Last week’s rumours of Governor Tanko Al-Makura’s death sparked controversy in Nasarawa State.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Al-Makura says his life is in danger and that opposition politicians who are desperate to take control of the state, are targeting him.
PT: You recently travelled out of the country, fuelling speculations of your death. What took you abroad?
Al- Makura: Like you must have known, two to three weeks before my journey abroad, it was a period that was so choked up with political activities, primaries one after the other, which culminated in the primaries of the presidential candidate. After all the exercises, I got terribly exhausted and needed a break to rest before I resume full campaign activities in January. By certain coincidence, my son whose wedding took place about a year ago in August 2013 was blessed with a baby boy in America, and I had to use part of the visit to see them and congratulate them. So that was why I had to travel out of the country for five days to take a break and also see my new grandson.
PT: Why were you celebrating with so much energy when you went round the state capital to dismiss you death rumour?
Al-Makura: Yes, I was jubilating for so many reasons. It never occurred to me that mischief could be that deadly for people to wish you dead. I don’t want to join issues with that.
I got over-flooded with phone calls right from America before I went to London, from well-wishers making enquires about my health, whether or not, I had passed away. So, I was wondering what happened. It didn’t occur to me that some of my lieutenants where also worried about all this rumours. They took me by surprise the day I came, and, on their own, they gave invitation for people to come out and welcome the man from the dead.
So one turn after another, I have been stopped at intervals, from Karu to Keffi, and many other places, for people to see and felicitate with me over the very wicked rumour, and to see me in good health without anything. I never visited any hospital, I never visited anybody, I just went for a rest and to see my grandson.
How it came that the rumour mill was engulfed with me being rushed to the hospital for kidney surgery, was imaginary for whoever was making such wicked rumour. So I was jubilating because at least to thank God that I am alive when some people wished I was dead. I was also jubilating because the year had come to end and everything went well, I was also jubilating because it is a period of Maulud, so every place I went I felicitated with people. That was why I was active and happy.
You could see that the rally that took place in Lafia was one of the tumultuous I ever had and felt it also fair I address the people at the end of the rally.
PT: It was also rumoured that you slumped abroad.
Al-Makura- Maybe I stumbled over a stone and slumped. Hahaha, it’s not true.
PT: Don’t you think the rumours portend danger for forthcoming electioneering campaigns in the state?
Al-Makura: It is something to worry about. It never occurred to me that the level of desperation would reach that far, but all along I am used to this. I have been a very vulnerable person you could see the antecedents of my challenges with the opposition and quite a number of people. Look at the issue of impeachment, my elections and many other challenges and for each of these challenges, I surmounted to the end of my transducers.
They have found everything they could do to cow me or put me aside, but each time they tried I became stronger. So they were left with wishful thinking. That wishful thinking has gone to an extent that it turns to a dream that they wished me dead, started spreading the rumour. Like you rightly said, if someone can go that desperate to extent that his wishful thinking turns to a dream that I am dead because his physical effort cannot succeed, I am afraid that such a person given any opportunity to deal with me in any way possible, especially with the forthcoming elections, can do anything possible.
But like we have always done, we will cage them. We know how we handle them. What is important is the support that I got from the masses. It is not me they are fighting, it’s not me they are wishing dead. It is the people and I have left them with the people, that is why I don’t want to bother myself. I have forgiven them, forgotten and concentrating on how to consolidate the gains of what I have achieved in the last three years and seven months.
PT: How did you feel when some People Democratic Party (PDP) aspirants joined in the jubilation of your return?
Al-Makura: I was so excited because that indicates thorough support, leadership and honest love by the people. Because since my election, I considered myself not hamstrung with my party alone because from the day I won my election I considered myself belonging to all parties. I do things that will benefit everybody irrespective of party or religious affiliations. These are part of the appreciation from the people. And like the PDP stakeholder you saw, he is someone who is not a push over, is someone who is a critical stakeholder in the state and a member of party other than my own and I think that has added value to my support.
PT: What are your unique selling points for 2015?
Al-Makura- Selling points are three things simple, one, fear of God; second, transparency and accountability; and lastly, concentration of giving value to the ordinary man. I don’t care what the elites do , I don’t care who ever does anything towards me because it will never distract me from my fear of God, transparency and my focus on ensuring that I add value to the quality of the ordinary man. I don’t see distraction towards me as anything. What will distract me is anything that will stop me from delivering the goodness to the ordinary man.
Those are my selling points because the very people you are dying for appreciate what you are doing. I didn’t go sharing monies to people because that is not my kind of politics or governance because governance is for the general good for the greater majority.