High noon in Adamawa, by Nick Dazang


The expression, “high noon”, refers to the “time of a decisive confrontation or contest.” It also refers to a defining moment or climax:”an event or confrontation which is likely to decide the final outcome of a situation”; for example, the high noon of an election.
The expression, “high noon”, was said to date back to the “Wild West” days when gunfighters faced off on the main street of a town at “high noon” and in full glare of the public. “Exactly noon” was preferred by the fighters because it was the time in which the sun was at its peak in the sky and it thus allowed for the sun not to get in neither of the participant’s eyes during a Western(Cowboy) draw.

The expression “high noon” was given robust effect and prominence by a 1952 Western(Cowboy film) of the same title. The Western, HIGH NOON, was produced by Stanley Kramer. Its screenplay was written by Carl Foreman. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann and it starred Gary Cooper.
The iconic HIGH NOON film, which won four Academy Awards, centered on a town Marshal whose sense of duty was tested when he had to decide either to face a gang of killers alone, or leave the town with his new wife.

In several ways, what transpired, pell mell, last week in Adamawa State was a reflection of “high moon” whether in its expression or in the well celebrated movie, HIGH MOON, which was one of the first twenty five films to be selected by the prestigious Library of Congress for preservation.

As is trite knowledge, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), scheduled supplementary elections on Saturday, 15th April, 2023. The attraction of the elections was that of the the conclusion of the Adamawa governorship election, which was earlier declared inconclusive.
The interest elicited by this contest is informed by a number of factors. First, even though the incumbent, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, was leading before the election was declared inconclusive, it was a close and testy contest between him and the comely Senator Aisha Dahiru Ahmed, also known as BINANI. Before now, BINANI had trounced a former Governor of the State and a former presidential candidate to secure the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress(APC). Her stunning victory at the primaries was reportedly informed by an elaborate and expansive war chest. 

Second, as if that were not enough, advocates of gender mainstreaming across the country rooted for BINANI. They prayed fervently for the likely emergence of the first female governor in the conservative North. The optimism of BINANI fans was buoyed by the fact that the State had earlier produced two female Senators, namely: Grace Bent and Binta Masi.

Third, going for BINANI was a story that the Commission itself had awarded a sumptuous contract to a firm named BINANI, which was speculated to be proximate to her. Besides, the then Resident Electoral Commissioner for Adamawa, Hudu Yunusa Ari, was allegedly caught on audio tape, that went viral and was not denied, soliciting for support from INEC officials in favor of Senator Aisha Dahiru Ahmed in the course of the governorship election. 

With an edge as cutting as this, Senator BINANI was reported to have carried on with boldness and with what her traducers further alleged as superciliousness.

Governor Fintiri, on the other hand, was said to be spurred by his performance in office. He was said to have done well in the areas of prompt payment of workers’ salaries, infrastructure and education. Education is held dear in Adamawa, the State of Professors Iya Abubakar and Jubril Aminu and the famous Tukur brothers(Bamanga, Dahiru, Hammanga and Mahmoud) etc.

In addition to these accomplishments, Fintiri is said to draw political afflatus and strength from Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa, and a presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). The defeat of Fintiri would have amounted, not only to a defeat of Atiku Abubakar by other means, it would have presented the candidate as a giant with the feet of clay.

Enter this tempestuous confrontation(read “high noon”) the illegal declaration of Senator BINANI by the then REC Adamawa, whose partisanship was by now glaring; the hasty and incoherent acceptance speech immediately given by Senator BINANI; the unfortunate case of mistaken identity which led to the brutalization of a National Commissioner; the nullification of the declaration of Senator BINANI by INEC; the subsequent collation of outstanding results and the return of Fintiri as Governor-elect and victor of the contest by Professor Mohammed Mele , the officially appointed and designated Returning Officer for the governorship election in Adamawa State.

The supplementary elections were supposed to, in the manner of “high noon”, to climax and conclude the elections which began on Saturday, 25th February 2023. Unfortunately, it is doubtful if the drama or the high noon in Adamawa provided a fitting, salubrious and happy ending. If anything, it compounded matters for the Commission. Apart from further besmirching its image, this drama in Adamawa is bound to trigger and accelerate conversations and a high-strung debate around the caliber of those appointed by the presidency to superintend the affairs of the Commission.

It will also raise queries as to why the Commission did not preempt this clumsy drama by insisting that the former REC who had favoured a candidate in the contest recuse himself or be replaced ahead of the supplementary elections.

By her seeming  desperation and alleged superciliousness, Senator BINANI has done irreparable damage to her political career. She has undermined the lofty and progressive campaign for gender mainstreaming. She has also brought diminishment to the dignity of women. 

Not even her cynical and convenient statement, claiming not to be a do-or-die politician, will help or redeem her. If she was not a desperate politician, why did she prompt the REC to usurp the Returning Officer’s role and to truncate a Collation process that was on-going? Why did she hastily issue an acceptance speech knowing  fully well that not all the results had been collated and that, in fact, she was losing, going by the results which were trending and were in the public domain? Why did she not concede in the fashion of true democrats? Why did she seek an injunction against the annulment of the  former REC’s illicit declaration?

Senator Aisha Dahiru Ahmed has not only besmeared and undone herself, she has, unfortunately, made the task of gender mainstreaming even more uphill.