amount of force can legalize the illegality of that policy in any form.
• Comrade Chi-neke Ani, [email protected]
More than he can swallow
I'm sorry to say that T.A Orji is chewing more than he can swallow. What happens if other governors decide to follow suit and send all the Abian natives in the rest of the 35 states home? What happens if all the businessmen in other states who are Abians were asked to return home by their host states? I, therefore, counsel my brother and friend Governor T.A Orji to remember his name Ahamefule, meaning, 'My name should not get lost,' and rescind his actions because there is no justified reason for that in this perilous time.
• Sam .O. Ijezie, 08034514324
Nigerians, forgive him
It's really quite unfortunate that some of those we call leaders in this nation are men with small minds. Gov. T. A. Orji and others with this kind of mindset should be very careful.
• Kingsley, [email protected]
Blame the constitution
Some years ago when Katsina State civil servants were sent packing to their state by Kaduna government, and other states followed suit, no one saw the evil in this institutionalized nepotism called Federal Character. Blame the drafters of our constitution not T.A Orji.
• Sam Ahia, [email protected] 08035715770
It did not start today
Let every state publish the names of the non-indigenes in their workforce, I'm sure we will have many of the likes of Gov Orji .
• Franklin Harolds, [email protected]
T. A. Orji is capable of sinking the ship of our unity in the ocean of disunity. Our constitution abhors discrimination. Let's protect our democracy. • Ehimare Godfrey
Gov Orji has dug his own political grave and buried future leadership responsibility.
Onuh Anayochukwu, Abuja
This is the way they keep disgracing us Igbos. How will one explain this useless action? What about his people in other states?
• Emeka, Onitsha
He shouldn't even be LG boss
This policy gives Orji away as a man who shouldn't even be a local government chairman or councillor. • Valentine, Asaba
Abians and Igbos in other parts of the country should blame T. A. Orji if anything happens to them.
• Mr Bokkos
He humiliated Ikemba
Remember this was the same T. A. Orji who humiliated Ikemba Ojukwu not long ago. At the time Ikemba was raising his hand as a member of APGA, he had concluded plans with Obasanjo to join PDP. • Obunikem Okonkwo
Why not before elections?
If not that he's a wayo man, why didn't T. A. Orji sack non-indigenes before the elections? I pray for the years to come fast to send him to history where old cargoes are kept. • Nkem
To Gov Orji
Gov Orji, please look inward to solve Abia problems instead of ridiculing the Igbo race. Borrow a leaf from Lagos, which is the meeting pot of all Yorubas. • Angus Chidi Okehie
If Nigeria turns Libya…
If Nigeria turns Libya today, T. A. Orji and his 'backloaders' would first be consumed by Abia peoples revolution. • Ben Nwa-Ewim
You are one-sided. When Abia indigenes were sent back from Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Benue states, nobody said Igbo unity was as stake. Let his brother-governors now take the matter in good faith.
• Chief J. C. Uwaga
Primitive and anachronistic
T. A. Orji's policy of backloading non-indigenes is an ill-wind that will blow no good. The policy is archaic, antiquated, anachronistic and primitive. It represents backwardness.
• Barrister Ethel Onuoha, Ikeja, Lagos
The action shows gross wickedness, recklessness and irresponsibility. To those affected by this act of unreason, I can confidently assure them that Jehovah is God of all seasons. They will tower above Orji and his cabal.
• Xavier Ikeche, [email protected]
Shame to Igbo race
It is goodbye to the unity of the Igbo race. T. A. Orji's ascendance to the position of governor is questionable. He has indeed, brought shame to the Igbo race. • Zoba Ugonabo, Enugu
A bad ruler makes bad choices, and takes bad actions. God help us all. • Tochuku Obi, Aba
Ignorance on rampage
Idi Amin Dada sent productive Asians away with the infamous line that 'Uganda must be for Ugandans alone.' It is the signal of the death of imagination for productivity. In Abia, ignorance has gone on rampage.
• Mr Isaac, Yola
He should resign
Gov T. A. Orji should resign since it has become obvious that he is lacking in ideas on how to move his state forward. Ohanaeze should also sanction him. • Ozu Iwuala, Owerri
I knew him
I believe now that there is something really devilish that straddles the seat of political office in Nigeria. I knew T. A. Orji as a civil servant in old Imo State, he was quite a nice guy. See him now grovelling in the dust. • George Ibecheozor, Owerri
I believe he'll listen
I believe T. A. Orji will listen to your wake up call. • Col JMO Ezeoke (rtd)
Not the first
Gov Orji was not the first to do this kind of transfer. When Kwankwaso ruled Kano the first time, he did it also. • Uche, Kano
It's a pity
It's a pity for an Igbo man to be a stranger in Abia. What is wrong with our leaders?
• Pastor Alao
Beating about the bush
Leave that non-performer alone. According to him, he was enslaved in his first term. Now, he can't perform because non-Abians are in the state's employ. He just beats about the bush.
• Elsie O. Ukaegbulam
T. A. Orji is visionless. I am an Abian living and doing business outside my state. What happens to we Abians outside our state should our host governors embark on same policy as Orji?
• Iheanyi Obasi
Father, forgive him
Father, forgive T. A. Orji, for he knows not what he's doing, looking for sacrificial lambs because of cheap popularity.
• Dr J. T. Akinmayowa, Uniben
With leaders like T. A. Orji, we Igbos are doomed. • Uzo Angus-Okoro, Enugu
A question for Orji
Can't we Africans learn to resign when not equal to a given task?
• Sophia C, Aba
It is an irony that somebody who is supposed to protect the people is now oppressing them. Ohanaeze should intervene.
• Orji Winner, Onitsha
The governor's policy handlers are the ones feeding him with these poisonous pills. Let's watch and see how it goes.
• Umunnakwe Emeka Henry
Dance of shame
Don't mind T. A. Orji. We are yet to see more of his dance of shame. • Prince Best, Enugu
What a pity. If only T. A. Orji reads your write-up, and realises the embarrassment he's causing this country. • Ezinwa E.
What is the essence of the South East Governors Forum? What is the reaction of Ohanaeze? We Igbos are problem unto ourselves. This is not how to save cost.
• Okenze Romanus Amakor
In his own coin
Gov Orji will soon have more imported civil servants than those he exported, as he will be paid in his own coin. • Ephraim, Enugu, 08060931845
Mission to nowhere
We have prayed, cried and fasted, and now waiting for the downfall of this Gaddafi. He's on a mission to nowhere. • Chris, Aba
Lack of vision
T. A. Orji is just exhibiting lack of vision and imagination. • Rowl Ibecheozor, Owerri
My only regret is Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu's state of health. But we still trust that God will save us.
• Tony Iyke Osunkwo, Enugu
Ndigbo, rise up
Let's watch and see how T. A. Orji ends up. Ndigbo, rise up against this divisive inclination.
• Hon Chinwaze E. Amaechi, Awka, 08034052117
Let T. A. Orji and his children and descendants never live or work outside Abia State.
• Nwanne Isaac Kene, Lagos
The governor has committed the unforgivable sin. He should be banned from going into those states whose indigenes were affected.
• Abbayo Dogo, Kaduna
Enemy of Ndigbo
Methink T. A. Orji is a divisive leader. The greatest enemy of Ndigbo are the so-called leaders of Igbo extraction. May God save us from nepotic leaders. • Oscar, Anambra
God deliver us
I'm an Igbo man, went to primary school in Enugu, secondary school at Ondo State, tertiary education at Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, employed in Bauchi civil service, before I left to go solo. God deliver us from greedy, insincere, imprudent leaders.
• Emma O. Ezikah, Enugu, 07033518400
Let the sack begin
Let the sack begin, and the revolution we are all waiting and praying for begins too. Chikena.
• K. O. Peace, Owerri
T. A. Orji needs urgent medical help. He's fanning the embers of discord and acrimony. He should meet Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka in Enugu to cast out the evil spirit tormenting him.
• Iyke I. Okenyi, Nsukka
We Abians are happy
Anybody telling you we are not happy is not an Abian. In fact, this is the only time that Chief Orji got something right. If he reverses it, we'll lynch him. • 08157644344
It's the answer
What we need in this country is what T. A. Orji has done. We need to have autonomy for all states. It's the answer to political instability, unemployment and insecurity. • Amby I. J, Edo State
God, touch his heart
I am an Abian, and I know Igbos are very accommodating. God, touch the heart of our governor to rescind his unpopular policy.
• Uzomba Kanu J, Umuahia
A man who has higher political ambition won't do this. • Maduako, Owerri
Giving Abia a bad name
T. A. Orji is giving Abia a bad name. Let the State Assembly reverse the policy, if he will not change his mind. • Ogunlana Adeoye
Igbo against Igbo
Imagine, Igbo against Igbo. It shows that tribalism is one of Nigeria's greatest problems.
• Feyi Akeeb Kareem
All sane persons, wake up
I appeal to all sane persons of Abia origin to wake up and tell the governor that what goes round comes round. A word is enough for the wise. • Dr Chizoba C. Ogbunugafor (Senior Citizen), Lagos
Can Orji talk of Igbo unity tomorrow? The answer is no. His action is another big blow to the quest for Igbo unity. • A. I. Olisadebe
What an unpopular policy! A Gaddafi in the making in Abia. Abians, nay Igbos, beware. Orji needs medical examination.
• Chief Alex I. D. Igwemma, Onitsha
Just watch out
The death that kills a dog does not allow it to perceive the smell of excreta. T. A. Orji is a myopic leader. Just watch out. • Jude Ogbodo, Izhia
Living to his name
Gov Orji is merely living up to his name, Ahamefule (may my name not be forgotten). He will be remembered as the person who killed the spirit of oneness in Igbo land. • T. Ejiofor, Owerri
As an Igbo man, I'm ashamed of T. A. Orji.
• Everest Onyekperem
I agree with Father Ogu
I agree with Rev Father Ben Ogu that Enugu and Imo should place an embargo on T. A. Orji from using their airports. • Ed Chibuzo, Enugu
It's an empty barrel that makes the most noise. It is only somebody like Orji that can come up with such imprudent, inane and absurd policy (to borrow your words). • Barrister Chizoba Omeokachie
Bad for Igbos
The action of T. A. Orji can deny Igbos the presidency of this country. • Tony, Nnewi
Your piece on the recent evil policy of Gov Orji thrilled me. God help Nigeria.
• Dr C. O. Nwachukwu, Abe
This shows how myopic our so-called leaders can be. It's possible the man can't comprehend the unpleasant ripple effect of the policy.
Okenwa S. O.
T. A. Orji is doing to non-Abians what Gaddafi did to Libyans. Spiritually, he will go the way of Gaddafi. Nwoko Ubani