Matthew Onah, in Yola, looks at the recent cabinet appointments by the Adamawa State governor Murtala Nyako and his post-governorship politics
The recent inauguration of the Adamawa State executive council by Governor Murtala Nyako has sent a signal to politicians and the political class in the state that they all have to gird themselves for the future. The appointments have all the hallmarks of conscious rapprochement ahead of the next general elections.
Wooing the Opposition
In the aftermath of his victory at the Adamawa State governorship and legislative elections petition tribunal, the governor had wooed the oppositions to join hands with him in uplifting the affairs of the state. He said he was going to put measures in place to ensure that everybody had the opportunity to contribute his quota to the development of the state.
But nobody thought that the governor would go that far in trying to integrate major political interest groups in the state.
According to Abubakar Sambo, a politician, it is noteworthy that the governor stated at his inauguration that he was going to place priority on the improvement of internal cohesion and promotion of social harmony for the progress of both the present and future generations.
“The fact that in spite of the hard fought political battles, Governor Nyako waved aside any temptations to get back at those who fought him, in all the elections, facilitated the current atmosphere of peace and enhanced the stature of the governor as the father of all,” Sambo stressed.
The 27-member executive council incorporates not only the major groupings in the Peoples Democratic Party, but also members of other political parties.
Sambo said those who couldn’t make the commissionership list were accommodated in the list of the 50 special advisers to the governor.
But critics of Nyako have faulted what they call an extraordinarily large number of political appointees in the state as uneconomical. An Action Congress of Nigeria chieftain, Alhaji Umar Jada, said the new cabinet is one of the largest in the history of the state.
“How can you make sense with 27 commissioners, 50 special advisers, and 36 administrators of area development offices as well as over 15, 000 others on the special adviser welfare list? Where are the resources to build critical infrastructure?
“What we are having in Adamawa now might send wrong signals to the outside,” Jada said.
But Seth Crowther, a former commissioner in the Nyako government commends the governor’s strategy. He stated that the welfare programme of the Nyako administration, where over 15,000 youths , women, and the physically challenged are placed on a monthly welfare package of N10,000 and sent to vocational training centres across the state where they learn trade and crafts, accounted for the low incidence of security breaches in the state.
“In the North-east region, Adamawa State is the most stable, because we took our restive youths off the streets, placed them on welfare, and sent them to be trained in vocational centres. Today, apart from incursions from other neighbouring states, we don’t have much internal security challenges,” Crowther said.
He commended Nyako for striving to restore unity and cohesion in the state by setting up an inclusive government.
“It’s time to come together to move our state forward. We must strive to build Adamawa State that would be the envy of other states,” he stressed
‘Roadmap to 2015’
A political associate of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Adamu Dollar, called the newly formed cabinet “a roadmap to 2015”.
“What is interesting is the fact that Nyako as the leader of the party in the state, has tried to carry everybody along except for the Abuja politicians,” Dollar said. He asserted that all the three major factions in the state – the Nyako- Kugama faction, the Atiku Abubakar group, and now the emerging Bamanga Tukur faction – were accommodated.
The Bamanga Tukur faction has of late been a centre of refuge for Abuja-based politicians that have been outside the mainstream of the party since the emergence of Nyako in 2007.
Tukur is currently the national chairman of PDP.
“Nyako is not going into any elections again in the state. He has won his last battle, the second and final term, so what was the sense in opposing him? What is left for them is to team up with him and move the party forward,” Crowther said.
He stated that what made the current unity and unanimity possible was the olive branch extended to citizens of the state, especially the opposition, by the governor, when he appealed for cooperation from all at his inauguration, and the need to reposition the party for 2015.
But similar peace efforts had failed in the past and this has fuelled pessimism about the current move.
In the run-up to the 2007 general election, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s influence was dominant in determining who got what in Adamawa, as he engaged Atiku in what has been described as “rofo-rofo” fight of supremacy.
When in 2007, Nyako emerged the PDP candidate, against all expectations, with no notable political machinery of his own, he was compelled to accept nominations from across the diverse political interest groupings that formed the mix that propelled PDP to power.
Nyako’s cabinet then reflected the rainbow coalition that was formed to defeat the then “Atiku Abubakar- Boni Haruna axis.”
Today, however, the “Atiku Abubakar -Boni Haruna axis” no longer exists, as each has gone his own way. New alliances have since been formed ahead of 2015.
About 12 of the former commissioners never made it back in the present cabinet. Six defected to other parties.
Nyako has, no doubt, tried to reach across the ethnic, religious and political divides in his desire to deliver the democracy dividends to the people of the state and reposition towards 2015.
In the current crop of executive council members are seven women and many youths. This time, Nyako selected more young professionals to man key ministries than politicians, perhaps, to actualise his pledge to improve on the “content and service delivery” of governance.
A PDP chieftain, Umar Shehu, told THISDAY that the attention of many politicians with ambitions had shifted to laying the foundation for 2015. This, perhaps, explains why the likes of Dahiru Bobbo, Adamu Dollar and host of other close associates of the former vice president are working closely with the governor’s people.
Shehu said with Tukur as the national chairman and the focus on 2015, most people would not want to antagonise each other now, because they would need their mutual support.