Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo is very popular in Gombe State. From what he has done so far in the state, it is clear to all that he had a clear idea of what he wanted to bequeath to his people, when he resigned his appointment as the Accountant General of the Federation in 2010 to contest the governorship of Gombe State. And after being in the saddle for 7 years Dankwambo has charted a new path to further lift his state to higher pedestal of development.
The governor appears to be fixated on standards that will guide whatever projects government in Gombe embarked on, in the interest of the people. As he once said, it is not just good to do roads, but the question is: what kind of roads, for which terrain, in which area? In all areas of human endeavours, Governor Dankwambo insisted that there must be standards by which things should be done, not just done haphazardly.
“Are there blueprints developed, specifying standards in each of the sectors to define, determine, and plan in a holistic way in term of ranging it from immediate ones, to medium ones, and long term plans for what one will be doing? You will find that none of those things existed in the state. It took me time to form a cabinet because I wanted to have structures in place and I wanted to establish governance, so that if I give you an assignment as Commissioner for Finance, I know exactly my expectations from you and know how to gauge you and when we are leaving, I know where we started, I know what milestone we achieved and where; we are learning; the same thing in agriculture, health, other sectors.”
Over the last 7 years, Dankwambo has engaged pragmatically with programmes and policies that are beneficial to the state. Work, work and more work seem to define his template for the state. From the outset, he had adopted the principle of talk less and act more and bring about the required transformation to the state, as a credo. With a clearly defined mindset and idea of what he wants to give to the state at the end of his eight-year tenure, Dankwambo, has been tackling the challenges of Gombe with unrivalled zeal, clear headedness and prudence. As a result of his devotion to the task of transforming the state, Dankwambo, who holds the title of “Talban Gombe”, one of the highest titles in the state, has been seen by some Nigerians as an introvert and one who is not a ’true Nigerian politician’, in the sense that he does not speak from both sides of his mouth. His words are his bond, his admirers say. By nature, he is a quiet person, who does not court the media unnecessarily. That is why the governor rarely engages the media in frivolities. He does not seek attention even for record-breaking events that many would have used to score political points. “I know that if I am doing well, the people who gave me the mandate will say so”, he once explained.
“Indeed, I don’t need to blow my own trumpet since I know that the people are watching and will speak about me and my tenure if I am able to raise their standard of living and leave behind legacies,” the governor added.
Dankwambo has been genuinely devoted and committed to the transformation of his state through well thought-out policies and programmes and through hard work, uncommon dedication and transparency, lifted his state to an envigle position among states given the resources available to him and the challenges that stare the North East of Nigeria on the face. Like a man in a hurry to stamp his imprints on the sands of time, Dankwambo, has made tremendous progress in all sectors of the state economy, with an unmistakable testament that the state is not a pushover in the pursuit of excellence in education, human capital development, provision of critical infrastructure, health facilities, urban renewal and environmental protection and the protection of lives and property.
Because of his drive to reposition the state, Governor Dankwambo, has taken giant steps in all the critical sectors and given the state and its people a new lease of life.
His record in terms of human and physical development of Gombe, has singled him out as one of the best performing governors though he remains a silent performer. It was perhaps out of this excellent performance that the people of the state stuck out their neck to vote for him for a second term in the 2015 election despite the rejection of his party in most states and at the federal level during the last general election. But he still triumphed, proving bookmakers wrong and making a political point that service delivery and genuine support from the people can always guarantee electoral victory more than godfatherism or ‘paper performance’. Dankwambo’s superb performance in office coupled with his brilliance, his humane, cultured and dignified personality, which abhors controversies, placed him head and shoulders above all other contenders for the exalted office. In the same North Eastern part of Nigeria where all the second term governors could not implant their preferred candidates, Dankwambo not only won a second term, but has also continued to enjoy the understanding, support and goodwill of his people at home and abroad. When the elections were over, Dankwambo made a political history by being the only People’s Democratic Party governor to win election in the North, which had been swept by the rival APC. Until the Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku, came out victorious through the Supreme Court judgment, Dankwambo was the last man standing for the PDP in the whole Northern Nigeria, a feat that made him a special man in Nigeria. That accomplishment did not surprise political pundits as it was obvious that his wide acceptability could not have been borne out of nothing, but sterling performance. His acceptability and popularity among the people of Gombe state and in fact, the Northeast, have continued to soar higher by the day, fuelling a new clamour for him to run for the presidential election under the aegis of the PDP in 2019.
As a result of effective leadership provided by the governor, Gombe State now wears a new look: All over the state, you will find first class and well-swept roads with street lights in the capital that give it the ambiance of a foreign land especially at night, newly built schools and renovated ones with modern facilities that motivate the students and teachers to work harder and new housing estates with numbered houses with the residents beaming with broad smiles as well as
a general sense of well being provided by the creation of a peaceful atmosphere for the people through security investment. Such estates have sprung in many locations in the state capital, schools and colleges.
But Dankwambo’s unhidden love and interest in the education of his people and the provision of critical infrastructure for the state have manifested in tilting of the balance of scale of performance in favour of the two areas when compared with other sectors. But that is not surprising. According to him, his priority on assumption of office in May 2011, was on education, education, and education.
His words: “In the year I came in, we submitted about 18,000 candidates for WASCE, only seven (7) passed. So, there is a fundamental problem, maybe with the students, maybe with the teaching staff, maybe it could also be the facilities, or combination of all kinds of problems.”
Based on this, he attacked the Education sector with a kind of fury; and working with a blueprint earlier fashioned in his first term, implemented parameters for the entire educational system. In his own words: “we define boarding school as school that should not have more than 1,500 students at any particular point in time. And we have started that in a particular location of Government Secondary school with a population of about 4,000 plus and by our parameters, it should be about 1,500. Immediately, we had to take some of the children to some schools and create another secondary school where it is a day school We define the number of people in a day school, the facilities in a day school and all other indices that should be in place and they are now under construction,. With this, we were able to decongest GSS Gombe 1 and moved them to GSS Gombe 2 and we will be watching the enrolment and the population growth so that when it is time for us to migrate, we will now move to GSS Gombe 3 and be replicating. That is my belief about continuity. So anybody who comes into Gombe now cannot go back and say that continuity is classroom that has 400 pupils. In terms of teachers too, I cannot say that because all of them are not good, they should go away, some of them can be retrained. To retrain them, we created a college of education, which is meant to train the teachers, to retrain the existing ones and also to serve as a training ground for would-be teachers for primary and secondary schools and for other vocational and auxiliary schools that we have.” That has yielded fruits, four years after. Again, the governor’s testimony:
“Today, our performance level in the education sector has really improved because of our investments in the area. In the last result just released, Gombe scored up to 55 percent in NECO examination, while our JAMB pass rate now stands at between 12 and 13.5 percent.” Dankwambo speaks of governance in Gombe in general terms: “Our huge investment in education ( which has been our first, second and third priority), heavy investments in roads, healthcare delivery, water supply, agriculture, rural development, environmental degradation control, youth rehabilitation and empowerment, poverty alleviation and job creation, are all geared and tailored to build a bright future for Gombe State and to put a smile on our faces on the Day of Reckoning here on earth and/or in the Hereafter”.
In spite of his achievements in the past 7 years, Dankwambo appears not yet done with what he has set out for his people. His ideas for the state have been largely checkmated by its weak financial base. Without being a prudent manager of resources, it is doubtful if the state would be enable to meet even its recurrent requirements, not to talk of capital expenditure. At best, Gombe receives about Nl.5 billion monthly from the Federation Account, but the allocation has been seriously affected since the downturn in oil prices. For a long time now, the monthly allocation from the federal purse has been steadily hovering around N900 million and Nl.4 billion, which is less than the security votes of some governors. But that does not deter him. On a scale of 100, the governor says what he has done in the state amounts to only 25 percent of what he has in mind to deliver to the people. He boasts that if he had the kind of resources that he needs, he would make Gombe the number one state in Nigeria. That notwithstanding, he has a message for the people and those who care to listen: “I will promote Gombe to the extent that people will come and make Gombe a home; a preferred place where they can bring their money to invest and that will translate to a home of better life, security, peace and progress for all”.
Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo is the 5th governor to preside over the affairs of Gombe State. He has remained a quiet, unassuming and calculated leader, who carefully listens before he speaks and bestrides the “Jewel of the Savannah” as a colossus without making noise about it.
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