Why Regime Change in Adamawa State Is Necessary By Umar Ardo
When in 2007 some key political elites in Adamawa State came together to make Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd), former Deputy Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Military Governor of Niger State, Governor of the state, it was presumably done with the best of intentions. Although the manner of his ‘nomination’ as the PDP’s candidate was less than salutary, most people in the state were willing to give it a chance in the belief that Admiral Nyako would give a better leadership than the departing Boni Haruna regime. This was basically on the assumption that a man of Nyako’s age and background as a one time member Supreme Military Council, National Council of State, Armed Forces Ruling Council, National Defense Council and Federal Executive Council, all being severally and collectively the highest governing bodies of the nation, would be God-fearing and well-experienced to give Adamawa state a deservingly good leadership devoid of injustice, partiality, discrimination, dishonesty, corruption, nepotism, ineptitude, godfatherism, and lack of clarity and sincerity of purpose. Admittedly, I held that view too. But I have very long ago dropped it.
Unfortunately, the key actors who brought in Nyako upon this assumption did not take into account the natural law of human character and personality. Unlike the laws of Physics which see every object from the prism of ‘the further the smaller and the closer the bigger’, the reverse seems to be the case in terms of the human character and personality. This, indeed, turned out to be evidently true of Admiral Murtala Nyako. Once brought in as Governor, Nyako came close to people, and all the distant larger-than-life perceptions, assumptions and admirations of him simply vanished. Murtala Nyako became just another ordinary man! The old age did not bring in the expected fear of God; the high positions earlier held did not improve his understanding of issues; the past experience did not serve as lessons for the present. On the contrary, the old age became an impulse to acquire as much and as quickly as his insatiable greed can contain before the lights are dimmed; the high positions earlier held seem to serve as an eye-opener to present opportunities so as to more than make up for lost ones of the past; while the past experience serves as an impetus to do just as he pleases with the people’s common wealth put in sacred trust into his hands believing that nothing will happen. In consequence, Adamawa State has today become worst off for it in several areas of governance.
Firstly, as a result of complete lack of co-ordination and coherence, the Nyako/Ngilari Administration has systematically destroyed the basis of governmental structure in the state. This is achieved by means of having individuals who hold no official positions in government, and institutions that are not enacted into law, performing official functions, exercising state powers and expending public funds. Two clear examples are the eldest son of the Governor, Navy Cmdr. Abdul-Aziz Nyako and the Special Programs and Projects Unit (SPPU). While Cmdr. Nyako Jnr. holds no official position in the government of Adamawa State, it is all too well known that he is the de facto head of the government of the state in the background. He wields enormous powers, takes binding official decisions and expends unlimited public funds. Although the so-called SPPU has not been enacted by law, virtually all major public contracts and expenditure of the state pass through it. In other words, the SPPU has invariably become the clearing house of Adamawa State’s contracts. The headquarters of the Unit is in the Governor’s own personal house and in the living room of Cmdr. Nyako. The major implication of this is the distortion of the principles of official responsibility and accountability of public servants and institutions. This dysfunction in governance over the years destroyed the structure of government in the state. Resultantly, officialdom lost its essence as most officials, deprived of their primary assignments, are now redundant and frustrated.
Secondly the regime wreaked the Local Government structure in the state. Section 7 of the Constitution establishing Local Government Councils intends the LGAs to serve as centers of local development closest to the people, encouraging and nurturing participatory democratic governments. However, the policy of the Nyako/Ngilari regime has destroyed the essence of the LG system. In addition to cutting off their constitutionally provided statutory allocations, the state government also thwarted all forms of democratic elections at the LGAs. Throughout the over seven years of the regime, elected Local Government Councils existed for only 3 years 3 months. Even this one was established without any form of internal party democracy, and with opposition parties boycotting the general elections that produced it. The consequence of this is the complete arrest of any form of development in the LGAs with many of them unable to pay salaries for months on end. Thus, the regime destroyed the essence of the Local Government system in Adamawa State as envisaged by the Nigerian constitution.
Thirdly, the Nyako/Ngilari regime also killed all forms of electoral process in the state. Apart from the above-mentioned denial of elections in the LGAs, the regime made it impossible to hold any form of elections in the formation of the PDP Organs in the state. The last form of congresses conducted in the ruling party was in 2002. Since then, until the December 2012 congresses, all efforts to legitimize the party executives from the Ward to State levels were staunchly resisted by the state government. This has not only destroyed the image and fortunes of the PDP and alienated several people from the party but also became a subject of several litigations in our Law Courts. Worse still, the regime used the unlawful party apparatuses to disallow any form of internal democratic process in the nomination of candidates for elective public offices. The last governorship nomination that I took up to the Supreme Court is a case in point.
Fourthly, poor leadership ability, corruption, nepotism and phantom public expenditures by the Nyako/Ngilari regime have collectively destroyed the financial standing of the state. Adamawa had slowly but assuredly being pushed to a state of bankruptcy by the regime’s profligacy. The government not only expended the whole of its huge statutory allocations without saving a single kobo in a strategic reserve account, but in addition even collected both foreign and local loans on behalf of the state. The question is in which projects did the regime spend this money? The answer is simple – in over inflated contracts, maintenance of the governor’s large household, outright misappropriation and constant bribery to buy favour for the regime. Also, the regime is known to have hired about 15,000 Special Assistants who are being paid varied amounts. Although nobody knows the actual number of these so-called SAs and how much has been expended on them, it is however known that none of them has any identifiable schedules of duty. This is another abuse of governmental regulation because there is nowhere in the world where government employees have no schedule of duty. In truth, for all I can say, they are little more than the regime’s political thugs for which public funds are used to establish and maintain. Given that all the state’s income keeps on vanishing into thin air, and debts, their interests and charges keep on piling without any source of repayment other than from the federal allocations, surely the future of Adamawa is being mortgaged by the Nyako/Ngilari administration.
Fifthly, the regime is equally notorious in the infringement on peoples’ fundamental rights. Ranging from denying people their right to vote, destroying of opponents’ posters and billboards to unlawfully using the police to disallow lawful meetings of perceived opponents, it is apparent that the bellicose posture of the government stems from a deep sense of desperation, which has already been given eloquent testimony by the fact that the regime lost the support of virtually every right-thinking indigene of the state. More alarming is the sheer politics the government is playing with the security and lives of our people by operating under the shadow of its self-inflicted siege mentality that all is well in the state, and in the manipulation of ethnic and religious cleavages to achieve selfish political gains. Given the heterogeneous composition of our state, Adamawa can least afford this dangerous divisive politics. It is capable of setting the state aflame.
The adverse consequences of all these destructive policies of the Nyako/Ngilari regime on the socio-economic and political well being of the state are glaring – large scale corruption and dishonesty in public service, incessant industrial strikes by workers, collapse of basic infrastructure, lack of housing and appalling environmental conditions, deplorable roads and schools, wide-spread abject poverty and hunger among our people, mass unemployment of the youth, non-payment of children school fees and stoppage of educational scholarships, astronomical drop in school enrolment of our children, increases in crime and criminal activities across the state, armed insurgency, etc. To make matters worse, as a result of lack of portable drinking water in the state, reduced public health scheme and poor sanitary conditions, there has been unending reoccurrence of health crises, including epidemics in many parts of the state. Between 2009 and 2013, Adamawa State recorded the highest death rate in Nigeria as a result of various forms of epidemics.
No responsible government can sit by and allow this horror to continue unabated. Yet, unbelievably, the Nyako/Ngilari regime clearly seemed unperturbed. The painful aspect of this is that while all these poverty, depravation and deaths are going on in the state Governor Nyako, his family, his Deputy and few favoured members of the government are swimming in money, wealth and ostentation as evidenced by the charges leveled against them by the State Legislature. This is indeed shocking and unacceptable. No wonder, therefore, the regime could not face the people but instead resorted to dragging our traditional rulers into politics, drugging our youths into thugs and hooligans, pumping out stolen money to few people of no conscience, unlawfully using the police against opponents, and generally subverting free and fair contests in the state.
In conclusion, it is important to warn that peace and constitutional democracy in Adamawa State are both currently under threat given the increasingly poor, shallow and arbitrary manner the government has been handling issues of state governance, politics, economy, education, security and rights of law-abiding citizens. Our laws have no provision for fascism, crude violation of rights and freedom of political opponents, in the same way that the state can also not be governed by means of low, hasty, disconnected and disorganized policies and incoherent actions. We must play politics of ideas and issues, politics of the welfare and well-being of our people, and not politics of corruption and bribery, deceit and breach of trust, impunity and intolerance. The development of our state’s economy, education and politics, and the enhancement of our people’s welfare and well-being are constitutional rights and not privileges. Any government that cannot guarantee these has no moral right to remain in office. It is the constitutional rights and responsibility of all our people to legitimately remove such a government from power. The Nyako/Ngilari government has failed to guarantee these rights, and in fact, has proven to be incapable of guaranteeing them. On the contrary, the government is evidently a stifling burden on the people of Adamawa State and must therefore be constitutionally removed as a sacred responsibility of all. This is what the State Legislature is doing by the current impeachment move, and this is why the move is both popular and supported by the people of Adamawa State.
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