Given that former Governor Murtala Nyako was removed from office by the convergence of many conspiracies, it is no surprise that the election to replace him is equally laced with many intrigues, the latest of which is the script to shove Nuhu Ribadu as the favoured candidate of the ruling party ahead of those who conspired against Nyako and his erstwhile deputy, Bala Ngilari
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The acting governor of Adamawa State, Alhaji Umaru Fintiri was central to the conspiracies that led to the removal of Murtala Nyako from office last month. As speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, he was the one presiding when the “resignation letter” of the erstwhile deputy governor, Mr. Bala Ngialri was read and “accepted”. It was that resignation that paved way for Mr. Fintiri to step in and take the office of acting governor of the state. However, many of those who conspired with him never imagined that Fintiri would go beyond the script of acting governor to contest the office of governor.
Speaking to newsmen at the weekend, former political adviser to the president, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak chastised the acting governor in very strong words saying that it was against precedence and the constitution for him, Fintiri as acting governor to engage himself in the gubernatorial contest.
“The Constitution is clear. He is not supposed to contest this bye-election because apart from the letters of the constitution by implication, he is supposed not to participate as he has no moral right”
Fintiri’s desperation for the office according to some, is the reason behind some outlandish measures he has recently taken such as the appointment of 50 special assistants and the spate of populist measures being adopted by the new acting ‘administration’.
Last weekend, the acting governor flagged off the sale of fertilisers at N2,800 per bag, well below the N5,500 the product is presently selling in the open market. Those close to Fintiri say the acting governor is determined to achieve his aim of becoming the substantive governor, not least, after having served as acting governor three times.
But his ambition according to sources is facing strong opposition from other stakeholders who are bent on stopping him. One channel of opposition it was learnt, is to intimidate the acting governor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. It is also not inconvenient that the chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Lamorde is from Adamawa State.
Another weapon to get rid of what some allege as the Fintiri trouble is to use the court to restore Ngilari as governor. Ngilari had gone to court on the basis of the claim that the letter of resignation was coerced from him and wrongly submitted to the state House of Assembly instead of to Nyako who was governor at that time.
Fintiri last weekend inaugurated a 20 man campaign committee headed by the veteran politician, Senator Jonathan Zwingina to push his aspiration.
Fintiri’s effort nonetheless, the enthusiasm behind the Ribadu campaign despite mounting opposition was at the weekend still building up. Ribadu who was egged into the race allegedly by a close friend of his in the presidency, Hassan Tukur, is said to be backed by one of Africa’s richest men and reportedly, by the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu`azu.
That enthusiasm for Ribadu is, however, not getting the universal approval of the party hierarchy in Abuja and in Adamawa.
Influential members of the National Working Committee, NWC such as Olisa Metuh and Uche Secondus some sources allege, have taken different positions with Mu`azu and are said to be rooting for other strong aspirants in the race.
As part of the intrigues playing out in the contest, a top party chieftain at the national secretariat had directed the state chairman to write a formal request for a waiver for Ribadu to enable him contest the gubernatorial primary. However, the Adamawa chairman, however, played a fast one on the PDP national chieftain by writing a letter in which he placed Buba Marwa and Markus Gindiri, – two major contenders who recently returned to the PDP – ahead of Ribadu.
The conspiracy shadowing the contest deepened when the PDP NWC met last Wednesday and against much expectation did not discuss the issue of waiver for the trio of Ribadu, Gundiri and Marwa.
Sources at the meeting disclosed that the failure of the NWC to consider the waiver for the three was because the letter from the Adamawa State chairman grew wings and disappeared just before the commencement of the NWC meeting last Wednesday.
Given that the NWC was not expected to meet again till tomorrow, well past the deadline for the submission of the nomination forms which was yesterday, Monday, it was much feared that the failure to grant a waiver last Wednesday could mean the end of Ribadu’s aspiration.
However, sources told Vanguard that the waiver demand could be considered at any time before the primary due on September 6.
Meanwhile, the letter from the Adamawa State chairman has mysteriously surfaced, dependable sources revealed to Vanguard bringing hope to the Ribadu camp.
Ribadu’s supporters are, however, not totally ignorant of the strong objection by Adamawa PDP stakeholders against his aspiration. That strong objection is the basis of hope for some other aspirants including Ahmed Modibo, the former executive secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC. Modibo it was learnt, is believed to have the strong support of the Lamido Adamawa, as he is a title holder of the emirate.
Modibo’s selling point is that he is a neutral man who may not have the political baggage that may be associated with many of the other aspirants.
Also going for Modibo just like Ribadu is the zoning factor. The two men are from Adamawa Central, the only senatorial zone that is yet to produce a governor for the state in the Fourth Republic.
Nyako, the immediate past governor of the state is from Adamawa South while the governor before him, Boni Haruna is from Adamawa North.
Another major aspirant, Umar Ardo, a former aide of Atiku Abubakar, was the face of the Adamawa stakeholders while the conspiracy against Nyako was in brew. However, following Nyako’s exit, many of those stakeholders have gone their separate ways and the prospects and punch with which Ardo expressed himself have noticeably ebbed.
Even if Atiku is not a member of the PDP, it is considered foolhardy to believe that he would not like to influence the outcome of the PDP primary and Ardo would certainly not be top in his consideration.
Dr. Idi Hong, another aspirant from Adamawa Central was brought to political prominence by Senator Jibril Aminu who he served as a personal assistant before his appointment as a minister. Hong who is a medical doctor just like Senator Aminu would obviously have gone far, but Senator Aminu’s political muscles have considerable weakened over the last seven years that Dr. Hong is believed to be also recruiting other major stakeholders to give support to his ambition.
However, those stakeholders who were grieved by the way and manner Senator Aminu carried while he led the party in the past may see this time as an opportunity to pay him back by hitting at his godson.
One of the most conspicuous names among the contenders is General Buba Marwa, the former governor of Lagos and Borno States. Marwa, just like Ribadu, has been flayed for his seeming desperation. Many are at pains to understand why his onetime laudable presidential dreams turned into provincial aspirations.
The main challenge for Marwa is the fact that he comes from one of the smallest ethnic groups in the state and it is a serious factor that weighed against his past aspirations and how he hopes to overcome the issue remains an issue.
One candidate that is drawing much critical appraisal is Marcus Gindiri, the 2011 gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Gindiri is believed to have the most formidable structure and support of all the candidates in the PDP, but many people believe that he would be denied the opportunity of slugging it out in the PDP.
Gindiri fled from the camp of the APC few weeks after Nyako entered the party. Now there is much talk around Adamawa that with the entry of Ribadu into the PDP that he could go back to the APC which some say would be too pleased to give him an opportunity to vie for the ticket.
If Gindiri returns to the APC his path would cross those of some other candidates who are said to be already lobbying for the APC ticket. Among them are Senators Gindo Jubrilla (Adamawa North) and Ahmed Bareta (Adamawa South). Mr. Boss Mustapha, one of the closest political associates of Atiku is also alleged to be warming up for the contest.
There is little doubt that with Nyako out of the way that Atiku remains the biggest player in the state chapter of the APC. Nyako’s exit from the party has even made it better for him. One of the reasons said to be behind Ribadu’s exit was that he felt at odds with Atiku in the same party given their past differences and hard words against one another while they were in government.
So, Atiku is expected to move with great caution given the major issues on hand. He would be careful to allow the emergence of a very strong candidate to checkmate Ribadu if the indications show that Ribadu would win the PDP primaries. Secondly, he would be fighting to secure his base ahead of the APC presidential primaries and banish insinuations that he is a prophet without honour at home.