The undisputed King in the North: Salihu Tanko profiles Governor Dankwambo (Y !/YNaija.com Person of The Year nominee)

The miraculous survival of Gombe Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, during the powerful Buhari whirlwind of 2015 when the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that had been calling the shots since the return of the country to democracy in 1999 was swept away during the general elections, has continued to bewilder, awe and flabbergast political observers. The then sitting president and many governors especially in the North were defeated by the rampaging forces of the (All Progressives Congress (APC), an unprecedented feat in Nigeria’s political history.

For the records, Governor Dankwambo was elected in 2011 on the platform of the PDP after serving as the Accountant-General of the Federation from 2005 – 2011. He took over the reins of the state’s affairs at a time Gombe was mired in several socio-economic challenges – one of which was the rise of ‘area boys’ (hoodlums) infamously referred to as Yan Kalare who were employed by some self-serving politicians to wreck havoc on the society killing or maiming innocent people thereby making the state unsafe. These and other daunting challenges were some of the things Dankwambo committed himself to face headlong in order to make the State a model among its peers in the federation. He undertook this task through infrastructural development, human capital development, social re-engineering and other programmes that have completely transformed the state.

The change mantra of the APC did not have a chance in Gombe as the people were already satisfied with the positive changes brought about by His Excellency.

In recognition of his unquantifiable achievements in various fields of human endeavours, the Business Day Newspaper named Dankwambo as the Best Governor in the federation in 2013 for ensuring peace and peaceful co-existence in his darling State.

As a seasoned technocrat and administrator per excellence, Gov. Damkwambo is aware of the urgent need for Nigeria to overcome its infrastructural deficit for the overall sustainable development of the economy.  To chronicle Dankwambo’s achievements in relation to infrastructural development is to attempt the impossible, for time and space will not allow for the enumeration of all these singular feats. However, a few will suffice beginning with the education sector for it is the bedrock of any society whether developed or developing. Since assuming office in 2011, Dankwambo has established eight institutions of higher learning; namely: Gombe State College of Education, Billiri; School of Basic and Remedial Studies (SBRS), Kumo; Gombe State Polytechnic, Bajoga; College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Nafada; School of Basic and Remedial Studies (Female), Daban Fulani; and Gombe State University of Science and Technology. Others are Gombe State College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry; Gombe State College of Hospitality and Transport Technology; and Gombe State Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies. This is in addition to the construction/rehabilitation of hundreds of classroom blocks in primary and secondary schools across the state.

The Gombe State government, expended the sum of N2 billion on the construction of the permanent site of the Gombe State College of Education, Billiri apart from furnishing and equipping its laboratory which guzzled another millions of Naira. Also, the government increased the funding of the Gombe State University by 50%, equipped the College of Medical Sciences, constructed the Medical College and procured laboratory equipment and chemicals for the College of Medical Sciences and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. In addition, the Dankwambo administration settled the outstanding arrears and allowances of the university staff to the tune of N1 billion.

The government also has a laudable policy of procuring remedial forms for free distribution to qualified applicants seeking admission into Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, School of Basic and Remedial Studies (SBRS), Funtua in Katsina State, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Maiduguri, and others. In the 2011/2012 academic session, over N100 million was expended on this highly commendable programme and 70% of the beneficiaries gained admission for various degree programmes. Likewise, the government purchased JAMB/UTME scratch cards for distribution to qualified indigenes of the State.

Another intervention worth-mentioning is the sponsorship of twenty-five candidates for Marine Engineering and Nautical Science programme in India and United Kingdom in collaboration with NIMASA – the government paid N150 million as its counterpart contribution.

The story is the same in the health sector. The Dankwambo administration constructed a Dialysis Centre at the Specialist Hospital, Gombe, College of Nursing and Midwifery, Dukku, Snake-bite Centre Kaltungo, among a host of other costly undertakings aimed at ensuring effective and efficient health care delivery in the State.

Provision of affordable housing is another sector given top priority by the government with the construction of 150 units of two and three-bedroom houses and other plans are in the pipeline to construct more housing units especially for the low-income members of the society.

The Dankwambo administration has also accorded great attention to the agricultural sector for food production, job creation and income generation especially considering the fact that majority of the people of the state depend on this sector as their means of livelihood. In its determined efforts to assist both large and small-scale farmers, the government provides many interventions to them in the form of farm inputs, fertiliser and even heavy machinery. Between 2011 and 2017, over 140,000 metric tonnes of assorted fertilizers (NPK/Urea) were procured and sold to farmers at subsidised rates, while under the GES Fertilizer Scheme between 2012 and 2014, 1,149,842 bags of fertilizer were procured for sale to the local farmers.

The government procured 255 new tractors for sale to farmers at subsidised rates, refurbished 25 others and purchased 25 sets of tractor implements between 2011 and 2013 and in 2013 purchased 1,140 ox-drawn ploughs and 1,140 work-bulls to support small-scale farmers, while in 2014, 2,218 ox-drawn ploughs were also procured for the same purpose. This is in addition to the procurement of hundreds of bags of improved rice, wheat and maize seeds and 59,600 jatropha seedlings for the benefits of the local farmers.

To ensure all-year round agricultural practice in Gombe, the government also gives necessary support to dry season farmers and thousands of bags of assorted fertiliser and hundreds of water pumps were procured and sold to them at subsidised prices. Also the Dankwambo administration established Farm Training Centres in Ladongor, Wajari and Kupto in 2014 to render extension services to farmers in the three senatorial zones of the state.

Government has resolved to consistently pay its counterpart funding in respect of projects such as the Fadama and Sasakawa Global 2000 in its desire to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, establish a State Council of Agriculture to articulate all agricultural activities more effectively and complete the main canal of the left bank of Gongola River to enhance irrigation.

Also the government constructed a new International Conference Centre, an ultra-modern mega motor park and a petrol tanker parking bay to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people.

The state’s population is increasing which results in high demand for potable water for domestic and industrial use and taking this into consideration, the government has initiated ambitious programmes toward ensuring regular supply of water to the people. It has committed the sum of N4.17 billion on the Gombe township reticulation project while the extension of the regional water schemes at Kwami, Gadam and Bojude has reached advanced stage of completion. In addition, preliminary designs and processes have been completed for a mini hydro-electricity power plant as well as a second regional water supply scheme from Balanga Dam aimed at augmenting power supply and provision of water to 5 local government areas in Gombe south and central senatorial zones.

Dankwambo has engaged in a social re-engineering process to wean the former notorious Yan Kalare from their past devilish ways through various training cum-empowerment programmes in order to make them self-reliant, productive and worthy members of the society. These empowerment interventions to youth of both sexes and women include training of over 320 youth in six different trades, training of 330 supervisors at Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Jos, recruitment of 1,500 youth as Traffic, Environmental and Security Marshals, training of 1,000 youth in welding, fabrication, POP and tiling, training of 1,200 former Yan Kalare under the Talba Youth Reorientation and Rehabilitation, empowerment of 1,500 poorest of the poor through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), disbursement of loan obtained from BOI to 150 co-operative societies and the release of N500 million Trade Intervention Funds to traders in the State. These interventions not only ensure social and financial inclusion/empowerment of the less-privileged members of the society, but they bring about peaceful atmosphere in a society hitherto plagued by youth restiveness in the form of Yan Kalare.

In this harsh economic times, Dankwambo has consistently developed the state’s infrastructure whilst also ensuring that workers are paid on time. His uncommon achievement in governance makes Governor Dankwambo qualified to be the YNaija Person of the Year 2017.

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