13 February 2013

Nigeria: Understanding the Dynamics of Tolba Politics in Gombe

As the saying goes, truth is constant. But truth is bitter. The good shall always remain even if stretched by time. In our daily lives, in business, in matters of justice, not to mention its imperatives in leadership circles, take it or leave it, there you are. Leadership is a responsibility and as well a trust. Successful leaders are always accorded a place of honour for not misusing their given opportunities to squander public good will.

In Gombe State, given the background of our historical evolution as a heterogeneous society with its own unique characteristics, fashion, intellectual prowess, business acumen, abundant potentialities; coupled with our nationally acclaimed influence that even outsiders fondly refer to us in Hausa "Gombawa diban fari" (i.e. Gombe always on the lead), an ill-prepared, dull or retrogressive leader, therefore, has no place to stay. Putting it more accurately, a famous columnist Khadija Abdu Iya in Leadership Weekend Newspaper of Saturday February 8, 2013 page 78, she said "Gombe State no doubt is a blessed State with good leaders who are competing to out-do each other and engrave their names on the sands of time". I understand her direction, but that is not the business of this paper.

For almost the 21 months that he has been in office, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, no doubt, has proved to be a successful leader with a vision. Action speaks louder than voice. Yes, he has radically changed Gombe's entire landscape. He has put smiles on the faces of many across the length and breadth of the state. He is one individual that fully understands the terrain of Gombe and through the application of knowledge, great wisdom, self-discipline, forthrightness and personal bravado, the Tolba (as he is simply called) has proved his critics wrong. With his array of stars in the cabinet and able lieutenants, he is doing what is right through a very careful approach. Infact, his simple and quite disposition makes him to detest praise singing as he always elevate merit over mediocrity.

I am not being sycophantic neither am I desperately asking for a job, no. For one, ever since his assumption to office, I have never met the Governor personally for a discussion even on phone, let alone to push for an appointment to see him. If anything, I feel adequately represented already in the government. I owe it a duty as my leader to stand behind him. The clarion call to support the government is to all the entire citizens of the state both at home and outside, more especially our prominent sons and daughters.

Probably from the seemingly 'strange' admixture of his personal principles in life which made him to be carefully attending to issues, it turned out rather to be easily misunderstood by a few, especially by the proponents of reward system who for their selfish desires, wanted him to behave like father Christmas. I refuse to accept this idea, otherwise, no common sense, no logic, no amount of argument and no excuse can justify this at the risk of messing up. To be candid, as a people who were desirous for a change as enshrined in our pre-October 1996 mission document for Gombe State creation, obviously those aspirations could not have been born out of selfish desires, but anchored on the need for a rapid physical transformation of our young state, the more reason why Gombe was not only able to catch up with the old, but even surpassed its contemporaries.

In his own style, right from inception, Governor Dankwambo wanted to put in place an all-inclusive government that would create an enabling environment for all segments of Gombe society to co-exist peacefully. The logic is to carry everybody along irrespective of affiliation. He was able to achieve this and which lend credence to the general feeling of camaraderie now in Gombe. It has equally manifested in the manner he appointed his principal staff, in the composition of his cabinet and other appointees. Quite importantly too, it was through his strong conviction and broad mindedness, that made him not to subscribe to the idea of vendetta politics to victimize, harass or sack any Civil Servant, individual or groups on ground of alleged party affiliation or holding opposing views. Even with the undue pressure mounted on him to descend on some Permanent Secretaries, Tolba refused to budge. On the political scene, a level playing ground has been created for a mass participation of people in politics and in electoral contest. He has kept to his words in avoiding the imposition of candidates against popular wish.

When the last eleven sector-based committees were inaugurated, its membership was mainly drawn from among the politicians, intellectuals, businessmen, technocrats, market men and women, rural dwellers, trade unionists, etc, who articulated their professional views and gave the government a road map to follow. This is accommodation and it has impacted positively.

In the area of projects execution, Governor Dankwambo has inspired many with his rules of financial discipline, probity and accountability. Contracts are properly scrutinized and awarded only to competent companies in line with due process guidelines. Quality of job is non-negotiable and can compete favourably with international standards.

For instance, the Gombe Metropolitan beautification project is a case in point. It ranks among the best. The intention here is to accord priority in giving Gombe a befitting state capital to the delight of visitors and tourists alike. In a way, that will also strengthen the conviction of even potential investors to appreciate our worth. From the Mile 3 triangular junction to the city centre, to Government House, down to the eastern bend at Union Bank leading up to the new market and stretching back to the thickly populated areas of Tudun-wada and the emir's palace roundabouts, not only that the roads were well paved and dualized, but also adorned with digitalized traffic and street lights. All the five roundabouts are well designed and decorated.

Gombe being situated in a valley, there was therefore the compelling need by government to deliberately concentrate on ways to check the menace of flood being aggravated by the volume of water and sand discharged into the city centre from the upper zone of the Federal Lowcost area (called the black spot). Standard roads side by side with drainages enough to carry their contents to bigger channels leading down to the city centre were constructed.

In all, there are more than 52 network of roads within Gombe alone. Many thickly populated areas of the metropolitan were opened up to enhance free movement of people. At the local Government levels, several inter-town network of roads were either completed or nearing completion linking more economically viable areas, e.g. the 58km Kanawa-Jagali-Deba; Billiri-Dogon ruwa; Gona-Tukuma-Kombani-Tumu; and numerous other intra-town networks in Kaltungo, Billiri, Cham, Bajoga, Deba, Hina, Dukku, etc. Government has also commenced on the expansion and utilization of Balanga Dam to extend water supply to distant settlements of Kaltungo, Billiri and Kumo, side by side with the development of irrigation farming.

Government has also simultaneously established the first Gombe State College of Education at Billiri; State Polytechnic Bajoja; College for Legal and Islamic Studies Nafada; as well as the twin Schools of Basic and Remedial Studies in Kumo and Dukku. Government has also realized the full accreditation of the School of Health Technology, Kaltungo and the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Gombe. Another giant project is the 150km extension of water reticulation to the neighbouring towns of Kwami, Bojude and Gadam and which has reached an advanced stage. There was also the extension of reticulation to more than 20 new layouts in Gombe and the of replacement of ageing pipes to some old layouts, e.g. in Jekadafari, HerwaGana, Kumbiya-Kumbiya, e.t.c.

A multi-dimensional approach to moral and social angles, (especially security and youth empowerment) was adopted in order for peace to continue to prevail throughout the state, Governor Danwkambo has left no stone unturned in eradicating crime and criminality in the State. The hitherto Kalare armed banditry, house breakings and armed robbery, e.t.c. have significantly reduced as the youth are being programmed to be productive through an elaborate empowerment policy and skill acquisition drive.

Another remarkable milestone recorded by Governor Dankwambo, was his ability to think and live above primordial sentiments. He don't easily give in to cheap blackmails by paid agents (otherwise called dillalai). His main preoccupation is the development of Gombe and Gombe State at large and that's that. Apparently, what the future holds for us in the next two years of his administration and beyond, would be quite enriching. The recent constituency tour embarked upon by him not only to thank the people, meet the people at their door steps, robed minds with them, collate opinions and views on how well to advance the course of his government, has afforded him an opportunity to even package for the present and future generations of leaders a comprehensive blue print and agenda to pursue, once our real and ultimate desire is to develop Gombe and properly place it on the World map.

- Yidikawu wrote in from Federal Lowcost Housing Estate Gombe

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