While Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State may be plotting to take over President Muhammadu Buhari’s job, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammad Barde isâ€Ž working round the clock to make sure his party snatches the state from the PDP, writes Shola Oyeyipo
The race to replace Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo is in top gear with a number of aspirants lining up for the job.
Prominent among them is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the immediate past Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sun Trust Bank, Muhammad Jibrin Barde, who says his passion is to rescue Gombe State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership.
Though, not considering himself as a professional politician, but a professional in politics, Barde said he had come to the realisation that to make significant impact in the lives of the people of the state, he must acquire political power.
An accomplished banker, who said he was not desperate said he would take the state to a new level of governance if given the opportunity.
He also claimed that he is adequately equipped for the job, even as he boasted that he knew the needs of his people saying he always feels their pulses.
He is particularly unhappy that his people are yet to get the best deal from the incumbent administration.
He said: “All these have already spurred me to painstakingly build a blueprint that would guide affairs in the state if elected.
“Unlike some members of the political class who are known for many promises with no intention to fulfil them, I have modestly promised just three things to the good people of Gombe State. Firstly, to be fair to all; keep Gombeâ€™s trust intact and to be honest in all my dealings.
“It is however, important to note that there is really no evidence indicating that leaders are innately born. While some people have more of a predisposed personality, a few can become great leaders with adequate determination, self-reflection, open mindedness, experience and knowledge.
“From health to education, from infrastructural development to reinventing commerce that the state was known for and diversifying the economy of the state with special focus on agriculture and the attraction of investors that would make the state a beehive of activities, we have our strategies intact and ready for work.”
Though he admits that he is not the richest man in the state, Barde said that he had been supporting the party over the years. But because he is modest, he remained anonymous. But as a loyal party man and a chieftain of the APC in the state, he has contributed financially to its sustenance.
He is equipped with requisite educational background. He holds a M.Sc degree in Risk Management from the New York University, Leonard N. Stern Business School, MBA from the Imperial College London, a diploma in General Management from Harvard University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Management from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State.
He earned a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Economics from the University of Abuja and has acquired rich experience in banking and management, having previously held positions in Union Bank of Nigeria and Citigroup N.A and Barclays Bank in four countries across Africa and Europe.
Prior to joining SunTrust, he was an executive director on the Board of Aso Savings and Loans Plc., and a former Group Head responsible for growing Bond Bankâ€™s (now Skye Bank Plc.) business in Abuja and the northern region.
He has served on various boards, and was at a time, the National Deputy President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria; a director of Premium Pensions Limited; Director, Federal Housing Authority Technical Board and a member of the Presidential Committee on Affordable Housing.
Barde also served as the Chairman, Board of Directors of the Gombe Jewel Microfinance Bank Limited. He left SunTrust Bank as the Chief Executive Officer to pursue his political dream of governing Gombe, with an agenda to “release the people from the shackles of poverty and under-development.”
According to him, he has a very clear vision for the gargantuan task ahead, and he humbly solicits the support of the people, party leaders and stakeholders in the state.
“I desire that the votes that will make me the governor should come from across board and not just from APC members only,” he said.
He remains optimistic that with his overriding interest in the party, he would secure his partyâ€™s nomination as candidate and that despite being a member of an opposition party in the state, the future belongs to the APC as from 2019.
He said: â€Ž”My partyâ€™s manifesto resonates with the people oriented ideologies and styles. And we have carefully identified the issues that must be addressed before the state can take her rightful place in the comity of states.”
He promised to focus on infrastructural development, human capital enhancement, job creation.
He said: â€œMy vision is to unify everyone in the state under a common purpose. My team and I would transform the various elements of the system, whether it is infrastructure, environment, power, economy or others. It is also our target to create millions of jobs for our youths and women.â€
Barde has always harped on the need for human capital development, saying that without it, infrastructural projects will not work. So, he argued that empowering citizens with the right tools to get the job done should be a priority for us as a party.
He vowed to prioritise the welfare of women and children by strengthening access to quality primary health care, supporting women in their various businesses with access to capital to grow, as well as providing political support for the improvement of women participation in appointive and elective positions.
Barde bemoaned the fact that residents of the state spend not less than N5billion annually to buy water as a result of the failure of the state government to live up to expectations in maintaining the dam in the state.
So, to him, the deception of the government led to the total collapse of infrastructures. Hence he assured Gombe people that if elected, he would dedicate himself to the development of the state.
â€œI have reached the pinnacle of my career as a banker, and it is time I gave back to the society, and the only way I can do that is to take the position of leadership. I have a clear vision of empowering the youths, women and impact the lives of our people positively.
â€œI want to demonstrate that governance can be done with a high corporate responsibility. The PDP administration is full of deception. It is a time bomb waiting to explode. When you have young and energetic youths who are actually jobless, it is a fertile ground for a lot of negative things to happen. We need to harness these God-given resources and that is why I have decided to join the race.
â€œOur people have no access to potable water, and it wouldnâ€™t take the state government anything to maintain the dam that was constructed. It is heart-aching to know that Gombe metropolis spends N5 billion annually just to buy water.
â€œOur education system has completely collapsed. Some of the children do not have classes, rather, they study under trees. The hygiene is below human standard. Our hospitals are just mere mortuaries. This is totally unacceptable given the huge amount of funds the state government receives”, he added.
Further speaking on what spurred, Barde said: â€œI was challenged by my 11-year-old daughter who I was taking to school in London. Amazingly, she said to me: â€˜Now that your generation has failedâ€™, and I look at her, and I said: â€˜What do you mean?â€™ She said ‘you are going to make my generation fail!’ This got me thinking since then.â€
According to him, leadership is about service.
He said: “I am seeking the flag of our party in Gombe State. I have decided to do this because we donâ€™t need to sit on the fence any longer. My state consists of about 11 local government areas in the north-eastern part of the country, and in the last seven years, all our resources have been mismanaged. All the development indices you can think of have collapsed.”
On how he intends to be fair to all he said: “A good political leader does not take what is similar to his views as fact and base his decisions on that. He uses reliable and unfiltered information to make judgments and to come up with resolutions. In other words, he stands above his beliefs to observe events objectively while the public fails to do so. In addition, he does not suffer from a self-serving bias.”
Barde quotes copiously from the Holy Bible and Quran to the surprise of those who listen to him.
â€œI am not going to tell you anything but take a trip to Gombe State independently. Beyond the cosmetics of the metropolis, visit hospitals (health centres), schools, drive through roads in the 11 local government areas and publish your findings,” he urged to drive home his point about the parlous state of affairs in his state.
A good political leader does not take what is similar to his views as fact and base his decisions on that