By Babayola M. Toungo
For those who know me, I do not write about personalities – particularly politicians. I do not do so may be because you hardly find any of the breed worth your while. I avoid writing on politicians because most often than not their behaviours and actions are more condemnable than commendable.
If I am to be true to myself, I believe the words I will put to paper may be enough to hang me a thousand times over. But today, I choose to harken to my charitable instinct by writing about his excellency Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, the governor of Adamawa State.
The governor shot out from obscurity on to the Adamawa state political landscape as a fresh-faced state parliamentarian representing his state constituency in the Adamawa State House of Assembly in 2007.
After quickly learning the political ropes and returning to the state House of Assembly for a second term in 2011, he was elected by his peers as one of the principal officers in the House. Shortly thereafter, he was elected as Speaker of the parliament.
The then governor and his lieutenants locked-up the House and vowed to never let Fintiri become the Speaker even if “the sky and the earth” will merge into one. The Adamawa State House of Assembly remained locked-up for 53 days with fierce looking Mobile Policemen enforcing the order.
It took a court judgement which temporarily removed the then governor from office for Fintiri to be sworn-in as a speaker and again sworn-in as acting governor until after an election was held. He acted for all of 12 days. That was his first tutorial in the exercise of executive power.
This was barely five years after he happened on the political scene. His excellency again found himself two years down the line as acting governor after the substantive governor was impeached.
This time he acted for 86 days before the courts removed him. He went back to the House of Assembly, resumed his position as the Speaker of the House, finished his term and then laid low for the next four years.
He hibernated politically. He used this period to plan, strategise and generally insert himself into the PDP at the national level. This was during the period when the PDP was going through turbulent times after finding itself in opposition for the first time since the advent of this political dispensation in 1999.
His luck held as the faction he aligned himself with emerged victorious from the ashes of the internecine war for the soul of the party. This afforded him the opportunity to play a vital role on the selection of the leadership of the party in Adamawa state.
His planning and strategies paid dividends when he emerged his party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2019 and thereafter, was elected the governor of Adamawa state at the 2019 elections.
This may sound like a long-winded story but there are some few lessons here. The doggedness and resilience of the governor paid off even though so many forces – much more powerful than his small frame – have been trying, unsuccessfully though, to pull him down.
I cannot remember any governor, in the political history of the state, who faced so much blackmail and negative local press than Fintiri. Local “griots” have attempted presenting him as an ethnic bigot out to destroy a mythical Fulani hegemony; others have even gone further by introducing a religious card into the fray.
Some insists he had betrayed ‘godfathers’ who gave him a leg-up in his political journey. He surmounted all the hurdles placed in his away to emerge as the numero uno in Adamawa state today.
While his opponents continue to play destructive politics as a way of distracting him from governance, he remained steadfast in the implementation of his campaign manifesto of urban renewal, rural development, and diversification of the economy by fixing the agricultural sector.
His investment in the security architecture has ensured that the state enjoys relative peace which is sine quo non to economic development. Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, in my opinion is destined to play a role in our national politics, our hatred or love for him notwithstanding. He recently chaired the national convention of his party, which to all intents and purposes was a success, knowing the rancorous outcome of such political events in Nigeria. His deft manoeuvring produced the new leadership of party by consensus.
In our current political clime, this will be counted as a notch in his political belt. Ironically, while Fintiri is enriching his political CV, most of our politicians in the state are still stuck in Hateville – still believing they can pull him down by word of mouth.
While the political ‘godfathers’ of Adamawa politics and their minions are still living in a world where they believe Fintiri has betrayed their Capos, the governor is delivering on his electoral promises and building an image as a trustworthy politician. We have seen them in the past and know them by their performance. I strongly believe Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri is destined for a higher calling. Your excellency, this is my way of saying a belated happy birthday.
Toungo can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org