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Governor’s Aide Stir Controversy In Adamawa

Adamawa State is set to boil in the next few days following statements made in radio programme by Abdulrahaman Jimeta, the Chief of Staff to Governor Mohammed Jibrilla Jimeta. The statements which was made some few weeks ago but was recently given wider publicity by an online publication is drawing the ire of stakeholders in the state, across political divide.

Though nobody would want to be quoted as many claim to wait for the government to react, especially now that it has gone viral, they however frown at the contents of the statement, which tend to paint the state government as a spendthrift. Speaking in a Radio Gotel programme aired in Yola on August 12, Jimeta is reported to have said that contrary to expectations, the bailout funds received by the state government was not meant for workers alone but every citizen of the state who still has a legitimate claim to make on debts owed by the government.

He even used comparatively offensive words such as ‘’largesse’’ and “bonus” to describe the N3.9 billion received by the state from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG dividend from the Federal Government most Nigerians believed was meant to settle backlog of salaries owed workers by most state governments. According to Jimeta: “I have explained on several occasions because we run an open government, that the money we received from the Federal Government is N3.9 Billion: N2.1 Billion for the state government, while local governments got N1.8 Billion. “This money is from the LNLG, it’s a bonus because it was not part of the budget or normal allocation for Adamawa state.

It’s a simply a largesse that was shared to all the states. What President Buhari had wanted was for the money to be taken to the federation account to be shared the normal way funds are shared at the end of each month. “The governors, however, insisted that they all had serious problems in their states. The problem in Plateau is different from that of Adamawa, also the problem of Lagos is different from that of Kano for instance. “It was, therefore, on that basis that the money was shared.

“The federal government never told any state what to do with its own share. Money was just given for states to go and solve their problems,” he said. Investigation by The UNION shows the angst building up against Jimeta. According to an ex-Commissioner in Admiral Nyako’s regime, “The Chief of Staff is biting more than he can chew. Is he the Commissioner of Information or the Director of Press that ought to talk on such matters to the press?. As Chief of Staff, his mandate is limited to controlling the immediate staff of the governor, not to be its spokesman” Another Chieftain of the ruling APC in the state who said he would only disclose his identity after the government has clarify its position on the matter, said the disclosure has painted the government as a spendthrift.

He said the government had earlier denied the N200 million it was allged to have spent for prayers for security, but he was alarmed now that the Chief of Staff was quoted on the same amount. Explaining that the money was meant for the 3.6 million people of Adamawa, including the workers, Jimeta justified his submission by saying that every citizen of the state was eligible to draw from the bailout “Of course, it is the right of civil servants to ask for their allowances and salaries, but if we had taken that money to pay civil servants, they would be happy.”, he said, adding that “But, contractors being owed by the state government would be angry because they have rendered all sorts of services such as supplies and constructions. The wish of those classes of people is that government use the windfall to pay them.

“There are politicians who were in office during the administrations of governors Nyako, Boni Haruna and Fintiri, who are yet to be paid their severance allowances, including furniture, housing and transportation. Their wish is that the government uses this money to pay   them part of their owed allowances. “Therefore, paying civil servants alone does not mean the problems of Adamawa State have been solved, rather, only civil servants would be happy, though they are the most important segment because they are the ones who work, but, everyone else also have a right on the government of Adamawa state. “So, if we had taken that money to pay civil servants, it would be a good thing, but we would have spent 100 days in office without constructing a road, renovating a hospital or school, or anything to show the media because I know that you people would come and try to pass judgment. At times, you even go as far as naming best governors. “We then decided that the allocation to the 21 local governments should be utilized in such a way that it would affect all the people of the local governments.

“The first thing we did was something that would help the average poor especially in this month of August, and that is to purchase fertilizers; 90 per cent of our people are farmers and a bag of fertilizer costs N8000 now. “It is a tradition that the government buys fertilizers each year from the state and local governments joint account. We therefore, decided to take N 1billion naira from the windfall to buy fertilizers. “The Ministry of Agriculture informed us that Adamawa State requires about 25000 metric tonnes of fertilizer. The total cost of the Fertilizers is actually N3.5 Billion. The N1 billion is the take off fund required for the supply,” he said. In the radio interview, he disclosed that the state government spent N200 million on clerics, traditional rulers and others, to pray for security. “Don’t forget that we also have ‘yan baka’, vigilante, traditional rulers, ward heads, pastors and imams who were all mobilized so that we would continue to have peace. We also do go to clerics for prayers, just as individuals approach clerics for prayers, government also do the same. “People go to their Imams and pastors for Prayers, the government do the same thing. So, because of the importance of security, we devoted N200 million into it,” he said. Other expenditure of the government according to Jimeta included 12,000 pieces, N100 million belonging to the 21 local governments allocated for special projects in Yola, N500 million for a road contractor owed N10billion, N95 for bullet proof car for the governor million.

Then as though he understood he was overreaching himself, he sought to mollify the workers in the state. “As for workers, all we can do is to thank them. We had a good understanding, and I am sure most of them voted for APC that is why we even appointed the chairman of NLC in the state into our transition committee. We did that to enable the civil servants have an idea of what we are doing. “We honestly, do not expect the civil servants to be angry over this decision to expend this windfall the way we did. Adamawa had been trying in the area of payment of salaries; Plateau owes 8 months, Benue 10, but down here, it’s not all the civil servants that are being owed.

“Don’t also forget that May salaries should have been paid before May 29th when we came on board. Civil servants were not paid before we assumed office and there was no money in the treasury to pay them. “We had to collect a loan of N1.4 billion from Zenith bank to pay the civil servants their salaries. If we had wanted to let them continue to suffer, we would have insisted that they should have been paid by the immediate past administration of Bala Ngillari and since he refused to pay, Bindow would have drawn the line and begin payment of salaries as from the month of June. The next few days would prove interesting in the state for the former Deputy Director of Campaign during the last governorship elections.

– Tina Phineas in Yola reports on the brewing cold war among party chieftains of ruling APC and stakeholders in the state over statement consider inimical to the interest of the state by Chief of Staff to the governor

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