Adamawa: Bindow’s thorny path to 2019
The embattled Adamawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow, doesn’t need a political soothsayer to tell him that his ambition to return to the expansive Adamawa Government House is like a horse trying to pass through the eye of a needle.
Bindow became governor in 2015 without any political stress, riding on the crest of the political bandwagon created by President Muhammadu Buhari and founder of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State, former governor Vice-Admiral Murtala Nyako’s structures in the state.
He defeated former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mijinyawa, who is currently the state Commissioner for Land and Survey.
The APC governorship Primary that produced the governor, which was held at Lamido Cinema along Bank Road, was like the biblical fight between David and Goliath, where tiny David won.
Bindow’s campaign was executed 95 percent by Nyako’s family and members of his cabinet, with his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abdullraman Abba Jimeta, as Director-General of the campaign organisation.
Atiku and his defeated candidate nursed their political wounds, while Nyako’s group combed villages, selling the governor who was not marketable, especially in his northern senatorial zone, due to his unimpressive performance at the Senate.
One week after being declared winner, Bindow initiated the political battle that is now threatening his political career by dumping Nyako and joining forces with Atiku.
While defending his actions, Bindow told the world that Atiku gave him a whopping sum of N500m, though the state party leadership denied any knowledge of such gift.
Bindow, who appears to take delight in courting political troubles, extended his war to a group of politicians in the state, when he described them as “Abuja politicians.” He severally accused them of working against his administration, because he was not sharing public funds among them.
The governor’s political image continued to deteriorate, when the state leadership of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), under Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza, the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, accused the governor on several occasions of lopsided appointments, by excluding Christians in all key cabinet appointments.
He also stated that in the recruitment of civil servants, Christians are marginalised.
He said: “When 50 people are recruited, you only see three names of Christians out of the total number. This is not fair and good for the state, as it is creating division among the peace-loving people of the state.”
The internal crisis in the state’s ruling party, which is divided it into two camps: President Buhari’s group, headed by former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal and Bindow’s camp, headed by Alhaji Abdullraman Jimeta, has deepened.
Recently, the crisis snowballed into full political war, when the former SGF was openly embarrassed in Government House during the party’s senior stakeholders’ meeting, organised by Bindow’s group.
This led to Lawal threatening to battle the governor to the ground for initiating political war against him.
Lawal, who later addressed a press conference at his residence in Yola, told journalists that the insult heaped on him may record many political casualties very soon.
At the stakeholders’ meeting, Lawal was denied seat at the high table, where other dignitaries like the current SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, former governors, local government chairmen and other senior party chieftains sat.
Trouble started, when Mustapha aborted the governor’s plan to deny Lawal the chance to speak after other chieftains and Bindow had already spoken. A mild drama ensued, when Lawal started enumerating the party’s problems and how to move APC forward.
Angered by the former SGF’s speech, some political appointees started shouting and Bindow ordered that the National Anthem be played to end the event, though Lawal was still speaking.
At the press conference attended by other supporters of Buhari group, Lawal said the meeting was aimed at addressing problems that are militating against the party’s success ahead of 2019 general elections.
He lamented that the meeting was, however, turned into a briefing of what the governor claimed to have achieved in three years.
Disclosing that he laboured to build the party in the state for effective democratic dividends, Lawal regretted that APC under Bindow has been turned into a religious tool to segregate indigenes of the state.
He said: “When we started APC in Adamawa, we ensured that all religious bodies— both Christians and Muslims— were fairly represented.
Because Governor Murtala Nyako was a Muslim, we made Senator Masil Binta, a Christian, the party chairperson. The Secretary of the Party was also a Muslim.
Other positions were treated likewise to ensure that everybody’s interest is protected.
“But under Bindow, who is a Muslim, the party chairman is also a Muslim. The Secretary to state government is a Muslim. The party treasurer is a Muslim, just like the Organising secretary.
I can’t remember if Adamawa APC Executive has a Christian. If he makes 30 political appointments, only three will be Christians. When he employs 20, only two will be Christians.
These are the problems we want to tackle before elections, but unfortunately, the meeting didn’t end well.”
Lawal, who said he voted for the first time in his life in 2011 because he supported Buhari to win, reminded Bindow that he mobilised votes for him in his Hong local government during the primary to defeat his brother, Mustapha based on his non-religious stance.
“Even if I didn’t have any political crisis with Bindow before, I think the governor has initiated one today and I will fight him to the end to prove to him that I built APC and I have a major role to play in the party in Adamawa State,” he said.
While speaking at the meeting, Bindow warned Buhari’s supporters or anybody for that matter, not to mistaken his simplicity for stupidity, adding that he has the capacity to fight and defend his interest.
He said: “Power comes from God. If God ordains you to be governor, senator or president, nobody can change it.”
He assured party chieftains of free and fair congresses, and urged members of the state Executive to contest, as they have his full support.
Reacting to Lawal’s allegations that APC structure in the state is lopsided, and that the state cabinet is populated by Muslims, Bindow blamed Lawal for imposing Alhaji Ibrahim Bilai on the party, when he served as SGF.
He said: “The former SGF, Senator Abdullaziz Nyako, Senator Mo-Allah Idi, almost beat me up at a meeting in Abuja, when I opposed the choice of Bilal because of the same reasons that Lawal is today hammering on. When he insisted on Bilai, did he forget that he is from the northern zone with the governor? He should blame himself because he built the structure he is condemning today.”
He insisted that Bindow coming from northern zone shouldn’t be a barrier for the area to produce APC chairman, pointing out that during Governor Murtala Nyako’s leadership on the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party chairman, Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama, was not only from the same local government with the governor, but also from the same ward and heaven did not fall.
Also speaking at the press conference organised by Bindow, the chairman of APC reconciliation committee, Senator Silas Jonathan Zwingina, who decamped to APC after President Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential election, claimed that the controversial Monday stakeholders’ meeting was not meant to discuss other issues than that of congresses.
He Blamed Lawal for not taking his anger to the right quarters, but chose the media to lodge his complaint, and that the party will not submit to intimidation by some chieftains.
Going by the political history of Adamawa State, “Abuja politicians” have never lost any battle. They frustrated former governor, Mr. Boni Haruna out of Government House. It was the same group that sent Nyako packing prematurely.
In a kangaroo court ruling, the same group removed Acting governor, Alhaji Ahmad Umaru Fintri. The Abuja politicians also banned Mr. Bala Ngillari, who took over from Fintri, from contesting, when they transplanted Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu from APC to PDP in a kangaroo primary organised in Abuja.
Political observers are of the view that considering political calculations going on in the state and among heavy weight APC stakeholders, the governor is ruining his chances ahead of party primaries.
The Guardian reliably gathered that the list of delegates ahead of the ward, local government and state congresses in the state were already in the custody of APC faction loyal to Buhari, and headed by Lawal.
The Bindow faction is in disarray, due to the fact that majority of the members decamped recently to the party, and his calculations of retaining the immediate past executive members, where there are no Christians, have become a major setback.
A look at the governor’s camp showed Bindow as a commander going to the battlefield without troops. His political armoury also suggests that he lacks needed political clout to defeat the Buhari group and clear the way for his ground troops, which appear to be unprepared to execute the task. It is a disaster in waiting.
This month, APC tension-soaked congresses will decide whether Bindow’s time in Adamawa politics has expired or not.
In the next few weeks, the governor and his supporters will know whether he’ll be needing another party platform or whether
APC can still accommodate him.
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