Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Governor Bindow’s One-Legged Development

Adamawa State Governor, Senator Muhammad Umaru Jibrilla Bindow is quick to boast that he always optimizes what he has, no matter how meagre, and that is why he has been able to achieve a rare feat in urban road renewal. Indeed Mr. Bindow understands excellently, the artistry of utilization of state’s paltry resources for infrastructural development. Many Adamawa people criticize Governor Bindow’s Weltanschauung of development. In place of parallel system; the governor cherishes “series” approach when it comes to socio-economic development. In Bindow’s Adamawa state- it is all about roads, roads and more roads.

Despite having recorded pockets of success, Mr. Bindow’s approach to development has not favoured the common man; because Adamawa is a rural, poverty-ridden, and backward in education state with most of its citizen relying heavily on farming.

The smiling countenance of Mr. Bindow when he goes round Jimeta-Yola inspecting road constructions depicts that of a 'happy-go-lucky' man, who is totally unknowledgeable about politico-economy issues of a poor, rural and salary-dependent state in Northeast Nigeria. For instance, Mr. Bindow declared a state of emergency on education and healthcare, yet things have not even changed to an appreciable level.

The governor’s opponents believe there are personal gains he gets from road construction, hence his focus on it, though no one has been able to proof this. But, who knows!

There is no doubt Governor Bindow has achieved a feat never achieved by recent governors in Adamawa, in terms of roads construction but the state government needs to change direction and give attention to pressing issues like settling of salaries owed to local government and healthcare workers for 4/5 months. Mr. Bindow’s self acclaimed ingenuity at achieving much with little can be extended to attending to these issues.

Bi-monthly, the governor should keep aside 150-250 million naira for small contracts (drainage construction, boreholes, rehabilitation of class rooms, Jimeta-Yola green beautification, etc). Secondly, a simplex-method programming should be designed aimed at gradually settling the salary owed teachers, health and LGs workers including pension arrears

Apart from this, the Governor Bindow government should, as one of its most important strategies to tackle unemployment in the state, use the Technical and Skills Acquisition Centres in the state for agricultural entrepreneurship programmes for youths. The Government should go into partnership with private sector to establish poultry, fisheries, dairy, snaileries, farms, plantations etc in various locations in the state. This will go a long way to sustain economic growth, as well as encourage the youths. The Technical and Skills Acquisition Centres should be redesigned and retooled for jobs and wealth creation.

Furthermore, the centers should be well funded to serve as ‘Ideas Development Hubs’; ‘Ideas Development’ is an excellent way to create employment for bright youths through the well known concept of: innovate, create, invent and invest. Though experts say it is the most difficult but the most effective way to create long-term employment. Adamawa state churns out thousands of graduates yearly. The Bindow government should see the Skill Acquisition Centers as goldmine and sociopolitical weapon. The centers should be re-energized to function in such a way that it assists graduates with technical skills and entrepreneurship passion to have access to facilities and environment that support thinking for invention and innovation.

In 2019, Governor Bindow will be the man to beat, there is no doubt he deserves a second term. But the governor is extremely unpopular among local government workers, healthcare workers, pensioners and local politicians- especially APC executives from ward to state level. Politics in Adamawa state is like walking on bubbles- it may burst at any time.

Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com 08036070980

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Atiku and the Politics of Waziri Adamawa

The lifetime ambition of former vice president Atiku Abubakar is to be the president of Nigeria and to have absolute control of Adamawa politics. Atiku’s pursuit of this super-ambition dates back to nearly 34 years. When a typical Nigerian politician rises to a new position of traditional power and eminence, he or she becomes more ambitious and starts to seek more political relevance. Today, Atiku is the Waziri Adamawa, simply the second-in-command to the Lamido of Adamawa in the Adamawa Emirate Council.

The ancient Emirate of Adamawa is a very important product of the Sokoto Caliphate. Adamawa was known as "The wild east" of the Caliphate. Its vast highlands were occupied by Fulani settlers, stretching as far as Northern Cameroon and some parts Chad republic. Adamawa Emirate is the most cosmopolitan among the emirates that were products of the Sokoto Caliphate- because it composes diverse ethnic and religious groups. The Adamawa Emirate, despite being a product of the Usman Danfodio Jihad, has non–fulanis Christians holding some important traditional titles.

The title of Waziri Adamawa does attract much political analysis; but with the person of Atiku’s political standing being conferred with the title, some narratives about the title, by default, have assumed political tones. Often, one cannot separate politics from traditional titles; especially when it is in the revered and historically significant emirate like Adamawa.

Many observers were surprised when Atiku was announced the new Waziri; but students of political history were not because the previous holders of the title were of similar class with Atiku in terms of prominence and clout, though, Atiku is in the class of his own in terms of personal wealth.

Many politicians work hard to secure many traditional titles in order to promote their private ambitions in local and national politics. Atiku is not different; he has been immersed in Adamawa politics for a long time. In 1983, Atiku shocked the political scene of the old Gongola state, when he single-handedly donated one million Naira and two vehicles to the Kontigi Movement- the Bamanga Tukur governorship campaign- which Tukur eventually won. While in 1987, during zero party elections, Atiku smartly installed his protégé -Atiku Wakili as Chairman of the old Ganye local government council. Atiku achieved these while he was in not in active politics. In Adamawa politics, Atiku is always in the equation- he is either pulling the strings or those in power see him as the ultimate threat. The current politicians in Adamawa state can be categorized into three- they are either in Atiku’s team, or have left the team, or about to join the team.

In Adamawa politics, Atiku has witnessed moments of successes, failures and disappointments. Thus, he knows that for one to have absolute control of state’s politics- one requires strong war chest, well-established political structure and influence in the traditional class. Atiku seems to have cleverly walked his own path to get the latter in a way never seen before. Atiku also has a good influence on the Chamba chiefdom that has one of largest voting blocs in Adamawa. Though, having strong influence on the traditional class does not necessary mean controlling the voting population- but in many rural settings like Adamawa, fact is emirs, kings and chiefs have influence on their poor subjects. Nevertheless, being the Waziri does not automatically give Atiku the control of the Adamawa polity, because the politics of the state is always determined by some permutations – concessions, give and take and strong political structure, not also forgetting the thorny issues of faith, geography and tongue.

Atiku is well known for his longtime presidential ambition and being politically opportunistic. Atiku, in his calculations may have seen his new traditional title of Waziri as a further inch towards total grip of Adamawa politics and a chance at actualizing his presidential ambition starting from the home front. After all, his previous presidential election outings were marred with very weak home support.

With Buhari’s incumbency and unexplainable strong followership in the north, Tinubu’s tight grip of the southwest, Osinbajo new found footings, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s growing strengths and new bred presidential materials like Governors Aminu Tambuwa and Nasir El-rufai, and the longtime tag of corruption on Atiku’s neck, the game seems over for Atiku. This is the same reason Atiku always flies the ‘Restructuring kite’

Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com 08036070980.