Governor Muhammadu Yahaya of Gombe State since assumption of office in May, has taken up some initiatives aimed at repositioning the state, writes JAIYEOLA ANDREWS
It is no longer a honeymoon for Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Yahaya, after being sworn into office on 29th May, this year. He swung into action by taking a critical look into the books of the immediate past government of Ibrahim Dankwambo .
The governor inaugurated two committees which are Committee on the Recovery of Public Property (CRPP), chaired by Group Captain Peter Bilal (Rtd.), and Transition Committee chaired by Mohammad Kabir Ahmad. While the Committee on Recovery of Public Property was mandated to recover properties allegedly stolen by the immediate past governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo and his aides, that of transition is to unravel the debt profile left behind by Dankwambo’s administration and make recommendations.
Bilal’s CRPP disclosed that there are proofs on how the immediate past governor of the state, Ibrahim Dankwambo allegedly mismanaged the resources of the state.
The committee had in one of its sittings, invited Dankwambo to appear before it, an invitation the immediate past governor ignored.
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP in Gombe, Bilal insisted that Dankwambo must appear before the committee to give account of his stewardship. He hinted that documents abound to show that the ex-governor flouted the extant law of due process, while piloting the affairs of the state.
The committee chairman, told LEADERSHIP that more documents regarding the alleged infractions committed against the state by the former governor were still being collated.
He alleged that the former governor was corrupt, saying the committee would do everything within the ambit of the law to recover the state’s property from him and his aides, adding that the ex-governor was still in possession of two armoured BMW security vehicles worth N300million, among other properties belonging to the state government.
The committee chairman disclosed that similar move would be replicated in all the local government areas of the state. It was gathered that the committee had met with secretaries of local government areas to fashion out the modus operandi for the recovery of government property in their respective council areas.
While briefing the press at the end of the meeting, chairman of the committee, Group Captain Peter Bilal (Rtd), told journalists that a number of tractors, as well as percels of land were recovered from the immediate past chairmen of the council areas. He added that no matter the antics of those he tagged detractors, the committee was determined to carry out its mandate judiciously.
Bilal stressed that the immediate past Deputy Governor, Charles Iliya, willfully returned government properties in his possession, as against the insinuations in some quarters that he was coaxed and harassed to do so.
The committee chairman added that Yahaya had to commend the former deputy governor when he learnt that he willfully returned government properties in his pos session.
On the meeting with the secretaries of the council areas, Bilal said, “You witnessed the presence of some of our secretaries for local government in the state. We find the need to invite them when some of our members visited them and made some recoveries, particularly government lands.
“We also interacted with them on the need for them to borrow a leaf from us. So, essentially that is what we did. We are carrying our local government along in what we are doing.
“I have always say this:credibility of a leader can only be established by action and not through words,” adding that Yahaya possesses the attributes.
Bilal listed what have been recovered so far as, 20 units of six-seater tricycles, 3 units of Late fabricating machines, 1 Lexus 570, 2915 model, 1Prado V6 and Toyota Prado Txl from the immediate past deputy governor. Also orecovered are, 14 Ford Range Base 4× 4 and 6 GX4 Lether from six immediate past commissioners, among others.
On its part, the Transition Committee, while submitting it’s final report to the governor, disclosed that the immediate past administration left a debt profile of N119billion for the new government to service.
According to it’s chaiman, Mohammad Kabir Ahmad, besides the debt profile left behind by the Dankwambo-led administration, many road projects remained
incompleted, while the civil service is faced with challenges of working ethics.
On lack of funding of the health sector by the immediate past government, Almad disclosed that this was what led to the State having, “one of the highest maternal mortality rate in excess of 800/100, 000 live birth. The infant mortality rate is 90/1000l live births while the under- five mortality is 162/1000 live births.”
While receiving the report, the governor thanked the committee for leaving their businesses and taking up the task. He berated the immediate past administration for allegedly mismanaging the economy of the state.
Revamping The Economy
Being an agrarian state with 70 per cent of the populace engaging in agriculture, it behoves on the governor to take a critical look at the agriculture sector. Findings by LEADERSHIP indicated that little was done in the sector by the immediate past government.
To kick-start the revamping of the agricultural sector, the governor procured over 120 trucks of fertilizers, pegging the subsidised rate at N5,000 per bag.
Duing the flagging off of the sales and distribution of fertilizers to farmers across the 11 council areas of the state, the governor said, “you will recall one of the promises we made during campaign for election, was to develop the agricultural sector which is the main source of livelihood of our teeming populace.”
He added that the desire to develop the sector, remains the policy thrust of his administration, with a view to supporting 70 per cent of Gombe people who are engaged in farming activities.
The governor stressed that in line with his aministration’s commitment to developing the agricultural sector, it provided 20,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers for the 2019 farming season.
According to him, the gesture would improve both productivity and income to the government and the people of the state. He added that 10,000 bags of 2kg and 950 bags of 10kg improved maize seeds had been provided for this year’s farming season.
“In line of our genuine gesture to improve the sector, government worked had within the limit of available resources to ensure the following: Increased budgetary allocations to the agriculture sector, provision of easy access to land , easy access to modern agricultural instruments to farmers, setting up of state owned agriculture company to ensure availability and timely provision of agriculture input to our farmers.
“Increase access to agricultural services to farmers through Gombe State Agricultural Development organ, to support our farmers with associations and other rural based cooperative societies to facilitate easy access to grants and loans, to promote the agro allied industries in partnership with private Investors, to support the local governments’ intervention agriculture programme” the governor added.
He called on all farmers to take advantage of government huge spending on the sector, in order to increase and improve agricultural production in the state.
Also, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said it was in the process of developing a programme with value of 100 million dollars, targeting Gombe State and other North-east states, the goal of which is to strengthen resilience of farmers to shocks through improved agricultural production and linkages to markets.
In health sector, the governor is pursuing aggressive policy which is aimed at addressing the apparently epileptic sector. In this wise, Yahaya directed the state”s ministry of health to commence the process of establishing a state insurance scheme with a view to providing financial protection to the people against outrageous health expenditures.
The governor gave the directive at a meeting with a joint team from United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja. The governor expressed disappointment over the profile of Gombe State in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, BHCPF, where the past administration failed to utilize the opportunity of the initiative to earn enough funding from the World Bank through the Federal Ministry of Health.
The governor said “based on the 2018 results, Gombe State earned only 1.8 Million Dollars whereas the neighbouring Yobe state secured 29 Million Dollars funding through the scheme because of its fulfillment of the counterpart funding element of the partnership.”
He however directed that a letter of expression of interest be submitted immediately to the Federal Ministry of Health and promised to fulfil all other requirements needed for the state to key into the BHCPF programme, which include the payment of 100 million naira counterpart funds and establishment of state supported insurance scheme.
The governor equally solicited assistance from National Programme Managment Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF in identifying reasons why the state is lagging behind, as well as suggesting ways to improve.
BHCPF is funded from 1 per cent of the Federal Government’s consolidated revenue to strengthen the provision of primary health care services in the country.
The UNICEF Chief of Health in Nigeria, Dr. Sarjana Bhardwaj gave kudos to the governor’s disposition towards the welfare of his people. Noting that her meeting with the governor was the first of its kind she has had with any new governor in Nigeria, adding that it was a demonstration of the Yahaya’s zeal to move the trajectory of the health sector forward.
She acknowledged Gombe State Poor performance in the programme since its commencement, owing to non utilisation of the opportunity provided where states could earn more than 30 million US Dollars per year. But however accepted the proposal by Yahaya to send in technical experts to work with Gombe State to unravel factors responsible for the poor performance.
Equally in the education sector, Gombe State have not been faring any better. Checks indicated that mass failures of JAMB examination have been the lots of students in the state a development the governor vowed to reverse.
He recently bemoaned the failure of some students in the state in meeting tlhe entry requirements into tertiary institutions, a situation which he said had left vacant, the admission quota for the state in various institutions across the country.
IYahaya said alll over the world, governments has the fundamental responsibility of ensuring positive development of their citizenry and it could only be achieved through provision of qualitative education.
According to him, Gombe State has a considerable number of potential candidates for admission into tertiary institutions, and as such government must give them necessary support to actualize their dreams.
“We must therefore take urgent decisive measures to reverse this trend by ensuring that those saddled with the task of training these children in schools are in proper frame of mind and qualified to teach”, the governor stressed.
While saying that his administration would accord education the utmost priority, Yahaya also pointed out that government would use available resources in providing infrastructural facilities, instructional materials and teaching aids to facilitate educational development.
He called on Parents Teachers’ Associations , PTAs and school based Management Committees to complement government efforts aimed at ensuring that henceforth products from Gombe State schools compete favorably with their peers across the country and beyond.
Soliciting For Support
Realising that government could not do it alone if it must make appreciable impact, Yahaya sought the assistance of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) in his administration’s determination at revamping the sector.
Yahaya sought the assistance, when he visited the headquarters of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFund) where he met with the Executive Secretary, Professor Sulaiman Elias Bogoro and his management team.
Besides commending TETFund for its support to tertiary education in the state, Yahaya equally solicited for more assistance in his administration’s quest to revamp and reposition the education sector in the state at all levels.
According to him, there are challenges with the education sector in the state, fuelling his proactive and sustained efforts in finding solution through the support of relevant agencies such as TETFund and UBEC.
But while the cold war between Gov Yahaya and his successor rages, the people of the state have been waiting with a bated breath for the governor to name his cabinet members. LEADERSHIP exclusively gathered from top government source that the delay in inaugurating his cabinet, is due to the fact that the governor has been engaging in wider consultations, with a view to assembling a crack team that will move the state forward.
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