The Adamawa state governor-elect, Ahmadu Umaru Fintri, became prominent and politically influential within just three months of coming to limelight in 2014. In fact, few weeks before Fintiri became the acting governor in 2014, if he was told he will become PDP’s governorship candidate in that year or in 2019, he would have laughed it off. In a short time after coming to power, Fintiri changed the narrative of Adamawa infrastructure and civil service welfare. Even his staunch adversaries will attest to this.
Come May 29, Fintiri returns as Adamawa state governor. This time with more work and expectations on his shoulders. How he manages these will either further endear him to common people or make him a political misfit.
For Fintiri to run a successful government in Adamawa state, he must balance policies and politics. No governor in Adamawa state succeeds without understanding the balancing of development with playing smart politics.
Local government autonomy, education, civil service welfare and youth development are areas Fintiri needs to give utmost attention to. Outgoing governor Bindow’s failure in addressing issues relating to these areas cost him a second term.
Local governments should enjoy a measure of freedom and autonomy. Fintiri needs to allow the LGAs to run; and as well reduce governor’s interference in their affairs. This will build public trust. The penchant for ‘pocketing’ everyone, everything and anything meant for the LGAs was the undoing of governor Bindow. Fintiri should release funds meant for local councils so it can be used for the common good of the people. On the long run, this will address poverty at the grassroots and the governor will also free himself from the burden of ‘carrying the camel at its loads’ – people will be less interested at what happens in the Government House Yola.
In addition, Fintiri should pay special attention to communities affected by Boko Haram senseless war. He should create a special programme solely dedicated to rural development with the objectives; to fight poverty, to unveil comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes to restore communities to their pre-war peaceful and productive statuses and to tackle the age-long cry for the restoration of basic infrastructure and livelihoods of thousands of people.
Fintiri should resuscitate the Technical and Skills Acquisition Centers across the state. They should be redesigned and retooled for jobs and wealth creation. The centers should be redesigned as training places for agricultural entrepreneurship. This will go a long way in increasing human capital output that will speed up and sustain economic growth. This will also encourage youths, private sector and the rural poor to be strong participants in the economy.
The centers can take advantage of agencies like; The Raw Material Research and Development Agency, National Technology Incubation Centre, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria [SMEDAN], National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, National Poverty Alleviation Programme, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Bank of Industries, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
There are expectations on Fintiri to utilize the human capital potentials in the state to take the Adamawa people out of poverty. Economists are of the view that, for human capital to have a significant impact on economic development, at least 70 per cent of the population should be literate. Adamawa does not have that number. The education system should be overhauled to address illiteracy vis-à-vis human capital development in the state. This overhaul can be hinged on programmes like the Universal Basic Education (UBE) and other schemes.
Where will the monies come from? Adamawa has huge debts, poor sources of income and rely heavily on FAAC. The internally generated revenue (IGR) can be a viable source of fund for the state. Taxes, bonds issuance, private-sector investment and land ownership reforms are new options the government can explore for income generation. In Nigeria, IGR is naturally associated with the old method of taxation, which is riddled with corruption and inefficiency. Adamawa can generate revenues and wealth through levies and taxations, but the state needs a paradigm shift in its taxation system. A modified system of awarding ‘tax collection rights’ to investment firms can be experimented. This should be modeled according to Adamawa’s culture, needs and environment. For example, the state can enter into agreement with a firm to give government monies in advance for taxes from a certain sector, while the firm will collect the money by operating as tax agent- the famous tax auction.
The state can also look into leveraging on the assets it has. Adamawa has thousands of unserviceable vehicles and many idle equipment. Government can make money by auctioning such items. Furthermore, the state has abandoned building- completed and uncompleted, fenced and unfenced plots of land. These assets are commercially viable. They can be leased out or sold, Yola international hotel and redundant liaison offices readily come to mind. Kaduna state is generating income from liberalized method of issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) for all types of lands.
Fintiri won his elections through some intricate politicking and alliances. He needs to define how he wants to be perceived politically. However, he faces a huge challenge in managing this because he is known for playing the politics of championing the cause of the minority- it was used against him 2014 at the ‘elite’ level and it worked. In 2019 it failed to work against him at the grassroots level. Fintiri needs to bury the perception forever and widen his network. He should work with the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy- the Kautal Pulaku, who controls nearly 85% of the state’s wealth and resources. This will help in improving his popularity across all classes of the society. Though, he cannot satisfy everybody; he can accommodate anybody.
By May 29, Fintiri will be up against high-wired politics of Adamawa and at the same time laden with expectations from the common man. Is he ready?
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com, 08036070980.