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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Aisha Buhari, Get Ready. We Are Coming

I am in Yola, my second home and the home of so many of my good friends - and now in laws too. It is also the home of our amiable sister, the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, and the home of so many good friends of the President himself. May God increase him in health and return him to us safely. Then, it is the home and residence of the Adamawa State governor, Alhaji Muhammad Umar Jibrilla Bindow.
Starting with the above paragraph was necessary to me, lest the anger that raged in my heart over the terrible state of the Adamawa side of Gombe-Numan road leads me to using some very unsavory remarks that may hurt many, near and far. If traces of that anger still find their way into this piece, I beg for forgiveness from my brothers and sisters. It is done out of concern for our common good, in the hope that those at the helm of affairs and citizens of the state will awake to their responsibility in this regard.
To say the least, this segment of the federal road - from Gombe state border to Numan - is a total disaster and a testimony to the woeful scorecard of the successive governments of Adamawa state. It also illustrates the extreme in neglect that the Federal government can treat its duty and the total disregard it has for the welfare of Nigerians.
The 40km stretch is a daily torture for commuters and it lasts for two hours. I pity those living there the more - the great Bata people and the other Nigerians they host. It is the daily bread of agony that the federal government serves them for the past 12 years at least. It is just not rough, the road is also abundantly blessed with sharp pits and wells that often compete for patronage by passing vehicles. On so many occasions, a driver must stop at the middle and decide into which of the pits or wells would he dive his car through. The sun of Adamawa does not shine, surely. Sunshine State indeed!
The Bindow government must lead the fight to reclaim this road. If past Governors Boni and Nyako have failed to secure its repair, he will join their league in spite of the several township roads he is remarkably renovating. Throughout Jimeta and Yola, I felt like riding on the smooth roads of Bauchi during Muazu.
On the Federal highways in his state, Adamawa State government must take a leaf from other states and from Gombe particular. Until eight years ago, the entire road from Gombe to Numan was bad. It was never wholly renovated in the past 45 years. It would take a motorist five hours to cover the 130km distance.
Somehow, first Governor Goje - was able to get the worst part of the road repaired during the brief tenure of late UM Yar'adua. With the breathtaking perfection of TRIACTA, the Katungo - Cham segment remains faultless for the past eight years. When the present government awarded a new contract for the uncompleted portions at the two ends of the road last year, Gombe was able to convince the Federal Ministry of Works to start, again, with the Gombe end, which is not as bad as the Adamawa end. Trust the Gombawa. They are very patriotic about their state. Nobody can take that from them. And this road is a testimony. You cannot compete with the them for the same thing, especially when you are the sleeping type.
And the Adamawa elites have of recent been the sleeping type, unlike their gallant ancestors. Our elder brother, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was there as VP for eight years. He could not get it done. The road to his hometown Ganye where I schooled remains terrible. If it were not for PTF's intervention 20 years ago, and thanks to our late brother Alhaji Salihijo Ahmed, that road would still be a laterite road as it had been since Sardauna constructed it before the 1962 plebiscite and as I hit it for the first time in 1973!
Atiku's boy, Governor Boni Haruna, was there too, when many governors were repairing federal roads in their states and getting reimbursed by the Federal Government. He did nothing, not even to the one leading to his zonal hometown, Mubi. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was there as PDP chairman under Jonathan. I can go on and on. The Adamawa elites - and they are always plenty and powerful - just abandoned the horrible road and took to flights, leaving their masses to endure the brunt.
In contrast, today, when one leaves Gombe, the road wears a brand new asphalt rendered surface up to Kumo - our Kumo - in so relaxed a mood that allows him to appreciate the beauty of the countryside. As the rehabilitation work progresses - though it seems that the contractor has already abandoned the site for I could not see a single equipment there anymore - it is hoped that the 25 km Kumo-Kaltungo bit will be made equally perfect. From Kaltungo to Cham, as I said, the road is in perfect shape and one's attention is once more drawn to the beautiful land, hills and mountains of the Tangale and Waja people - a scene that is typical of this side of our Northeast.
As we left Cham, I told my son who has been snapping landscape pictures all the way, "Get ready, Umar, the party will soon be over." Two kilometers ahead, the Adamawa end greeted us, salamu alaikum: Gubb! The bottom plate of our car knocked the edge of a crata. The sights and the pictures ended instantly there and both the driver and the passenger would, for two long hours, fix their eyes on the road, collaborating, conferencing and sometimes debating how to negotiate their path through every meter of the next 40 kilometers.
Have the governors of Adamawa been sleeping or was it a mere case of negligence? I think it is more of the latter. Governor Nyako did get the Yola - Numan part of the road repaired. It was equally bad until his intervention sometimes in 2008, just one year into his tenure. In the last part of our journey yesterday, that was the only space we could avail ourselves with the beauty of the magnificent Benue basin. What, then, prevented Nyako from crossing over the Benue to cover the remaining part from Numan to Gombe border? Anyway, he was better than the combination of Boni and Atiku in this regard. That syndicate did nothing - or succeeded in getting nothing done - on that road for the eight years of their stay in power. Tragic. They left it - and the state perhaps - as "bony" as a lamb "attacked" by wolves.
Governor Bindow, I heard, has contacted Fashola many times on this and Fashola, of course, like any Minister would do, has given him his words that it will be done. Now that the work has started on the Gombe end and suddenly abandoned, one wonders whether the Yola end will not suffer a second "tragedy of promise" as it suffered with the death of late Yar'adua. Jonathan never revisited that road throughout his tenure. God save this President a for himself and for us!
An antidote to that catastrophe - now that the push has come to shove - is for Adamawa State government to undertake the rehabilitation of the 40 kilometers and be reimbursed by the Federal government. I once saw this arrangement work perfectly with Governor Muazu in Bauchi. Today, except for the 60km Bauchi - Alkaleri road, all Federal roads in Bauchi state have been in an enviable good shape for over a decade. Motorists and Adamawans using Numan-Cham road cannot afford to wait, Allah rene, Bindow!
As I close this piece, the idea of involving my sister, Her Excellency, the First Lady, came. You see, Fashola may be so busy with Lagos-Ibadan road and rail contracts. So is he with the several big contracts his ministry is executing in Lagos. He needs somebody to be reminding him that our remote Adamawa is also part of Nigeria and that our votes, though considered granted, also count. But Governor Bindow, as a leader, may be too gentle in approach, polite in voice and patient in action. We the citizens are not. We want it done now, now and here.
I have contrived a better reminder - to use the powers of the First Lady. First, the threat. Let us put him on notice that we will lobby for works and power be dropped from his portfolio in the next cabinet reshuffle, since he cannot even get a 40 km road to the President's second home repaired. Ai wannan iskanci ne. The First Lady can ram this idea down his throat. I trust my sister when it comes to assertion of her rights.
In case the threat does not work, We move higher and hold Fashola's superior at ransom. We know where to catch him ai. Ku bar shi kawai.
Fashola cannot escape this. My friends, the citizens of Adamawa, my sister, all his Adamawa PAs and with myself in attendance, will stage a strike action in the villa to demonstrate our relevance. As the President flies home from London eager to re-unite with his family, we - his brothers and sisters in law - will invade his residence, finish off his food in the kitchen, occupy the living room and block his access to "the other room." "NO ENTRY", our graffiti will read on the door, "UNTIL TRIACTA RESUMES WORK ON CHAM-NUMAN ROAD".
Aisha, get ready. We are coming.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
19 August, 2017

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