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Former diplomat and trained political Scientist, Shehu Aliyu Zaria provides insights into the political track records of Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and why believes the lawmaker should join the 2019 Presidential race on the PDP platform. He spoke to our Editor, Nasir Dambatta at Hanwa G.R.A in Zaria, Kaduna State. Excerpts:-
Question: 2019 is fast approaching and makarfi is being touted as presidential candidate. Why is Makarfi being talked about at this point in time?
Well, one cannot divorce Nigerian politics from its many political undercurrents. In 1999 many of us didn’t give makarfi a chance, we erroneously thought he was new to politics. Many people were dazed, when eventually the man became PDP governor of Kaduna state by a landslide. I knew he would spring surprises because I noticed how he set out on his political journey with foul-proof strategies and deep calculations.
What was spectacular about his tenure as Kaduna state governor in the beginning of his foray into politics?
He took so many landmark decisions that changed the perception of people about him being a political novice. He became politically thoroughbred overnight. Much as I knew him, I didn’t know he had his blueprint before going into the governorship race. His manifesto was a masterpiece. I was shocked by the way and manner Makarfi executed all his plans in terms of infrastructure. I could recall that only our father, Balarabe Musa had such a masterpiece of development infrastructure like Makarfi’s. Within the shortest possible time, Makarfi’s infrastructure covered all the nooks and crannies of Kaduna state from villages to Ward levels, stretching through Zone I and II. His strategy, like he would always say, is “look, in politics you don’t say ABC belongs to me, once you ascend to power, understand that power belongs to God and do not discriminate between people of different tribes and religions”. Another thing that convinced me the man was a leader, was during the era of Sharia crisis. He successfully managed the tension of political sharia unlike the kinds of avoidable ethno-religious crisis that engulfed Kaduna during the military era of Dangiwa Umar.
He kept Muslims and Christians united in brotherhood; that was quality leadership. I could recall vividly how some political leaders started borrowing from his policies. So, in terms of ensuring that security fast-tracked development, Makarfi is unbeatable.
Could you give us some specific instances of his performance that makes him eligible for Nigeria’s presidency in 2019?
Well, I give you an example. When he was governor there were so many complains in Kaduna chiefdom. He tactically increased the number of chiefdoms to address the conflicting interest over the chiefdoms. While the life of his administration lasted, peace reigned in all the chiefdoms and everything went well. At a point, some people were complaining that the preceding government was trying to curtail the sphere of influence of emirs, for which he later proved them wrong.
It is also on record that in terms of tackling graduate unemployment in the state, he has made his indelible mark. In terms of his efforts at local government levels, he introduced the Development Area Councils’ policy, through which every Developments Area was accessing N2 million monthly for local infrastructure like culverts and so on, continuously. These infrastructural projects created more jobs for the people.
Throughout Makarfi’s era, the issue of sacking people from the state civil service was non-existent.
Indeed, the state civil service was over-staffed and it was recommended that he should sack some workers to reduce the pressure on the state treasury, but he refused. Instead, he devised new revenue sources to reduce the burden on public treasury. He pursued a rigorous sanitation policy that made Kaduna very clean. Most importantly, by refusing to throw civil servants back into the job marker, Makarfi had demonstrated that the most desirable political leader is one that is sensitive to the feelings of the people.
Still on the religious point of view, even Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was dazed by the way and manner that Makarfi handled Christian/Muslim tensions better than his predecessors. Kaduna has been a complex cosmopolitan and a mini Nigeria, home to former Nigerian leaders and the so called base of Kaduna Mafia;it therefore takes a highly-intelligent and strategically-gifted leader to govern it successfully. At the national level, Makarfi has also made his mark. Let me give you examples………

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