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Giving Gombe a New People-friendly Face

| May 2, 2013 More

Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo

Come May 29, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State will be marking his two years in office. Senator Iroegbu writes on the bold initiatives, policies and projects embarked on that have positively impacted the lives of ordinary people in the state

Gombe, one of the last set of states created on October 1, 1996 by the Late General Sani Abacha administration to bring Nigeria up to its present 36 states; is today enjoying a period of rapid development that is deemed unprecedented in its short history.

Carved out from the old Bauchi State in the North-east of the country to bring government closer to the people and make development faster and more meaningful, the state is living up to this expectation despite the security challenges.

According to the visionaries of the state, its creation was a fulfillment of the aspiration of the people who had passionately craved for a state of their own out of the then Bauchi state and today, they are reaping the reward through the people-oriented leadership of their governors; particularly the incumbent, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
Accordingly, the footprints of these development initiatives cut across the 11 Local Government Areas (LGAs) including Akko, Balanga, Billiri, Dukku, Funakaye, Gombe, Kaltungo, Kwami, Nafada, Shongom, and Yamaltu Deba.

Official Recall
Speaking to THISDAY, Dankwambo’s Senior Special Adviser (Press) Mr. Junaidu Usman Abubakar, noted that while it is amazing that the Governor would be marking two years in office on May 29 to be precise, “what has occupied the minds of concerned people of the state and to a large extent the common man on the street is, what has been the gains, challenges and failures of the administration”; which he concluded has been positive.

Meanwhile, a curious assessment of the administration’s two years in office shows that there are more positive gains than failures especially as it affects the living standard of the ordinary man and to a large extent, the economy of the state.
More importantly, the governor has focused more attention on education of the citizenry, which is one of the critical needs of the people in the North in general and the North-east in particular.

Giant Strides
Dankwambo’s amazing stride at advancing the education status of Gombe people is spread across the state in form of solid infrastructure and sound policies.

Recently, the governor concluded a state-wide constituency tour of all the 24 state constituencies of the State’s House of Assembly in what he termed as ‘Midterm review’ where he personally met with the representatives of all the 114 wards in the state to get feedback and requests as well as assess the achievements and challenges before the fifteen-year-old state.

With so much to show for his almost two years in office, evidence abounds in the areas of rehabilitation and upgrading of primary and secondary schools which include the employment of 1,000 graduate teachers for secondary schools to fill the long abandoned gap in the education sector that has produced bad results and negatively affected the society in the recent past.
Also, full attention has been given to the higher education sector where there are now more tertiary institutions that have been given proper attention and not paying lip service to it as the case was in the past; among many other successes in different sectors.

A Gombe resident, Mr. Bashir Mohammed Kuri, had also observed that the ‘Yankalare menace’ is a clear manifestation of this failure (in education) and how the immediate past administration took advantage of the youths by recruiting them to fight political opponents that has today become elements of insurgency in the North.

“It was no secret and the Governor found it lamentable that only 18 out of the thousands of secondary school students passed their WAEC/NECO exams with English and Mathematics at the inception of his administration in May 2011”, Kuri noted.

Observers’ Views
Little wonder, many observers have analysed and concluded that the education sector has been receiving over 50 per cent of the administration’s attention with the introduction of many remedial programmes and establishment of institutions that would help students to make up their papers.

They also noted that Dankwambo has so far laid the foundation of a State College of Education and also pronounced the establishment of a Polytechnic and a School of Islamic and Legal Studies for the state, adding that this is “because of the high premium he personally gives to education as he described it as his first, second and third priority”.

Kuri said: “What the Governor has done to this sector is not small at all. And from the little I have seen just in Gombe town alone, the State is definitely catching up with older states and even better. The restructuring of some Primary schools has turned them into something else. Many people, including me, are surprised that structures that were only seen in private Primary Schools are now seen in public schools. I have personally seen the infrastructure in Central Primary schools and you will wonder if we are actually in Gombe. This is because that is not what we have been used to.

“The secondary and higher institutions have also recorded tremendous achievements. One notable thing I’ve seen in the Higher institution is what is been spent on provision of these facilities. For example, with little over N4.1 billion on the School of Basics and Remedial Studies Kumo, there is so much to show for the school like convocation ground, over 50 staff houses, libraries, laboratories, lecture and theatre halls, admin blocks, recreational facilities among many others compared to the over N20 billion sank in Gombe state University at its inception. The achievements are innumerable. In short I can rate him more than 70 per cent because many children are now in school”, he affirmed.

Vital Committees
The Governor had, earlier in the life of his administration, having met various problems in virtually all sectors of the state’s social, economic and political life, set up 11 committees made up of eminent sons and daughters of the state who have proven themselves in their different fields of endeavours.

These committees set out a blue print for the administration after investigating all their assigned sectors and came out with different harrowing revelations. Exactly one year after their inauguration, they came back to give an assessment of how far the administration has gone in implementing the blueprint.

Determined to be honest and sincere in their dealings, most of the committees did admit that although not much was achieved due to the daunting challenges found on ground especially with little financial resources and huge debt profile of the state, the administration was however given a pass mark for its practical determination to frontally address the problems on the ground.
Now, with almost two years into the life of the administration and an improved state, the constituency visit has provided Dankwambo with first hand information about the plights and feelings of the people.

Inadequate Resources
One thing, however, that has always stood in between achieving more than what is on ground is the inadequacy of financial resources which puts the state at the bottom in allocations from the Federation account.

Evidently, the landmark achievement in education was exemplified by the type of facilities and infrastructure put on ground from Primary Schools, Secondary schools and even the tertiary schools.

For example, N4.1 billion was said to have been sunk for establishment of the School of Basics and Remedial Studies, Kumo with world standard facilities in form of libraries, laboratories, convocation ground, more than 50 units of Staff houses, lecture halls and theatres, administrative blocks, recreational facilities and a vast land for future development amongst others.
Similarly, with the type of work going on at the school, many in the state had felt another University or Gombe State University is about to be relocated to Kumo town in Akko Local Government Area.

Another case is that in most of the Primary schools renovated by the Government, one would also be confused whether they are actually the usual wretched and dilapidated government schools that have no facilities with blown off rooftops or private school structure.

It is therefore not surprising that that there is today a mad rush for public schools teaching jobs by National College of Education (NCE) holders who have realised the restructuring of the system and better working conditions for teachers because the standards have been raised. It is also on record that many have left the highly patronised private schools for the public schools as parents have not also been left behind in enrolling their children.

One parent, Mrs. Hadiza Bello, whose child is in Central Primary school, Gombe told THISDAY that her experience is like a dream. “My child now has virtually all the books required in their class and almost everything has changed, Dankwambo is doing magic to these schools and the pupils”, Bello said.

Many secondary schools have now received a facelift especially renowned ones like GSS Billiri, GDSS Doma, Government Science Secondary School, Gombe and even some Almajiri school schools have been reactivated.

Recent statistics have also shown that there are more enrollments of students and pupils in both Primary, Secondary and Tertiary institutions because of the improved system in the education sector, even though more are expected with the way the government is unfolding many things day-by-day for the education sector.

In a related development, there have been giant strides in other areas of Gombe socio-economic life that have made positive impression on most of the people like electricity, water supply, road networks and construction of other social amenities amongst others.

Tackling Poverty
In the same vein, the Governor has put machinery in motion to tackle high rate of poverty in the state through a well-thought out Conditional Cash Grant Scheme, which is usually in line with the demands of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and in partnership with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs (OSSAP-MDGs).

One of the beneficiaries of the scheme, Mr. Buhari Ali, from Kumbiya-Kumbiya town, affirmed that the programme has been very helpful to the people. “I know of a very close person who is benefiting from the scheme. You know poverty has been our greatest problem here but with this systematic way of reducing it, is very commendable”, Ali said.

“I heard that it is an MDG programme and Governor Dankwambo has been facilitating its execution in the state through timely payment of counterpart funding. It is very commendable. We are entitled to get N15,000 monthly but get N5,000 while N10,000 is kept in our bank accounts and will be released to us at the end of the year, for investments of their choice”, he disclosed.

Water for Life
Furthermore, the state has been investing heavily in construction of potable and safe drinking water to the citizens of Gombe state, who have been suffering untold hardship in the area of water scarcity, sanitation and hygiene.

Dahiru Tukur, a resident of Gombe town, speaking on the improved water supply, said: “what many people may not know is that this administration is doing a larger work of the Dadin Kowa Regional Water Supply scheme which the last administration completed the Dam project. Of course the water was brought from Dadin Kowa to Gombe town.

“But there was no reticulation to reach over 70 per cent of the people of Gombe town. To me, seeing water flow in taps now more than before when we heard that water has been brought to Gombe deserves kudos. Water drums and water vendors have drastically reduced in most of the streets of Gombe. It is no small achievement, which everybody is happy with”, he added.

Category: Bauchi State News

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