Ismaila Uba Misilli
“We are not unmindful of our promises to the good people of Gombe State. This administration is determined to confront head-on all the issues bedevilling our state. We shall take advantage of all available opportunities in order to achieve the goals as outlined in our manifesto.”
Those were the candid words of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State at inauguration, with avowed commitment to renewal and hope for a new era of possibilities. Thus, as he marks his first year in office, it is fit and proper to take stock of some of the giant strides of the administration. It is gratifying that Governor Yahaya has walked his talk as evident in his record of achievements. To discerning observers, his leadership is consequential because government is truly addressing key issues of development in all sectors and the people are better for it.
Leading the pack of achievements is education. It is recognised that for any society to be developed, it must accord education a priority, moreso, considering the parlous state of the critical sector inherited by the administration. This is why Governor Yahaya, upon assuming office, immediately declared a state of emergency in the sector and the outcome has been revealing.
Key achievements so far include the construction of 234 new classrooms across 80 schools in the state to enhance enrolment; renovation of 190 classrooms across 47 schools to have good learning environment; renovation of various infrastructure across 15 schools, hostels, dining halls, staff quarters, laboratories, examination halls, and classroom furniture for more than 120 schools across the state. Others are the establishment of a Teacher Resource Centre in Kwami for continuous capacity of teachers, mopping up about 350,000 out-of-school children and enrolling them into various learning centres established by the highly successful BESDA programme, procurement and distributed various instructional materials to about 119 schools across the state and attracting the donation of N150 million worth of books and a science laboratory complex for GSSS, Kaltungo.
Infrastructure, with an impressive focus on road construction, has helped to open up the state, thereby adding value to economic development. The starting point was the launch of the Network 11-100 project, which targets construction of 100 kilomtres of roads in each of the 11 LGAs of the state. And then followed the widespread construction, signifying that Governor Yahaya is in a hurry to develop the state.
Road projects by the administration include the construction of 16km Malala-Zaune-Dukkuyel road in Dukku LGA, 15km Mararraba-Jabba-Sambo Daji-Pandi Kola-Gwarar-Garin Wada road in Akko LGA, 21km Degri-Bembelem-Reme-Dong-Talasse road in Balanga LGA, upgrading of 19km Gona-Garko-Gujuba-Kalshingi road with spur to Maidugu in Akko LGA and upgrading of 26km Billiri-Gujuba-Kamu-Awak road in Billiri LGA,
It is indeed forward-looking that road projects inherited from the immediate past administration have also been continued and financed. Such road projects are those of the 11.25km network in Jekadafari North in Gombe LGA, construction of 11.50km Malam Inna-Kurba-Titi road with spur to Kundulum in Gombe, Y/Deba, Akko and Kwami LGA, 23.53km Gombe township roads phase VI in Gombe LGA, including Dawaki, Madaki, Bolari-East, 30km Ladongor-Kwiba-Amtawalam-Pobawure-Sabon Layi-Ayaba road in Billiri LGA, 15km Bambam-Tula-Yiri in Kaltungo LGA and the 9.50km Boltongo-Nono road with spur to Garin Malami in Y/Deba.
Others are 11.50km road taking off from Gombe/Potiskum Federal Highway-Gerkwami-Daniya road in Kwami LGA, 27km Dukku-Kalam-Dokoro road in Dukku LGA, 36km Dukku-Dokoro-Jamari road in Dukku, 9km Bajoga township road in Funakaye LGA, 9.10km Bambam-Nwona-Kutare-Yola road in Balanga LGA, 1.59km road network in Rice/Vegetable Oil Industrial Cluster at Nasarawo in Gombe LGA, 13km Kumo-Kalshingi road in Akko LGA, rehabilitation of 42km Ngaji Buahci-Baure-Zambuk-Lubo-Daban Fulnai road in Kwami and Y/Deba, 9.9km dualisation of the section of Bauchi Gombe Federal Highway phase II (Tumfure International Conference Centre-New City Gate in Gombe and Akko) to ease means of transportation and economic activities. To complement the essence of the huge investment in roads, the state government also procured 50 brand new 18-seater buses for the Gombe State Transport Service (Gombe Line).
Yet, a major development issue, which had subsisted till Governor Inuwa Yahaya came on board, was water scarcity. Water was hardly available but the governor made a promise to the people during his campaign and has now delivered. I think we need to qualify this achievement because water is critical for socioeconomic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Indeed, “water sustains life.” Governor Inuwa Yahaya was pragmatic upon assuming office by setting up a task force to immediately restore regular and constant water supply from the Dadin Kowa water treatment plant to the metropolis and the communities.
Notable achievements in the provision of water are the extension of water reticulation to Wuro Juli, Tabra, Nayinawa, GGS Doma, Bogo, Kanoyel, Bye-pass and some parts of Federal Low-cost communities around Gombe metropolis; rehabilitation of 120 handpump boreholes and 30 solar-powered boreholes in rural communities in Akko, Balanga and Dukku LGAs; strengthened the activities of RUWASA and the Ministry for Rural Development to undertake aggressive rural water provision and rehabilitation of handpumps and boreholes.
Payment of outstanding liabilities and remobilisation of Pindiga water augmentation project was important, just as the collaboration with distribution companies to improve electricity supply in the state. The state government, leveraging on the 40MW hydropower plant in Dadin Kowa, has also concluded arrangements to set up a 1,000-hectare industrial park. The industrial park will utilize the available power supply by the hydropower plant in order to attract a cluster of multiple industries that are agriculturally tied to propagate production, processing and marketing.
Now, health is wealth. Health is a crucial indicator of development. Since assumption of office, Governor Yahaya has invested hugely in the health sector, which suffered years of neglect in the previous administration. Key achievements: Upgrading of the Specialist Hospital, Gombe, to a modern tertiary health facility with state-of-the-art equipment; the governor built and equipped a 12-bed capacity Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the State Specialist Hospital, revitalized one PHC facility in all the 114 wards to provide 24-hour service to the people; completion of internship quarters at the Specialist Hospital, which was abandoned for over 20 years, and completion of cottage hospitals in Mallam Sidi and Bojude and General Hospital, Nafada. The administration, partnering with a United States-based organisation, Project Cure, is supplying several containers full of medical equipment and supplies, and established the Hospitals Management Board for a more effective and efficient management of hospitals around the state.
The governor also established the State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency in a bid to improve access to health care for the people. He facilitated the state’s readiness for participation in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund programme, strengthened the activities of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency through the full implementation of the PHCUOR policy and mounted one of the best state response strategies in the country against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Likewise, agriculture as the mainstay of the state’s economy enjoyed generous attention and funding by the Yahaya administration in the last one year.
To watchers of the state, this is understandable because of the revelation about how the sector was treated by the previous administration to the effect that not a single bag of fertilizer was available in the state for the 2019 farming season. This was how fertilizer was immediately procured and distributed to all the 114 wards across the state for sale to farmers at a record subsidised rate of N5,000 per bag; 19,500 bags of improved seedlings were also distributed for the 2019 dry farming season.
The Yahaya administration built two agricultural research centres in two LGAs with support from Global Environmental Facility, UNDP and the Federal Government, established farm demonstration and technology adoption plots to train farmers in modern farming techniques and allocated about 3,000 hectares of land for irrigation farming near Dadin Kowa.
Closely related to the above is that, for the first time in over 10 years, a statewide livestock vaccination campaign was conducted to improve the health of livestock and increase the yield of products.
Among other achievements, government allocated the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve for piloting the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP), increased budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector in the 2020 budget to allow for the introduction of an all-encompassing agricultural revolution programme in the state. Similarly, the irrigation component of the project would now be awarded by the end of December 2020. The pilot scheme of the irrigation project covers 3,000 hectares, which will be used for animal production and fisheries. The establishment of fisheries will also provide ample employment opportunities for the youth.
It is instructive that government is set to launch a comprehensive Agricultural Transformation Programme aimed at harnessing the agricultural and manufacturing potential of the state across all segments of the agricultural value chain through the adoption of innovative and modern solutions and practices.
Rural development and the environment have also had a fair share in the state government’s revolution in good governance. On rural development, there have been a lot of activities, including the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), which will construct 700km of rural roads that will open up rural agricultural communities and provide easy access to markets for people and their products, drilling of 89 hand pump boreholes in various rural communities, construction of 27 three-classroom blocks in various communities, 44 VIP toilets in various communities, six solar-powered boreholes and six motorised boreholes as well as construction and equipping of 23 health centres.
The environment, which is a challenging issue in Gombe, is getting the right attention from Governor Yahaya. This is critical because, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself, forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to people.” This pivotal quotation stresses the importance of protecting our environment.
It is for this reason that Governor Inuwa Yahaya initiated the Gombe Goes Green (3G) project that targets the planting of four million trees within his four-year tenure to protect the environment and to foster the socio-economic development of Gombe State. Government also engaged and deployed 27,000 youths under the YESSO programme to nurture the trees being planted under the 3G programme and established nurseries in five LGAs and raised about 1.2m assorted seedlings ready for planting in the 2020 rainy season. Government further established 100 hectares of woodlot plantations across five desert-prone LGAs to combat desertification and land degradation, paid counterpart fund of N500 million to a World Bank-assisted project, the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), for the control of three major gully erosion sites in the state.
With such remarkable achievements in just one year, expectations are high that the future of Gombe is quite bright and in safe hands as Governor Inuwa Yahaya continues to lead the way and inspire.
•Ismaila Misilli Is Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to Gombe State Governor