Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo
With the help of Usman Junaidu, a Special Adviser to the Gombe State governor, Chuks Okocha unearths efforts of the Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo administration in the last 20 months
In Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo’s Gombe Sate, policies are presented and implemented in refined and intellectual perspectives. The state’s Chief Executive is spurred by ambition far beyond selfish reasons, which in his first official broadcast to the state on May 29, 2011, was “to put to the service of humanity, the gifts of knowledge, character and skills that Allah has endowed me with.”
A consummate policy strategist in the art of governance, Dankwambo is focused on human capital development and the evolution of an egalitarian society. In his first year in office, Dankwambo is believed to have demonstrated an unequal skill in his revolutionary drive to transform all the institutional framework of governance, deploying in its wake, reports of the various Economic Transformation Committees whose articulated road map and blueprint accounted for the change currently traversing the turf of Gombe.
With paltry allocation from the federation account, the Governor’s prudence in the management of scarce resources readily comes to mention, applying on a scale hitherto unknown, one of the most drastic structural adjustments in government spending.
For instance, comparable analysis of government expenditure on general administration has been axed down from the previous 70% to a mere 10% within the first year of his administration to pave way for the implementation of capital projects as enunciated in his 2012 budget christened the Budget of Reality which has now become the hallmark of his administration.
Thus, in the last 20 months, critical areas have been accorded deserving attention by the administration. In education for example, the administration has shown uncommon zeal in the field of education. His contribution to the advancement of learning within the 20 months of his administration in the state is said to be impressive, a situation that has qualified Gombe as one of the fastest growing state in terms of human capital and manpower resources.
A journey into the state’s developmental feats in the education sector revealed that well over N4 billion has been invested within the first four months of the administration compared to the previous administration’s capital expenditure of N1.8 billion in eight years in the same sector.
In its effort to advance the course of post-secondary education in the state, government reportedly purchased 2,500 Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) forms distributed to qualified students while it sent 200 students on sponsorship programme on Maritime study at Maritime school in Akwa Ibom State.
Other measures the administration is taking to revamp the education sector include the prompt allocation of sufficient financial resources to accommodate enrolment and expansion needs of its schools, charging managers of human resources in the state’s education sector to prepare for, and consciously seeking to attaining and sustaining critical initiatives across the tiers of the state’s education sector.
Road construction as it seems, is the new face of governance in the state. Covering a total of 168 road networks including neighbouring states of Adamawa and Borno, the Governor is generally believed to have changed the face of governance in the state. Within the first year of his administration, 52 township roads and six inter-town roads networking the state were completed, covering a total of 150 kilometers.
The state’s 2013 Budget tagged, “Budget of Determination” focuses on the completion of all outstanding capital projects in the previous 2012 budget while the long list of roads newly constructed defies enumeration, cutting across board.
The beautification project is another obvious initiative that cannot be ignored on whatever grounds. The state capital is landscaping five locations within the Gombe metropolis consisting of the City centre near the old market; new market roundabout; Union Bank roundabout; Mile 3 triangle; Government House roundabout, including the Emir’s Palace roundabout. And to ensure sanity in the flow of traffic, digital traffic lights have been installed in all the major flashpoints in the state capital, completed with street lights to ward off the incidences of crimes and accidents.
Yet, one of the dominant features of the administration is youth development and empowerment drive, with provision for adequate funding and moral support. In his first year, government gave employment to 1,197 youths under its Youth Rehabilitation and Empowerment Programme (YREP) deploying them into various cadres as environmental marshals; ward and state traffic marshals, community sanitation and security workers respectively. At a recent graduation ceremony marking the completion of 520 graduands from the Millennium Development Goals, MDG skills acquisition centres in the state, the Governor said: “Gombe State can only improve in its bid to foster a progressive youth segment towards the attainment of the state’s development goals.”
The focus on agriculture has also helped to keep the youth in the sector active. Government ordered over 55,000 tones of fertilizer to farmers at subsidized rate of N2,000 per bag and commissioned 35 brand new tractors complete with accessories as well as the refurbishing of 25 tractors inherited from the previous administration.
Cooperatives societies among farmers have been mobilized while the state government accessed loan facilities at a single digit interest rate to the tune of N1 billion from the Bank of Industries, BOI, to help in expanding farmer productivity and marketing farm produce among small scale farmers in the state. In addition, the state government has also ordered for additional 200 units of tractors from Pakistan to be managed by the state tractor hiring unit.
The Regional Water Supply Scheme at Dadin Kowa is now being resourced for optimum utilization under the Dankwambo-led administration while the underutilized Balanga and Cham dams are also being revived for effective use by the southern community in the Balanga and Billiri local government areas of the state.
Power generation and supply is another area government has received commendation. At inception in 2011, government procured 50 large transformers to boost electricity supply throughout the state including the utilization of Dadin Kowa dam project with capacity to supply 32 mega watts, enough for the consumption of the entire North-East sub-region.
Also, the administration has ventured into the exploitation of the large coal deposit in the state for optimum supply of electricity while a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, has been jointly concluded between Gombe State, Federal Government and Siemens, a German firm for the building of a 132 KVA power station to depend on the large coal deposit in the state.
Dankwambo’s pro-poor initiatives in the state present an interesting picture of his passion for the down-trodden, the aged and the physically challenged in the state with the record of being the first state chief executive in the country to introduce the Conditional Cash Grant, CCG, under the administration’s social welfare scheme.
This way, government provides a monthly cash allowance of N15,000 to 5,000 beneficiaries spread across the 11 local government areas of the state, partly as a measure to ensure the state government complies with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. With the CCG Scheme, parents are obliged to send their children to school under a trust fund floated to cater for the children’s upkeep.
A wealth creation programme has been developed to promote commercial activities in the state while the administration had also distributed 250 brand new vehicles to the state indigenes on soft loan agreement, with additional 100 new vehicles in the pipeline.
In terms of staff welfare, the Dankwambo administration is listed as the first state government to implement the new salary wage structure in the country, in addition to the fact that it is the only administration to increase the salary structure of teachers in the state schools by 27% under the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, social welfare package.
On the whole, Dankwambo’s transformation agenda can be linked to efforts of the Economic Transformation Committees inaugurated by the governor on the need for a collaborative process which puts the populace at the centre of state policy.