Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya is a former Commissioner of Finance in Gombe State. A governorship aspirant in the state on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), he speaks in this interview about his dream for the state. MUYIWA OYINLOLA met him.
Few months to the general elections, how will you describe the political atmosphere in Gombe State. Does the state government allow people to go about without any molestation especially politicians ahead of the governorship election?
Apparently, there is a way governors behave, especially if the party differs. So, I cannot say there is freedom of speech or of movement, and that is politics currently playing out in the state.
You aspired to govern Gombe State in 2015, what actually went wrong?
You see, that there were a lot of impediments then. As you know, I contested on the platform of APC and there was an incumbent governor who is still there on the PDP platform. So, it was a clear battle between the two of us, and he, being a sitting governor even after going through a lot of litigation; he is still there now and by the grace of God, he is finishing his second term now.
You are still aspiring to govern the state in spite of what you went through then? Why do you want to be governor?
I want to govern Gombe State because I believe that I have the capacity, ability and all it takes to improve on the lot of the state and our people. I have what it takes to provide good services and good leadership that would move Gombe state forward; to catapult it from its current economic situation that our people are, to the next level that would give them freedom, liberty, and peace. That would enable them to proud of being people and citizens of Gombe.
Can you be specific on areas you will like to touch in Gombe state if given the opportunity?
From the way things are happening and particularly, considering the nature of Gombe State, there is virtually no sector; be it Education, Health, Works. Nothing is working. There is no infrastructural development in Gombe. Social amenities are not there. Nothing is working. All these areas need to be touched and improved upon, and that is my agenda. That is what I’m coming to do.
You have been a staunch member of APC since its inception. Can we have you on record that you are not going to change party considering the gale of defections in the land?
I joined APC as a matter of principle and I believe APC with the change agenda. I believe APC is the only party that has what it takes to transform Nigeria. Yes, there are some people who joined the party who are not principled, who don’t believe in pursuing political agenda, but for me, I joined the party as a matter of principle and I am in APC and I will continue to be APC.
APC came to power with high expectation from people, almost four years ago. Now, there is anger and hunger in the land and people want the party out. How can you defend your party?
Well, that position is what I call over-generalization. You seem to have forgotten how this country was before President Buhari can to power in 2015. You have forgotten the spate of corruption, the declining posture of the economy, and to cap it all, the spate of insecurity. Those of from the northeast know what the people are saying. Things are much better under this government. But going by human nature, particularly in every human endeavor, there have to be challenges. Time and situations change because of the time involved and people see things differently from the way they are being done. So, I am not surprised.
But I must say this, there was over expectation from APC, and our leaders didn’t know the extent to which the economy had deteriorated. It was so deep. Things were really bad. But President Buhari is trying his best to make up for the whatever the shortcomings that would come and I believe we have provided the foundation that would warrant APC to come for a second term so that we can now start to implement things properly.
Concerning the area of expectation from this government. One area is that of power. There is a dam in Gombe State which if properly harnessed would have provided development in agriculture, power, and others. And we believe that it solve this perennial water problem in the state. What is your take on this?
The dam is the second largest in Nigeria as at today and it was constructed during Shagari era. It was commissioned just after President Buhari, then as a military Head of State, got to power around1985. Since that time, it has not been utilized properly, the construction dam has been completed but the powerhouse that should have propelled the turbine to provide the power was not installed. If those things have been put in place, the irrigation and power generation would have come out and those were the two things that would have changed the lives of the people. During the administration of Danjuma Goge between 2003 and 2011, the water reservoir was utilised and water treatment plants were installed and between Gombe metropolitan and Dankwa, a distance is about 50 kilometres, pipes were installed from that area where pure treated water is now been transmitted to Gombe for consumption and domestic use. I think that is a big plus.
I happened to the be the state commissioner for finance at that time, and it was completed on time and after that, water flow in Gombe was so constant and everybody felt we have reach our destination but the current government became so careless about it. Even to provide generator to run it has become impossible and as such, we have gone back to square one. Now, there is no portable water in Gombe state and that is a big challenge. I think I have the background of what is it and how it was managed during the administration of Goge. I can still take the necessary step about it and make water flow back which we need essentially for our lives in Gombe.
One of the successes this present administration is claiming in Gombe is in the area of education. The governor said his administration has built and renovated a lot of schools, thereby improving or enhancing the quality of education in Gombe state. There was a time you spoke and challenged these claims. If the government is saying they have done it, and your party is claiming that they have not done so, do you have any fact in that respect ?
We have concrete evidence about this. This government has not done enough as far as we are concerned. They only touch superficial layer on top of the real problem, which has not been addressed. For me, if you have to cover education it must be so. You have to cover it from the head to toe. You must touch primary, secondary and tertiary education in the state. It seems this government concentrated only on tertiary education. The reverse of which now should have been the case. if you don’t have proper foundation, you can fit in into the tertiary. Instead of starting from the primary, polytechnic which is not yet, in place up till now, was established. College of Education which is not fully in place up till now, was established. College of Legal and Advanced Legal Studies was also established.
For me, you need to address the issues from the primary school level and that you can do in conjunction with federal government because you don’t have the commission. And up till this time I am talking to you, Gombe state is among the states that have not accessed what is available to them in UBEC for them to provide basic education. Close to N5bn or N6 bn is there to be used for basic education. Without that, there is no way you can get quality people with very good education background that will go to secondary schools and eventually end up in university. Mind you, the current government of Dankwambo know that already we have a state owned University and already there was Federal University coming up. There was no need for us to embark on building another university because of those ones.
But none the less, if care is given to basic education, every child will have the opportunity to go to school and it covers up the missing gap that we need to fill in terms of education. Poor quality of infrastructure everywhere. Up to 60/70 percent of our primary school have no chairs and desks for pupils. Teachers are not compensated properly. There is no incentive, no reward and there is no effective supervision in terms of knowing what the teachers are doing and how they are doing it . That is one.
Two, misplacement of priority has made it impossible for the government now to do proper maintenance on public schools and i have an instance. Go to Dokwu, there is no boarding school for boys and boarding school for girls. This local government was established in 1976. That has denied the people good upbringing and good education because those that are trained in boarding schools are far better than those that coming daily from home and there are other instances like that. Above all, Gombe State University itself, the way it was established with the independent source of revenue jointly funded by the state and the local government has ended up getting no money to the extent that lecturers went on strike and they are also going on strike. Those are the gaps that are not well addressed and I don’t know how you can manage a university when we don’t properly manage our basic education.
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