Adamawa state Governor, Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow’s 100 days in office were full of some good starts and quite a number of faulty ones. Political interests, godfathers’ influence and the lack of a well-mapped development strategy were responsible for some of Bindow’s faulty starts.
If in the next 100 days, Bindow does not take good steps to be more tough, he will find himself in the shoes of his predecessor- a ‘curse’ attached to the politics of governing Adamawa state in the current democracy. For instance, Governor Boni Haruna started very well- had good plans for the civil service, representative government and a well-mapped out strategy to finish uncompleted and abandoned projects, but his government ended in confusion and regrets. Governor Murtala Nyako likewise, started on an excellent track- massive urban roads rehabilitation and construction, enjoyed impressive public goodwill and Nyako promised to fight corruption and poverty. Unfortunately, Nyako’s 7 years were enmeshed in nepotism and politics-overshadowed-policies. Acting Governor Ahmadu Fintiri also had a splendid start- restoration of meaning of government, but he made some costly political slip-ups. Governor Bala James Ngilari was a bit different. He came through confusion, ran a government full of confusion and lacking in many things that defines and gives meaning to a government.
One of the big mistakes Bindow made was breaking the promise he made to work with less than 10 commissioners to minimize cost of governance- he ended up with 22 commissioners. Adamawa people were disappointed that Governor Bindow did not form a leaner but representative cabinet. People were also irked that Governor Bindow did not appoint a cabinet that is ‘bi-diverse’- policy designers and implementers, and those that would handle the political front.
Furthermore, the governor has not been properly represented as it concerns his publicity. He needs to design a public relations strategy and tame some of his overzealous aides who misrepresent him publicly by announcing government policies just to appear among the governor’s A-list aides.
Governor Bindow made a mistake by letting one of the best hands that could have handled his publicity well; lose out in the commissioner confirmation process. The man has all the credentials to be a commissioner – both from the professional and political angles. He is worth his salts in his career and participated fully at Bindow's campaign rallies. The man was screened out basically for two reasons- both political. In retrospection, a night to the inauguration of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, a deal was agreed that the Member Representing Gombi constituency – Rufa'i Umar will be elected speaker; but in the morning, the scenario changed- Kabir Mijinyawa of Yola South was elected. The political maneuver that took place between that night and the morning was same scheme that took place in the House that screened out the man. Governor Bindow played ‘cool’ politics with the man’s nomination- he gave him with the right hand and snatched it with the left hand. In order not to publicly offend Nyako, Bindow nominated the man, but went behind the doors to ask the state assembly members not to clear him. Though, the man has respectfully disputed the claim that Governor Bindow was behind his rejection by the House of Assembly.
On the development aspect, Governor Bindow is so far, doing well. The hope is that the current massive roads constructions and rehabilitation Adamawa state is witnessing will not overwhelm and stop Governor Bindow from the much-needed rehabilitation of schools, reviving of sound healthcare system, youth empowerment and poverty reduction. All the road projects are concentrated within the Jimeta- Yola axis, while the other 20 LGAs are yet to feel the impact.
Furthermore, Governor Bindow has also committed some avoidable political blunders- the complete sidelining of Nyako’s men who were instrumental to his winning the election; the over concentration of political appointments in the Jimeta-Yola axis- three commissioners, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Head of Service. Some observers had thought the Governor will appoint his SSG from the Numan federation.
Another instance of Bindow’s faulty start is in the area of youth development. The Governor seems to have forgotten that the youths are the largest and most complex segment of Adamawa population- youths occupy over 70% of Adamawa population. Adamawa youths expect Governor Bindow to bring a lot of changes to youth development, in regards to education, sport, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and more importantly, human capital development. The Governor is young, so he should understand and share the youth’s expectations from the government and the society at large.
Governor Bindow could fail woefully if he continues to rely heavily on the monthly federation allocation of the easy petro-dollars. He should improve on IGR collection through blocking leakages, taping on taxes and manageable overhead cost. For instance, there is no reason Adamawa state should shoulder the cost of sustaining over a large numbers of Special Advisers, while ordinary people are living in abject poverty. Governor Bindow should take a cue from Governor Nasir El-Rufa'is biometric verification of workers on kaduna state pay roll.
This will give the state an accurate and reliable database of its workforce, determine the exact amount of money being spent monthly on staff salary, and above all, it will help the state to block leakages and save money for the much-needed infrastructure. Farmers in the state are also unhappy with the Governor- raining season is fully on, yet no fertilizers in the state.
Adamawa people expect Governor Bindow's priorities for the next 100 days to be: education, agriculture, building of basic infrastructure and healing the wounds of Boko Haram devastation. Governor Bindow’s next 100 days should be used to breathe life into Adamawa’s education sector- build new schools, equip old ones and get qualified teachers. Many communities, businesses and individuals have been devastated by Boko Haram senseless war. Governor Bindow should also use the re-development of agricultural land, assisting of artisans, youth empowerment and rebuilding of basic infrastructures as the easiest ways to rehabilitate the communities, restore local economy as well as touch and integrate the lives and livelihood of the thousands of people devastated by the scars of Boko Haram senseless war.
Governor Bindow should consolidate on some of his good starts; but he should first overcome his major obstacles which are the power-hungry politicians; the self-appointed godfathers and kingmakers surrounding him. The state’s huge debts; the dwindling monthly allocation from the easy petro-dollars as well as the peoples’ unrelenting high expectations should also be priority on Mr. Governor’s mind.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08036070980.