At the tail-end of his administration, Adamawa state former Governor, Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow went berserk – employing and giving waivers to whomever has contacts and connections. Bindow’s actions created a social and political problem for new Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri. It was an act, purposely done to set a political trap for Fintiri, a plan that has so far succeeded, to some extent. Sadly, Governor Fintiri has not managed it with ‘political-intelligence. This is a problem Fintiri must use both his political intuition and off-the-shelves political science, to solve.
On Wednesday, October 2 2019, the aggrieved civil servants staged a peaceful protest over six months’ unpaid salaries. The Deputy Governor, Chief Crowther Seth received them with an opened hand, that was a politically correct move. However, the issue has become a big one for Fintiri’s administration, which has recorded superb performance in the few months in office. Every political pundit knows that the issue is now the only item on the opposition’s table, which they used against Gov. Fintiri, with joy!
The truth- It is neither economically feasible nor sustainable for the government to keep the new employees, but it is very dangerous politically for the Fintiri to lay them off. The more time the issue lingers, the more nexus of problems it will generate, further damaging Fintiri administration’s public image.
What should Fintiri do? The government has setup a competent committee to advise it. Governor Fintiri should look at the issue through the prism of the ladder that brought him the power- the spirit of give and take. Those who got waivers to change places of assignment, but didn’t follow due process, should revert to their former workstations, but those who followed due process should maintain their new posts. Those who got employment and are qualified for the positions, should be retained. But those who are not qualified should be let go. However, they should be put in the administarion’s social investment programme with a monthly stipend. Furthermore, they will get priority when the administration starts employing for position they are fit for. While these do not entirely solve the problem at hand, it gives the Governor some political breathing space.
The politics of employment, workers’ salaries and social welfare is an intricate one; it can make or mar public office holders notwithstanding their performance in office. As a man who came to power via intricate politicking, strange political alliances and strong support from common people, Fintiri is up against high-wired politics of Adamawa and at the same time laden with expectations from the common man.
We must admit that, on this issue, the government has not applied the 13 golden rules of PR crisis management. How Gov. Fintiri manages these will either further endear him to the people or relegate him to a political loner. For Fintiri to succeed in the Adamawa’s murky politics, mired in self-seeking interests of political bigwigs, he must balance policies and politics. No governor in Adamawa State succeeds without understanding the balancing of development with playing local politics.
The issue of the unpaid civil servants is a simple matter in common sense; but is a tough call for Fintiri, politically. As a governor with good education and a future ahead of him, Fintiri needs to define how he wants to be perceived politically by politicians and economically by the common man. Governor Fintiri has so far performed excellently, smartly addressing the concerns of the unpaid civil servants will earn him an edge over the opposition.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa state, 08036070980, [email protected]