By Aliyu Abubakar
Governance is a key tool for assessing development and poverty alleviation in most if not all countries of the world. The essence of being in power as an elected representative of the people is to improve the well-being of the people that have given the leaders their mandate to spend the resources of the land for the common good of all and sundry. However, it is the job of the people to hold the government accountable by measuring their policies and programs with the reality on ground because governance is about reality rather than sweet-talk and self-hyping publications. In the light of the above, lies the strength of this article as it will measure the claims of the Gombe State government in terms of performance and the reality on ground using certain indices such as education, health, agriculture and poverty alleviation.
It has become an axiom that education has been used over time to develop a state or a nation. This is not strange to anyone, not even to the government of Gombe State. The Dankwambo-led administration has made an anthem out of its plans for the education sector in Gombe state by reiterating at every medium that education is the first, second and third priority of the current administration. It has over time as part of their paltry performance in the sector claim to have renovated several schools and constructed few. Despite the huge money the state government claimed to have spent in the education sector, in some schools within Gombe Metropolis, students have no seats and have been forced to sit on the floor.
If the claim of the state government as regards their performance is true, then it is either that the government had lied about the huge money spent in the sector or there were elements of corruption by those in the education sector in the state. How can a state that has had such huge allocations and self-acclaimed transformation in the education sector by aides of Dankambo, be placed poorly on West African Examinations Council (WAEC) performance score card? For instance, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Gombe State has placed 34th respectively in what seem like a hat-trick in failure vis-à-vis WAEC performance. This abysmally poor performance is a show that the claim of the government that huge sums have been spent in education is nothing but politics of deceit. If you spend such huge money in reality, then the WAEC performance would have reflected so. With such records, one will be left in plenty doubt that the N19 billion in 2018 budget for education will have no effect too. To worsen the matter, an indigent student from Gombe State, Abba Muhammed had on Nov. 14, taken to the streets of Abuja to beg for financial support to enable him achieve his dream of getting college education in a state that places high premium on education. If the education policy scanner were to be active, Abba Muhammed would have been found and assisted to avoid the shame and bad name that Gombe State got in that act in the nation’s capital.
In a similar development, the state government has been budgeting billions of naira yearly for close to eight years to improve the wellbeing of the people of Gombe but the indices of poverty in the state is unmatchable. Today, most youths in the state have been rescued by the federal government social investment programme: N-power which has been constantly paying N30, 000 to youths in the state and has reduced the poverty level of the state and averted the social unrest that would have resulted from the impoverishing programmes of the state government. Poverty is a denial of opportunities and choices and a violation of human self-worth. Within the last seven years and more, many indigenes of Gombe have been denied their choices and opportunities to live in a manner that shows human dignity like the case of Abba Muhammed. One would need to look at the United Nations’ Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index report of 2015 to appreciate the level of poverty under this current administration. The report puts Gombe State incidence of poverty at 76.9% when the national average is pegged at 46.0%. Three dimensions: education, health and living standards were used in measuring poverty in the state.
We need to drum it loud that not until the people at the grassroots feel the impact of governance, every achievement reeled out on the pages of newspaper will remain nothing but a mirage. Governance must be measured by how many people have been affected by policies of the government. Since democracy is sustained by the voice of the majority, then the performance of leaders in a democratic setting must be measured by the majority who can attest to have benefitted from the actions of the government and not the microscopic few that are singing the praises of the current self-advertising government in Gombe State.
In the health sector, the state government claimed to have renovated and ungraded hospitals and healthcare centers yet indigenes of Gombe die yearly of cholera without efforts by the state government to address that so it doesn’t become a yearly ritual of some sort whereby the good people of Gombe wait for diseases like cholera and the likes to take their lives on a yearly basis, yet we have a government that claimed to have invested in the health sector. The free healthcare services that were reserved for children within the ages of 0-5 years and pregnant women have not given been due consideration and the people battle to pay for healthcare services which have made some people to result to traditional method of treating diseases that would have required highly technological treatment in hospitals.
In the agricultural sector, the state government claimed to have bought 250 tractors in seven years yet most of our farmers still rely on traditional methods for farming. This is one sector one would have expected the state government to invest because over 80 per cent of the populace are engaged by the agricultural sector. Aside the federal government programmes which have made loans available to farmers as well as improved seedlings and other countless trainings on how to use pesticides, Dankwambo’s government whose primary aim is to strengthen the comparative advantage of Gombe in agriculture to fast-track developments from all sides has yet to initiate effective agricultural programmes to complement the federal government’s efforts in that regard.
Using what is obtainable on ground in terms of grassroots effect of governance in Gombe State and the available statistics of poverty and massive infrastructural decay, the government of the day has everything in mismanagement of resources and misplacement of priorities. It is obvious that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state has not lived up-to expectations as it has neither changed the fortunes of the state in terms of meaningful human capital development indices nor has it provided answers to propel a new course of governance that will give the good people of the state the worth of politics. What have the people really gained from the current administration in Gombe state if I may ask?
Aliyu Abubakar is from Gombe and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org