ISSUES AND INTRIGUES AS ADAMAWA VOTES
BY UMAR YUSUF
AHMADU Umaru Fintiri, 44, Acting Governor of Adamawa State was the Speaker of the State House of Assembly until January 26, 2012 when he assumed his current position following the Supreme Court judgment that sacked five governors across the country, including erstwhile Governor Murtala Nyako.
Before Fintiri emerged as speaker, he was the Majority Leader of the 25-member Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - dominated House with Hon Sadiq Ibrahim as the Speaker. Ibrahim and his former Deputy, Mrs. Wale Fwa, the only female legislator to have held that position in the history of the House, were impeached for alleged incompetence leading to the emergence of Fintiri and Kamoti La'ore as speaker and deputy speaker respectively.
Speaker disallowed from speaking
However, for 53 consecutive legislative days, Fintiri and La'ore neither presided over House proceedings nor entered the premises of the Assembly complex just like the other 23 legislators.
The House was locked following a political squabble between the legislative and executive arms over Ibrahim and Fwa's impeachment. Armed political thugs loyal to the two parties stationed themselves at the Assembly complex with the road as the battle line as security men watched them from afar.
The complex was re-opened on January 26 following the Supreme Court landmark judgment that sacked Nyako and four others. Moments after the court verdict, indications emerged that Fintiri, the then embattled Speaker would emerge as the acting governor forcing the executive arm to re-open the Assembly.
Fintiri's former deputy, Kamoti L'aori was immediately sworn-in as the Acting Speaker of the House, while the Acting Governor took his oath of office the following day.
Fintiri's first steps as acting gov: In his maiden broadcast to the people of the state, the Acting Governor expressed displeasure over the trauma the House went through in the hands of the executive arm. The maiden broadcast also dwelt extensively on the current security challenges facing the country and Adamawa State in particular and assured the people of the safety of their lives and property.
Governor Nyako and Marawa
Apparently showing his anger over the blockage of the House of Assembly for months, Fintiri appointed a former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governorship aspirant, in the botched 2011 election in the state, Professor Abdullahi Liman Tukur, as the secretary to the state government, SSG.
Will Fintiri retaliate?
Tukur's appointment gave room for speculations that the transitional government is out for a spoiler for Nyako and PDP as the state prepares for the governorship election given the feud between the executive and legislative arms under Nyako's administration. Nyako remains the PDP candidate for tomorrow's election.
Sources said the state chapter of the ruling PDP was not taking the issues lightly and had petitioned its national secretariat over the Acting Governor's alleged romance with the ACN. Insiders said Fintiri was summoned to Abuja and was allegedly warned of the consequences of the seemingly retaliatory posture of his government to the PDP and its candidate in the election.
A stakeholders meeting was then summoned where the acting governor was said to have assured that he would work for the success of the party and its candidate in the February 4 election.
However, PDP stakeholders, especially those in Nyako's camp were still skeptical of Fintiri's assurances to work for the party and its candidate. They feared that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) might shift the election date, a move that would give Fintiri more legroom to undo Nyako's ambition of returning to the Government House.
Fintiri disappointed: However, as INEC insisted that the polls would hold on February 4 as earlier scheduled, the acting governor's camp felt short changed and unhappy. Reason: the winner of the election would be sworn-in within six hours after the official results. This means that the acting governor might spend only one or two weeks in office against the expected three months.
Chances of contestants
Ahead of tomorrow's polls, the contestants have upped preparations and have perfected strategies to emerge tops. A peep into their camps indicates that an interesting political race will hold today, in Adamawa.
Given the political clout of the candidates and their parties, tomorrow's contest is expected to be a three-horse race among Nyako of the PDP, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Gundiri Markus of the ACN.
MURTALA NYAKO - PDP
Will the sack of Nyako as governor two weeks to the election affect his chances of returning to the Government House in Yola? Nyako's camp boasts that the former governor would win more convincingly while out of office than when in office. According to them, the victory would be more convincing because Nyako would not be accused of using the instrument of office as a sitting Governor or incumbency factor to win the election.
MARWA - CPC
Marwa is capitalizing on Nyako's sack to coast home to victory. Marwa's associates say without incumbency factor, they would beat Nyako tomorrow because 'he has lost all the relevant values to win the forthcoming election even as the instrument of office which will in no small measure assist Nyako to win the election is no longer there.'
GUNDIRI MARKUS -ACN
The candidate too believes he will win the forthcoming poll based on the conviction that Nyako had been sent packing. He believes that with the level of his campaign to all the nook and cranny of the state, victory was at his finger tips.
ZAINAB KWONCHI - ADC
Being the only female candidate among the contestants, Kwonchi believes she will emerge victorious in the election. Dr Kwomchi is also banking on the fact that as one-time member of the kitchen cabinet of the Nyako' administration, she knows the former governor's weak points and would exploit them to her advantage.
However, if Nyako and Fintiri work closely and sink their differences, political pundits say the PDP candidate would have an edge over his arch rivals.