TUESDAY Column by VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
Despite the fact that physical death is a certainty for all human beings on earth, it still comes to most of us as a shock, notwithstanding the circumstance of the passing on – whether through sudden death or after a long confinement due to ill health. And that was the case with the former governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma who bears the title, ‘Maduchin Doma’. He superintended over affairs of Nasarawa State as its second democratically elected governor from May, 29, 2007 to May 28. 2011. He is the second governor of Nasarawa State to pass on since it was carved out from old Plateau State, the first being the very first military administrator of the state who took over the reins of office from its birth in 1996, Wing Commander Ibrahim Abdullahi. There are at the moment two other governors of Nasarawa State still very much alive today, Alhaji Akwe Doma’s predecessor and successor respectively. They are Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu (Sarki Yakin Keffi), the first democratically elected governor of the state and who is also currently the senator representing Nasarawa West district and incumbent Governor Umar Tanko Al-makura who is eying the Nasarawa South senatorial seat upon completion of his tenure in May, 2019.
Alhaji Akwe Doma was originally of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and had in fact contested against Senator Adamu for the governorship and lost. The Sarki Yakin Keffi, an astute politician, wooed him to the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and made him win the party’s primary election that enabled him become the PDP’s governorship flag bearer for the 2007 election. Of course this elicited protests from some of Senator Adamu’s political associates – his then cabinet members et al – who argued that his (Adamu’s) legacy would be better served by picking one of his commissioners, an insider and younger person to succeed him rather than Akwe Doma who was largely considered an outsider and an elderly person. Indeed the protests got to the ears of then President Olusegun Obasanjo whereupon the concerned parties were summoned to the villa for a parley. And one of the other things his opponents complained about to Obasanjo as I gathered bordered on religion and ethnicism which I will rather not talk about in this write up.
Anyway, Senator Adamu as the then incumbent governor campaigned vigorously for Akwe Doma as the PDP’s candidate. He did most of the talking at the campaign rallies that were held across length and breadth of the state’s 13 local government areas, introducing him to the crowd while the flag bearer himself spoke little. And the PDP and its candidate won the election, making Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, the second democratically elected governor of Nasarawa State. But then incumbent Governor Doma could not return for a second and final tenure as he was defeated by the now sitting governor, Alhaji Umar Tanko Al-makura. The late Alhaji Akwe Doma like all governors left his own legacy in Nasarawa State, among which is the Federal University, Lafia which was established during his time.
Reacting to his demise, the Nasarawa State government in a six paragraph statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Mohammed Hassan Abdullahi said, “This is to inform the general public that in the late hours of Tuesday, 6th March, 2018 we received with shock and sense of bereavement but with total submission to the Will of Almighty Allah, the death of our father, His Excellency, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, OON, (Maduchin Doma) the former Governor of Nasarawa State which sad event occurred in Israel on Tuesday, 6th March, 2018 after a protracted illness. The death of Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma is a monumental loss, not only to Doma’s family, Doma traditional council but to all people of Nasarawa State and, indeed, Nigeria at large … During his reign as Governor, he transformed the state to the next level of development through his 13-Point Agenda that encapsulated various areas of socio-economic development. These included Agriculture, Education, Health, Urban Development, Rural Development, Industrialization, Economic Empowerment, Security, Tourism, Solid Mineral Exploration, Civil Service Re-Organization, Housing and Cultural Re-orientation. His legacies as a dynamic leader and astute politician exemplified pragmatism, modesty, integrity, accountability, humility, dedication and commitment to the service of the people of Nasarawa State and humanity at large. He would continue to be remembered by these virtues which have written his name in the sand of history. As we continue to mourn this gem we pray that Almighty Allah will grant the gentle soul of His Excellency, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma Al-jannatul Firdaus”. His predecessor, Senator Adamu also wished him Al-jannatul Firdaus.
Former Nasarawa state deputy governor and also former Information Minister, Hon. Labaran Maku said of him, “Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma OON will be indelible in the history books of this country and Nasarawa State for his exemplary statesmanship and patriotic sacrifices devoid of any parochial interest or agenda. In my early days I followed his track of sacrifice and commitment as Deputy Governor of the then (old) Plateau State towards a better Nigeria and Nasarawa State”.
The State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Yusuf Shehu Usman gives a personal witness thus, “I knew and interacted with the late Aliyu Doma on many occasions since he was in the civil service of Plateau and I bear testimony that he was a man of honour, respect and integrity. He did his best as governor and he positively touched many lives. No human being is perfect and perfection belongs only to the Almighty. Aliyu Doma in his life time like any other human being had his faults, committed his mistakes and stepped on some toes knowingly and unknowingly. Today he is no more. We hope those he might have offended will have the largeness of heart to forgive him and pray for the repose of his soul”. In this connection I must say that I used to have a ‘personal grudge’ against the former governor. In fact sometime last year I had a strong urge to go meet him and pour out my mind to him so to speak. But somehow, my phone calls to him hardly got through and when they did, they were answered by his aides who promised to get back to me but never did. Now that he is gone, I have to expunge that from my heart. We do not speak ill of the dead in our culture. May he be guided to the luminous kingdom of the Almighty GOD.