One of the issues the recent youth uprising in Nigeria has thrown up is the issue of paradigm shift in governance. This means a conscious demand to shift leadership of states from entrenched political blocs and forces to make way for fresh ideas that could galvanize the leadership strength of youths for the desired change to happen. This has become imperative because of the seeming norm that governorship of our states has to be by the old and the tired. In most cases, it is either the old are directly governing and directing the lives of youths themselves or they are doing so through stooges who rule on their behalf.
However, Adamawa State seems to be different. Though it has had governors who were aged between 50 and 55 years by the time they were elected into office, it has suffered leadership vision and direction. Adamawa was between 1999 and 2014 under the leadership directives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It fell for the All Progressives Congress (APC) through Admiral Murtala Nyako, who defected to the party in 2014. PDP clinched the governorship again in the 2019 election through Umaru Fintiri. This has set the opposition APC back on the table plotting its graph on how to reclaim the state in 2023.
Though it may seem a difficult ride, APC’s sights on the Adamawa governorship in the next round of elections is gaining popularity due to the seeming failure of the incumbent to deliver on the expectations of the people. Many people in Adamawa feel a sense of disconnect with the policies of the incumbent administration –this same sense of disconnect rings through the youth protests across some states in Nigeria. This makes the road to 2023 somewhat bleak for the party. It, however, gives the needed fillip to the opposition APC to launch its comeback bid. To achieve this, three names have remained constant as the most suitable to alter the status quo and change the leadership narrative in the state. The names are those of Senator Mohammed Jibrila Bindow, Hon Abdulrazak Saad Namdas and Dr. Halilu Modi.
These names are not unknown to the Adamawa electorate. In fact, Senator Bindow, who is from the northern zone of the state, contested the governorship ticket of the party in 2019 with Dr. Modi, from the central senatorial district, at the primary election. Bindow laughed last. However, his laugh did not last long enough. The story of how he won the primary election but lost the general election is well known to Adamawa people. So also is the story of how Dr. Modi lost the primary election. However, all eyes are now on the future challenge.
Namdas was a postgraduate mate at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) in Lagos. He is today a member of the House of Representatives, where he represents Jada/Ganye/Mayo Belwa/Toungo federal constituency. In his first tenure at the House, he was ebulliently dutiful as chairman of the House Committee on Media and by implication spokesman of the House. He is credited with working very hard to create a positive image for the Hon. Yakubu Dogara-led House. Today, in his second tenure, he is chairman of the House Committee on Army and has remained equally dutiful for the nation’s Army. He contested to become speaker of the Ninth House but stepped down for the incumbent. Prior to his journey into the House of Representatives, Namdas worked in Yola as chief press secretary to Governor Boni Haruna, and previously as a reporter for the Daily Times. At a point in his burgeoning political career, he worked as director-general of Atiku Support Group, a group founded by Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice-President, to push his political leadership ideals. Today, Namdas and Atiku are in opposing political camps but, like they say, all politics is local. What now matters most to the people of Adamawa State is good governance and capacity to deliver on expectations.
However, while it seems that APC is in pole position to positively maneuver its electoral fortunes in 2023, the party has to begin by putting its house in order so as to excite the people as a viable alternative. To achieve this, the party, its members and leadership must first understand that the idea of zoning political office is only good to the extent that you already are holding the office in your hands. It’s a matter of common sense to understand that no one shares a game that is not yet caught. Hunters don’t go sharing the lion meat long before they enter the bush to hunt. You do that only when the game is in the kitty and the hunting expedition is over. This narrative is not strange. In fact, it is a narrative that has attended the 2023 quest by political parties in states where the opposition has been out of power for long. The same narrative is also pushing through states where the rotatory agreement has run its full course. It makes sense, therefore, to argue that the rotatory principle begins anew once an open contest, involving all zones, has been won.
Besides, the basic and most domineering argument that would strengthen the Adamawa APC is the understanding that party stalwarts must bury their individual desires to command and control. That behaviour puts a knee on the party’s neck refusing it space to breath. By removing that knee and allowing the party to breath, you allow its members and leaders to develop policies that accommodate all members and encourage their contribution to the growth of the party. There are myriad of evidence to show that the suffocating interest of party stalwarts have been detrimental to the growth of the party is many states of the country. Adamawa is one of such. It lost the governorship in 2019 to PDP because it failed to strengthen its leadership of the state by allowing the interest of a few stalwarts to keep a suffocating knee on its fortunes.
Also, in redrawing it map to push for a different trajectory, the Adamawa APC ought to see the immense benefit it drives by allowing its youthful followers to have a strong voice in its affairs. This is a new demand on the political fortunes of parties in states of the federation. It will become stronger as 2023 draw closer. Such a demand will see the youth breaking through entrenched norms in party management to push for their own space where they would become the commanding voice. In such a situation, the youths will punish any political party that fails to allow them a say in the choice of candidates for electoral offices and party leadership as well. In this regard, only candidates who appeal to the youths are most likely to scale the hurdle or primary elections. Not candidates whose lords had stockpiled delegates and appropriated the right to impose candidates on the people. That era is fast disappearing. Adamawa APC and its stalwarts must begin to see the handwriting on the wall. That handwriting respects neither age nor depth of purse. It will not respect forced changes in the elected leadership of the party. It will not accept situations where stalwarts force their will through and impose executives on the party without allowing the tenure of the incumbent executive to run its course. It respects suitability, orderliness, sensibility and capability more.
The political Nigeria that will emerge from the ashes of the recent youth uprising is one that will speak more to competence, courage and capability. These are propelled by leadership skills that ender one to the electorate. The emerging leadership will focus more on an accommodative politics. It will demand of the leader the skills to engage, manage, take responsibility and proffer solutions.
The leader of the future, as demanded by Nigeria’s youths, whether at the party or state level, must be solutions-driven and show courage in decision making and galvanizing the people. This is imperative because dwindling national resources now make it difficult for states to survive on the allocations that come from the federation purse. It means there will be less to share. Therefore, the mindset of the post-2023 governor must be wired to the understanding that courageously thinking outside the box and taking responsibility for critical and painful decisions, will become traits that will determine who succeeds and who fails as a governor from the next round of general elections.
But do the trio of Bindow, Namdas and Modi fall within this bracket? Maybe! However, this is a question that Adamawa people will answer when the time comes.