To any political pundit and spectator, the controversy over the outcome of the Adamawa governorship election has been trending both offline and online. The scenario was so convoluted that it became a headline even on the international stage. It only got eclipsed by the Hakimi’s Saga.
The power tussle between the two political heavyweights who contested for the governorship seat in the state were amongst the most stood out in the recently concluded general election. The contest was so tough that it was declared inconclusive and a rerun was conducted which at last saw the emergence of the incumbent Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the People Democratic party (PDP) as the winner. However, the entire gamut of all the factors that played out which culminated and led to the (PDP) emerging victorious is what inspired this piece.
One major factor that played a pivotal role in the said election is the ideology of gender politics. A cursory look at who Binani is and her influence in Adamawa politics. Binani is a 51-year old Fulani woman that serves as a senator representing Adamawa central zone. Before becoming a senator, she was a member of the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015. In both capacities, she performed very well which earned her the popularity she enjoys among her people especially from Yola North, Yola South and Gire Federal Constituency.
However, because of gender politics which has its roots embedded in our cultural and religious doctrines, especially in Northern Nigeria, all her accomplishments and impeccable qualities were sacrificed on the alter of gender insensitivity.
Most people who voted against her shared the sentiment that “God forbid a woman to be in control of a whole state.” How are we going to address her? “Your Excellency?” These people hold the belief that this has far reaching implication because by virtue of her position (if elected as Governor) the revered traditional rulers in the state will be answerable to her and this also means she can remove or appoint any such traditional rulers.
Something many believe is repugnant to our core traditional and religious values. This was no doubt an inhibiting factor against her which automatically gave Fintiri an edge over her, her competence and credibility regardless.
In other climes where the political platform has been made a level playing ground for both genders, women have distinguished themselves and have proven to be as capable and in some cases, even better than the men. Take a trip to Liberia and see how Ellen Sirleaf Johnson transformed her country when she was president. She laid the foundation for a modern Liberia.
Another factor that played out in the governorship election was Godfatherism. Like many states in the country, there are power brokers who believe that you can’t be governor in Adamawa without their blessings and endorsement, one of such is the PDP Presidential Candidate in the just concluded election. It will be an embarrassments of the highest order for him to loose at the top and equally lose a hold of his state which is usually in his pocket. As such, everything was done from his tent to ensure that his party has a firm grip of the number one seat in the state.
Tribalism was another factor that never favoured her even thou Binani is a bonafide Fulani woman. The Lamido of Adamawa and almost most influential key players in the state are Fulani which was suppose to be an added advantage for her but most of the electorate were not comfortable with her tribe which symbolically own and control the state. Adamawa State has more than 70 minority tribes. As such, they prefer voting for Ahmadu Umar Fintiri (ATM) who is a minority tribe from Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was her perceived desperation to win at all cost. The desperation to make history as the First elected female governor in Nigeria made rush to put out an acceptance speech when she was illegally declared the winner of the run-off election despite knowing full well that only 10 out of the 20 local governments result in the state had been counted and announced. This unfortunately made her fall out of favour of the good people of the state.
For whatever it is worth, it is obvious that election has come and gone and lessons have been learnt, experience has been gained and strategies have been re-evaluated.
Binani may not have made history yet, but one cannot deny the fact that she has put up a good fight and just like John the Baptist, she has cleared the path for other women who will come after her. With this doggedness and moving at this pace, the road to having the first female governor In Nigeria may have been shortened by half.
.Wulumba Iliya Kogos writes from Yola