By Ismaila Uba Misilli
When the Governor of Gombe State, Muhamadu Inuwa Yahaya, was elected two years ago, expectations were very high among the populace principally because of his antecedents as a tested leader with both private and public sector experience, a performer, who will likely change the inherited narrative in the governance of the state.
Today, as he hits mid- term, major indicators would suggest that the optimism which heralded the coming of his administration into office has not actually been misplaced on account of his noble stewardship.
While his record of achievements is taken for granted since he was elected to serve and serve meritoriously, the underpinning consideration here is that it is a mark of his leadership integrity.
Of course, we could evaluate this reality on the premise of the French proverb which states that “something promised, something owed”, implying that promises, especially political promises, espoused in campaign manifesto, constitute the very principle of morality and to the extent that there would be “no ethics without the promise”.
Invariably, the object lesson and clear reminder on the question of campaign promises and why they must be kept revolves around the fact that it is fundamental to democracy and indeed central to legitimacy of the democratic system.
In the last two years, the good people of Gombe State have come to see a modern leader who delivers –whether in superlative public education or infrastructure (particularly roads) agribusiness or health, economic and civil service reforms, environmental regeneration as well as security of lives and property.
Governor Inuwa yahaya has so far opened tremendous opportunities for many in the basic demographics, advancing in the process a legacy of equity, justice and prosperity for all.
Education in particular (a major interest to the governor) was in a sorry state at inception of the administration, a development which necessitated a pragmatic reevaluation and renewal through basic reforms that have since birthed a modern system with huge enrolment in the primary and secondary education cadre and we are getting good results especially from the external examinations as a major concern to the governor on assumption of office. This is the culmination of the declaration of emergency in education in the state at the outset. It was a holistic reform which took into account the urgent need to build modern and conducive infrastructure in the various new classrooms and boarding schools across the state as well as instituting a system that brought in only qualified teachers. The achievements in the education sector won’t be complete without mentioning the major task of taking the hundreds of thousands of Almajiris out of the streets and put in formal education setting just as the girl child education, a key issue in the reform process remains a bold achievement of the Yahaya administration in the last two years.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya also believes a good network of roads was critical to the economic revival and development of the state. Being an agrarian state in spite of the ongoing ambitious work to industrialize the state, we have come to see a new Gombe where the various parts are now well linked up via good roads, starting from the initial Network 11-100 Project, (100 kilometers of road in each of the 11 local governments) to the mega revolution in the construction of over 150 other strategic roads across the state till date. This looks a sound initiative relative to the economic value and happiness of the people who use these roads in their daily activities.
From health to agriculture, the modernizing mentality of the state government to create an enabling environment and institute clear headed policies in tune with the required development goals have also informed key policies and programmes in these two major sectors.
Now, health, terribly neglected by the previous administration, is enjoying a close watch with better funding, facilties and programmes for the good health of our people. Aside the state of the art Specialist Hospital in the state, the new lease of life in the critical sector is experienced in the various cottage hospitals, general hospitals, strengthened State Primary Health care programme to the revitalization of at least one PHC in each of the 114 wards and of course the introduction of the State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency which has improved access to healthcare in the state. Yet I think the government deserves accolade for its responsible response to the Covid-19 pandemic which ensured we had one of the least incidences and fatality throughout the country.
Likewise, agriculture which is the mainstay of the state has benefited from the government’s proactive management through generous funding, contrary to the past, as we see in procurement and distribution of subsidized fertilizers to farmers, built research centres and adopted modern techniques to increase yields and productivity in both animal production and fisheries.
Yet rural development and challenge of environmental degradation have been well addressed through provision of diversified infrastructure and the hugely successful tree planting project to reclaim and protect the devastated northern region of the state respectively. To be added here is the provision of water, a major issue in the state before he came on board.
Perhaps two other areas of the far-reaching reforms which represent major achievements of the Inuwa Yahaya administration are the civil service and economic reform. While the former has ensured an invigorated and high performing bureaucracy, the latter has led to a repositioning of the economy to properly tackle the challenge of underdevelopment in the state.
The high point of the economic reform was the launch of the 10-Year- Development Plan in February as a long term vision for growth and sustainable development.
Known as the Gombe State Development Plan (GSDP) 2021-2030), the plan, first in the country, identifies five development pillars namely: Economic Development, Infrastructure Development, Social Development, Sustainable Development and Governance, Administrative and Institutional Development. The plan, essentially, has a wide range of underlying activities that border on the greater good of the people as government performs its duties within some basic institutional framework detailing the policy thrust, policy target and policy objectives and overall betterment of the people.
As Governor Inuwa Yahaya noted during the launch, the plan has “inclusive strategies to empower our people’, adding that “the decision to develop the plan is a clear indication of our determination to have lasting legacies for succeeding generations of our people”. Pointedly, the gamut of the plan aligns with the UN’s SDGs to tackle the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment.
To the outsiders and those naysayers and detractors especially among the political opposition in the state, it remains a puzzle how Governor Inuwa Yahaya has been able to make so much impact in the last two years. Despite the paucity of funds in the state, the governor, through prudent and judicious management of resources, has lived up to the billing as a leader of substance. I don’t think he’s a miracle worker but only being a dedicated and focused leader who knows his onions and why he ran for office of governor.
I also think the above reason was why he institutionalized the idea of partnership, bringing development to the state by forging partnership with various government agencies and institutions locally and abroad. Indeed it’s due to his acknowledged prudence; leadership character and credibility that the various development partners have continued to come to the state and the results are so far remarkable.
Thus as Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya hits mid- term and enters the second phase of his 4-year tenure, it is gratifying that he has kept his promises to the good people of Gombe State even as he’s determined to do more.
Misilli is the Director-General ( Press Affairs)