Wednesday, 28th September 2022
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

How Fintiri raised Adamawa guber stakes with female running mate

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
16 August 2022   |   4:12 am
Indications that the 2023 governorship election in Adamawa State would be very hard fought emerged recently, when Senator Aishatu Binanai defeated five hefty male political actors to clinch the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket.

Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri

Indications that the 2023 governorship election in Adamawa State would be very hard fought emerged recently, when Senator Aishatu Binanai defeated five hefty male political actors to clinch the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket.

By that feat, Senator Binani, not only emerged as the first ever woman to pick the gubernatorial ticket of a major political party in Adamawa State, but also raised the prospect of becoming the first female governor in the Northeast geopolitical zone.

Some of the big names that submitted to the female Senator’s superior political prowess included, erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who contested the 2011 presidential poll on the platform of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Others were former Governor Jibrilla Bindow, incumbent member of House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, Wafari Theman and Umar Mustapha.

The spectacular feature of Binani’s triumph was the margin of victory, which showed that her 430 votes exceeded the combined votes of the first and second runners-up, Ribadu and Bindow, who garnered 288 and 103 votes.

Stunned by his loss, the immediate past governor, Bindow, crossed over to PDP to team up with the Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, ostensibly to let the governor finish his second term, before giving it another try.

It was perhaps based on the recognition of the uncommon straw poll victory that her namesake, the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, rushed a congratulatory message and described her win as “a source of encouragement and hope for many Nigerian women.”

While urging the Senator to “be resilient and determined,” the first lady reminded her that the task ahead is huge and encouraged her to sustain the winning streak by ensuring that everyone is carried along.

Also, immediately Binani was pronounced winner of the governorship primary, many of her supporters went to town with the claim that the state would witness a first female governor after the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial poll.

Add to that, not long after, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, picked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket. Surprisingly, in what kept tongues wagging in Yola, Binani’s posters bearing pictures of Atiku and herself began to dot prominent streets.

Binani

Amid that intriguing political grafting, there were insinuations that Atiku supporters did that to spite the incumbent, Finitiri, for allegedly aligning with his Rivers State counterpart, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, in the build up to the PDP presidential primary.

Not that alone, some stakeholders recalled roles Fintiri played during the impeachment of former governor, Murtala Nyako, remarking that the forthcoming governorship would be a payback time for the governor.

However, what raised the adrenalin of AUF’s supporters most was the ease with which women and youths were recalling Binani’s philanthropic and empowerment programmes, especially her penchant for lifting indigent women in the Adamawa country-side.

While the sweet tales of Aisha Binani’s “wonderful touch of motherly care for the down trodden” made the rounds in the state, Governor Fintiri went on the lesser hajj, a development that added further window for the opposition narratives to percolate.

And, recognising that the outcome of the presidential poll, which precedes the governorship, would impact on the state election, the state chairman of APC, Alhaji Ibrahim Bilal, released a statement. In the statement, which he cautioned voters from Southern Nigeria against being misled into scuttling power rotation to the south by those whose real intentions is to ensure the retention of power to remain in the North.

There was no doubt that Bilal’s call was a veiled allusion to Atiku’s emergence as PDP’s presidential standard-bearer, because the Adamawa State APC boss added that those rejecting his party’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket had a motive.

The fear of Atiku’s presence on the 2023 presidential ballot has been the major motivation for Adamawa APC’s campaign for a Southern President, particularly given the possibility of voter bandwagon after the presidential poll.

According to the election timelines released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the presidential ballot holds on February 25, while gubernatorial and state assembly contests will hold on March 11, 2022.

For instance, even before APC declared its intention to zone the presidential ticket to the South and barely one month to the PDP presidential primary, the Adamawa State Organising Secretary of the party, Ahmed Lawal, said there was need to uphold fairness through power rotation.

Lawal contended that since the South supported the North to retain the Presidency for eight years, fairness demanded that power should rotate to the South in 2023 to enhance national cohesion.

Criticising “some selfish northern politicians,” who he said were intent on short-changing the South, the APC chieftain described those scheming to throw up another northern President after Buhari in 2023 as selfish schemers that cannot claim to represent the opinion of the entire north.

Lawal had stated: “We must rotate power to Southern Nigeria for the spirit of equity, fairness and harmony. As far as Nigeria’s unity is concerned, power shift must become a stabilising principle so that no region will feel relegated and oppressed politically.”

But, while the fear of Atiku pervaded the Adamawa APC, some PDP stalwarts from the state were busy in Abuja feeding the camp of the former Vice President with information that AUF was siding with his Rivers State counterpart against his (Atiku’s) presidential aspiration.

There were speculations that some disgruntled PDP faithful within the governor’s administration were helping to circulate Binani’s campaign bills bearing Atiku’s photo. “Those posters,” some stated, “were intended to guide voters to reject Fintiri and vote Binani.”

Fintiri’s pushback
DETERMINED to give his second term contest his best shot, Governor Fintiri took an audacious step by rejigging his gubernatorial ticket. The governor substituted his incumbent deputy, Chief Crowther Seth, with the current Vice Chancellor of the state university, Prof. Kaletapwa Farauta.

The 56-year-old academic, who hails from Numan Local Government Area of the state, had served the state previously as Executive Chairman, Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board (ADSUBEB) and Commissioner for Higher Education, before her appointment as the acting VC in July 2017.

It is not known whether her selection as governorship running mate was part of the new political understanding between AUF and former governor Bindow (Sardaunan Mubi), who had appointed Farauta as the female Vice Chancellor of Adamawa State University, Mubi.

However, with her political exposure and massive experience in education and non-governmental organisations, Farauta, is seen as a fitting answer to Binani’s influence among the womenfolk in the state.

Apart from serving as the Vice President of G-36 Coalition of NGOs from 2010 through 2015, Prof. Farauta was also the Secretary General of Good Citizenship Foundation and currently the Chief Executive Officer of Daaha Foundation.

Speaking while unveiling Farauta as his running mate for the 2023 gubernatorial poll at the State House, Yola, Governor Fintiri disclosed that her choice followed extensive and painstaking search.

Farauta

While noting that he consulted and received the consent of the incumbent Deputy governor, Seth, the governor pointed out that having worked closely with Prof. Farauta as the visitor to the state university, she is a tested hand. “I have worked with her, she is tested and has proven to be a trusted and dependable person, just like the Deputy Governor, Crowther Seth,” Fintiri declared.

The governor expressed optimism that the FIFA 2023 (acronym for Fintiri and Farauta) team would deliver Adamawa State to PDP come the March 11, 2023 governorship poll.

Extolling the Fintiri/Farauta (FIFA) joint ticket as a winning combination, the state PDP chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Shehu, affirmed that Prof Farauta “has proven to be a great loyalist who can be relied on.”

Shehu stated: “She served very well when she was appointed Executive Chairman of ADSUBEB and as Commissioner of Education before her appointment as the Vice Chancellor of Adamawa State University following a keenly contested interview.”

The governorship running mate accepted the nomination, stressing, “It is not for me alone, but for the entire womenfolk. I will do my best to serve the state for the overall development of humanity.”

With the impressive grassroots mobilisation credentials of Senator Binani and Prof. Farauta’s wide networks with women groups, it is obvious that the 2023 Adamawa State governorship poll will not only be decided by gender issues and development.

And in what seems to suggest that AUF has upped his game in the internal politics of PDP, after unleashing Prof. Farauta to silence the opposition, the governor was appointed chairman of the Reconciliation Committee put together by Atiku to resolve the misunderstanding between him (Atiku) and Governor Wike.

Pushing back on the attempts by APC leaders to exploit the crisis of confidence within PDP to turn the table against the party, AUF stated that those trying to lure the Rivers State governor to APC cannot claim to be his friends.

Boasting of his closeness to Atiku and Wike, Fintiri declared: “I am an embodiment of both men… I can assure you that with God, the party will put its house in order before the 2023 elections.

“Even Wike knows that he has been by far the biggest investor in the party; can he now walk away from all of his investment? We recognise that he loves his people and I can assure you that he will have a fair deal if it comes to that; we just need to put the crisis behind us.”

Since the current democratic dispensation began in 1999, only Governor Boni Haruna has served two full terms as governor of the state. Will Senator Binani become the first female governor of the state? Will Governor Fintiri break the jinx and clinch a second term? These are the posers, which only the Adamawa gubernatorial contest would resolve.