(By Abba Mahmood)
“Politically, Adamawa is very strategic in Nigeria. No one has ever been president or prime minister of Nigeria since independence without winning in Adamawa. Even in 1979 when Adamawa, then Gongola, voted for a governor from the opposition Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), the state went ahead to elect President Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) overwhelmingly during the presidential election. So, one doesn’t joke with Adamawa if one is serious about winning elections in Nigeria“.
Adamawa is a unique state in Nigeria. Anyone looking for a practical expression of unity in diversity should go to Adamawa. Here is a state where there are over 80 ethnic groups yet there is peace and harmony. Virtually everyone is related directly or indirectly to the other because the integration process has been on for centuries. All members of the elite can speak Hausa and virtually everyone can speak Fulfulde, the Fulani language. In one family, one can get children of the same father and mother professing different faiths, yet there is no quarrel or tension. Adamawa is a mini Nigeria.
Politically, Adamawa is very strategic in Nigeria. No one has ever been president or prime minister of Nigeria since independence without winning in Adamawa. Even in 1979 when Adamawa, then Gongola, voted for a governor from the opposition Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), the state went ahead to elect President Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) overwhelmingly during the presidential election. So, one doesn’t joke with Adamawa if one is serious about winning elections in Nigeria.
Loyalty is in the second nature of the people of Adamawa State. The late Alhaji Mahmudu Ribadu, Nigeria’s first defence minister and deputy prime minister at independence, was loyal to both Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, his political leaders and associates, until he died in May 1965. Atiku Abubakar was loyal to his political mentor, the late Gen. Shehu YarAdua, and to President Obasanjo until Obasanjo tried to go for a third term. Governor Boni Haruna was loyal to Atiku till the end of his governorship, and if he had elected to betray him he would have got oil blocks. Adamawa has produced many generals, air marshals and admirals but none ever overthrew any government.
In the build-up to the 2011 presidential election, the Adamawa establishment, regardless of religion or ethnicity, came together and decided to support President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential election. That was how Prof. Jubril Aminu, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, Ambassador Wilberforce Juta, Ambassador Hassan Adamu, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, General Halidu Anthony Hananiya, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman as well as Governor Nyako came out fully in support of President Jonathan and rejected their son, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was contesting for the presidency under the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and son-in-law General Muhammadu Buhari who was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Jonathan won almost two-thirds of the votes cast in that election in the state.
With the resignation of Deputy Governor Bala Ngilari and the impeachment of Governor Nyako, Adamawa State is set to elect a new governor in October this year. Many aspirants have started coming out in the two main political parties – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). The elders of Adamawa are also watching to see who among these has the requisite experience, exposure and expertise to clear the augean stable and set the state back on the road of admirable stability and sustainable prosperity.
The earliest person to come out is Gen. Buba Marwa. He is an able administrator who once governed Borno and Lagos states at various times during the military era. Unfortunately for Marwa, he comes from the same local government of Michika as Saleh Michika and Boni Haruna, two past governors of the state. He also comes from the same northern senatorial district as Governor Juta and current acting governor Umaru Ahmadu Fintiri. Marwa was a presidential aspirant in 2007 and a governorship candidate in Adamawa when he came a distant third place in the last governorship election.
Another aspirant is Dr Umar Ardo, who was special assistant to Vice President Atiku. Ardo is an academic who sustained the struggle against Nyako for long. But, unfortunately for him, he comes from the same senatorial district of Adamawa South as the impeached governor Nyako who ruled for over seven years. There is a strong consensus that the next governor of Adamawa should come from the Central zone which has never produced any governor of the state before. Thus, it is difficult for anyone from the northern and southern zones to sell his or her candidature now.
There are strong indicators coming out from the state which point to the fact that the speaker of the State House of Assembly who is now the acting governor, Hon. Umaru Ahmadu Fintiri, is also interested in contesting for the governorship of the state. Acting governor Fintiri is an Atiku loyalist. That was why he followed Atiku to the Action Congress (AC) in 2007 and even contested under that platform that year. And that is why Fintiri appointed Atiku’s special assistant on legal matters, Prof. Maxwell Gidado, as his chief of staff. If Fintiri actually comes out, it will send the signals that he actually impeached Nyako for personal reasons and not in the interest of the state, which makes it morally indefensible and politically incomprehensible. Besides, Fintiri comes from Adamawa north which has been consistently producing governors for the state since its creation except for the Nyako interregnum.
There are other aspirants but the next serious contender is Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Ribadu comes from a very strong political family. A few months after joining politics, he became the candidate who contested for the presidential election under the umbrella of the ACN in 2011. He got over two million votes across Nigeria which was more than twice what Governor Shekarau of Kano who contested under the ANPP got. He came third in that election after President Jonathan and General Buhari. He is from Adamawa Central zone that never produced any governor in the state before.
The people of Adamawa are looking at their current predicament and who has the potential to help them out. There is so much corruption in the system and Ribadu is known worldwide for his fight against corruption. There is so much insecurity such that Adamawa is one of the states under emergency for over a year now and Ribadu was a security officer, having been a policeman for almost a quarter of a century. There is so much lawlessness and Ribadu is a reputable lawyer who will fix the system. Besides, his enormous goodwill and network across Nigeria and around the world will attract investors and development to the state. These are the considerations that make the elders and people of Adamawa request Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to come home and lay a solid foundation for the development of a model Adamawa State before anything else. After all, charity begins at home. History is on the side of the oppressed.
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