By Ismaila Uba Misilli
The recent visit by Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja has been viewed by public commentators and political analysts as one of the most dynamic and result-oriented engagements ever undertaken by the Governor since assumption into office two years ago.
The issues discussed at the meeting made it even more unique and reassuring, considering their irrefutable importance to national security, economic development, social cohesion and wellbeing of the people. As a matter of fact, the visit can be viewed from the prisms of patriotism and responsiveness embedded in rare leadership qualities exhibited by Governor Inuwa Yahaya.
So what were the issues discussed? And to what extent would the eventual outcomes of the engagement rob off on Gombe State and the nation in general? At this point, it is important to clarify that the meeting was an initiative of the effervescent Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya to push for some germaine matters of benefit to Gombe State and its people. And so, when it was that time to meet with the President, the Governor wasted no time in presenting and intimating the Commander-in-Chief on items in his order paper.
Firstly, the Gombe State Governor presented to President Muhammadu Buhari the master plan of the Gombe Industrial Park, a monumental project conceived by the Governor and which is named after the Nigerian leader. The Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park is designed to sit on 1000 hectares of land and is expected to utilize the Dadinkowa Hydro power plant for its energy needs. Already, the Gombe State Government has approved over 16.4 billion naira contract for the construction of phase 1 of the Industrial Park, an ambitious contract sum and project never undertaken in Gombe state since the creation of the State in 1996.
According to Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya during a parley with State House Correspondents, “We discussed the issue of Gombe Industrial Park which we awarded the contract to start in record time and it has been named after Mr. President. So, I informed him and sought his support to see that we deliver on that. You know our people are naturally peasant farmers and herders and if we’re able to put up the industrial park, we’ll have a big place that can provide opportunities for our youths in the industries within agricultural production, processing, marketing and distribution so that they will have very good means of livelihood and the economy will also improve”.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya equally engaged the President on security matters vis- a- vis the comforting role Gombe State has been playing in hosting Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs from Boko Haram afflicted states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa thereby putting a strain on the State’s social infrastructure. During the heights of the Boko Haram insurgency, Gombe State became home to many fleeing IDPs, considering its proximity to the epicentre states of the uprising and above all the relative peace Gombe enjoys at that time and even now.
This sense of hospitality displayed by the Gombe State Government did infact come with a price as managing security in the State is gradually becoming a challenge. “For us we don’t put them in IDP camps; we allow them settle within our people and they have already acclimatised and are staying with our people but that puts a lot of strain on our resources. Schools, hospitals and other social facilities and amenities and equally security management is becoming an issue”, the Gombe State Governor said.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya also intimated the President on Gombe’s permanent NYSC Orientation Camp which now serves as a rehabilitation center for surrendering and repentant insurgents.
He told the President that the facility has not been formally taken over by the federal government. This development, the Governor maintained, has led to a steady decline in the number of Youth Corps members being deployed to the State thereby affecting the human resource that the State need in our schools and other Government establishments.
To this end, the Governor appealed to the Federal Government to reimburse the state with equivalent amount to set up another NYSC orientation camp in view of the fact that Gombe State Government has come to realise that the de-radicalization center is no longer going to be temporary especially now that the insurgents are surrendering in their numbers.
The Governor also tabled before the President, the issue of Wawa-Zange grazing reserve and the need to fast track work on the largest gazetted reserve in Nigeria. With over 144, 000 hectares, the reserve was slated to be used as a pilot project for the National Livestock Transformation Programme of the Federal Government. “I believe that Mr. President earlier in 2020 precisely in his 2020 January speech acknowledged and approved that the National Livestock Transformation Plan which is expected to take off with a model from Gombe, the Wawa-Zange reserve, but so far, nothing serious has been done on that, and with the recent outburst, and position taken by governors of southern parts of this country, there is the need for us to fast-track the process of building that place so that in the event our people move in multitudes to come back to resettle, we will have a space for them”.
“We’ did request for funds. I believe that every other state will do so because you need the resources in order to implement and there is scarcity of financial resources in the state, so, we’ve requested and submitted a proposal that is fully backed by a feasibility report that indicates what we require”.
Equally discussed,was the issue of oil and gas discovered in the Benue Trough, specifically in Kolmani area which is situated in Bauchi and Gombe States. It is noteworthy that since the discovery of the black gold not much was achieved in terms of exploitation for the benefit of the people. Even though the Gombe State Governor acknowledges the political will and passion shown by the President since his days as the Federal Commissioner of Petroleum in the 80s and later when he became President, he however did not hesitate in appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to utilize his good office in pressurising the NNPC to commence full exploitation of the oil and gas in the Benue Trough.
“With the deposits discovered and the interest shown by investors who want to put in money and develop the gas and oil deposits available in that place, there is need for us to fast track the process of the take-off so that people will benefit from God’s resources that Nigeria is blessed with.”
To say the least, the meeting between the Gombe State Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari is one strategic engagement that will go a long way in addressing the social, economic, political, security, cultural and even religious challenges confronting the Nigerian State and its people if properly implemented.
A closer look at the issues discussed at the meeting, points in clear terms, the audacity, tenacity and ‘never say die spirit’ of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya to go to any length in advocating, canvassing and lobbying pivotal issues that can be beneficial not only to Gombe State and North East sub-region but indeed the entire entity called Nigeria.
Misilli is the Director-General ( Press Affairs) Government House Gombe