By Abdullahi Bego
As Yobe State emerges out of nearly six years of devastating Boko Haram attacks, there is emerging consensus among a broad spectrum of public opinion that its governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, is moving actively fast to rebuild the state and place it on the path to socio-economic glory.
It may be a little harder for some who were fed a steady diet of negative stories out of Yobe, as Boko Haram killed and maimed its way to the gloom and doom that had befallen the state for almost six years, to grasp. But over the last 20 months when peace began to take hold, Yobe has made more progress than during the previous ten years before Boko Haram.
There are at least two factors that underpin this reality. First, there is a sense of urgency to rebuild and make progress after the clock was set back several years by the senseless insurgency. Second, there is a demonstrable display of prudence and transparency in public resource management that the Gaidam administration has used effectively well to push through its service-to-the-people agenda.
These factors – and the determination of Governor Gaidam to leave behind rock-solid and sustainable legacies – have translated to concrete returns for key sectors of Yobe’s public life, including in education, healthcare, roads development, agriculture, civil service and the security of life and property.
Since its beginning – and through the years of Boko Haram’s ravaging attacks – the Gaidam administration has built 1,094 kilometres of road and still counting. Vast swathes of the state that were hard to reach have been effectively linked with road networks. Ask the people of Machina, Yusufari, Yunusari, Gaidam, Gashu’a, Karasuwa, Gadaka, Godowoli or the people of Gujba/Gulani who were the hardest hit by Boko Haram. Across Yobe State, people are excited that the roads Governor Gaidam has built have effectively become the signifiers of mobility and metaphors of entry and exit that roads all over the world are.
In towns across the state too – in Gashu’a, Damaturu, Gaidam, Potiskum, Nguru, Machina, etc. – the Gaidam administration has built more township roads and drainage than all previous administrations in the state combined. In the state capital, Damaturu, there is currently an ongoing urban renewal programme.
For the first time in history, Yobe’s people can boast of a modern and still evolving healthcare system. The governor has built Yobe’s first University Teaching Hospital with state-of-the-art equipment and a harvest of specialized personnel that are unrivalled in the entire northeast region.
He has also set up a Medical College at the Yobe State University (YSU) where a massive complex for the college’s key departments of biochemistry, physiology and human anatomy is currently under construction. The state is now poised to begin home-based training of medical doctors from September this year.
The governor has also rebuilt and expanded the State Specialist Hospital, Damaturu with over 13 new wards and departmental buildings, beddings and equipment. In Gashu’a, Potiskum, and Gaidam towns – three of Yobe’s five largest towns – the General Hospitals there, built in the late 60s and early 70s, are undergoing their first major expansion and upgrade. And the people of Dapchi and Damagum towns are already enjoying the benefits of the Gaidam healthcare policy.
In education, Governor Gaidam is working hard to reposition this key sector. Five secondary schools in Yunusari, Gwio-Kura, Fika, Nangere and Nguru are currently being rehabilitated, expanded and upgraded. Work in Yunusari, Gwio-Kura and Fika schools is almost 100 percent complete. Only two weeks ago, the governor approved the payment of over N1.3 billion in counterpart funding for the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) joint projects for 2015 and 2016.
As Boko Haram left a trail of destruction across Yobe’s schools, the Gaidam administration has moved to rebuild over 24 primary schools and over 300 classroom blocks; it has also provided classroom furniture and fenced many of the schools that were previously not fenced to improve security.
With these interventions and many more, Governor Gaidam is punching all the way to impact as he steers Yobe through the mid-term of his second term in office.
*Bego writes from Damaturu, Yobe State
Yobe’s higher education is also enjoying some of its best moments currently. At about N1billion per annum, the Gaidam administration is paying more student scholarships than all Northeast states combined. The administration continues to build infrastructure and provide services at the Yobe State University which is described by a veteran university administrator and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Professor Abdullahi Mahdi as the ‘fastest growing university’ in the North.
Across the higher education spectrum, repositioned management and additional resources have combined to make teachers and students work even harder and achieve more at the Umar Suleiman College of Education Gashu’a, Atiku Abubakar College of Legal and Islamic Studies Nguru, Mai Idris Alooma Polytechnic Gaidam and the recently upgraded College of Health Sciences, Nguru. There is no question that under Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, Yobe’s higher education is on a significant upswing trajectory.
In the agriculture sector, the Gaidam administration is currently undertaking major irrigation projects in Mugura, Boloram and the Nguru Lake. When fully harnessed, these projects will be poised to transform food production in the state.
The administration has also ordered 1590 metric tonnes of fertilizer for farmers for the current farming season as it did over previous seasons. The administration has spent around N200 million on fertilizers alone for the season.
Under Governor Gaidam, Yobe has also made a record as one of the states that regularly pay their workers’ salaries. Since its beginning through the recession to date, the Gaidam administration has never failed to pay workers at the end of every month. It has also set aside a N50 million standing fund for the payment of state pensioners. Over the recent period, the Gaidam administration has spent billions in the payment if gratuities to retirees.