GUEST Column by Zayyad I. Muhammad
Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has formed his cabinet after nearly 7 months in power; he has also conducted local council elections, in which his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won all the 21 chairmanship seats. The Adamawa PDP now revels in power after four years of languish as opposition. The All Progressives Party (APC), on the other hand, is making frantic efforts to put its house in order and face its new role as opposition party for the next four years. In Adamawa today, new power blocs have emerged while the traditional ones have consolidated their grips- both the old and new blocs have clout. Despite becoming the governor by chance in 2014, Governor Fintiri became prominent and politically influential within three months of his political limelight. As a substantive now, Governor Fintiri will certainly try to build a new political structure – use patronage and incumbency to consolidate his grip on power and at the same time, establish his own political empire.
Fintiri’s approach to governance is already pointing to this. If he maintains the momentum, it will be very difficult to dislodge him as a phenomenon in Adamawa politics. First – he reveres power brokers who need assurances of relevance. Second, he is also rewarding old political friendship and loyalists. Third Fintiri is bringing new hands on board to refresh his team. Moreover, he also appears to be bridging the gap with the APC opposition to ensure he remains in the good books of the APC-controlled central government.
For Fintiri, progress made but not without the roadblocks- he’s facing crises of political contradictions. The Adamawa minority forum and the Christian population- Fintiri’s strongest and the most important political base have been showing discontent at being shortchanged; because they were not factored into some of Fintiri’s calculations. On the other hand, the Adamawa Hausa-Fulani oligarchy- the Kautal Pulaku, that controls massive wealth and resources are on conformable seats in Fintiri’s government, even though most of their folks view Fintiri as a product of minority politics. Well to be fair to Fintiri, the Adamawa Minority Forum is yet to present its concrete demands- Most of its demand begins and ends at request for political appointment.
Governor Fintiri has begun a very difficult journey; how he manages these interesting complexities will define his political future. He has to appease some powerful groups in term of government patronage. And, these groups have different and sometimes conflicting political and economic interests. For example Fintiri, has no option than to give former vice president Atiku Abubakar many slots in the government.
Some of Adamawa political interest groups are politically and economically very powerful even outside the state. Fintiri was once a victim of the socio-political ‘powers’ of such groups. They can, at will, create a political ‘havoc’ for Fintiri’s government. However, every Nigerian Governor faces controversy after the formation of his cabinet, because some groups will feel ignored.
Thanks to his father, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako is now, unarguably a force in Adamawa politics – no one can deny it. The Murtala Nyako cult-like followers has proven to be unrelenting in their support. As things are now, the Nyako’s cult-like followers with their political platform, African Democratic Congress (ADC) cannot win elections standing alone but can give victory to a governorship candidate in Adamawa.
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar is today the most advantaged man in Adamawa PDP. Since 1984, he has remained a force in Adamawa politics. Atiku does not have a robust cult-like followership but he is a force to reckon with- he can easily frighten his opponents with his age-long political influence and affluence. In Adamawa local politics, Atiku is always in the equation – he is either pulling the strings or being a threat.
Factoring Adamawa politics is incomplete without understanding the influential interplay of individuals, like Bamanga Tukur, Professor Jibril Amin, Boni Haruna, Umaru Bindow, David Lawal Babachir, Aisha Buhari, Mahmood Halilu Modi, Boss Mustapha and Dr. Umar Ardo. Ardo has formed factional wing of the PDP- Reformed-PDP. Ardo’s game plan may not be obvious now, but the PDP and the Fintiri government may be shocked if they take it lightly. SGF Boss’ smart calculations for governorship or Vice Presidency may be marred by his error of not forming a strong team both at home and outside- using the north and Adamawa as his starting point.
At his home base; he lacks the political strength. In his native Hong LGA, he does not command grassroots grip. In Yola North LGA, his supposed birth place, he does not enjoy the ‘homeboy’ status. In Adamawa as a whole, he does not have the political structures. In the North in general, he has not built the friendship using patronage.
Zayyad I. Muhammad Writes from Jimeta, Adamawa state