Adamawa State and the Burden of a Governor
I wondered to myself, is there no governor in Adamawa State ? For more than four years I have lived and worked in Yola, Adamawa state. Daily, I see the agony of living in this state that has produced some of the most influential Nigerians of our time—Atiku
Abubakar , Jubril Aminu, Bamanga Tukur, Gambo Jimeta, Nuhu Ribadu, Buba Marwa, Ahmed Joda, to mention a few. I have been writing about Nigeria , Africa , and the entire black race for quite some time, yet, I cannot remember seeing evidence of concerted efforts by the intellectuals of Adamawa state to draw attention to the ineptitude and travesty of governance that is typified by Adamawa state governments over the years. Is this state cursed? I cannot hold my peace anymore; I must speak at this time. I am a resident of Adamawa state, and hence, I believe I am indebted to the government of Adamawa state to point the finger because the time and conditions demand so. The current governor of Adamawa state is called Murtala Nyako, an ex-military man, a farmer, and a very poor governor. What amazes me is that he knows no shame. Let me give a narrative of life in Yola town, the capital of Adamawa state.
When you drive from the South through the gate leading into Yola, the newly paved road from Numan (a town about 40 kilometres from Yola) shoots in by about 3 kilometres. Just beyond the airport gate you come across a heavily damaged road, which looks like it has been bombed in wartime. The Numan-Yola road has been built by the federal government only recently. I remember the first time I drove on the road with my family in 2006, my wife was horrified. The road from the Yola gate up to the Yola bye-pass (where the American university is situated) is the major road in Yola, a town of about 600,000 inhabitants only. If you drive on this government-forsaken road, you will wonder if governor Nyako does not know about its devious state; devious, because it is a trap for road vehicles. But this is the road that splits up at the police roundabout to the governor's house. It is a tragedy!
In the daytime, you will also see streetlight poles on the road median; but don't be deceived, they have no use for the night. Not a single one of them functions, not even the ones that line the road down to the governor's house. It is pitch dark on this major road, just as it is on ALL roads in Yola and Jimeta. In the night, if you drive outside the fence of the governor's house, although it is very dark outside, you would see some street lights within the premises. So, Governor Nyako knows the use for streetlights after all! What utter selfishness, and yet what ignorance!
I cast my vote for Governor Nyako in 2007. While the election was in dispute, the governor deceived us with motions without movement. In fact, Professor Dora Akunyili was evidently pleased when she came visiting that year. Then there was a re-run of the disputed election and Nyako was again declared winner. He has gone to sleep since then. What have angered me are the lies that I see on some billboards put up by the governor chronicling some achievements, which are just not there. I have told those who care to listen that should Nyako be voted in again as governor in a free and fair election next year, then Adamawa people deserve to suffer yet more.
Yola is an eye sore; trash is common. If you visited Yola four years ago, and visited again this month, you would find the town severely worse off in terms of environmental decay, poor services, and general attention. It is here in Yola that I saw them patch up potholes with cement (and that is when an important event is happening in the town)! This makes the potholes worse when the cement wears off no sooner than it is laid. Town planning is absent even as houses cluster together in awkward orientations that close up dirt streets that dot this ugly town; water pipes laid many years ago have been broken, blocked, or are rusting away since water never runs through them. You would see young boys, who should be in school, hawking exposed meat on the road side, with flies milling around and feasting on those red chunks. There is no recreation in Yola. In fact, to sum up things, there is hopelessness in this state. And strangely, the people are quiet; they seem to lose the courage to stand up to this man's incompetence, lack of vision, lack of passion, and lack of perception. Few days ago, as I drove on one of Yola's terrible roads and spent a great deal of utmost attention dodging potholes and yawning craters on the road, I came across a huge billboard bearing a large photo of Nyako. I gazed intently into his face while being careful that I did not burst a tyre on one of the piles of dried tar that congealed on the road. What was I searching for? I wanted to see if there was some sign of vision in his eyes.
For months, this governor has owed Adamawa civil servants their salaries, which are a pittance after all. I learned that he said whenever the workers were tired they would resume work. Morale is down! Governor Nyako has employed thousands of 'advisors'. He must be getting terrible advice! Recently, he boasted how his farm has generated more than 3 billion naira! But how much of internally-generated revenue has he raised for Adamawa state? I have driven on the road to the governor's hometown too. It is not different from Yola roads. The state of public education is terrible. Many young boys and girls are out of school. The governor has permitted young men to sell liquid fuel along roads within the town. He kicked against attempts to stop this dangerous business. According to him, that was dividends of democracy! The easy availability of fuel in Nigeria has not discouraged those young men who thrive on dislocation in the supply chain.
Recently, I learned that the governor approved billions of naira for construction of a road network in a part of Yola town called Shagari Quarters, which is off the major road I have written about above. I asked why he would neglect a major road and build a road network in Shagari village. (Before you could drive on this new road network, you must endure the harrowing experience of plying the terrible Yola gate-Yola bye-pass road). I was told that the governor got many votes in the Shagari area in the last governorship election; I marvelled. I would advise residents of other parts of Yola that have been neglected by Nyako to vote out this man in 2011.
Governor Boni Haruna, Nyako's predecessor, did not accomplish any development milestones for Yola during his time. Nyako has done worse. A governor must think about the welfare of his people. This governor has no clue. I had written in 2007 about the possibility of buying electricity from Lagdo dam for Adamawa state and other states. For some time it appeared that Governor Nyako was contemplating this line of action. In February 2009, I was driving to the Fombina radio station for a radio program 'Grassroots'. The governor was asked on this station about progress on the transmission of electricity from Lagdo Dam to Adamawa state. He answered that 'discussions are going on with the Cameroonian government.' It is almost two years since he made that statement, and surely discussions must still be going on. Electricity supply in Adamawa state is very poor indeed. Yes, I know that in many parts of Nigeria , the situation may be similar. But I may disagree. In my town Gboko, Benue state, the supply is far better. What happens in Yola, in particular, is that the 'big men' that are in the governor's good books are placed on 'hotline'; those enjoy quite better electricity supply. The unfortunate folks in the town could pine away in the dark, the governor does not care.
I believe that should the governor of my state ( Benue state) be seconded to Adamawa state, the people would wonder whether he is a magician. Benue state gets about the same monthly allocation from the federation account. The two states were created the same year (the original Benue and Gongola states). The young Governor Suswam has embarked on massive water works across his state of Benue ; high-quality roads are being built, both in the towns and villages across the state; you can't compare Makurdi with Yola (they are miles apart in development, orderliness, and beauty); there is considerable investment in Education, health etc. Yet, I still criticize my governor (Suswam). Since I voted for Governor Nyako in 2007 and not for the governor of Benue state, I must awaken Nyako to his egregious neglect of my beloved Adamawa state. Whatever opportunities I have got, I shall shout about this. Nyako is a burden to Adamawa state. If he does not wake up and appease for his wastage, we must vote him out in 2011!
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria and President of the Nigeria Rally Movement (www.nigeriarally.org ).
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