Mr. Kumangar Solomon Director General Media and Communication to the Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in this exclusive interview with NATHANIEL GBAORON in Yola, spoke on the massive development of Adamawa State under the leadership of Governor Fintiri how Nigeria is still evolving at 59, among other issues. Excerpts:
Let’s begin this way, Nigeria was 59 years last Tuesday, October 1st; what is your assessment of the country at 59?
At 59, if it is a human being, the person is already an adult; however, since Nigeria is a country it is still evolving. Democracy has taken root since we have witnessed a civilian to civilian handing over in terms of getting a new president. If you quickly recall, the issue of the 2015 where President Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan in the election; there was a peaceful transition of one ruling government to another. So, I think we are evolving and Nigeria is on the path to greatness. I am optimistic and I want to say that Nigeria is doing great.
Can you say we are living up to the dreams of our forefathers?
Well, our forefathers had a vision to see a country that is united; they had a vision to see a country where all of us would be our brother’s keeper but certain developments recently have intended to give an impression that a knife has been put on the rope that binds us and things have started falling apart. But in spite of all the challenges, Nigeria is a country that is full of potentials, only that we have to rise up and realise that. We cannot continue to live on a potential of greatness alone. We must put ourselves together and ensure that the greatness which we ever dream that Nigeria will become is achieved in our life time. Therefore, I will like to say that yes there are challenges and yes there are problems but you cannot have any breakthrough without having any break down. So, Nigeria as it is, in spite of all the challenges it is facing, it will come out stronger.
In Adamawa your state, the opposition PDP took over from the APC in the 2019 election. From what happened in the state in terms of change of baton, how would you describe Nigeria’s democracy?
Yes, these are some of the indicators that democracy is really, really doing well in Nigeria. It used to be very difficult; you hardly hear that kind of transition, especially if the Federal Government is being controlled by the same party. The bandwagon effect would always weigh in to make the electorate gravitate towards what is happening at the centre, but here Adamawa people know what they want and the man they elected is the man they have trusted to deliver the good work for them and therefore, they voted for real change, and change has really come to Adamawa State.
What are the key policy trusts of your government and how does the administration in place intend to achieve these policies or goals?
The number one policy and the vision and mission of this government is security. Security is paramount because it has a multiplying effect; you cannot carry out any other thing except you have security. The major and primary focus of this government is to provide security which we have already started doing. The challenge before now was the issue of the ‘Shila boys’, kidnapping and general atmosphere of criminality. You also know that Adamawa State is affected largely by the issue of insurgency, it is like a state emerging from a post conflict state therefore, the issue of security has become very paramount and we have taken step by re-energising the security architecture and retooling the security architecture; one, by ensuring that they are provided with adequate facilities, what they need to fight crime and criminals. In that direction his Excellency has directed the purchase of 60 Hilux vans which have already been delivered and commissioned by the Vice President and about five hundred motor cycles that will be distributed to security officials, vigilantes and hunters who will be able to move towards the hinterland and in turn try to prevent crisis in Adamawa State. Education is another area where his Excellency, Ahmed Fintiri, wants to ensure is revived. He has introduced free feeding which was before now not there; he has introduced free and compulsory education from primary to secondary schools. All that is required for a parent to do is just to buy the uniform. In terms of the empowerment of women and youths, the governor, knowing that women and the youths are the treasure of Adamawa State, he has gone ahead to revive the skills acquisition centres where there are five skills acquisition centres located in different parts of the state where about three thousand youths can be absorbed and trained in skills acquisition. His Excellency has also launched an empowerment scheme at the skills acquisition centre in Yola where one hundred youths will receive training for three weeks after which they will be given starter packs under the YESSO programme. The same thing applies to our women. The wife of his Excellency has gone ahead to distribute special packs and kits to women which she distributed not quite long ago. There is also a distribution of special health kits for the various health clinics in Adamawa State which she also launched with the assistance of the Federal Government through the primary health care development agency. This is not all, the plan on ground is that not only that our women be empowered they will be given the necessary skills to be independent, autonomous and also given a token to start with. Recently, the wife of the governor went to the JIMETA modern market where she distributed a token of ten thousand naira each to five hundred women. These are all parts of his Excellency’s programmes to empower women. That is not just all, there is a plan in the pipe line to guarantee women access to soft loans for petty trading.
Adamawa State has great potentials that can turn around the economic fortune of the state;
what do you think can be done to harness these potentials?
There is a plan on ground and the state government has boosted its internal revenue generation and it has been fully digitalised; this is part of the efforts to beef up the economy of the state; the issue of corruption needs to be tackled in order for us to be on the right part of economic recovery. In line with this, the governor has directed that the treasury single account (TSA) be adopted in the state and as a government, that one has already been done. Already, the company running the TSA for the Federal Government has already been engaged. It has started working. The board of internal revenue has set up a five-man technical working committee with the company to ensure that in the next five months, the state government will be on the TSA platform. These are all part of the strategy to ensure that first of all, our revenue generation is shored up so that the government can focus on other things in terms of economic recovery.
What is your dream of the state and where do you hope to see Adamawa in the next 20 years?
I will rather tell you about what his Excellency dreams for Adamawa State; it is not just a dream but his passion that at the end of his first term, Adamawa should be in the comity of developed states. A man with this vision, I can tell you that he is development-conscious. Not even in the next twenty years, but in the next four to eight years when you come back here, Adamawa will be a different place.