Opinion:My fear for Adamawa State under Fintiri’s Govt,by Jalo

Abba Jalo

Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri was elected governor of Adamawa state in the 9th of March 2019 and sworn in on the 29th day of May of the same year. But before his swearing in, he had a short stint as the acting governor of the state from July 2014 – 1 October 2014.

He was illegally drafted into office in acting capacity following the wrongful and unconstitutional impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako, which was later annulled by a Federal High Court, which described the removal of the governor as a nullity.

Adamawa citizens had been reduced to beggars, begging for salaries like the Almajiri in search of food to satisfy his hunger, mainly because of the heated and retrogressive politics exhibited by President GEJ and Governor Murtala Nyako.

In 3 months, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri came in and paid two months outstanding salaries of state and local government workers Which earned him praise by the already impoverished workers of the state that had suffered in the recent past for either lack of payment or irregular payments of their salaries. Unkown to them was that the acting governor had stolen N1.9 billion that was kept in a dedicated account by the Murtala Nyako administration for the establishment of faculty of law in the Adamawa State University, Mubi.

Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri was first arraigned on June 30, 2016 by EFCC on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering, involving N1.9billion alongside Mayim Construction and Properties Limited which was said to be his company. He was also accused of making large cash payment for the purchase of landed property in Abuja during the same period.

It was alleged that Fintiri fraudulently diverted N497 million meant for the construction of a lecture theatre for the Faculty of Law, Adamawa State University, Mubi, laying only the foundation and never completing the project. Certain contracts awarded by Fintiri, including the electrification of Kirshinga Village in Madagali Local Government Area of the state, had no approvals. It was also alleged that he used fraudulent tactics to bleed Adamawa dry one of which includes two phantom road projects-Yola township road and Mararaba Garta. He was also alleged to have repaid a N550 million loan he secured from a bank for the acquisition of a Tea plantation farm from Nigeria Agricultural Bank in Taraba State.

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At any rate, the economy of Adamawa state remains a primitive contraption kept alive by petro dollars coming from Abuja. There’s no plan to consciously boost the internally generated revenues of the state. No wonder we had a recent chairman of the Adamawa state Board of internal revenue who said he didn’t know the number of private schools and hotels we had in the state. So much for land of beauty.

To give you an idea of the gravity of Fintiri’s brazen theft in 3 months. Jolly Nyame of Taraba state who ruled the state from 1999-2007 was accused and subsequently convicted of stealing N1.64 billion in 8 years got jailed for 14 years in prison at first although the sentence was later reduced to 12 years by the supreme court. In Adamawa state an individual that served as acting governor for 3 months stole close to N2billion while millions of Adamawa citizens were wallowing in historic poverty of millennial proportions.
May i need to remind you that it took the EFCC ten years to get a conviction against Nyame, I’d advise against any celebration from the Fintiri camp just yet.

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The federal high court in Abuja on 15 May 2019 adjourned to July 8, 2019 which would be impossible for sitting because the accused person would have been sworn in as the new Adamawa state governor before then and the immunity clause would have taken effect. As it happens, the Nigerian constitution has prevented the court from passing judgment and the EFCC would have to wait for the expiration of his tenure in office before going ahead with his prosecution. So much for giant of Africa.

The law is so bad in Nigerian that serving governors can be pilfering their state resources and be untouchable because of the immunity clause. The constitutional protection from prosecution which the state chief executives enjoy has contributed to the petrifying situation we find ourselves today.

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The EFCC and other anti graft agencies cannot go after governors no matter how large the financial malfeasance. Ordinary Nigerians would have to push for a constitution amendment towards expunging the immunity clause from the constitution. Indeed, such was a typical example in Nigeria, where the president gets blamed for everything while Governors are swimming in the seas of sleaze and unlimited power.

Given the fact that Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri stole N1.9 billion in 3 months when he was acting governor. Adamawa state would lose N30.4billion in 4 years if he was to steal N1.9billion every 3 months as he did when he was in office for only 83 days. For this, I fear for Adamawa state. I fear the state might lose N30.4 billion in 4 years.

If my state governor in three months would steal 1.9 billion public funds, deprive my state university of a law faculty, and use the proceeds to buy a tea manufacturing company that was partly owned by my state, i would have to fear for Adamawa now that he might be at the helm for up to 4 years. I fear for my dear Adamawa State.

Abba Jalo
Opinion writer
Lives in Yola
Adamawa State

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