Suleiman Uba Gaya
The first thing that came to my mind as the news of Senator Sa’idu Kumo’s exit from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was broken to me last Monday was a gigantic primary school located in Kumo, his hometown, which I was privileged to visit recently.
The curriculum of the school, as I found out, places a lot of emphasis on vocational education. As I later found out, such schools dot many parts of Gombe State. They were built by the incumbent governor of the state, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, and they are an integral part of the governor’s policy of catching them young; to prepare the leaders of tomorrow for the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world, so that they could fend for themselves and play positive roles in the development of the global society.
As a leader with uncommon focus that he has since proved to be and in his desire for a holistic Gombe, Governor Dankwambo has gone a step further to establish key tertiary institutions, with the icing on the cake being the Gombe State University of Science and Technology, also located in Senator Sa’idu’s hometown, Gombe. The governor has initiated, constructed and completed all the structures in the university, and the National Universities Commission has given its approval for the ivory tower to take off. Dankwambo did this to bring education to the doorsteps of the young, so that they would not latch on to the excuse of distance. The university is a sight to behold, and travellers to Gombe from Yola could not mistake the institution that is primed to produce effective global leaders for tomorrow.
It is, therefore, not surprising that in stating his reasons for exiting PDP, Senator Kumo ensured he did not call to question the governor’s unprecedented achievements. This is a man I personally held in a high esteem, and who served as Dankwambo’s campaign coordinator for the 2015 gubernatorial election. Why then is he suddenly ditching the PDP and his erstwhile friend? I could not believe my ears when I heard the former senator saying he was leaving the PDP because the governor doesn’t like him. I listened over and over again to hear whether one of the reasons has to do with some disappointment in Dankwambo’s performance in office. But there was none of such. And the governor’s supporters have a right to feel that is an endorsement by Kumo of Dankwambo’s unprecedented achievements in office.
Without doubt, this is a scandal. To think that someone of the stature of Senator Kumo is ditching a political party because, in his words, the governor of his home state doesn’t like him is preposterous. Of course, by now Nigerians are used to hearing of some politicians ditching their political parties on flimsy grounds, most often for personal aggrandisement. One recalls a commissioner in the neighbouring state in December 2016, also ditching the APC and his principal because he was not involved in deciding who becomes the caretaker chairman of his home local government. Such cheap politics has since become the stock in trade of some of our politicians
However, even though there are people who have always harboured doubts about Senator Kumo, arguing that he is given to crass opportunism, I couldn’t believe he would descend so low. This is a man I thought I was right to credit with lots of sophistication. Even with arguments that he opportunistically ditched then General Muhammadu Buhari, his then party’s presidential standard-bearer to take up a small appointment with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration, I still thought Nigeria’s realistic chance for redemption was with people like Senator Kumo. As a newsman, I tried to find out whether truly Governor Dankwambo doesn’t like Senator Kumo, as the latter claims, but as the information commissioner of Gombe State rightly pointed out, you cannot appoint someone to the sensitive position of your campaign coordinator unless you hold him in the highest esteem. The level of trust must also be complete. Governors are voted into power to serve the people. Posterity will remember only them, and not their friends, if they allow personal friendships to push them to failure. Fact is, they can only govern effectively with little or no distraction. There is no way anything meaningful could be achieved when a friend or godfather begins to see himself as alternate governor. Such disposition brings about squabbles.
Now, what is next for Senator Kumo? According to him, he is going to take some rest before deciding his political future. Is he going to decamp to the APC, to get a better chance of succeeding Dankwambo as governor? If he does, will he get the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose exit from the ANPP in 2010 Senator Kumo described as “a good riddance to bad rubbish?” Whatever he ends up deciding, the fact remains that his exit from PDP will not do him any good.
Well, no human system is ever perfect. It is possible Governor Dankwambo has made some mistakes. But what Senator Kumo ought to discern is whether those mistakes were of the head or of the heart. Reconciliation would have been the key. This would help for a better Gombe, which would help the government in its achievements. Talking about achievements, Dankwambo has left a mark in Kumo, the senator’s hometown, and other towns and villages of Gombe. This is a governor who doesn’t owe the state’s civil servants or pensioners. The secret is credible and accountable governance, and the ability to seriously manage scarce resources through an exquisite act of prioritisation.
Courtesy of Dankwambo, Gombe has gone far ahead of its peers in development. What the state needs in 2019 is a focused leader who is going to build on those shining legacies for the continuous development of the people.
• Gaya, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.