By Juliet Alohan
The true meaning of the word ‘dividend of democracy’ is gradually getting lost on us, as responsive and responsible governance is fast becoming a matter of wishful thinking, in some States today.
There is a huge disconnect between government priorities and the people yearnings. While the citizens simply want good education, healthcare, roads, water, security, some governors, rather than align projects with these needs, sometimes prefer embarking on projects that suits their political ego.
Against the background, there is therefore a lot of lessons to be learnt from the story of the Savannah’s Jewel, where the people are put first, and included in decision making process; the Gombe story is an exemplary one that excites and captivates.
The revolutionary works that has taken place in Gombe state under the leadership of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, was achieved by a collective effort of the people and the government, and this has put the state in an enviable position among her peers.
Dankwambo in his inaugural speech noted that his first, second and third priorities for Gombe state was education, to improve her human capital. True to his words, his administration’s investment in education has resulted to Gombe now recording an average of 26percent pass mark in exams as against the less than 1percent in 2011. Under Dankwambo, Gombe now has the only state owned University of Science and Technology in the North East, College of Education Billiri, state Polytechnic Bajoga and College of legal and Islamic Studies Nafada.
These are in addition to several well equipped technical schools he built where students are taught carpentry, electrical works, computer education, building works, among others. According to the governor, such technical schools and universities of science and technology are the future of Nigeria. He emphasised that study of regular straight jacket courses should be discouraged.
The government has also strategically included vocational studies, such as tailoring, barbing, computer education, hair styling into its educational curricular for primary and secondary schools. After secondary education, youths who are not able to proceed to institutions of higher learning, can make ends meet using the skills learnt in school. This is a leaf that should be borrowed by other states.
In the area of tourism, the magnificent Gombe International Conference Centre, situated along the airport road, is an edifice to behold. It remains a wonder how such a structure could have been constructed by the government despite paucity of funds.
The structure which is 99percent complete have an exhibition space, four regular and two executive board rooms and other conference meeting rooms capable of sitting between 300 to 500 persons, with the main hall capable of siting close to 2000 persons. The centre is a match for conference centres in developed parts of the world and presently have no match in Nigeria.
In fact, former president Olusegun Obasanjo was left in awe after touring the structure during his visit to felicitate with the people and government of Gombe state on her 20th year anniversary.
Also the Gombe international hotel built by the Dankwambo administration is another site to behold. The governor explained that his vision is to have a Gombe which would be home to political, commercial and professional gatherings in the North eastern part of the country. The former Accountant General of the Federation says he believes the impact of such gatherings will reflect positively on the socio-economic life of the people.
On roads, the government has so far constructed 248 standard roads including 25 dual carriage ways across the state. Ringroads with amazing architectural masterpiece are common sights in Gombe town.
To improve the health situation, health centres have been established across Gombe, including the 1,500 bed capacity women and children hospital in Gombe, fitted with state of the art medical equipment. The government has also established the College of Nursing and Midwifery Dukku, as well as constructed dialysis centre in the state specialist hospital.
That such developmental progress have been achieved in Gombe state despite low federal allocation, when compared to some other states, is highly commendable. Governor Dankwambo, could, like some of his colleagues, have fronted several reasons such as declining allocations, insecurity, low IGR, for failing to develop the state. But clearly, this governor have demonstrated that much can be achieved with less, depending on the sincerity of the leader. His legacies will outlive him, and he will be remembered as a leader who initiated an all-inclusive government where the needs of the people was top priority.
The Gombe story leaves one with questions of why some states with about same or more resources, can barely pay workers’ salaries, needless to mention embarking on meaningful developmental projects.
Alohan writes in from Abuja
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