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By Billy Graham Abel Yola
As the 2023 general elections approaches, the Adamawa state political scene has increasingly become tensed, heated and largely unpredictable.
The incubent, Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, is in for an uphill task to retain his office as the opposition party re-strategises to aust the Gov. Fintiri, PDP led government out office.
Gov. Fintiri is the dark horse of the 2019 general elections that toppled the then incubent APC led government of Sen. Umaru Jibrillah Bindow.
The current Adamawa state governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has strong selling points that endeared him first to the people of Adamawa resulting in an overwhelming victory against the then incubent governor, Sen. Jibrillah Bindow. His prowess as an acting governor, he was able to cement his relationship with the civil servants in the state after he inherited a salary backlog of civil servants at both state and local government levels and cleared it within the three months of his stay as the acting governor. That earned him the nickname, “The ATM governor.” This was probably his first step for a possibility to the government house.
It was based on this goodwill that so many Adamawa electorates and residents of Adamawa were easily atuned to his candidacy and the subsequent winning of the 2019 general elections.
With almost three years into his term in office, what can we say are his strongest points that would again earn him a second term in office?
Gov. Fintiri can be easily described as one of the governors in Nigeria that hit the ground running marching his words with his campaign promises. Notably, he promised to return power to the people by setting up an non-existent local government administration. And that he did on assumption into office. First he set up a caretaker that superitended and midwifed the local government political in Adamawa state after the about two years absence. Just doing that alone made the immediate past APC government look bad enough.
Again, just like it was during his three months acting governor tenure, he met months of backlog of salary arrears at both state and local government levels.
Notable among his strong points, he was one of the first governors in Nigeria to set up a local system and libralise local government finances such that monies are being sent to each local government directly without state government interference.
Fintiri, made a strong case for himself by keeping to one of his campaign promises to provide free education for all citizens of Adamawa state. Right now, that has been the reality for all Adamawa indigenes as no school fees or NECO or WAEC fees is paid by any candidate.
More over, he has successfully revived the scholarship payment to Adamawa indigenes at all tertiary education levels in the state, a practice that was not done during the APC led government in the state.
The PDP led government was able to pay up a backlog of four years backlog of counterpart funding for the universal basic education, to drive a comprehensive revamp of infrastructure at in schools across the state.
On the infrastructures level, the governor has been able to make a strong case for his re-election in 2023 elections. He has able to build over three hundred kilometres of rural roads across the twenty-one local governments in the state, accompanies by nineteen access to river crossings which are accompanied by another 75 kilometers of road networks.
He made strong case for himself in his urban renewal project where several township roads were built across the city centers and most importantly, the brand new flyover and Grade interchange and underpass that has come to characterise the new description of Adamawa state and has given the state a facelift as a growing urban centers in the country.
With these outstanding landslide progresses, the Adamawa state governor has made an indelible mark in the heart and minds of all residents of Adamawa, and that would be difficult to upend.
It is worth noting that, the victory of Gov. Fintiri was aided by conflict within the APC that saw members of the party in a bitter conflict running into the period of election.
Heading into the 2023 elections, that era of conflict, seems to have dissipated into a more united from working to unseat the incubent government of Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri. Right now, there are close to six governorship candidates running for the Dougirei seat of power.
They include, Hon. Wafari Theman, the immediate past Governor Umaru Jibrillah Bindow, Umar Mustapha Madawaki, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and Senator Aishatu Dahiru Binani. These candidates despite their sterling individual qualities, are running on a platform that many in Adamawa adjudged to have failed the common man, hence, the change in the last round of elections.
The APC, undoubtedly has an uphill task running against an incubent who has grabbed the entire over thirty-two thousand strong civil service work force by not only being the first ro implement the minimum wage structure but by also increasing the minimum wage in the state to about N32,000.00.
While the APC seems to be constructively putting its house in order, the challenge of its previous squabbles might tend to lurk its ugly head.
Leading contenders in the APC, included Hon. Wafari Theman, Sen. Jibrillah Bindow, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas and Umar Mustapha.
While the incubent Governor Fintiri is in a vantage position to return, the challenge is enormous and his charge for a second term might be fiercely challenged by a re-organised and refocused APC, backed by federal might.
Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri still remains the candidate to beat in the 2023 governorship elections in Adamawa State.