Adamawa state Governor Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has begun a very difficult journey. As a man who came to power via intricate politicking, strange political alliances and strong support from common people, Fintiri will be up against high-wired politics of Adamawa and at the same time laden with expectations from the common man. How he manages these will either further endear him to the people or relegate him to a political loner.
For Fintiri to succeed in the Adamawa’s murky politics, mired in self-seeking interests of political bigwigs, he must balance policies and politics. No governor in Adamawa state succeeds without understanding the balancing of development with playing local politics.
Adamawa’s ‘bigwigs’ will naturally want to have government patronage and political relevance, especially those who feel they pressed some buttions or ere instrumental in Fintiri’s victory over former governor Muhammad UmaruJibrilla Bindow.
Governor Fintiri has five interest groups to accommodate in his government. First, the Adamawa Minority Forum – which is Fintiri’s primary constituency; second, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which has the likes of Professor Jibrin Aminu, Dr Umar Ardo, Chief Joel Madaki, Wilberforce Juta, party executives and others. The third is the Mahmood Halilu Modi group which comprises of Babachir Lawal, Markus Gunduri and the ‘iron lady’, this group is made up of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but they played a very vital role in the victory of Fintiri over Bindow; then the Atiku group, the Nyako group and lastly, the Fulani ethnic group- which is the largest single tribe in Adamawa state.
These groups have differing and sometimes conflicting political and economic interests and this will create huge dilemmas for Fintiri. For instance, the appointment of a Chief of Staff (COS), which still lingers is one of the many dilemmas. It was reported that Fintiri had conceded the position to the PDP; a party very eager to taste power after four years of being in the opposition. Insiders said that the PDP has nominated its state secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Prambe but a particular interest group reportedly kicked against it. With the appointment of Ahmed Bashir, a non-politician and a technocrat as his Secretary to the state government, Fintiri knows that his Chief of Staff (COS) must be thorough-bred politician who will serve as link between his administration and politicians.
The Adamawa Minority Forum and the Christian population- Fintiri’s political base will feel betrayed if they are not factored into calculations. The Nyako group has unique power– its over 100,000 cult-like followers; which broke Bindow’s backbone in the 2019 election make the group indispensable. The Atiku group has unrivaled political structures and large warchest. The Mahmoud Halilu Modi group has the ears of ‘Abuja’; they can, with ease, frustrate a sitting governor in Adamawa. The Adamawa Hausa-Fulani oligarchy- the Kautal Pulaku, controls nearly 85% of the state’s wealth and resources, with the support of their northwest ‘cousins’ they can create a political havoc. Above all, the Adamawa people are still angry with the Bindow’s government’s one-legged development and one-man show. Fintiri will not ignore these frayed nerves; he has to pacify them.
Apart from politics, another challenge Fintiri faces is the mess former governor Bindow left behind- the massive last minute employment into the civil service. This is a tough call for Governor Fintiri. If he blindly sacks the employed youths, he will create a social problem; leaves them, it is economically infeasible and unsustainable for the government. Fintiri will have to use his political intuition to solve the problem.
As a Governor with good education and a future ahead of him, Fintiri needs to define how he wants to be perceived politically by politicians and economically by the common man. To succeed, apart from his regular Special Advisers and Assistants -Fintiri should have three groups of what this writer terms ‘Sideline Advisers’ made up of three to six individuals, who will work on key areas- politics, social investment and infrastructure, while giving a special focus and attention on local government autonomy, education, agriculture, civil service welfare and youth development. These groups will assess their respective portfolios and work together to initiate policies in a balanced way such that implementation places the governor in the good books of both politicians and the masses. This is huge task.
Zayyad I. Muhammad, JImeta, Adamawa State, zayyad.com.ng