* Fintiri’s failure since he was sworn in as governor of Adamawa state can be traced to his original lie: the false image he sold to the Adamawa people in order to hide his shortcomings.
After a lifetime devoted to avoiding responsibility and accountability — for his lies, his deceptions, his hype, and his cruelty – Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri has met his match in the mandate of governing the state given to him by the people. His bluff and bluster are powerless as thousands of Adamawa workers die and the blame falls, in part, on his failure to heed the warnings and execute a robust workers welfare promised he made why campaigning. This occurred even though a pandemic playbook had been left behind by the Bindow administration. Early in the crisis, Fintiri said “We have taken care of workers welfare and everything about civil servants is totally under control. It’s all about payment of salary. It’s going to be just fine.”
On one level, Fintiri’s failure since he was sworn in as governor of Adamawa state can be traced to his original lie: the false image he sold to the Adamawa people in order to hide his shortcomings. Never a competent manager of complex organizations — witness his many bankruptcies — Fintiri rose to fame pitching the illusion that he was a great businessman and politician that care so much about workers welfare and education for the youths. As he sought to be governor he used counterattacks, lies, and skillful denials to avoid answering for his record and gain the Dougirei government House.
As someone who has studied Fintiri for years, I thought it was inevitable that he would eventually reach a moment of reckoning as governor. I couldn’t have imagined that it would come with the catastrophic consequences now facing the state as governance and dividend of democracy overwhelms Adamawa state under Fintiri’s watch, including his decision to lock down the state totally and brings the economy to a standstill. Fintiri’s profound personal shortcomings — deficiencies of his heart and mind — helped bring us to this moment.
The first of Fintiri’s weaknesses? His lack of emotional intelligence and empathy, which causes him to struggle to relate to human suffering which has manifested in this covid 19 virus period. The decision he took by locking down the entire state economy made tenants, business, artisan miserable so they would move out begging for what to eat as the lock down bite harder, became the governor who downplayed the current hunger hurricane in Adamawa due to his ill advice locking down of the entire state, and now barely speaks of those stricken and killed by the hunger virus in Adamawa. Instead, he obsesses over TV and leadership media ratings and the economy as if his image in the media and the ups and downs of leadership newspaper indices matter more than life itself.
The second of Fintiri’s deficiencies is a habit of mind that discounts expertise and elevates convenient opinions supported by cherry-picked sources of misinformation. Businessman/politician Fintiri exhibited this willful ignorance when, for example, he said the problem facing Adamawa then was Bindow and that the state don’t need to borrow or take overdraft from bank to pay salary. And Governor Fintiri has claimed to have extensive knowledge on a vast array of topics from education policy to worker welfare.
Fintiri’s arrogance as a businessman and a candidate was obnoxious but not terribly dangerous. In a governor, it puts Adamawa’s fate into the hands of a man who was incapable of learning even from his own aides. Faced with an enemy that is literally killing people he stayed true to form as he pushed an unproven ways taking care of civil servants problems especially his promise of building 2000 housing units, which the ADSHA approved 9.9 billion loan in that regard.
Ignorant as he can seem, the governor seems to sense that this moment of making many promises will establish his reputation in perpetuity. He said as much last week when he observed that, “the history books will never forget” his approach to governance in Adamawa. What he did not mention, however, is that his response to the way and manner in which he manage every kobo that comes in to the state from Abuja will be examined in minute detail — it is this prospect, the prospect of accountability, that looms over him now.
Until this corona crisis, Fintiri had avoided accountability with remarkable consistency. In politics, he deflected accountability by blaming others, especially the former governor, Senator for everything that went wrong under his watch as governor of state. Recently, when asked about lack of capital projects from 2019 till date, bluntly, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” He claimed Bindow plunged the state into debt.
Historians will eventually write books detailing what journalists already know about the Fintiri administration’s dereliction of duty when the pandemic hit. Despite no better capital projects executed or commission by the Fintiri’s administration since 2019 the Dougirei government House offered no coherent response to the waning confidence of the electorates in the present PDP administration in Adamawa. There have been sparse moments when Fintiri has sounded like a leader capable of handling this crisis — like during his briefing on the covid 19 virus lock down in Adamawa, in which he announced that he was locking down the state to avoid the corona virus from coming into the state. But these moments don’t last long before Fintiri back to pitting people against each other by claiming to give palliatives that are questionable and also given himself and his government false glory.
The governor’s complaints about not being appreciated remind us that he takes everything personally and that his personal qualities of heartlessness and intellectual dishonesty will hobble his response to our suffering. Acutely attuned to his own feelings, he’s so numb to the pain of others that he avoids talking about it. If he has shed a tear or allowed his voice to tremble with grief during this covid 19 pandemic lock down in Adamawa I have not observed him do it. Likewise, he remains devoted to discounting reliable information that shows things getting worse for an average family in Adamawa in favor of happy talk. Health care workers reusing disposable masks and using trash bags as protective gowns.
It is unfortunate that we are yet to see the 500 million budgeted by the state government put to use fully, as no one can suggest to me the peanut they shared has gulp the 500 million naira already. While other states that have the feelings of it citizenry at heart, Fintiri led state government is still adamant on lifting the curfew even in the face of Easter period at hand.
The accounting will continue. And like the pandemic, it will be devastating.