Hallmark of leadership is assessed by quality value addition to the polity. That is precisely what His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, the Governor of Adamawa State has successfully done. From the urban slum that Yola, the state capital used to be, there is rapid transformation of the city, not just by flyovers and skyscrapers, but by honest assessment of every other sectoral indices.
While mounting the rostrum to seek the mandate of the people of Adamawa State almost four years ago, Hon. Fintiri reeled out a modest eleven-point agenda, which he said, should be the yardstick for assessing his performance.
The 11-Point Agenda defined the basis of his engagement with the electorates of Adamawa State. They included: Security of Lives and Properties, Education and Human Capital Development, Transparency and Accountability, Improved Internally Generated Revenue, Rural Infrastructure/Urban Renewal and Water Supply, Agricultural Development and Food Security, Healthcare and Human Service, Youth and Women Development, Commerce and Industry, Civil Service Reforms and Environment and Climate Change. While embarking on electioneering campaigns, the Governor had stated: “These strands were carefully woven to provide an issue-based campaign anchored on the development needs of our people, the growth of our State and the progressive ideals of our great party – the PDP”. Did he meet expectations or not? Majority of the people applaud his efforts, describing him as a man of his words. They have no doubt they never had it so good.
Speaking during the inauguration of the inauguration of the Presidential and Governorship Campaign Council for the 2023 General Elections at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yola, Adamawa State on Monday, October 17, 2022, Governor Fintiri, stated that his “modest answers to this valid question are not only important in providing the right account of a mandate we benefitted from three years ago, but equally a necessary yardstick for providing the justification for the continuity of such mandate as we approach a fresh electoral season”.
Accoreing to him, “in spite of the gross maladministration of the past regimes and the global economic challenges which has been worsened by the effect of COVID-19 Pandemic, we have been able to discharge our responsibilities to the people with amazing satisfaction”. Highlighting his achievements, he first listed the challenges he met and what he did to change the narrative for the better. According to him, when we took over in 2019, we inherited a state ravaged by heightened insecurity and uncertainties as a result of the remnants of the activities of the Boko haram insurgency in the Northern zone with some communities largely inhabitable”. He added that “Farmer/Herder clashes which had threatened food security in the State and the nation at large” was another gargantuan problem just as incessant kidnappings on the farms, at home, on transit, etc.; the supreme reign of the urban crime such as the monstrous activities of the Shila Boys cult which had crippled night-life especially in the metropolitan centers and perennial clashes among ethnic groups over limited resources”.
*Reversing the ugly trend:
Governor Fintri did not just inform his people of Adamawa State what he did, but there were corroborated by a cross-section of indigenes and residents who applaud his record of achievements, passing a verdict that “Fintri has so far been our best and these are very glaring and obvious, even to the blind,” many of the people interviewed stated.
Carrying out a self-assesement, Fintiri stated: “Upon assumption of duty, we overhauled the security architecture of the state and invested heavily in the peace and security of our people. We launched an aggressive campaign for peaceful coexistence and made justice and fair play the watch word of our administration. We reclaimed the trust and good will in government, which our predecessors wasted. This reduced the tension among and between our ethnic communities and identity groupings”.
To roll off the action pod, he added: “We hosted a security summit and redesigned the Security architecture of the State to accommodate local intelligence and incorporated vigilantes and local hunters in the frontlines; we created Operation Farauta and procured 60 Toyota Hilux trucks and 50 Motorcycles for the use of the members with some donated to other State actors; Acquired 10 Toyota Land Cruiser trucks for Operation Lafiya Dole, 30 operational Trucks from local manufacturer IVM to support Vigilantes and Local hunters in the 21 LGAs of the State; we have also procured 10 trucks to support our conventional security outfits in the State; We are paying monthly stipends to Vigilantes and Local hunters in the State; organized a Joint Taskforce raid on mini Sambisa which is the den of the dreaded urban miscreants known as Shila boys. Cognizance of the need to sustain our onslaught against the Shila Boys, especially as we approach the elections season, we have created a special squad in the Operation Farauta to deal with the miscreants; to support their logistics operations, we have procured 10 trucks.
“These proactive measures and many others which will remain covert, were enough to send the message to the underworld that there is a serious government in place and it is no longer business as usual. The result is the relative peace we now enjoy.
“Interestingly most of our IDPs camps have been closed and all our people from the northern zone have returned to their ancestral abodes. The perennial farmer-herders conflict has been reduced to the barest minimum. Even though peace enterprise remains a herculean task especially at this time in the life of the country.
“Today, it is safe to allude that Adamawa State is one of the safest States to live and do business in the Federation. This has placed us well to attract investors into the State and they are coming in droves”.
And dropping off at the Yola International Airport, one could feel the air of security as the airport taxi upon noticing that this writer was not resident in the state, opened up on how it used to be dangerous even to operate a cab in the state before Fintri took over the political leadership of the state.
According to Fintiri himself, while rolling out his scorecard at the Banquet Hall, “this has been attested to even by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), the most authoritative institution for rating investment ranking in the country”.
One key are where every leader easily gets assessed, even by persons considered as ignorant is in the area of infrastructural development. It must be 9bserved that prior to his assumption to office, the entire landscape of Adamawa State, witnessed “decayed and over-stretched infrastructure or outright lack of them especially in the urban centers”. The story in the rural communities are better imagined than explained.
In this regard, any objective assessment must put into consideration,”practical indicates such as good roads, portable water, affordable housing, power and energy to support the growth of MSMEs, as well as poor transport infrastructure, inaccessibility to rural communities where abundant resources lay untapped.
In answer to these questions Governor Fintiri said: “We picked up the task of providing physical infrastructure with unquantifiable vigour. Upon assumption of duty, we took stock of all the on-going urban roads initiated by our predecessors. Some of these projects included: Pella-Maiha Road, Yolde-Pate Sabon Pegi Road, Kiri-Shelleng Road, internal roads and storm water drains in Adamawa State University, 4 Span Bridge in Song, Mubi Township Roads, Old Bypass Road in Gombi, Manpaya Road in Uba, Mayo-Inne and Lekki Taba Streets in Jimeta”. Pointedly starting what was done, he added: “These projects which cost a total of N26,342,209,830.38, except the one in Uba and Pella, have since attained 100% completion and have been fully paid for. While demonstrating the right commitment to the completion of all the projects initiated by our predecessors, we went on to launch an aggressive but coordinated urban renewal campaign which is steadily coming to a full cycle.
“Between 2019 and 2022, we were able to commission standard asphalt finished roads, complete with concrete lined drains, in both Yola town and Jimeta. In Yola town, at the other half of the Metropolis that make-up the State capital, we were able to complete and commission the Zumo Street, Doctors Quarters Road, Mafia Quarters Road and Mbamba Street.
“Linking Yola town with Jimeta through an alternative route, we constructed the second road which is the Nyibango-Yolde Pate Road with two bridges. We have just this week (at the time of the address) approved the award of contract of Bole Road which we hope to commence execution in a fortnight.
“To respond to the housing deficit in the State, we are constructing a 1,000 Units Mass Housing at Malkohi, in Yola South. I am happy to announce that works have reached advanced stage on the Housing Estate which is adjudged to be the largest Housing Programmme by a single administration in the annals of Adamawa State. We are determined to complete and commission this project and ensure that our population is sheltered and our people, particularly, Civil Servants are proud owners of houses they can afford with friendly mortgage terms.
“On the Jimeta flank of our State Capital, we were able to re-construct and commission the Weekly Scope Road which, I had the honour of renaming as Gambo Jimeta Road, Mustapha Ismail Extension, Dougirie Lane Road, Mayo-Inne Street, Jalingo Street Road, Lekki Tabba street, Falu Road and Links, Old Government House Road and Links, Bachure Road which I equally renamed Air Commodore David Jonah Jang Road and Lagos Street Road which I also renamed Brigadier DK Dzirkushu Road.
“In Girei Local Government, we have also ended the nightmare of commuters along the ATV–Badarissa–NYSC Road by completing and commissioning the road. As I speak to you, works are on-going on the Mambila Street, Jambutu Street, Nepa Road, Benue Street and links, Vunoklang-NJabore Road and the reconstruction of road network within the Bekaji Estate.
“The Lamido Aliyu Musdafa Bridge and the Grade interchange with underpass at Total junction and Police roundabout respectively have remained spectacular signature projects in the State capital and we are about to start another one at Mubi Road-about. These three projects are not merely for the beautification of the state capital but futuristic, so as to handle the projected vehicular traffic at these traffic node points in not-too-distant time when the state cannot afford the huge cost of implementing them”.
Aside the state capital and Jimetta, Gov. Fintiri stated that “the urban renewal campaign has also been extended to Hong, Madagali, Numan, Ganye, Jada Guyuk, Mubi-North, Mubi -South, Demsa, and Lamurde,” adding that “we have equally lightened-up most of the urban roads with solar powered street light”. The Governor noted that it is within his strategic plan that every part of Adamawa State would experience its fair share of this conscious effort to lighten up the spaces, especially at night.
He stressed: “We are equally opening up the rural areas through aggressive rural infrastructure campaign; lighting up communities by providing electricity to towns hitherto not connected to the national grid or whose facilities were destroyed especially in the insurgents’ devastated areas”.
The road infrastructure did not end at the urban centers. To get things done, Giv. Fintiri stated that “we have leveraged our partnership with the Rural Access and Mobility Programme (RAMP II) supported by the World Bank and constructed 347 km of rural roads across the state. Key among them are: Yolde Pate-New Prison to Yadim, Parda Muninga–Fufore, Kwanan yaji–Amdur, Longa Ewa–Wuro Yombe, Hong–Mujili–Kuva Gaya, Mayo Nguli–Manjaken–Salma, Numan–Bare, Shelleng–Bakta, Toungo–Kiri, Polewire–Ndikon, Ngurore–Mayobelwa–Gongoshi” roads, among several others the residents spoke about. In Adamawa, the people say, it is a huge construction cite on the overall.
Governor Fintiri appreciates that the vast majority of the people of the state cannot make any meaningful developmental andpolitocal headay without reasonable investments in energy and power. On this score, the Governor said: “I continue to draw joy and pride in the Toungo electricity project not only because of its landmark status but more because of my ability to fulfil an electoral promise I have always carried as a burden. Today, we have bridged the infrastructure gap so fast that Adamawa State is emerging as one of the wonders of urban renewal in this century. This uncommon feat has earned us (all) a mark of recognition in the country and an Award of Excellence in (State) infrastructure even from the Federal Government”.
*A hungry man is an agry man
There is no gain doubting the veracity of the saying. And the governor, with his vast experiences, fully appreciate this aspect even beyond any measure. And he set down to get things worked out to improve on the welfare of the entire citizenry, using the Civil Servants as an anchor point. According to the Governor, “Through meticulous and deliberate reform in the service, we implemented the minimum wage and its consequential adjustment and ensured that workers have gone beyond the worries of when monthly pay-cheques are made ready in the State. We have innovated an ingenious way to deal with the issue of Leave Grant” of which the shortfalls are being surmounted in liaison with the organized labour.
Aside those, Fintiri added: “We are unbundling the unwarranted gridlock with our pension system. So far, we have sustained prompt payment of pensions and systematically reducing the backlog of gratuity payments we inherited.
The pension reform is on-going; we are working with the State Assemby to introduce some amendments into the State Pension Law, to make it conform with the PENCOM regulation for Contributory Pension Scheme for subnationals.
“To mitigate the suffering of those who retire from the Local Government Service to be enrolled into the pension scheme, we have innovated a seamless enrolment process through the E-Pension platform which makes it automatic for a retiring staff to transit to the platform without waiting for too long to access his pension as has been the tortous practice in the past. We have subdued mediocrity and introduced merit in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of workers in the State”.
*Opening up public mental capacity through improved educational system
For a society to attain quantum leap in social and economic advancement and make meaningful progress, such a society must be an enlightened society. Governor Fintiri did not waste any time analysing the issues and determining what to do. This was based on an honest assessment and the desire to provide the platform for the uplifting of his people. According to him, “an educational system that was crying for help in terms of access, enrolment, retention, and progression with ill-motivated teachers, poor learning infrastructure, lack of teaching aides and general lack of incentives and subsidies for both parents and students”, was what he inherited when he was sworn-in in 2019.
“With such incentives like free tuition fees in public schools, payment of national examination fees such as JSSCE, WAEC and NECO; and payment of bursaries (Scholarship) to indigent students in tertiary institutions, etc. today, we have aggressively reversed the ugly trend. Our teachers are paid regularly, the infrastructures are being improved upon, teaching and learning aides are provided in the schools, scholarships are provided for our students in tertiary institutions, Basic education is free in the state and no child attending public school pays for NECO and WAEC Exams in Adamawa State”.
Passing verdict on the outcomes of the investment, he stated: “Today, we are happy that the return on investment is yielding faster than we thought with the surge in enrolment and the overall performance in national examinations. The performance of our students who have 5 credits and above including the basic subjects of English Language and Mathematics in this year’s WAEC alone which stood at over 75% with over 85% performance in NECO in the same subjects”. He stated that “this feat is unprecedented in the combined history of both Adamawa State and defunct Gongola State”.
While addressing the Secondary Health Care tier, he also said: “we have also invested enough resources in the Primary Health Care tier, where we constructed eight (8) new Primary Health Care Centre, renovated 17 existing ones and upgraded seven (7) Centers and provided fencing for 17 Centers across the state. We also completed the three (3) Centers we inherited from our predecessors.
*The elderly were not left out
“In addition, 10 new Health Posts, two (2) Laboratories and over 30 VIP latrines have been constructed. We have equally recruited Nurses and Doctors to man the existing hospitals and now doing same for the new ones and have established the State Health Insurance Scheme which is aimed at supporting low-income earners and vulnerable people in the State. Under this scheme, children under five (5) years, pregnant mothers and the aged’ above 65 years will receive free medical attention. I am to bring to your notice that over 70,000 people have already been enrolled into the scheme and the enrolment campaign is on-going.
currently, the Health Indicators from the Federal Ministry of Health, places Adamawa State on top with the best Health Indices in the North-East.
*Overall financial management
Prudence has been eluding out nomenclature both at the local government, state and at the national level as shown by reports of both indigenous and International auditors. The malaise is so debilitating that Nigeria is being classified among the worst countries among the most corrupt countries of the world. Cognisant of this and with the result of the findings he commissioned, Governor Fintiri said: “We deployed all our ingenuity and re-engineered the financial mesh of the State. This financial re-engineering was able to lessen the weight of the debt burden on our shoulders and provided us with the required oxygen to breath and unleash our energy on other sectors. We went on to key reform drivers such as: Reduction in the cost of running government, prudent management of the scarce government resources, Enhanced Revenue Optimization System, Meticulous insurance of Value for Money and Improved Payroll Management systems. While instituting a culture of discipline around these key drivers, to engender transparency and accountability, we submitted completely to the Treasury Single Account System (TSA) to manage Revenue Collection and Accounting Processes and our Capital and Recurrent Expenditure Payments. This helped us to record all government inflows of revenues from IGR, FAAC and other sources.
“Related to this deliberate policy of deepening transparency and accountability is our commitment to strengthen the governance institutions by providing unfettered autonomy to the Local Governments and the other two Arms of Government – the Legislature and the Judiciary. This has fortified the institutions to function optimally and created a harmonious working relationship between the extant tiers and organs of government in the State”.
*Highly motivated workforce
Issues arising from implememtation of the new National Minimum Wage have placed several state workforce at loggerheads with their state governments. But Adamawa workers are luckier as they have a governor who empathises with his workforce, striving always to cater for their welfare. And thumping his chest, the Governor stated that: “We are among the first states to implement the upward review of minimum wage which was passed at N30,0000.00. We not only implemented the minimum wage as approved by the Federal Government, but implemented a Minimum wage of N32,000.00 to Civil Servants on GL 1 – 6 and also agreed on the consequential adjustments to those on GL 7 and above”. The above actions no doubt boosted the morale of the workforce.
*Boosting agricultural and entrepreneurship in Adamawa State
Food security is an essential element to sustain peace and security in any state. But through the deployment of his vast experiences, Governor Fintiri aware that food security and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand if such is to lead to sustainability, there has to be a synergy between agriculture and entrepreneurship. And the Governor of Admawa State fully appreciates the ramifications which is why he launched the Adamawa State Agribusiness Support Progamme (ADAS-P) which is envisioned to create 750,000 direct jobs with a corresponding 1,500,000 indirect ones. The Governor said that “It is also expected to grow our GDP from its current level of 1.7 trillion to 7.8 trillion Naira. Above all, it will raise our IGR from 8.3 billion in 2020 to 52 billion Naira in 10 years’ time.
“We floated an Agricbusiness bond, the first of its kind in Nigeria’s capital market and introduced a tax proceed discipline which ties the IGR to servicing of facilities accessed for development”.
The governor was pushed into carrying out these reforms because “we inherited a youth’s bulge that is not only frustrating but hopeless. With no clear road map, our predecessors had no sustainable strategic plan for the development of the youth. We went on to develop institutional framework for the development and empowerment of our youths by creating the Ministry of Entrepreneurship Development and an Agency for Poverty Alleviation and Wealth Creation to provide the right skills for our teaming youths and prepare them for self-reliance.
“So far, over 20,000 youths have been trained in various skills ranging from ICT, entrepreneurship and related trades. This will also stimulate the development of Micro-small and Medium Enterprises in the State. We have also resuscitated our Technical and Vocational Skills Acquisition Centers across the State and enrolment of trainees have commenced in some of them”.
After asking the relevant questions and eliciting responses, the governor has no iota of doubt declaring thay “we have been able to provide the needed “Fresh Air” we promised our people at the inception of this administration; we are doing our best and posterity and the people are the best judges. One thing we are certain of is that Adamawa State has moved on and the Fresh Air is blowing unpolluted.
“considering where we are coming from, the lean resources at our disposals and the global economic crunch imposed by the various regimes of lockdowns and shut-ups caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant effects, some of the items on the staple of our development plans remain a work in progress. Moving forward into a phase that would require a renewal of this mandate, I want the citizens to expect more from us. We shall consolidate on the gains already made on each item on the 11-Point agenda,” Governor Fintiri promis Good