By Desert Herald
A looming uncertainty is cascading on the political atmosphere of Adamawa State as the Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri-led administration in the state coasts towards its first anniversary.
The usual tradition is that government performance are measured by the amount of resources at its disposal and how such resources was spent and most importantly the priorities that characterize such expenditures during certain periods under review.
But even before such assessment, the public that are being govern can easily compare and contrast between a former government and the incumbent. In Adamawa under Mr. Fintiri who came with tremendous goodwill, such public opinions and assessments are currently not in his favour, DESERT HERALD can report.
In the context of Nigerian democracy and the typical nature of governance under it, the future of governments and its ability to make impact especially at the state level and what it is likely to achieve in the coming years can easily be determined prior and after the ceremonial one year in office where huge public resources are being wasted to spread propaganda and even lies.
Though Mr. Fintiri is fully aware of the challenges of huge public expectations on him and has initially demonstrated the zeal and determination to do the best he could as a leader with grassroots support and potential to win the people’s confidence for a second term when the time comes, he now seems to be distracted and gradually ingnoring, going against the important manifesto he earlier set for himself to succeed.
This is not the opinion of DESERT HERALD alone but virtually that of important stakeholders across political party divide in the state that were interviewed by this paper in the course of filling this report.
The hopes that greeted the fall of Umaru Jibrila Bindow’s government in the 2019 general election is fast turning to gloom, as according to some residents of Adamawa State, the Fintiri-led government is right now showing the prospects if not addressed on time of being the worst in the annals of Adamawa State’s history.
Following what many considered as the former governor’s lackluster performance, executive rascality, failed promises and the promotion of frivolities into state craft, the people of Adamawa who got tired of the numerous shortcomings of Bindow voted him out of power in 2019 and in his place, elected Hon. Fintiri to superintendent the affairs of the state as its new helmsman.
Some factors that worked in favour of Fintiri’s ascension to the Dougirei seat of power as enumerated, have to do with the lackluster performance of Bindow who throughout his tenure behaved like a spoilt child. Even though Mr. Bindow’s performance in terms of delivering developmental infrastructure is fairly commendable, he was to many consumed by the power brokers and political intrigues in his own party and his inability to shrewdly contain such forces. The growing resentment and general disappointment against his own party especially at the federal level was also a stronger factor that made it possible for Mr. Fintiri to emerge despite all odds. It is expected that all will certainly not be well with Governor Fintiri before the eyes of his own people as he must accommodate and patronize even against the interest of those that elected him the interests of few powerful gladiators that facilitated his struggle and defeat of an incumbent Governor.
But most importantly the people, in their decision to appoint Fintiri to lead them, took cognisance of many factors which in their estimation placed Fintiri far above Bindow.
Firstly, many thought that urbane and cosmopolitan Fintiri will make governance more serious and purposeful and will transform it to an instrument upon which the lot of the people will be bettered through robust and well thought out policies that will enhance service delivery and restore the dignity of governance as opposed to the narratives set out by Bindow.
Similarly, many felt that Fintiri, who can well fit into the popular Nigerian refrain of being a “hustler” for hailing from a poor background but through hard work made it to the top of his chosen profession, is better suited to understand the concerns and feelings of the masses.
Thirdly, because of his closeness to better educated people, many in the state were of the view that Fintiri will be better guided to put in place robust policies that will positively affect the lives of all and sundry in the state.
Fourthly, many elected Fintiri with the belief that he will deploy his vast experience and grass root orientation to bear in the discharge of his duties as the governor of the state and thought he will be a better governor than Bindow.
It is worthy to note that unlike Bindow who was born with the proverbial silver spoon, Fintiri through hard work educated himself up to the university level and upon completion, engaged into menial trades including hawking of petrol in jerry cans before providence made him to join politics where he was elected a member representing Madagali Constituency and later became a one-time speaker and also served as acting governor of Adamawa State on two previous occasions.
His performance, in his short eventual stint as acting governor after impeaching governor Murtala Nyako alongside his deputy also endeared him to many especially civil servants in the state whom Fintiri paid a backlog of two months salaries which Nyako’s administration owed them, earning him the sobriquet “ATM”.
Similarly, during his 86 day stint as the acting governor, Mr. Fintiri has carried out a number of road rehabilitation projects especially within the state capital also earning him plaudits in view of the bad road networks bequeathed to the state by the Nyako administration.
The attributes mentioned above, pundits observed, placed Fintiri far above his major contenders including the then Governor Bindow whom he defeated comfortably during the 2019 gubernatorial polls in the state.
But after becoming the substantive governor, Fintiri seems to have lost his steam as close to a year in office, he has not recorded any tangible achievement.
Although allies and political appointees may in public disagree with this argument, many in the state who hitherto thought Fintiri will be a better governor than Bindow will however emphasise that Fintiri’s government is a huge failure.
To be fair to him, Fintiri has procured 60 Hilux vans and 50 motorcycles which he gave to the various security outfits in the state to fight social insecurity occasioned by the activities of some outlaws, popularly called “Yan Shila Boys” who terrorize residents of the state capital.
The governor has also implemented school feeding program in nine pilot secondary schools across the state, implemented free education and also paid students of tertiary institutions scholarship, for the first time in several years.
But opponents of the government dismissed the touted achievements of the government as mere propaganda to score cheap political mileage for putting up an abysmally poor performance.
Disputing the government’s claim, the opponents said the government is merely latching on straws to try to justify its profound failure.
At a parley with newsmen, the publicity secretary of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Ahmed Lawal described the incumbent PDP government as highly discredited and irresponsible for upholding deceit as state craft.
Dissing the government further, Lawal described the touted achievements of PDP government as mere ranting of a dying administration which do not want to accept its shortcomings because of ego.
He noted that the claim of free education by the government is a mere ruse as parents still pay school fees of their children. He also discountenanced the feeding program as a hoax, adding that parents still feed their children. Lawal also debunked the government’s claim to tackle insecurity, saying that at no time the state experienced high spate of crimes than now, as on daily basis, people are being kidnapped while even the “Yan Shilla Boys” which the government falsely claimed to contain are staging a comeback with fury.
Lawal also counseled the government to stop saying that it was paying school fees as that claim may subject the state to ridicule.
“This is a government that pays a paltry N7,500 for polytechnic and FCE students and N15,000 for university students, yet it had the audacity to say it is paying scholarship. This is a huge travesty,” he said.
He noted that what the government is paying cannot even equate to a “meal ticket”, let alone scholarship.
“A decent meal cost about N500 in Nigeria, how many meals will N7,500 or N15,000 buy? Not much but we were being forced to accept that the government is paying a scholarship which is a great disservice,” he added.
Digital vs Audio
While Bindow is renowned for making dodgy promises which he never fulfils earning him the nickname “Digital”, Fintiri on the other hand has made a number of unfulfilled policy statements which have earned him the nickname ” Audio” in the state.
For instance, since his assumption of office, Fintiri could not execute a single capital project despite flagging off of 2,000 housing projects for which he borrowed an estimated N10 billion. The process he followed to secured the loan to many is fraudulent and illegal while the purpose for which it was secured has not even commenced. They criticized the Adamawa State House of Assembly for being rubber stamped and compromising so much for their own benefits.
The governor has also flagged off the construction of two flyover bridges in Yola but as at the time of writing this report, DESERT HERALD can report that nothing was done on the two sites.
Also an 18 Km road network awarded by the government was not executed while another one at Bachure in the state capital was going at a snail speed according to findings by this paper.
But while Fintiri failed to commission any capital project close to a year into his stewardship, Bindow’s political allies noted with glee that their principal around that time has commissioned more than 35 road projects across the state.
“In one year, Bindow has commissioned more than 35 road projects in the state,” an APC stalwart in Yola South, Sani Bello said.
He noted that comparing the APC led government of Bindow and that of PDP government is akin to comparing something with nothing or comparing darkness with light. His critics have also challenged him to disclose to the people of the state how much he exactly got from the Paris Club refund, federal statutory allocation to the state, FG’s intervention to states and the internally generated revenue he got since becoming the Governor. They said when such earnings including the loan he took is computed Adamawa people will then realise that Mr. Fintiri has actually done nothing and that mismanagement, alleged contract inflation has been the hallmark of his almost one year in power.
A government without plan
Apart from the failure of the government to institute developmental strides, another serious undoing of the Fintiri administration as gathered by this paper was its failure to appoint people of goodwill into sensitive positions who can leverage their goodwill to douse tensions when the need arises.
The appointment of Engr. Bashir Ahmed as the Secretary to Adamawa State Government was believed to be the worst undoing by the governor akin to committing a political suicide.
Reports indicated that Ahmed was the worst person to occupy such sensitive position in the checkered political history of the state as he lacked the attitude, maturity, composure and level headedness to use the office to curry favours to the government.
Some people close to the SSG believed that he may be suffering from mental ill health as they said his erratic behavior always gave him away.
“The SSG has an erratic belief that he is the best in this world. The only persons he defer to are the Governor and his political godfather, Professor Liman Tukur, who was instrumental to his appointment.
“The man, to many, is a psychopath but most people believed he is ensnared by ego to the extent that he does not have respect for anyone including respected elders of Yola North Local Government where he hails from.
“Most people are afraid to be on the wrong side of the SSG for the fear of his erratic behavior as he can be most mercurial at times least expected. That is the much I can say about him for now,” the source confided.
Another important appointee of the Governor who may turn out to be a huge baggage to the governor at the time of need is the Chief of Staff, Professor Maxwell Gidado.
Although Gidado does not suffer any imbalance, his being economical with his resources that should endear him to the right stakeholders across the state is his major undoing. The politics that endeared Mr. Fintiri to the people of Adamawa State is largely his large heart and generosity to give as much as he can to the people. It is expected that as a grassroots politician, the people he will appoint in sensitive and ‘lucrative’ offices such as that of the SSG, CoS, Commissioners of Finance, Works and Local Governments should not be only politicians that were in touch with the people but appointees that will used their offices to assist as many people as possible on behalf of the Governor. But that is for now lacking in the administration of Mr. Fintiri and is certainly one of the major reasons why resentment against the government as it clocks one year is increasing.
Whenever the political stakes are high, many analysts believe that the governor will have to swim the troubled political waters alone, as the SSG, the chief of staff and the commissioners seem to lack the goodwill and the grip on the polity to bail him out.
What remains to be seen in the years ahead is whether the Governor will realised the political dangers of appointing political liabilities into a supposedly people’s orientated government and effect the necessary changes in his own interest before time comes.
With additional report from Mansur Ibrahim Yakasai