Opinion: The Albatross on Bindow's ambition by James Dauda

Opinion: The Albatross on Bindow's ambition by James Dauda

Editor's note: James Dauda a public affairs commentator in Yola writes on the politics of Adamawa state and the implication of the recent defection of a former vice president Atiku Abubakar and Senator Abdul-Azeez Nyako from the ruling party.

Dauda also highlights the challenges to be faced by the governor of the state in the ongoing political crisis.

As 2019 draws nearer and the political shadow games gradually crystallises, it is now becoming clear that the political atmosphere in Adamawa would not be as favourable to some aspirants and indeed candidates as it was in 2015.

Adamawa state has a peculiar political setting that is not tenable anywhere else. Indeed, Adamawa is a mini Nigeria, with high net worth political stakeholders playing Russian roulette, and the political battlegrounds shifts like quick sands.

Governor Bindow in spite of his achievements, in areas of roads reconstruction, is being confronted with some many challenges today with barely a year to the end of his mandate, that it is no longer a sure thing that he might win back his mandate in 2019.

Bindow is faced with a myriad of challenges and obstacles, some, as a matter of fact self inflicted. Bindow's inability to sustain political association with any of the major blocks in the state, is eventually turning to be his major Achilles heel.

He had rode to power on the platform of the former governor Murtala Nyako in 2015 , only to ditch the group for the platform of the former vice president Atiku Abubakar.

He had claimed then that Atiku spent over N500million on his governorship elections, a claim which had irked not only the Nyako group but also the Buhari Presidency.

But with the exit of Atiku out of the APC back in to the PDP, Bindow is like an orphan in the APC as he is viewed with suspicion by all the major groupings in the APC structures in the state.

Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama, a political chieftain on the Nyako platform described Bindow as an unreliable person, who cannot be trusted. "We brought him to power only for him to ditch us. We spent our money and political capital."

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Today the Nyako group, a formidable political machine, is waiting to have their pound of flesh. As a matter of fact , the group has moved out enmasse to the African Democratic Congress, ADC. An emergent new party , which is at arrowhead of political alliances geared towards uprooting the APC from power in 2019.

The recent APC elective delegates conference, from the ward to the national level, has exposed the weakness of Bindow with the party leadership in the state, and its fractionalizations in the state. In fact it is not sure if party leadership would go along with him.

As at the time of filing this report, a faction of the party led by Eszra Dimas has approached a Yola based high court seeking to nullify the state congress of the party on grounds of exclusion.

Other stakeholders like the former Secretary to Federal Government, Babachir David Lawal have also disclaimed the congress.

Apart from his tenuous hold on the party structure, Bindow is not on the same page with any of the power blocks in the state. Apart from the Nyako group, he has issues with Gen.Mohammed Marwa .

There are about 5 five major issues confronting the incumbent Governor, Senator Mohammed Bindow that would determine the 2019 elections.

1. Security

The other ethnic minorities are also not too happy with the Governor over the recent spate of farmers/ herders violence rocking the state .

The violence may also count against the Governor. The violence had the mostly christian Bwartye ethnic communities of Demsa, Numan, Lamurde, Girie, local Government areas against the Fulani cattle herders.resulting in carnage , death and destruction.

Although relative is gradually being restored in the affected areas, there is deep seated anger and suspicion against the Bindow for not doing enough to contain the violence.

Some even openly accuse the Government of complicity in the massacre. The Pene da Bwartye, an umbrella socio- cultural association of the Bwartye speaking people and the Christian association of Nigeria, CAN, have carpeted the state and the federal government for its extremely poor handling of the crisis.

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Likewise the Amnesty international report issued in the aftermath of the crisis. The president of Pene da Bwartye, Engineer Griffith Pakai, said that the failure of Government to address cases of violence against farming communities in the past has fueled the current spate of violence.

He stressed that the panel of inquiry set up by the state government, to investigate the root cause of the crisis was just a ruse and a political gimmick.

One major impact of the farmer/herders crisis is the poisoning of the relationship between the APC controlled state and Federal government and the communities, to the extent that it would take a major policy thrust to regain the confidence of the voters to vote candidates of the party in any elections, no matter how strong that candidate might be.

2. Isolation of major political stakeholders

Some of the major political gladiators in the state has expressed annoyance with Bindow over the ways and manner, Bindow runs the state without consulting them. He is almost totally not on the page with any of the powerful voting blocks in the state. This came to the fore right from the inception of his administration,

The Fulanis, a major powerful political ethnic group in the state, have vowed to oust him from power in 2019. They accused him of marginalising them in the power equation in the state.

They point out the fact that in the Governor, Deputy Governor, speaker, deputy speaker, SSG, and the late Chief of staff to Governor, are all minority ethnic groups in the state.

Bindow is of the Njenyi ethnic stock, while his deputy , Martins Babale is Chamba. The SSG, Dr Umar Bindir is a laka(godogodo), while the late COS Abdulrahaman Abba Jimeta was Batta.

Both the speaker and his deputy are also minorities, Speaker Mijinyawa is a Verre, while his deputy Emmanuel Tsamdu is Higgi speaking.

The Fulani's alluded to the recent controversy where the SSG, Bindir said that the Fulani's were the major obstacle to the development of the state, as one insults to many.

They also accused Bindow of being disrespectful to their leaders. The Fulani have vowed to end his tenure at the Dougirie lodge, seat of power in Adamawa. Bindow opponents made much political capital out of his known character flaws, especially when it comes to maintenance and sustenance of relationship.

Only recently the family of the late former Governor of the state, Alhaji Saleh Michika disclosed at his funeral that their patriarch died because the Bindow withheld his entitlements amounting to N40m , when he needed the funds to go to hospitals abroad.

Munir Saleh michika, son to the late Governor was prevailed upon to allow the Governor attend the funeral prayers, as he had sought to bar the Governor.

But he later address the press narrating the circumstances of his father death. Bindow also failed to condole Admiral Murtala Nyako when he lost one of his wives, Hajia Zainab Nyako . an issue which received condemnation across the political spectrum.

The Saleh Michika episode typifies the disconnect between Bindow and the rest of the Adamawa society

3. High debt profile of Adamawa state

Inspite of collecting a total of N193.5 billion from the federation account and allocation committee, in the last three years, [from may 2015 to may 2018] as the states share of the federation remittances, The debt portfolio of Adamawa state has risen from N35.75 billion to N69.7 billion between 2015 to 2018, just within three years.

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The amount translates to a staggering sum of N34 billion debt secured under the current Bindow administration, which is thrice the debt portfolio left behind by governor Murtala Nyako, after his seven year stint.

The amount translates to a staggering sum of N34 billion debt secured under the current Bindow administration, which is thrice the debt portfolio left behind by governor Murtala Nyako, after his seven year stint superintended the illegal removal of Nyako from office in 2014, had in a world press conference accused governor Murtala Nyako of leaving debts to the tune of N12.5 billion behind.

But a report by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative NEITI in 2014, indicated that the state owed the sum of N15 billion including interest accruals, as at the time governor Nyako was impeached.

In between the time Nyako was impeached on July 15, 2014 and May 29, 2015, when governor Umaru Jibrilla was sworn in, the debt portfolio of the state shot to N35.75 billion.

In other words, meaning that the duo of Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Bala Nggilari have secured more than N20 billion loan in eight months, that is OVER N 5 BILLION of what Nyako took in 7 and half years

But Three years after, the state debt portfolio rose exponentially to N69.7 billion, according to a data, provided by the Debt Management Office, (DMO) meaning that under three years, Adamawa state government under Bindow has increased the indebtedness of the state by a staggering N34 billion.

That is doubling the total indebtedness of the state in the last eight years.

The government had secured these loans inspite of the receipt of Paris club refunds and other bailout assistance packages from the federal government, to the tune of N16 billion paid to the state in two tranches.

This is also outside of the internally generated revenue base, IGR of about N13 billion, annually in the period under review.

4. Salary arrears and allowances

Despite the staggering resources that has been accruing to the state, both from the FAAC, bailouts, IGR, and loans, the Bindow administration is indebted to the state civil servants as some category of workers are still owed salary arrears to the tune of six months.

As the time may 2018, local government workers and teachers across the 21 local government council areas are being owed salaries and allowances for about six months. Health and allied workers are also owed salaries and allowances of seven months.

The main civil service workers in the state also being their leave grants for the past three years, although their basic salary is up to date.

5. Integrity

Another challenge confronting Bindow is the issue of integrity. His opponents have been strident in accusing him of amassing wealth through corruptly inflating road contracts and collecting kick backs.

They alluded to the fact that only a selected few labanese contractors have handled over 95% of all the road contracts since 2015.

The critics said he has stifled local contractors and the economy of the state. There was a major uproar in the state, when a picture surfaced on the internet showing Bindow collecting kickback from a Labanese contractor.

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The picture have however been discredited as a photo-shop, by government officials. Martins Dickson, a media aide of Bindow, called it an act of desperation by Bindow's opponent to tarnish the Governor's image.

Limiting government patronage to a close circuit of friends is likely to boomerang against the Bindow administration. Abdullahi Girie, a political stalwart and a major opponent of Bindow challenged Bindow recently to name any person or community that has benefited up to one million naira in empowerment program from the state resources in the last three years.

According to him," there are three persons that are benefiting from the Bindow administration, Mohammed, Umaru, and Jibrilla." The full names of the Governor. Bindowo, has also been accused of awarding several contracts outside budgetary provisions and and without prior house of assembly approvals.

These in itself is an impeachment offence but for the weakness of the assembly.

The Adamawa state Govt has also been dening allegations by the opposition political party, the PDP, that it spend N710 million for the visit of president Mohammed Buhari to the state last week.

The state commissioner of finance , Alhaji Mahmud Sani Yunusa said the total amount spend on the presidential is about N60 million Naira.

Yunusa stated that the Governor had deliberately placed a ceiling on the scope of expenditure for the visit.

"Its not true that N710 million was expended for the visit. If we have that kind of money , we would have built more roads. It's balant lies."

But the opposition PDP organising secretary. (Name withheld) accused the state government of spending N710 million for the three hour visit of the President to Yola, the state capital

They alleged that N105 naira was spend on a especially designed Agbada called Bullam , for the presidential entourage. And that over N70 million was used to decorate the banguet hall of the Government house for the visit.

He further alleged that another N200million was said to have been spend to mobilise the security agencies, while the cabinet office under the secretary to state government, headed by DR Umar Bandir SSG , was allocated N150 million for his 45 minutes power point presentation at the event..

Also that about N12 million was expend on live coverage of the visit.

But a source within the cabinet disclosed to pressmen that the figures being quoted was outrageous and certainly not the true situation.

But Mohammed Santuraki, a public analyst based in YOLA, questions the integrity of the APC in even expending N60 million for a 3 hour visit. Santuraki said it was unfortunate for a Party said to be fighting corruption to expend. N60 million and even above for a 3 hour. Visit of a President to open a 2-day Anti- corruption seminar.

It is the height of irresponsibility.

For the Adamawa state to engage in such deflationary behaviors. Santuraki carpeted the state govt for engaging in so many falsehood that one hardly know the true situation on the ground. How can one say there were only 15 keke Napeps on Yola road before the coming of Governor Bindow. There are so many falsehood going round.

But a source close to Adamawa state Govt house disclosed of a nest fisticuffs altercation between some Top Government officials over the money released for the Presidential visit

A source said that the state commissioner of works and Housing was yet to report to her duty post almost two weeks after the Presidential visit.

House of Assembly also of late has been threatening court action against Habu Umar Jibrilla brother to the governor for non-implementation and shabby execution of road rojects awarded to his company “Muraj Construction Company”.

The chairman House Committee on Rural Development Hon. Mohammed Abubakar Maikanti , who spoke to journalist in Yola, described the company’s diversion of N96million as tax deduction from the N200 million counter funding released by the Adamawa state government as fraudulent.

Apart from the awards of contract to his brother, governor Bindow critics are alleging that Bindow is the sole beneficiary of the so called infrastructural development and promised to prove this assertions in due time. They also said ‘Adamawa state is witnessing the worst form of degeneration in the area of human capital development along socio-economic survival of the state .

This coupled with the rumour that he is developing a five star hospitality and holiday resort in the United Arab Emirates. Bindow also has problems within his cabinets and among his core supporters as 2019 encroaches.

Over 6 of his commissioners, close supporters and associates of Atiku Abubakar , may go to the former vice president.

Only recent two commissioners, and 6 members of the Adamawa house of Assembly including the speaker, Mijinyawa, went to Dubai to hold close consultations with the former vice president.

Also the commissioner of local Government and chieftaincy affairs, Kaura Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, is currently, having issues with Governor Bindowo pertaining to illegal deductions from the local government joint account said to amount to over N28 billion, allegedly squirreled away for 2019 elections which the Kuara reportedly said he was dubbed of the funds by fraudsters.

Even as the chairman of the Adamawa chapter of Association of Local government councils, ALGON and Chairman of Fulfore, Barrister Aliyu Wakili Boya, and 6 others, staff of the ministry of local government and accountant General's office , having been regular visitors of the EFCC, in Abuja, over similar deductions from local government joint account said to be excess of over N14 billion.

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Even among the cabinet members are serious rivalries and dissensions.

Some of the commissioners are believed to owe loyalties to outside influences while some compete with each other over Ego. The SSG, BINDIR is believed to be having problems with some cabinet colleagues over his domineering influence and tendencies in the cabinet.

Other cabinet members are also not too comfortable over the comments of the DR Bindir on the demise of the late chief of staff, Abdulrahaman Abba Jimeta, which they described as demeaning and inhuman.

But what would have greater debilitating. effect on Bindow' chances is his tendency to play one supporter against the other. For instance, in Adamawa central senatorial constituency, over four close allies of Bindowo are in the race, each claiming his sponsorship.

Barrister Aliyu Wakili Boya, Engr Umar Suleiman, Hajia Aishat Ahmed are all believed to have been lured in the race against each other by the Governor.

In Adamawa North, where the Governor hailed from, he is said to have drafted Isa Abdullahi Abubakar, Anna Sini, and Dr Belel against the incumbent , Sen Binta masi Garba.

In the south senatorial zone, he has drafted Ahmed Barata in to the race against Moh'Allaah Idi , the incumbent.

Veteran Senator Jonathan ZWINGINA is also in the race and is believed to be closely associated to Bindow.

The fall out of the recriminations in the aftermath of the failed expectations is likely to tell on Bindow chances.

Barr. Tukur Shehu, PDP, ADAMAWA state Chairman, said what is happening is just the law of karma. Bindow is being caught by his intricate web of lies. He (Bindow) likes dribbling, he has dribbled almost everybody and he has succeeded in dribbling himself in to the corner.

He called Bindow unreliable and untrustworthy.

Adding that it was height of deceit for The Bindow administration to spend over N 100 million on holding 3 hour summit on anti corruption.

Can Bindow be beaten in 2019 elections?

Bindow can be defeated inspite of the support of the presidency.

In fact protest votes against the president Buhari might likely lead to his defeat. In other words, presidency support for Bindow is more a liability.

Bindow is a lame duck Governor that can be defeated if his weakness are properly harnessed and capitalized.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.

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