The Adamawa Factor in Nigerian Politics

The Adamawa Factor in Nigerian Politics

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–By ABBA MAHMOOD

Adamawa is a unique state. Geographical, historical and socio-cultural factors have combined to make it politically indispensable since the creation of Nigeria. Adamawa is situated right at the centre of every regime since independence. It is one of the most diverse and most heterogonous with over 80 ethnic groups but virtually all Fulfulde-speaking.

The people of Adamawa are very proud of their heritage and are also very conscious of their integration process dating back to centuries, since there is virtually no family in Adamawa that is mono-ethnic. That is the bond that cements the long-existing peace and harmony in that special state.

During the late colonial and early post-colonial era, one of the most powerful political figures in the country was the late Alhaji Mahmudu Ribadu, incidentally the grandfather of Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the president. As minister of Lagos affairs he helped to build Nigeria’s capital which has become the commercial hub of the West African sub-region. As the first defence minister, Ribadu helped to build the foundation of a modern military for Nigeria. He laid the foundation for the Nigerianisation of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and appointed Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi as its first Nigerian commander. He established the Air Force and the Nigerian Defence Academy after independence to have a strong defence to enable Nigeria play a leading role in Africa and the world. Alhaji Ribadu was also the first and only deputy prime minister of Nigeria at independence.

With the advent of the military regime, Adamawa was not left behind. Alhaji Ahmed Joda was one of the super permanent secretaries that helped the military to run the country at that time by formulating and implementing all the laudable policies and programmes of national development that people still remember with nostalgia.

Being a state with many military officers, Adamawa’s contribution to Nigeria’s unity during the civil war cannot be over-emphasized. Adamawa produced not only a substantial number of the officers but indeed a significant number of the fighting soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria as a nation.

When Gen. Gowon was overthrown and the Murtala/Obasanjo regime came into being in 1975, seven new states were created bringing the total to 19. Of the 19 military governors of that era, five were from Adamawa. This was in addition to some key members of the Supreme Military Council and federal officials of that era. That era saw the making of Yola, the traditional capital of Adamawa, as the capital of the then newly created Gongola state. Thus, government was brought closer to the people and development was brought to the grass roots. Today Yola has become a cosmopolitan city that has been attracting people from all over the world who come for knowledge, commerce or other socio-economic and even political reasons.

With the advent of civilian rule and the inauguration of President Shehu Shagari in 1979, internal affairs minister Alhaji Ali Baba as well as defence minister Prof. Iya Abubakar were both from Adamawa, as if saying that Nigeria’s security against external aggression and internal security challenges were entrusted to Adamawa people. In addition, Gen. GS Jalo was army chief and later chief of defence staff in that regime; also Air Vice Marshal AD Bello was chief of air staff; both of them were from Adamawa. This was in addition to many Adamawa people holding other strategic positions in the public service of the federal government at that time.

When the military overthrew President Shagari and installed Gen. Buhari as head of state in December 1983, again, the chief of air staff, Air Marshal Ibrahim Alfa was from Adamawa. This was in addition to other military commanders who were members of the Supreme Military Council. One of the most powerful ministers of that era was commerce and industry minister Dr Mahmud Tukur, also from Adamawa. General Hananiya from Adamawa was Buhari‘s high commissioner to the UK, the major diplomatic posting as far as Nigeria is concerned. Ambassador Hananiya was entrusted with that sensitive posting at a time when most of the fugitive politicians were residing in the UK.

When General Babangida overthrew Buhari in 1985, Adamawa was still in reckoning. In fact, there was a time the chief of air staff, Alfa; the chief of naval staff, Admiral Murtala Nyako; as well as the inspector-general of police, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, were all from Adamawa and all were members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council. In that regime, Prof. Jubril Aminu was education minister and later petroleum minister, an era that saw the participation of Nigerians in that strategic sector. Many key appointments were also held by Adamawa people in that regime, both civil and military.

During the Abacha era, Alhaji Hassan Adamu, the Wakili Adamawa, was Nigeria’s ambassador to the US. Alhaji Gambo Jimeta was also a powerful minister in the Abacha cabinet. Even the ADC to General Abacha, when he was head of state, was from Adamawa. This was in addition to many Adamawa people holding other strategic positions in both military and federal public services of that era.

Under President Obasanjo, Atiku Abubakar emerged as vice president for eight years, the longest-serving VP in Nigeria’s history to date. Also, the longest-serving minister of that era, Mallam Adamu Bello, is from Adamawa State. This was in addition to many Adamawa people holding strategic positions in both civil and military services of that era, such as Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who was the pioneer chairman of the anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Obasanjo established and entrusted it to Mallam Nuhu.

Even under President Goodluck Jonathan, Adamawa was not neglected. Mallam Hassan Tukur, the principal private secretary to President Jonathan and one of the closest people to him, is from Adamawa. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who was for some time national chairman of the then ruling party is also from Adamawa.

Under the current dispensation, the minister of FCT, Mallam Mohammed Bello, is from Adamawa; the secretary to government of the federation, Barrister Boss Mustapha, is from Adamawa; and of course the wife of President Buhari, Hajia Aisha, is from Adamawa. There are others. In fact, the chairman of Buhari’s transition committee, Baba Ahmed Joda, is from Adamawa.

Thus, since independence there is no government that has not included Adamawa people contributing to national development at the highest and other levels. Apart from the presidency, there is no single executive position in Nigeria, whether military, paramilitary or civil, that someone from Adamawa has not held. And they do not blow their trumpet, partly because they know the power game. In all these years, only Atiku tried to outshine his principal, President Obasanjo, very much unlike the people of Adamawa who are known for loyalty, integrity and powerful influence but always behind the scenes.

History is on the side of the oppressed.

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