The Fintiri Phenomenon ,By Babayola Toungo

FintiriOn July 15th, 2014 a revolution took place in Yola, the Adamawa state capital courtesy of the state’s legislators.  Sadly, the revolution was truncated eighty-six days later by forces who felt threatened by the success recorded within this short period of time.  This period can be likened to an era of enlightenment for a people and a state long held hostage by a few self-serving individuals whose concept of governance is not beyond the subjugation of the people, self-aggrandisement and self-glorification through recourse to ethno-religious divide and the pillage of state resources.  These people have no sense of rights or responsibilities – their responsibilities begin and end with their immediate families and cronies.  While a whole state suffers and stutters, they rejoice and swim amidst ill-gotten wealth; the tears of the poor are the oil for their seamy lives.

On this day, a relatively unknown quantity (unknown by their weird standards) ascended the seat of the governor of the state by providence and thereby “distorted” a succession plan laid before the impeachment.  Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly was never in the loop as far as the powers that be are concerned and was considered an interloper by the mandarins holding the jugular of Adamawa State.  On taking the oath of office, he hit the ground literally running.  He tinkered with the administration of the civil service, lighted up a fourteen kilometre stretch of road which was earlier awarded at a cost that was 200% the cost at which Fintiri awarded, completed, equipped and commissioned hospitals in Numan and Jada and paid the civil servants their salaries withheld since 2011 for sadistic reasons.

In the short time that he spent holding the reins of governance in the state, he succeeded in restoring hope to a people who has given up on government and politics.  He has shown that government can work when there is the will and the commitment.  After taking over from a government that has all but killed the civil service, he revitalised the civil service and made it the fulcrum of administration and the arrowhead of his rescue mission.  He embarks on projects that are people-oriented.  The sum of it all is that Fintiri demystified the myth that government cannot work or be sensitive to the needs of the people.  That governance is no rocket science.  All it takes to run a successful government is the commitment, sincerity of purpose and the fear of God.  These actions, small as they may appear, scared those whose stock in trade has always been deception.

The campaigns of calumny began on all fronts with a single aim – bring down Fintiri before he disrobes us.  With a gullible audience, a malleable judiciary and a conniving presidency, they succeeded in bringing his government to an end.  But did they succeed in bringing him down?  I don’t think so.

The campaign was so childish, insensitive and beggars believe with the calibre of those involved in the whole mess.  Unsavoury comments were attributed to him in an effort to demonise him and make him a hated figure.  Comments like “I have broken the calabash of the Fulani’s”, “my mother is a Christian and therefore I will convert to Christianity once I am elected to the office of the governor of Adamawa State”, and many more crazy things.  After the court terminated his acting tenure, allegations of stealing N18billion was bandied around the cyber world by people I thought were too “educated” to believe, let alone circulate such crap.

After sifting the multitude of allegations, those I mentioned above appear to me the most mundane among them.  They also diminished our status, in my opinion.  Assuming Fintiri’s mother is a Christian (which she is not) how does that disqualify him from being the governor of the state.  Am I to infer from this mindless allegation that Christians are precluded from ascending the governorship position in Adamawa State?  When has it been criminalised to practice one’s choice of religion and practice it free from any discrimination?  Was the constitution of the federal republic amended to expunge the section guaranteeing the freedom of worship?  The allegation of stealing N18billion in eighty-six days is the most idiotic of all.  Before making assholes (excuse the language), why don’t we use our common sense (I agree it is not common) to make some informed comments?  Did we care to find out how much accrued to the state within the period Fintiri was holding fort?  I believe with the Freedom of Information Act (FOA) one can easily get the details of all financial in-flows to any state government in the country.  To go ahead and make such wild allegations is the height of irresponsibility in my book.

The investigations conducted by the Fintiri led administration, with the assistance of consultants, on the state of the government’s finances and its relationship with its bankers, opened a can of worms and provided a bird’s eye view on how the impeached government in collaboration with its bankers have been milking the state dry.  While the state was wilting and dying inch by inch, they were living fat off its skeleton.  The financial recklessness unearthed by the consultants has no reference in the history of financial administration in the state’s chequered history.  A whopping sum of N72billion has been systematically stolen while an overdraft of another N12billion was serviced every month to the tune of over N1billion.  Instead of explaining how N72billion was frittered away, they resorted to painting Fintiri with the same brush they painted themselves in the hope of obfuscating their crimes.

I feel ashamed that people that I know and count among my associates could descend to this level just to remain “relevant” or attempt to destroy someone else’s career simply because he refused to be identified with any “godfather” and choose to hold on to his God as his “Godfather”.  Have we so lost our sense of propriety to the extent that we are willing to tell lies against others and invite the wrath of God on us for a pot of porridge?  I have mixed emotions for this crowd at the moment – are they to be shunned or pitied?

Fintiri’s tenure as acting governor was brought down – yes; his ambition to contest for the residual tenure of Nyako was shot down by the enemies of the state – yes; but was he brought down?  No.  it is our collective lost.  I pitied the people of Adamawa, who were the primary beneficiaries of the policies and programmes designed to be implemented by Fintiri.  The beginnings of a template on good governance was about to manifest, when the forces of darkness struck but I believe it may not be easy for anyone to deviate substantially from the path charted by Fintiri without inviting the wrath of the poor.  Kan mage ya waye.

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