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Date Published: 06/26/10

Appraising Adamawa MPs in the National Assembly By Zayyad I. Muhammad

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The 6th National Assembly will end in 2011. Politicians have started squabbling to get elected as members of the House Representatives or as Senators; those in Adamawa State are also not left out. Almost in all the federal constituencies in the state, there are scores of individual who have indicated their interests to contest either as Honourable Members of the House of Representatives or Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Students of politics are of the view that the political space in Adamawa is being crowded with so many candidates vying to be MPs, because the current members representing the state in both chambers of the National assembly have not performed to the expectation of Adamawa people; while political pundits are of the opinion that the combination of many factors is the reasons, whereas, on-the-street opinion on the sudden flare-up of interests by throngs of candidates in virtually all the federal constituencies in Adamawa reveals that the reasons for this is not farther from theory of  the typical Nigerian politician- ‘it is my turn’.

Critics of Adamawa MPs have categorised them into various classes based on their performances: average; below average; poor and very poor. Almost all MPs at the lower chamber of the National Assembly have been under intense criticisms from many quarters, but those from Adamawa are in a class of their own. However, their supporters argue that, those criticising the MPs from Adamawa are merely hiding under the name of public censure to play politics.

Looking at the issue beyond politics, some important questions need to be answered: have Adamawa representatives in both the ‘red’ and ‘green’ chambers represented their constituencies and the nation outstandingly as they ought to have done? Will they have easy ride in their bid to return to the National Assembly? The answers are anybody’s guess.

Out of the nation’s 109 senators, Adamawa state has three: Grace Folashade Bent (PDP): Adamawa South, Jibril Aminu (PDP): Adamawa Central and Mohammed Mana (PDP): Adamawa North; while out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives, the state has 8 members: Abubakar Mahmud Wambai (PDP): representing Mubi North/Mubi South/Maiha, Aminu Hamman Ribadu (PDP): representing Fufore/Song, Anthony Madwatte (PDP): representing Demsa/Numan /Lamurde, Babale Martins (AC): representing Jada/Ganye/ Mayobelwa/Toungo federal constituency, Binta Masi Garba (PDP): Madagali/Michika, Emmanuel Bello (PDP):Gombi/Hong, Jim Kwawo Audu(AC): Guyuk/Shelleng, and Sa’ad M.C. Tahir is representing Yola North/Yola South/Girei federal constituency

50 year old Senator Grace Folashade Bent was a beneficiary of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘political largesse’ in Adamawa. Her performance in the red chambers in term of contributions on national issues when compared to her colleagues’, can be said to be excellent, while her zeal in the area of alleviation of poverty and the promotion of youth and women causes in her constituency is very good. However, with the unfolding political events in Adamawa state, she will have a difficult task in her bid to make a second return to the Senate. Her senatorial district will be an epicentre of hot politics, especially with the return of Atiku to PDP, who is also from the senatorial district. Painfully, despite her exceptional performance in the Senate, Senator Grace will face one of the mundane issues in the Nigeria politics- politics of ethnicity. Grace is of Yoruba extraction, she may face stiff opposition from Adamawa Minority Forum, in addition to two strong opponents: former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Chief Pascal Bafyau and Alhaji Salisu Barata a two-time member of the House of Representatives. Though, she will have to heavily rely on her strong connection with the youth and women in her constituency.

Sen. Mohammed Mana, former Commander Brigade of Guards and former Military Administrator of Plateau State is representing Adamawa North in the upper chamber. Despite his vast military experience, his critics say his performance in the Senate has not reflected his experience in nation building; though his supporters are of the view that his performance is average. However, he has a hard way ahead of him, in his bid to return to the Senate, because there are formidable politicians showing interest in his seat- people like the oil and gas technocrat, Zira Maigida, who was the former Managing Director of African Petroleum Plc and Sahara Energy Group,  other strong contenders are, Emmanuel Valhalla Tarihri, a commissioner in the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission , who was also the former commissioner of finance in Adamawa, Senator Paul Wanpana, PDP National vice chairman, NorthEast, Bindo Umaru Jibrilla, business tycoon and Esther Wallabai.

Sen. Jibril Muhammad Aminu is the only two-term senator from Adamawa; he is the oldest, most educated and controversial among the three senators representing Adamawa State. The Professor of Medicine, cum diplomat was the greatest beneficiary of the Obasanjo-Atiku political war, his critics say his performance in the 6th National Assembly wasn’t  dodged and superb as it was in the 5th Assembly; they went on to say that he always hides in the name of ‘elder’ in the senate not to perform. However, it seems that Senator Aminu will have an easy ride back to the Senate, because there seems to be no strong contender that can match the professor politically as he controls an appreciable stake in the PDP.

On the other hand, the eight members representing Adamawa at the ‘green’ chambers of the National Assembly came to house by riding on the back of political bigwigs in the state. Their critics say their performance at the House of Representative is appalling - none of them can beat his chest to get his party’s ticket, except may be one.

Hon. Abubakar Mahmud Wambai, Madawakin Mubi, who started his career as a Grade III teacher, is representing Mubi North/Mubi South/Maiha constituency, he came to the House in the late 2009, riding on the support of Adamawa state government. Though an amateur; his critics says his start was not impressive- there is already a wide disconnection between him and his constituency. He will face a thorny journey in his quest to make a return, because those likely to contest for his seat are politically further-up-the-ladder than he is; people like Shuaibu Abubakar the present commissioner of Land and Survey, John Babani Elias, Abdulrahmna Kwacham and Shehu Iya Abubakar.

Hon. Aminu Hamman Ribadu, representing Fufore/Song constituency, is not new in politics, he was the chairman of Fufore Local Government and also SSA to former Gov. Boni Haruna. He came to the House through the support of former Deputy Gov. Bello Tukur. His critics say his performance is miscellaneous. The emerging political alignment in the state may be a disadvantage or an advantage to him, depending on where the pendulum swings to.

Demsa, Numan & Lamurde constituency is represented by a former Permanent Secretary in Adamawa Govt., Hon. Anthony Madwatte. Political pundits described him as a politician that has never gone through real political stress-test. This was attributed to the Numan-axis political style that operate a kind of  one-way politics- once you get the support of the bigwigs, victory is assured.  Hon. Madwatte has been an MP since 2003. His critics described his performance as below average. He will also face the challenges of the emerging political alignment in Adamawa; he can scale through if he plays his cards smartly.

Hon. Babale Martins and Hon. Jim Kwawo Audu are the only two MPs from Adamawa who came to the House on the platform of the Action Congress (AC).  Hon. Martins is representing Jada/Ganye/Toungo/Mayobelwa, while Hon. Kwawo is representing Guyuk/Shelleng constituency. Political pundits believe that Hon. Martins political fate will be determined squarely by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, while for Kwawo, despite the fact that he is the only member who has only WAEC certificate, is the only one that can stand on his own.

Hon. Binta Masi Garba is so far the only federal legislator to have contested elections in two states as a member of the House of Representatives, she was elected twice in Kaduna on the platform of the ANPP; she now represents Michika/Madagali Federal Constituency in Adamawa on the platform of the PDP. Her performance is average. Despite the fact that by 2011 she would have spent twelve years in the House, she will have to heavily rely on the magnanimity of political bigwigs. Though, Adamawa state needs her legislative experience, if the speculation that the former commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Saleh Ginjir is warming-up to contest the seat, it will be a nightmare for her.

Hon. Emmanuel Bello a graduate of Harvard Business School, came to the House without any public service experience. Observers described his performance as poor. His critics always argue that he didn’t win the PDP primaries for his seat. He rode on the back of General Haldu Hannaniya.  His constituency, Gombi/Hong will also be hot spot, with diverse political interest, the Minister of State for foreign Affairs, Dr Aliyu Idi Hong is from that constituency. Hon. Bello’s chance of returning to the House is very slim, except if the political bigwigs hold his hands to help him cross the bridge.

Hon. Sa’ad M.C. Tahir is representing the complex and most cosmopolitan of all the eight federal constituencies- Yola North, Yola South and Girei. No one has ever won re-election in the constituency and the cosmopolitan people of the constituency always expect first rate performance from their MPs. Hon. Awwal Bamanga Tukur despite his outstanding performance from 1999-2003, lost his bid to make a return. Political pundits described Hon. Sa’ad’s performance as the most awful among his colleagues. The odds against him are enormous. There are already strong clarion calls to young people to contest for the seat, people like Aisha Dahiru Mohammed, the Chief Executive of Binani Group. If the lady agrees, Hon. Sa’ad’s legs will definitely be wobbling, because, Aisha appears to have overwhelming grassroots support, intimidating exposure and broad connections.

In 2007, the contest for seats in the National Assembly was a one-way affair in Adamawa State, but in 2011 it will be a tough contest; with political bigwigs- Atiku Abubakar, Jibril Amin and Gov. Nyako stretching the thread. For those aspiring to be MPs, it will be a difficult and very competitive contest. It will be a rat race, so to speak. Though the trouble with a rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com

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