The Gombe State governor has the interest of the people at heart, writes Gidado L. Ibrahim
The functional value of the maxim “greatest good of the greatest number” as described by the liberal British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, will continue to generate interest when analyzing the role and impact of government or policymakers in the affairs of societies. This is especially so in a democracy where multitudes of the people elect leaders to govern and deliver on their manifestoes. In effect, such political leaders, in the noble thoughts of Bentham, are expected to make policies and programmes geared toward fostering as much wellbeing for as many people as possible. They should necessarily honour their promises to the people as a matter of integrity and that itself underscores how effective political leadership is measured.
These are salient thoughts in evaluating the stewardship of Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State as he marks one year in office.
While campaigning in an election he eventually won overwhelmingly, the governor had promised to accord priority to areas like education, health, infrastructure, agriculture and human capital development.
One year after, it is heartening that Governor Yahaya has not only delivered on his promises but also shown through his outstanding leadership and vision that greater prosperity is on the way to better the lot of the people. From education to health, infrastructure, where construction of rural roads has been quite remarkable to water provision, rural electrification and empowerment, governance is becoming more and more meaningful compared with the past. Seriously, we can now see a paradigm shift which has the compelling signature of the governor in a methodical approach to governance, strategic structure and passion for excellence.
Of course, education as a major concern has now been well repositioned in an upward trajectory to address accessibility and quality. The declaration of state of emergency in this critical sector by the governor at inception has led to far-reaching transformation with the concomitant gain in huge enrolment of out-of-school children, including the Almajiris, who are now in public schools. Girl-child education is also in upward swing, high scale provision of infrastructure is the order of the day and competent teachers are now in public schools across the state as a necessary reform. The education sector, I think, will likely be Yahaya’s finest legacy going by the commitment and tenacity of the administration to it and possible impact on the young generation as social capital.
Also, infrastructure as catalyst for development has so far got a boon via the various roads constructed linking strategic locations across the state. The “Network Eleven-Hundred” project targets the construction of 100 kilometres of road in each of the 11 local government areas of the state. This is significant as a means of opening up the rural communities thereby facilitating access and economic activities that will in the long run increase wealth of households. And there’s more to come as road construction will continue to enjoy the support of the government through proper financing. Indeed, more rural roads and intensified projects in rural development as the government has carried out are in the right direction when it is realized that about 80 per cent of the people live in rural communities. The procurement of 50 brand new buses for the state’s transport company, Gombe Line, is another landmark initiative aimed at improving inter and intra states transportation.
Equally important was the completion of the Dadin-Kowa Hydro-power plant by the federal government which has capacity to generate 40 megawatts of electricity. The story behind this particular project is a classic study in leadership and shrewd appreciation of what really counts in the key inter-linked factors for development. The plant was first conceived in 1959 and neglected by successive administrations but Governor Yahaya could see the strategic value of the project now completed after 60 years when it was initiated. We have also seen more localities being connected to the national grid to enjoy electricity and improve socio-economic wellbeing of the people. One special attraction of the Dadin-Kowa hydro-plant is the good thinking behind the 1000-hectres industrial park leveraging on the facility and envisioned to ultimately create a cluster of industries with strong value chain that will create many jobs even with the associated economy of scale.
Looking ahead, the 30-year state infrastructural master plan will help to refocus this facet of development with history of huge deficit and enhance consistency in infrastructural provision which is a good idea. In addition, the 10-year Gombe State development plan which has a diversified base and orientation will further put the state on a steady growth through a coordinated and orderly development strategy. I also think the devotion of 55 per cent for capital budget and 45 per cent for recurrent expenditure in the 2020 budget is quite salutary.
Similar feat has also been recorded in the area of water provision to the people in Gombe township and environs which was a major campaign promise now delivered. This is one achievement that has gladdened the hearts of the people realizing that water scarcity has been a thorny issue in the state for the past 20 years without solution because past governments either failed to make it a priority or just unwilling to tackle it.
Health care is not left out of the people-centred policies and programmes of the Yahaya administration. By instituting the Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) and partnering with international donor/ development agencies, there is a deliberate effort to ensure healthcare is accessible to the people through adequate and sustainable funding which in particular serves the greater interest of the vulnerable ones. Aside this, the introduction of the health insurance scheme in the state has further improved healthcare delivery. Also the preference heath enjoys in the current budget tells a fitting story of what should be major components of good governance. And from the various ongoing health projects and programmes, the various health infrastructure across the nooks and crannies of the state, not leaving out the vigorous and commendable handling of Covid-19 pandemic, Gombe is on a new pedestal in development.
Among other achievements of Governor Inuwa Yahaya in the last one year is empowerment of the people, particularly the youths who have been trained in skills acquisition and duly empowered. Yet agriculture is well prioritized with clear-cut policies and incentives including timely provision of fertilizers and other inputs at subsidized rates while security is being tackled with the right funding and architecture.
Importantly, the Gombe Goes Green project is Yahaya’s answer to climate change where environmental challenges particularly desertification is getting the right attention. Interestingly, the project also has a twin effect of job creation which has benefited over 27,000 people.
On the surface, these are basic development initiatives, a normal course of action by any serious government, but looking at the record and strategic thinking behind the achievements even in one year, we cannot but appreciate the critical elements of vision, courage, creativity and performance as Governor Yahaya is effectively resetting the Gombe narrative as real agent of change. He is clearly validating Bentham’s utilitarian thesis on why government should serve the greatest good (happiness) of the greatest number as pathway to better society.
Ibrahim wrote from Abuja