behind the Adamawa throne
What would come as a surprise to many people in the southern
part of the country who have always had the impression of a
monolithic North is the reality on the ground in such northern
states as Adamawa. For this North Eastern state is acclaimed
to be the most heterogeneous state in the whole country.
By DAVID MOLOMO, Yola
Friday, March 6, 2004
As a result, Governor Boni Haruna is saddled with overseeing
a state that is blessed with over 40 ethnic groups, all demanding
government’s attention in all spheres of development.
Haruna’s, therefore, is no mean task.
But despite this diffusion, the cord that links the people
together is the cultural affinity and similar anthropology
of the member ethnic groups, coupled with their historical
antecedents that are interwoven.
This existing relationship notwithstanding, every ethnic group
strategizes to reach the centre of the administration and
strives for development to match the happenings at the national
level, where all and sundry seek for relevance. Every ethnic
group strives to be at the mainstream of power.
Aside the cultural affinity, inter-marriages among the Christians
and Muslims exist, it is the binding force in the political
system. It has also been the desire by the diffused society
develop the state.
Now, Adamawa is one state bursting at the seams with power
brokers, notably giants of industry, political heavy weights,
retired generals, high-ranking traditional rulers and all.
It is home to such national figures as Vice–President
Atiku Abubakar, Senator Mahmud Waziri, a shrewd businessman
and politician, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, a former NADECO
Chieftain, Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd), outstanding former
mlitary administrator of Lagos State, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
former Governor of the defunct Gongola State and president
African Business Roundtable and Alhaji Ahmed Joda, a former
super permanent secretary in Generals Gowon and Obasanjo’s
regimes as military heads of state, who now plays fatherly
and advisory roles to the young governor when required.
With this intimidating cult of ex-this, ex-that, it is almost
impossible that Haruna would run his government alone. And
he does not.
Vice–President Atiku Abubakar is, no doubt, a political
heavy weight in the whole of North–East geo– political
equation of the country. He is in some quarters regarded as
the political godfather of most of the upcoming politicians,
and office seekers in the North East, particularly in his
home state, Adamawa. In Adamawa, his influence is almost taken
for granted for he had stood and won election as governor
in 1998 – with Haruna as running mate. It was only after
he left as Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate that
his deputy took over the seat, which the PDP, again, reclaimed
in the April 2003 polls.
Political ascendancy of most people to the national assembly
and the position of governor in the region is linked to the
influence of Atiku, the "bulldozer" as he is fondly
called in Adamawa State. This is not unconnected to his great
influence in even calming a tempestuous situation that may
apparently prove difficult to tackle.
Governor Boni Haruna, respects his talent and political wizardry.
The young governor, literally learnt the rudiments of politics
from the Vice–president, who incidentally, had initially
won the mandate on which Haruna governed Adamawa between 1999
Haruna, fondly called in the state by his first name, Boni,
came to limelight in 1999, when the then Governor–Elect
metamorphosed to vice-presidential candidate of his party,
PDP, to the then General Olusegun Obasanjo. But this development
did not only generate litigation in court, in a case filed
by All Nigeria Peoples Party candidate, Dr. Bala Takaya, who
challenged the legality of declaring Boni Governor, it also
led to intra-party conflicts within the PDP where some members
insisted that fresh primaries should be conducted in PDP,
for the new party candidate.
The court, however ruled that Boni has had the mandate of
the citizenry to concurrently govern the state even in the
absence of Atiku through the legal means. This decision in
favour of Boni has since set a precedence in Nigerian electoral
Ever since this development, critics of Haruna’s administration
have concluded that Vice- President Atiku Abubakar is the
political godfather of the governor. Although, Haruna has
never denied that, he debunks insinuations that he acts the
script of the political heavyweight in the day-to-day governance
of the state, in the political appointments or removal of
Other critics of the administration posit that the governor’s
frequent trips to Abuja were for him to receive briefs or
take notes on the scripts he should act on. However, aides
of the governor say Haruna is a man of his own. He once told
journalists that there are times that he disagrees with the
Vice-president on principles, on various issues.
Thus, the nation’s number two man takes the criticisms
and challenges in good faith, and friendship continues. According
to him, decisions are taken by government based on their merit
and not that someone is literally using a remote control to
direct the affairs of governance of Adamawa State.
But the relationship between the duo goes back a long way,
even from The Week Magazine. While Haruna is said to respect
Atiku as an elder and as a nationally acclaimed political
stalwart, Atiku sees intelligence and ingenuity in the younger
Madaki is Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party
in the State. The governor holds him in high esteem as a man
of the old school, a bureaucrat par excellence and a shrewd
politician, Madaki has been in politics since the first Republic
and was a commissioner in the Gongola State government of
the now late Governor Abubakar Barde in the Second Republic.
Since the inception of the present administration. Madaki
has been very prominent in laundering the image of government
through his powerful and oratory speeches and makes himself
readily available to counter any negative impression about
the administration by the opposition parties or those people
Boni calls "stone throwers", or "Centrifugal
As the chairman of the party, he is said to have influence
in the appointment of political office holders, notably commissioners,
Advisers and local government caretaker committee members
throughout the 21 local government areas.
Insiders in the Government House also say that Chief Joel
Madaki’s wealth of experience in politics and governance
is highly respected by those in government, and thus he is
in a vantage position to influence decisions.
Chief John Manassa is the Secretary to Adamawa State Government.
He is not only a shrewd political crowd-puller, but also an
acclaimed bureaucrat who has used his wealth of experience
to influence decisions in government. Haruna has great confidence
in his worth and taps this experience in tackling political
and bureaucratic matters in the state.
Manassa, a former school mate of vice-president Atiku Abubakar,
was key to the success of Haruna in the gubernatorial election
in the southern part of the state as he criss-crossed the
whole of the nine local government areas to ensure victory
at the Presidential and governorship polls. Analysts, hinged
the victory of PDP in both elections on his maneuvering prowess
and high degree of politicking and bickering. they say his
disposition and frankness has continued to sustain confidence
in both him and Haruna.
Manassa, a former school principal is noted for strictness
and rebukes instantly, any erring public and civil servant.
This has earned him respect among the commissioners and permanent
secretaries, who are mostly his junior in the civil service,
while some were his former students or had once worked under
him. He dares to either scold them or issue a warning to them
anytime they erred.
He is the state’s commissioner for Information. In the
first part of Haruna’s tenure, he was an ardent critic
of his administration. The prolific writer, used to devote
a number of pages in the national newspapers to objectively
criticise the direction of government on certain issues. It
is widely held that Zadok was once called upon by Governor
Haruna not to settle at only criticising the position of government
and proffer ways out, but that he should come on board to
practicalise his principle or workable approaches to solving
series of problems faced by the state.
Throughout the first four years, Zadok was said to have refused
to give in to that proposal, not until middle of 2002, when
he found it necessary to join others to campaign for the return
of not only Haruna to Government House but President Olusegun
Obasanjo and Vice president Atiku Abubakar.
Asaph Zadok, led a campaign train of the ‘Bring Boni
Back Project’. This is the most recognised campaign
organisation by government, with membership drawn from across
the length and breadth of the state.
Zadok, an orator and a former president of the University
of Maiduguri students union government, used his oratory power
to garner support for PDP and was a threat to All Nigeria
Peoples Party and its candidate, Alhaji Adamu Modibbo.
Today, he is Haruna’s confidant and is respected among
his colleagues in the cabinet. He is also regarded as first
among equals because of the reputation he has built among
the people and his colleagues.
Analysts tend to posit that, he was picked as commissioner
for Information because of his long years of media practice
and link with media practitioners across the country.
This is said to have given Haruna the impetus to direct some
media affairs to him and Governor’s chief press secretary
to handle. His submissions are always respected by Haruna.
Though Haruna was also a media practitioner, he is said to
hold Zadok’s inputs on vital issues in high esteem.
Chief John Elias is the commissioner for Local Government
and Chieftaincy Affairs in Haruna’s cabinet. He is regarded
as a powerful force to reckon with, especially as it affects
the sensitisation of the public on actions of government.
Elias is held in high esteem by the caretaker Management committee
chairmen, who throng his office for enlightenment on some
policy issues of government as they relate to them.
He is in the vantage position to make government note and
appreciate the plights of each community. In some instances,
where the local government councils, have projects to execute
which are above the expenditure limit stipulated by law, meeting
Elias, it is assumed, can sometimes solve the problem by half.
Elias is also a political figure to be reckoned with. During
the last gubernatorial and presidential elections, he was
said to have mobilised youths for campaigne in the ANPP dominated
areas of the state, where his team reduced the strength of
membership and support.
In his recent tour of the local government areas of the state,
Elias was accorded a red-carpet reception, where he disabused
the minds of people who were made to believe that the Adamawa
state government had been deducting money from the local government
joint allocation accounts. Some critics, called "stone
throwers’ by the governor, even went to the extent of
saying that the Vice President sometimes demands for certain
percentage of the contract sum of a project in the state.
Elias lot has been to correct these misconceptions at the
grassroot level – for this, he commands the respect
of both the people and the establishment. So, when he talks,
the governor listens. He had worked as a Director, Personnel
Management in the system for years. So he also understands