One thing most aides to Governor Ahmadu Fintri have not failed to notice is the governor’s resilience and style of leadership. The workaholic governor has in the past year demonstrated that transparency in governance can go a long way to enhance public understanding and goodwill.
Adamawa State ranks among the states in the federation with low accruals from the Federal Allocation of distributable income in addition to low internal revenue generation. Yet the way and manner the governor have tackled project conception, implementation and funding make it seem as if he has much money stacked somewhere.
The Director-General (Media) to the governor, Mr. Solomon Kumangar, describes his principal as a go-getter, remarking that keeping up with his pace in governance requires aides to be up and doing almost 24 hours a day. “It has been challenging, but a fruitful experience,” he says.
He disclosed the governor believes that no obstacle is insurmountable, stressing that the Fintri administration has taken seriously the issue of human capital development and infrastructure in Adamawa State.
On his part, Kumangar remarked that being the head of the governor’s has exposed him to Fintri´s resilience. He said: “I have been on this job more than three times. I started in 2008, 2012, 2014 and now in 2019. Therefore, I already know that my job is well spelt out given the nature of the man I am working with and therefore it wasn’t a big challenge.”
He disclosed that it was a mark of the governor´s drive for excellence that he approved the expansion of the office from that of the Chief Press Secretary to Director-General Media and Communication. The office now has power-packed media gurus, including the CPS, more than four Senior Special Assistants heading electronic, new media, social mobilisation and public affairs.”
On the freedom to bring innovations, Kumangar recalled that when he came on board “the office was not actually empowered in terms of required gadgets like camera, computers and electronic video editor.”
He said the governor encourages strategy sessions during which the governor’s media team meets every day to analyse some of the news and information about the government, look at the public policies and give projections of what to expect every day.
“Every day, we sit down and brainstorm on what to expect for the day; this is a new innovation we brought here, it has not been there before. We need to think outside the box because Public Relations and publicity have become more sophisticated, albeit easier with the use of ICT and new technology,” he noted.
He explained that both electronic and print media are necessary for the dissemination of government policies and programmes, adding that while it may appear that there is an emphasis on electronic media, it may not be true, “because here we give the media and their agent’s equal opportunities.
“We respect the print media in spite of the fact that I realise that most of the print media are into online publishing. Therefore one cannot rule out the fact that one will tilt towards the electronic, but the problem is that the issue of immediacy plays an important role here. So also is the issue of electronic convergence, because it is easier for me to pick up my phone and tap one or two things and voila, it is out on the net.
“But we do respect the print media The Guardian, for instance, is one of the best stables of newspapers in the country. Of course several newspapers in the country that have acquired a reputation for good journalism.”
Kumangar said the fact that his job is hectic does not leave him with any pangs of regret. “Managing the governor is not a piece of cake, but no regret. Truly, the only likely regret might be when we make certain mistakes in our press releases that seldom bring out the government in a bad light instead of good light.
“I will give you a very good example now, in April when the issue of COVID-19 came up and the governor was to issue a press statement on the fact that April salary could not be paid with the consequential adjustment with the new minimum wage of N32, 000.
“There was a problem with that press release because the impression the people had was that government was not going to pay the monthly salary, but that was not intended, but it gave the wrong impression.
“Most people went to town with the impression that salaries were not going to be paid, when in fact salaries were going to be paid but without the consequential adjustment because of the problem occasioned by COVID-19. These are some of the few things that one would regret because while trying to repair things, you end up spoiling it; these are some of our regrettable mistakes,” he lamented.
The economic situation has an effect on governance and services. Although Kumangar remarked that challenges might be numerous, he maintained that they are surmountable.
His words: “Like I once said, I will like to see this office comparable to none in the federation. Most equipment has to be replaced, but the equipment is very expensive. For example, a good drone would cost nothing less than one million naira.
“But for the financial strength of the state, we would have preferred and happy if we could have modern equipment like state-of-the-art cameras, set of editing machines and everything that will ease official responsibilities, but however, I know this is being addressed by the governor based on the scale of preference.”