Of Ribadu and Bindowo

Two candidates have finally emerged to run for the governorship of Adamawa State in the forthcoming 2015 elections. Let’s face it, the difference between Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APCs, candidate, Senator Bindowo Jibrilla is same as six and half-a-dozen, to many people who are awaiting the governorship contest of the State. I am one of them. And I am awaiting this contest sincerely eagerly.

On a personal note, whoever wins, to me, is very likely to remain approachable and accessible. Perhaps it is the reason why several people have called me to ask which among the two politicians is my choice for governor. Indeed I have known both men from home and seen them play big Abuja politics. I have known Nuhu since our secondary school days when he was at Aliyu Mustapha while I went to Murtala College, even though he was two years ahead of me in class. I have written so much about Nuhu, with scathing remarks sometimes and supporting commentaries at others.

Bindowo has been a benefactor, for me, in several ways. When I started a newspaper in Abuja he had offered me a very centrally located office at the Central Business District. Ordinarily the office would have cost me a fortune, which perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to afford. But he let me and the staff sit there gratis. There is nothing I can do, therefore, to repay him for the kind gesture. So you can call me whatever name you like after reading this piece, but the truth here is an inescapable thing. It will be foolhardy to mortgage the future of our children on the altar of personal friendship or even self-aggrandizement, if you like.

I know from their tone that some of the people who are calling me to inquire where I stand are doing so for more than altruistic reasons. I even smell mischief in others. But as I always tell friends, my vote can only do so much just as my opinion is but a drop in the ocean. I have retained a vehement passion though for my state to play catch-up. Adamwa State was created in 1991 but it has not risen beyond the hamlet that it was before that epoch. Most other states created along with it like Jigawa, Zamfara and Nasarawa, to catch the rhyming scheme bug have grown to become municipalities, at least larger than the localities that surround them. But Adamawa has refused to develop.  I have searched for a cause of the problems of Adamawa state, the constitutional laboratory of Nigeria, here, there and everywhere, since the start of democracy in 1999. And I have found no reason at all except the influence of rapacious god fathers who would not let the people benefit from their hard days sweat. I have also set forth to develop a survey on the way forward preceding this election that awaits the people. The wise answers to my questionnaires have been very few and far between. Some give hope high enough to wave and smile at angels there above and some bring as much depression as a Goth funeral.

However, this matter is beyond Barkindo’s little wishes. It is about the people of Adamawa State who have lagged behind in dividends of democracy, stomach infrastructure and the general uplift of the human development index, when compared to other parts of the country. It is about the thousands of civil servants who have, month after month, been walking to their offices because they have been denied their transport fares and their wages. It is about the universal human suffrage. It is also not a question of what party ideology would do the magic. In the case of the two contestants, when it comes to party affinities, I would say that Nuhu and Bindowo just played the reality TV show, “wife-swap.”

Nuhu was presidential candidate of the Action Congress in 2011 which metamorphosed into the All Progressives Congress, APC, when Bindowo contested and won his senatorial seat on the platform of the PDP. It is therefore irrelevant for the people of Adamawa to put the two candidates in any party hour glass. Both are Muslims so, leave religion out of it. Both are Fulbes, whether half, quarter or simply by birth place. Both can also not be judged by the vehicle that brought them to this race as some things are better left unexposed. Indeed, APC, by all indications, is only “PDP-light”, if it were to be a drink.

However there are three compelling issues that Adamawa must reconsider when choosing a governor. They are corruption, insecurity and god-fatherism. The corrupt public officials who operated along with Nyako to corner the states resources and deny workers their legitimate earnings must be tackled. Today they populate both parties in search of cover but we know from Nuhus background and antecedents that there is no hiding place for them, should he become governor.  Bindowo on the other hand may be too encumbered by his political IOUs that he may find fighting corruption a little too obstructive because of the preponderance of the Nyako community in the APC today. In security, Senator Bindowo is a serving senator whose action against insurgency that has bedeviled his constituency has not been vociferous. He may be close to Senate President David Mark and the Defence Minister, Aliyu Gusau but their disposition to stopping the killings in the north east have been less than impressive and have therefore constituted more of a liability to Bindowos security credentials than assets.  In clear text, Nuhu Ribadu, a former AIG and one time anti corruption czar who approaches every assignment with a no-defeat-no surrender mindset is more favourably disposed to winning the war on corruption and halting the senseless killings that currently pervade the north east, than his APC counterpart. Besides, Adamawa state is in dire need of a paradigm shift, which Ribadu aptly represents. Moreover, at his acceptance speech, Nuhu talked about delivering a new Adamawa State, and that renewal is everything Adamawa people require, and they eagerly, like me await the investiture of Malam Nuhu Ribadu as their governor.

It is important for Adamawa people to make an informed choice without recourse to sentiments and other primordial inclinations. That wonderful state has suffered utter neglect. It has been raped brutalized and subjugated to the whims and caprices of self-centered people in and out of the military. God fathers have taken their share of it and left nothing for the people. Bad politics has taken its toll on it and left no room for development. Injustice has pervaded it and beaten fairplay to the back burners. It is time to give the state its new dawn and look elsewhere for salvation.

There is also the disequilibrium in the zoning arrangement. For a start, the northern part of Adamawa has produced all the states elected governors except Murtala Nyako who hails from the southern part of the state. So if the zoning arrangement, which is not exclusive to any one party, is to be followed in the interest of fairness, justice and equity, the central zone where Nuhu comes from should produce the next governor. Bindowo is ebullient, young and ambitious, he can still get the governorship after honing his fangs, but for now, we need a governor who can win the hydra-headed battle against graft, insurgency and tribalism.