Powers behind the Adamawa throne
By DAVID MOLOMO, Yola
Friday, March 6, 2004

•Gov. Boni Haruna
Sun News Publishing
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.

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.

ATIKU ABUBAKAR
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 and 2003.


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 laws.


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 government officials.


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 man.

JOEL MADAKI
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 elements’.
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.

JOHN MANASSA
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.

 

ASAPH ZADOK
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.

JOHN ELIAS
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 the system.


 

 

 

 

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