opinionBy Juna'idu Usman Abubakar
For a state considered to be among those receiving the least of the statutory allocation from the federation account, and with a monthly wage bill of 75% of total revenue earnings, prudence in the management of funds in Gombe State in the past one and a half years has been amazing. For instance, comparable analysis of government expenditure on general administration was pruned from the previous 70% to a mere 10% within the first year of the administration of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. This adjustment, which may seem simple on paper, actually served to boost funds for capital projects as enunciated in last year's budget.
Take education. The administration has spent over N4 billion within four months of the governor's swearing in, compared to the previous administration's capital expenditure of N1.8 billion in eight years in the same sector.
Apart from the establishment of a pilot scheme and a School of Remedial Studies at Kumo in Akko local government area, the money enabled the establishment of a polytechnic at Bajoga in Funkaye local government area, a school of nursing and midwifery, Gombe, a school of health technology in Kaltungo, a model school in each of the 11 local government areas of the state, and equipping the new College of Medical and Pharmaceutical Science at Gombe State University, adjudged as the best state-run universities in the country.
Or road construction, an area where some 168km road networks were either wholly completed, or are ongoing, including 52 township and six inter-town roads.
Digitalized traffic lights have been installed in all the major flashpoints of the state capital, completed with street lights to help curtail criminal activities and reduce accidents.
One of the dominant features of the administration's programmes is its comprehensive youth development and empowerment drive, with provision for adequate funding and moral support.
In Dankwambo's first year in office, the state government gave on-the-spot appointments to 1,197 youths under its Youth Rehabilitation and Empowerment Programme, YREP, deploying them into various cadres as environmental sanitation marshals; ward and state traffic marshals, community sanitation and security workers respectively.
Streamlining the development of agriculture and keep the youth in the sector, the administration procured over 55,000 tonnes of fertilizer for farmers at subsidized rate of N2,000 per bag; the administration also commissioned 35 new tractors complete with accessories and the refurbishing of the 25 tractors inherited by the administration. Cooperative societies among farmers were mobilized while the governor accessed loan facilities at a single digit interest rate to the tune of N1 billion from the Bank of Industries, BOI, to help in expanding farmer productivity and marketing farm produce among small scale farmers in the state.
The Regional Water Supply Scheme at Dadin Kowa is now being resourced for optimum utilization, while the underutilized Balanga and Cham dams are also being revived for effective use by the southern community in the Balanga and Billiri local government areas of the state.
In 2011, the government procured 50 large transformers to boost electricity supply throughout the state, including the utilization of Dadin Kowa dam project with capacity to supply 32 mega watts, enough for the consumption of the entire North-East sub-region.
Also, the administration has ventured into the exploitation of the large coal deposit in the state for optimum supply of electricity. A Memorandum of Understanding has been jointly concluded between Gombe state and Federal Government and the German Siemens firm for the building of a 132 KVA power station to be based on the large coal deposit in the state.
The governor's pro-poor initiatives have led to the introduction of Conditional Cash Grant, or CCG, under a social welfare scheme providing a monthly cash allowance of N15,000 to 5,000 beneficiaries spread across the 11 local government areas of the state, partly as a measure to ensure the state government's compliance to education for all as entrenched in the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. Under the CCG scheme, parents are obliged to send their children for school enrolment under a trust fund floated to cater for the children's upkeep.