For repositioning Gombe State on the path of sustainable economic growth, rebuilding the state’s decrepit infrastructure, constructing roads with spread across the state, providing job opportunities for youths and women as well as empowering his people with his agricultural transformation agenda, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya is LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year 2021
When he assumed office on May 29, 2019, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya (Dan Majen Gombe) was not new to the challenges facing the now 25-year-old state, having meritoriously served as the state’s commissioner for finance. He left no one in doubt that he already had his job well cut out for him: to propel Gombe State towards the path of rapid development. The accountant and pragmatic leader was burning in an unquenchable desire to deliver on his campaign promises.
And true to the people’s hopes, the governor has not disappointed them. Governor Yahaya has brought his vision, passion, humanity, pedigree, and above all his dexterity and Midas touch to bear on governance in the state’s socio-economic landscape. Across the 11 local government areas of the state, there is a congruence of opinion that he is indeed the right man for the job. He has so far met the expectations of the people through his visionary leadership. Within two and half years of his being in office, even his staunch critics would not hesitate to disavow their rather ill-informed criticisms of the Gombe State government on his watch.
The Yahaya administration developed and launched the Gombe State 10-YearDevelopment Plan (GSDP 2021-2030), the first in Nigeria, as a long-term vision for growth and sustainable development. His target was to draw every development plan from the carefully crafted blueprint to chart the way in line with the visions and missions of making the state attractive and an economic hub in the North-East. Governor Yahaya centred his development agenda on five strategic pillars, namely: Governance and Administration, Social development, Economic Development, Infrastructural Development and SustainableEnvironment.
The plan, essentially, has a wide range of underlying activities that border on the greater good of the people as government performs its duties within some basic institutional framework detailing the policy thrust, policy target and policy objectives and overall betterment of the people. Governor Yahaya noted during the launch that the plan has “inclusive strategies to empower our people”, adding that “the decision to develop the plan is a clear indication of our determination to have lasting legacies for succeeding generations of our people”. Pointedly, the scope of the plan aligns with the United Nations’ SDGs to tackle the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment.
It didn’t come as a surprise to keen observers of events in Gombe State when the state was ranked No. 1 in the ease of doing business in Nigeria by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. In achieving this, the governor institutionalised the notion of partnership, knowing full well that bringing development to the state requires forging partnerships with various government agencies and institutions locally and abroad. The cumulative effect of Governor Yahaya’s prudence, leadership character and credibility is the coming of various development partners to the state, and the results are so far remarkable. Gombe is now the best state in the ease of doing business in Nigeria and has been adjudged the safest and most peaceful state in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country.
From agriculture, health, education to the remodeling mentality of creating an enabling environment and instituting clear-headed policies in line with the required development goals, Governor Yahaya has mapped out informed key policies and programmes in these major sectors.
Governor Yahaya has continued to point the way forward and raise the bar, quietly challenging leaders at all tiers of government to realize the difference that vision, creativity, focus and persistence can make in the life of a state. In every part of Gombe State, the mark of good governance is all too striking: road construction with zonal spread, reengineered schools, rehabilitated and well-equipped hospitals, economic empowerment and agricultural transformation.
Mindful of the fact that a good network of roads is critical to the economic revival and development of a state like Gombe, which is an agrarian state, Governor Yahaya embarked on execution of road projects as part of efforts to industrialise the state. A sight to behold now is a new Gombe where the various parts are well linked up via good roads, starting from the initial Network 11-100 Project (100 kilometres of road in each of the 11 local government areas) to the mega revolution in the construction of over 150 other strategic roads across the state. The people of Gombe who use these roads in their daily activities have attested to the fact that road construction and rehabilitation is indeed an initiative that is relative to their economic value.
The health sector which hitherto was terribly neglected by the previous administration is now enjoying better funding, adequate facilities and programmes for the people’s good health. Apart from the state-of-the-art Specialist Hospital in the state, this crucial sector has been given a new lease of life as witnessed in the various cottage hospitals, general hospitals, state primary health care programme and the revitalization of at least one primary health centre in each of the 114 wards and of course the introduction of the State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency which has improved access to healthcare in the state. All these contributed to rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state which ensured Gombe had one of the least incidence and fatality throughout the country.
On Governor Yahaya’s watch, agriculture which is the mainstay of the state has benefited from the state government’s proactive management through generous funding, contrary to what obtained in the past. Farmers have benefited tremendously from the state’s procurement and distribution of subsidized fertilizers to farmers. The state government has also built research centres and adopted modern techniques to increase yields and productivity in both animal production and fisheries.
Also, rural development and challenge of environmental degradation have been well-addressed through the provision of diversified infrastructure and the hugely successful tree-planting project to reclaim and protect the devastated northern region of the state. In addition to this is the provision of water, a major issue in the state before Governor Yahaya came on board.
Two other areas of the far-reaching reforms that represent major achievements of the Yahaya administration are the civil service and economic reforms. While the former has ensured an invigorated and high-performing bureaucracy, the latter has led to a repositioning of the economy to properly tackle the challenge of underdevelopment in the state.
Also, the education sector, one of the governor’s major concerns, was in a shambles at inception of the Yahaya administration. This necessitated a pragmatic reevaluation and renewal through basic reforms that have since birthed a modern system with huge enrolment in the primary and secondary education cadre.
Currently, Gombe has been getting good results, especially from the external examinations. This is the culmination of a declaration of emergency in education in the state at the outset. It is the outcome of a holistic reform which took into account the urgent need to build modern and conducive classrooms and boarding schools across the state as well as instituting a system that brings in only qualified teachers.
Governor Yahaya also undertook the major task of taking the hundreds of thousands of Almajiris out of the streets and taking them into established formal settings. Girl-child education has equally received a boost. Education is one of the key issues in the reform process and has remained a bold achievement of the Yahaya administration in the last two and a half years.