By Ismaila Uba Misilli
When the green white green flag of Nigeria rose jubilantly in ecstatic mood across the length and breadth of the country on October 1st, her independence day and glasses were clinking in every State House in celebration, Gombe State’s was unabashedly louder in the mix because of its current beautiful standing as a brilliantly shining star in performance and class, going by all social and economic indicators which have positioned the state as one of the best in Nigeria at the moment.
Yes. Gombe State under the dynamic, inimitable and very technocratic administration of Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has become a benchmark of good governance, and the governor is fast becoming proud of the present dispensation. Little wonder he was given a rosy positioning recently on the highly political podium of Chattam House in the United Kingdom to showcase some of the stellar performances of the Jewel in the Savannah. Inuwa Yahaya is the first governor of Gombe State to be so honoured. He simply lived up to the billing.
As Nigeria takes stock of its nationhood trajectory, it will not be out of place for Gombe State too to look back and look through Its quantum leaps in recent years.
This is necessary to chart the course into the foreseeable future of the State, that is, changing the dynamics of the political economy of Northern Nigeria if not the whole of the nation.
Adjudged as the Best State in the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, chosen as the best investment destination, described as one of the most peaceful states, chosen as the best manager of human diversity, among many other bests, Gombe State has a lot to show especially under the present administration.
While Nigeria celebrated 62, Gombe State is on its 26th anniversary as a state.
On its 26th anniversary, it is very obvious that the ideals behind its creation have been largely defined and shaped by the power of leadership and vision over time.
The quality of leadership has been the propelling factor of its developmental strides.
At some time, the leadership was like a crescendo. At some other times, it seemed as if the state was in a comatose and another time it revved up like an upswing parabola.
To which of these political phases do we ascribe to the incumbent administration?
Since facts are sacrosanct, it is pertinent and absolutely a sure-footed move to count the blessings of Gombe State under Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and then cast a binocular into Gombe’s foreseeable future as outlined by the roadmaps of successes as succinctly elucidated by the plans, policies and program implementations under Inuwa Yahaya.
From its creation on the 1st of October, 1996 till date, the leadership of the state had changed in quick succession from the military era to the civilian and in particular those who have led the state in this 4th Republic and whose commendable efforts deserve some appreciation at this momentous occasion even in relative terms.
Group Captain Joseph Orji and Col. Mohammed Bawa ( late) who though had a short stay in office were an important part of the history of Gombe State.
Gombe State also had civilian leaders, namely, former Governors Abubakar Habu Hashidu ( late), Mohammed Danjuma Goje and Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and the current Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, who, no matter the differences in the level of evaluation, contributed to the development of the state most meaningfully and vary significantly too. Gombe no doubt seems to be moving in double strides under Inuwa Yahaya.
From the earliest days of the creation of the state often known as the Jewel in the Savannah, the conviction was very clear even to the founding fathers that Gombe was brimming with human and material resources and justifiably this position was at the heart of the spirited proposal to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha on the need to create the state. The viability of Gombe State at creation and as presented to the late head of state hastened its approval even though without any take-off grant like other states.
The rest is now a matter of historical revelation as the state has moved from one development trajectory to the other with a particular attachment to the leadership at a given point in time, emphasizing the leadership question as a major factor in societal regeneration.
Gombe, the state capital, like most of the other towns around the state, has now grown so phenomenally big as a modern city with mind-blowing infrastructure and amenities as envisioned and we are certainly making history.
To some development experts, 26 years may not be so long a period in the life of a state or nation but what counts indeed is the level of achievements relative to expectations.
While it is appropriate to recognize the various roles played by the successive leaders and allied patriots, I cannot but pinpoint the new vistas being heralded and engineered by the current leadership in the state chiefly on the fundamental issue of real growth and development.
In particular, there has been a strategic inter-linkage between the then Goje’s administration and the current governor who was a key member of the Goje administration as Commissioner of Finance and Economic Planning and indeed consequential to the reforms and development trajectories of that era now bolstered under his watch as Gombe State chief executive.
However, we have also seen a marked shift and expansion of good governance in the state, a desirable shift which essentially has changed the attitude of how government business is conducted in deft appreciation of the people’s mandate for renewal and the zeal to develop the state. Governor Inuwa’s strategic leadership is confounding in the context of the array of accomplishments during his short stay in government.
A cursory assessment of Gombe at 26 will require an objective retrospective look at what Governor Inuwa Yahaya met on the ground at the assumption of office and compared with the realities today in terms of basic levels of development not only in the state capital but also across the state and in major strategic areas and indices. He has made a world of difference in changing our collective narrative amidst socio-economic and political stability.
Since he took office in 2019, Governor Inuwa has matched effective leadership with a broad vision, imbued with hard work, sacrifice and innovative thinking and thus turning the tide even in a challenging political environment as well as a tough economic climate.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya is indeed moderating a new clime of conscious idealism placed side-by-side with realism on the journey so far, especially on the challenge of translating the great potentials of the state into real socio-economic enterprise. He’s delivering on the promise envisaged at inception to make Gombe a model state.
Inuwa Yahaya had a clear-cut blueprint of the level of development he desired to bequeath otoGombe State. He, therefore, wasted no time in employing the best of brains in his cabinet and the State had been posting remarkable results. Between May 29, 2019, to October 1st 2022, barely 3 and a half years Gombe’s phenomenal lift in development indices is quite historic.
While North East Nigeria is dreaded as the theatre of brigandage by insurgents, Gombe remains a haven and a beckoning ambience for tourists and investors both local and international.
Let’s visit some of the legendary footprints of Inuwa’s administration in the anals of Gombe State.
Indeed, in 2021, Gombe State, by a landslide, won the number one position in the Ease of Doing Business Index as certified by the National Economic Council under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Both the education and health sectors which were at a comatose status on the assumption of office by Inuwa Yahaya, warranting a declaration of the state of emergency have now been brought to vibrancy.
The educational status of Gombe which was at the base among the 36 States of Nigeria, with a secondary school students’ success ratio of 29% is now at 87%.
Just in August 2022, the Inuwa Yahaya-led administration pumped over 4Billion Naira into the sector and declared an end to the state of emergency earlier declared.
Whereas the out-of-school children at the inception of his administration stood at almost 700,000, over 350,000 students have been returned to school with better facilities and are equally well-kitted for optimum academic performance.
He equally pioneered the new model schools with modern school buildings comparable to the best schools anywhere in the world.
In health, there is now at least one Primary health care centre in every ward in all of Gombe State.
He set up Gombe State Health Management Board formerly non-existent in the state for better management of the health of the citizens.
What about GoHealth, a health insurance package that brings all the citizens of Gombe under an umbrella of affordable health delivery via the contribution of a token fee but full access to a full complement of health care services? Gombe State is now listed among the rising status higher revenue generation states in Nigeria.
Bravo! Gombe State is now among the oil prospecting states in Nigeria. The Kolman oil possibilities latent for years have been brought to stream by the Inuwa Yahaya’s pragmatic administration.
For the first time in the history of the State, an Industrial Park has been flagged off and construction is ongoing in earnest. Named Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park, the exponential implications of the Park on the industrial revolution in the state are unimaginably huge. Gombe is set for the top among the industrialized states in Nigeria.
By major parameters, Governor Inuwa has excelled and even surpassed the records of his predecessors in all critical aspects of the state’s economy: roads, rural infrastructure, pipe-borne water, health, education, power, transportation, urban renewal, agriculture, civil service reform, manpower development and women and youth empowerment. The specific cases of road construction across the state as well as health centres, greater access to education and water provision will forever be reckoned to be the high points of life-changing development incentives of the administration and indeed lasting legacies.
A new clime of possibilities is booming as Gombe State has become the most favoured destination for high net investors who have taken advantage of the relative absence of bureaucratic bottlenecks in the issuance of business permits, contract awards, procurement process and tax payments in the state. The high level of partnerships with several agencies of the Federal Government, international bodies and multilateral agencies and development partners is also a huge mark of leadership integrity and performance by the administration as an agent of positive change. Indeed the state’s GDP has quadrupled while the GDI has similarly reached a record high, especially with a newly improved civil service witnessing a momentous leap in workers’ morale and productivity occasioned by incentives, modern work tools and ethics, adequate remuneration and punctual payment of staff salaries and emoluments.
But all these did not happen by accident but as a product of painstaking preparation. As a practical and innovative leader, Governor Inuwa Yahaya had before his election as governor understudied Asian leadership and economic revitalization and he was fascinated by the Singapore model under the legendary Lee Kuan Yew as a fitting example of what modern Gombe State should look like.
He had then concluded that the most effective way of guaranteeing the fast track of economic growth and infrastructural transformation of the state was the enthronement of a virile, productive, efficient and incorruptible civil service, without which any policy or structural reform would be a waste of time akin to erecting a structure on shaky foundations. Thus one of his priorities was urgent civil service reform and this was kick-started with the establishment of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) which took the lead in identifying those sectors in need of drastic reform and implementing them without let or hindrance and at full capacity, a feat unprecedented in Gombe history.
The Gombe 10- year development plan, is another initiative of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya with the mission to create an enabling environment for sustainable peace, cohesion and an all-inclusive development for the people to leave a lasting legacy for succeeding generations.
Governor Inuwa has also led by example as an apostle of peace amidst diversity, as he continually preaches peace, tolerance, cooperation and peaceful cohabitation among the diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic groups in the state. That Gombe State has not turned into a haven for Boko Haram terrorists, bandits and assorted kidnappers as other states in the North-East can be ascribed to Inuwa’s One Gombe, One Destiny philosophy which has permeated all nooks and crannies of the state, thus translating into a peaceful, prosperous and progressive society. Just a couple of days earlier, the conference of state directors of security, North East zone declared, rising from their meeting, declared Gombe as the safest and most peaceful state in the sub-region.
Politically, we cannot but recognize the rising to the national and international reckoning of Gombe State under Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya.
Apart from the indigenes of the State holding key national and international appointments, Governor Inuwa Yahaya has been called upon to handle very sensitive national assignments.
When the South East family of the ruling All Progressive Party in Anambra State had an irreconcilable rift, It was Inuwa Yahaya that was found worthy of being the chairman of that Committee. Inuwa Yahaya posted a remarkable record of reconciliation of the feuding parties in a historic time.
Inuwa Yahaya was also found worthy to chair the Finance Committee of the recently concluded APC’s Presidential Elections Primaries at Eagle Square in Abuja.
It is no fluke that Inuwa Yahaya has won the Best Governor Award, Most Outstanding Governor of the Year and Best Performing Governor from three major Nigerian Newspapers, The Vanguard, Leadership and Blueprint Newspapers.
Thus, as Gombe commemorates its 26 years of existence, it is gratifying to note that the state has delivered on its promise at inception to be a model state for the greater good of the people through accelerated development in a stable polity. Gombe is certainly racing to the promised land under Governor Inuwa Yahaya.
Misilli is the DG ( Press Affairs) Government House Gombe