Already, political gladiators from both the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have begun to emerge amid intrigues that would eventually throw up the candidates for both parties in the following weeks are already playing out.
However, the general perception and feelings of the Gombe people as gauged is that the person to replace Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo must be a different breed of politician. Gombe yearns for an open-minded governor that would advance development beyond Gombe metropolis and its cosmetic look, an administrator that would change the fortune of the ordinary man on the street of Dukku, restore the hope of the youths of Akko, Nafada, Funakaye and empower the poor and less privileged women of Kaltungo, Shongom, Kwami among others.
However, in the midst of these expectations, many qualified aspirants stand out. Prominent among them is a former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Sun Trust Bank, Muhammad Jibrin Barde. Barde is running under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC). His unique selling point includes his intelligence, courage, bluntness and a daring and fearless disposition to challenge the status quo and restore power and legitimacy to the people.
Barde is a politician with grassroots support and appeal as he had traversed the length and breadth of the 11 local government areas of the state. Already, his name is a household name.
He has succeeded in fostering unity in the party, empowering the people through his foundation and performing other social functions even before he thought of running for governorship.
This 47-year-old technocrat has development on his mind with a global outlook. At different fora, he assured the people that his administration if given the mandate would usher in progress and prosperity. He is sad over the new low of education in the state. He has promised to improve standards and ensure adequate welfare for the pupils and teachers alike.
He promised to address gender imbalance. He wants to empower women and the girl-child. He wants to ensure self-reliance as against alms begging that is prevalent in the state.
This prudent manager of resources does not feel that Governor Dankwambo has done enough. He is statistically equipped with figures of incomes, revenues and allocations that the state had received over the past seven and half years and opined that they were not judiciously utilised.
In spite of his glowing credentials and soaring popularity, Barde is buried in humility and he is looking forward to clinching the ticket having appealed to the sense of reasoning and consciousness of the people. The people of Gombe are now looking forward to May 29, 2019, when he would be sworn-in as the Executive Governor and activate his high connection with friends and business associates from across the country towards developing the state.
A chieftain of the party in the state, Alhaji Munir Adamu, described Barde as a respected administrator, a man of honour and high moral character coupled with his very generous and friendly posture more particularly to the downtrodden which he vastly demonstrate at every opportunity.
Over a week ago, Dan Barde visited the national secretariat of the APC to submit his nomination and expression of interest forms. The crowd that gathered to behold him and here him address them were difficult to manage as they thronged into the secretariat singing his praises as the man who is inclined to relieve them of their pains, sufferings and poverty.
Addressing the media, he said he is running to save the generation of his children from the backwardness that stares them in the face. He is prepared for governance and expressed his desire to consolidate on the good works of a former governor of the state and a chieftain of the party, Senator Danjuma Goje.
Alhaji Danjuma Goje, who is now a two term senator contested and won on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The victory then was so clinical that even the defeated governor, did not bother to challenge the outcome of the elections in court. And for the eight years that Goje governed the state, he changed the fortunes of the state, making essentials of life that were hitherto thought to be impossible in the state, possible.
For instance, before his assumption of office in May 2003, water, which is one of the essentials of life, was a very scarce commodity in Gombe State, with a near consensus of opinion that making water available in Gombe and its environs was near impossible, the existence of a dam notwithstanding. But Goje said it was possible.
Next, was the state University; this was another project, many, in and outside Gombe State thought was impossible. In fact, most of the elites in the state engaged Goje then in a verbal war over the project. But a determined Goje insisted it was possible. And today, the University remains a reference point in the country.
Again, Goje came up with the idea of building an International Airport. This too, did not go down well with some people in the state who felt it was another impossible venture. In the end, the former governor proved everyone wrong, as the airport is today functioning at its optimum, leaving Bauchi, an older state, which incidentally gave birth to Gombe, with no standard airport, in spite of several attempts being made in the past to get one.
Dan Barde feels that Goje’s eight years in the state, no doubt endeared him to the people such that he had no difficulty in determining his successor, in 2011, after the end of his tenure. He successfully installed Governor Hassan Dankwambo, also of the PDP, as governor, while he headed for the senate.
Honourable Zainab Alman revealed that Barde would not only consolidate on the gains secured for the people by Senator Goje but that he would surpass it. She urged delegates to be wise in their choice ahead the primary election slated for September 29 and unanimously vote and give their mandate to Muhamamdu Jibrin Dan Barde.
Another stakeholder who is optimistic that Barde would clinch the ticket of the party and eventually win the election is Sa’adu Hassan.
Hassan said the state has suffered under-development and that even the basic needs of the people were not met. He painted a picture of hunger, hopelessness and despair and insisted that Dan Barde is the right man for the job. According to him, Barde would foster unity, provide security and serve the down-trodden.
Dan Barde had always claimed that he is adequately equipped for the job, adding 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 Gombe’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.”
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 Bachelor 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.
On Friday, after appearing before the screening panel, Barde was asked to take a bow and leave. He thanked Almighty Allah and the people for their support and urged them not to give up until he emerges the governor of the state.
Jonathan a media consultant wrote in from Kaltungo in Gombe state.