Adamawa Polls: Battle Of The Titans
Saturday, 04 February 2012 00:00 BY GODWIN IJEDIOGOR AND EMMANUEL TARFA

As the people of Adamawa State go to the polls today to decide who among the five main governorship candidates- Murtala Nyako (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP); Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Congress for Progressive Change, CPC) Mr. Markus Gundiri (Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN), Hajiya Zainab Kwonche (African Democratic Congress, ADC) and Mrs. Lilian Musa (All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP)- to steer the ship of state for the next four years, GODWIN IJEDIOGOR in Lagos and EMMANUEL TARFA in Yola examine the chances of the candidates.

AMONG the five candidates vying for today race to the Government House in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, namely Murtala Nyako (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP); Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Congress for Progressive Change, CPC) Mr. Markus Gundiri (Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN), Hajiya Zainab Kwonche (African Democratic Congress, ADC) and Mrs. Lilian Musa (All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP), political analysts have been focusing their searchlight on three main contenders- Gundiri, Marwa and Nyako.

Of the three main contenders, Nyako, Marwa and Gundiri, Nyako appears worse hit by the recent Supreme Court judgment that cut short his stay in office by a few weeks, not just because he is out of office, but because his is like fish out of water.

The calculations around today’s governorship election took another dimension following the recent change of political weather in the state as a result of the sudden removal of Nyako from office just one week to the election.

Unfortunately for Nyako, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmadu Umar Fintiri, who took over as Acting Governor in his stead, is a victim of Nyako’s political buccaneering.

On the day Fintiri took over as Speaker, following the impeachment of Ibrahim Sadiq Dasin, the former governor ordered the sealing of the Assembly complex, using over 300 heavily armed policemen and over 250 thugs to blocked both gates of the Assembly.

His Commissioner for Information, Abdulraman Abba Jimeta, was to tell the world “even if heaven comes down to earth, the Assembly complex will remain lock until Fintiri vacates the office of Speaker.”

Few hours ahead of the governorship election in the state, the protracted crisis rocking the state chapter of the PDP resurfaced, as its heavyweights, such as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Senator Jubril Aminu; Senator Silas Jonathan Zwingina; and many others boycotted the stakeholders meeting of the party organised by the state chapter on Thursday.

A party official, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, blamed the leadership of the party for the boycott, saying it had turned the party into a private business, thereby excluding other members’ participation in its affairs.

He feared that the boycott of the meeting by the heavyweights was an indication that Nyako was on his own in today’s election.

But Alhaji Garba Shehu, media aide to the former Vice President, told The Guardian on phone on Thursday that his principal was in Abuja and would relocate to Yola yesterday for the election.

Contacted, Zwingina, former Deputy Senate Leader, said he was at the Yola airport from Abuja on his way to his hometown, Guyuk, to participate in the polls.

It was gathered that the PDP heavyweights in the state told President Goodluck Jonathan during a meeting of stakeholders last week at the Presidential Villa that they could not root for Nyako’s re-election, alleging that the former governor turned the party and the state into his private farm while in office and shoved them aside.

It would be recalled that at different times, prominent Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senate President David Mark and many other top politicians in the country, appealled for the respect of the party’s constitution, but the former naval officer (Nyako) refused to allow members to perform their duties, a member of the party in the state disclosed.

The taking over of the mantle of leadership by Fintiri, who the former governor never wanted to be Speaker in the first place, was a clear signal that the former chief of naval staff’s political career may sink, like a ship piloted by a sleeping sailor.

The acting governor know very well the price he will pay if the former governor returns to office after today’s governorship election. The former Speaker and then Acting Governor in 2008, Mr. James Barka, who is a close friend of Fintiri, is yet to recover from the political damages done to him by Nyako when he was re-elected during the rerun as governor.

The former governor not only removed Barka as Speaker, but also denied him the senate ticket.

With such evidence of Nyako sinking the political ambition of those that acted as governor during his absence, Fintiri is aware that he might be riding the tiger.

However, the challenge the former governor will face is that Fintiri is one politician that always buried his antagonists before the battle day.

He won elections twice on different political platforms- the ACN and PDP. His ability to joined any party and prove himself in any elections has shown his political clout as one that can stand firmly and conquer any situation that threatens his political ambition and career.

His greatest political asset is his ability to involve his colleagues in running of the House. From the actions and activities of the acting governor, it should be clear to Nyako that he might not enter the Governor’s office as occupant again, but as a guest.

For instance, the newly appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof Liman Tukur, was sacked by Nyako as Chairman of Adamawa State Universal Basic Education.

During the SSG’s swearing-in ceremony, Fintiri said: “This administration, as a child of necessity, will be firm, but fair to all and will effect changes where it is not only necessary, but desirable for good governance.

“I call on the political class, as we begin a new electioneering, to strive to play the game by the rules, avoiding bitterness and rancour in the interest of our people and peaceful co-existence,”

He added, ostensibly in reference to Nyako: “I wish to thanked and salute the people of Adamawa State for their resilience in the past few months and for not losing patience in the face of activities of certain people, which threatened to shake the foundation of democracy.”

The crisis between Nyako and Aminu, his estranged and former political godfather, is a huge political minus for the former governor at this critical point in time.

Aminu was the one person that used all his political connections to impose Nyako on the party and the people of the state and he may have been provided the ample opportunity in today’s election to see the final “retirement” of the former governor he installed from the office and perhaps the politics of the state.

Aminu, a former minister for Education, recently apologised to the people of the state for his mistake in “making” Nyako governor of the state.

The Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was also at war with Nyako and its executive had actually stopped visiting him during Sallah or Christmas celebration, as was the culture in the past.

Workers in the state at the weekend shut down business activities in celebrating Nyako’s ouster, with over 15,000 of them taking over the streets chanting liberation songs. They went ahead to declare last Monday a work-free day to enable all civil servants in the state to celebrate the exit of Nyako from office.

Secretary of junior workers Association, Alhaji Buba Ahmed, told The Guardian that the exit of the former governor marked the end of family government.

The political indices on ground show that the his chances of returning are very slim, considering the number of battles ahead of him before he will cross the ocean.

However, since he was the person that initiated the battle, he may as well have some political weapons to neutalise his opponents or enemies and go ahead to win the race.

More so, in politics, anything is possible, and Adamawa might not be different, after all, not many gave his the chance when Aminu brought him out of his farm to contest the 2007 election.

But the electorate and civil servants seem to be waiting for today to give the former governor the real scorecard of his stewardship in past four years.

Nyako’s problems and pains might be Marwa’s gain, more so as he was joined as a party in the suit that ousted Nyako and had been vigorously campaigning to put the former governor in the political cooler for quite a while.

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