TEXT OF A STATEWIDE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR OF GOMBE STATE, MUHAMMADU INUWA YAHAYA ON THE OCCASION OF ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION HELD ON FRIDAY MAY 29, 2020.
My dear people of Gombe State.
I am immensely grateful to Allah (SWT) for preserving us to witness this special day. Today, marks the first anniversary of the APC-led administration in Gombe State, following the historic March 9 elections and my subsequent swearing-in on the 29th May 2019 which sealed our mandate to manage the affairs of the state for a period of four years.
We acknowledge that our administration rode to power on tremendous public goodwill and support. Our people across all ages, gender, religions and tribes trooped en masse to the polls and voted for our great Party in an unprecedented show of political support and unity.
2. On coming to office, the situation we met was very gloomy. The level of dilapidation of our educational and health institutions was unacceptable. There was complete neglect of our rural communities who formed the bedrock of our economic and social development. Available data revealed a high number of out-of-school children, poor performance in basic education, high maternal and child mortality, and water shortages especially in Gombe metropolis and other major towns. Public debt and other liabilities were to the tune of 120 billion naira and there was clear lack of direction in governance. This situation led to a huge disconnect between the government and the people that it was supposed to serve.
3. Mindful of our campaign promises, high expectations of the people and the responsibilities placed on our shoulders, we swung into action immediately by commissioning a needs assessment study in order to evaluate the availability and functionality of basic infrastructure and services in our communities. The study covered the entire 114 wards across the State.
The outcome of that assessment further validated what we observed during the electioneering campaign which enabled us to know in detail the development needs and priorities of the people. We identified education, health, agriculture, security and rural development as the core priority sectors of our administration. That informed the choice of the people-oriented projects and programs that we prioritize to complete, upgrade or commence in the last one year.
4. Right from inception, our approach to governance was a clear break from the business-as-usual syndrome. That was why we pruned down the number of ministries from 27 to 21, in order to save cost, improve efficiency and enhance service delivery. Similarly, we initiated institutional restructuring which resulted in the creation of a Bureau for Public Service Reforms in order to improve the performance of the civil service being a critical vehicle for the implementation of our development agenda.
5. Within our first 100 days, we were able to restore and expand water supply to Gombe town and its environs; re-mobilize contractors for various abandoned critical road projects within the State and launch the largest environmental restoration project in the North East subregion – the Gombe Goes Green initiative, which is committed to planting 4 million trees in four years and which facilitated the engagement of 27,000 youths in direct jobs with resultant multiplier effects on the economy. We equally declared a state of emergency in the education and health sectors and constituted high-powered taskforce committees to develop strategies that will be implemented in order to turn around those sectors for the benefit of our people.
6. Subsequently, in the education sector, we took strong steps to address the deplorable conditions of our public schools and tackle the twin problems of illiteracy and out-of-school children. In order to bridge the infrastructural gap in our schools, we built 234 new additional classrooms across 80 schools, renovated 190 classrooms in 47 schools and rehabilitated 4 of our legacy secondary schools in the State namely GSSS Gombe, GSS Dukku, GSSS Kaltungo and GGSS Kuri in our effort to restore them to their lost glory. Similarly, we established a state-of-the-art Teacher Resource Center in Kwami in order to adequately train and re-train our teachers to enable them meet the demands of modern teaching profession. In our effort to address the high prevalence of out-of-school children, we launched the Better Education and Service Delivery for All (BESDA) project which helped to mop up about 300,000 children and enrolled them back to school. We also attracted special federal government grants to our tertiary institutions as well as support from corporate organizations and other development partners.
7. In the health sector, we embarked on aggressive revitalization of primary healthcare facilities with the aim of providing at least one fully functional Primary Healthcare Center in each of the 114 wards of the State. At the same time, we thoroughly renovated and upgraded the State Specialist Hospital, thereby expanding its capacity to meet the increasing demand for specialized health care services by our growing population. Amidst the rising need for improved human resource for health care, we completed the internship quarters in the specialist hospital that has been abandoned for over 20 years thereby meeting one of the key requirements for the commencement of internship training for our young doctors in the hospital. Within the last one year of our administration, we worked in conjunction with the Gombe State House of Assembly to enact the enabling laws for the establishment of the Hospitals Management Board and the State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency which is aimed at reducing out-of-pocket expenditure for health services and providing financial risk protection to the people.
8. On rural development, our government actively sought for and is at the final stage of signing up for the states for participation in the World Bank assisted Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project in order to link up our rural communities and open up opportunities across all segments of the agri-business value chain. Moreover, our Network 11-100 project which is committed to constructing at least 100km of road networks in each of our 11 LGAs is well on course. This will have tremendous impact on transportation, agriculture, trade and the livelihoods of our people. I’m sure our people residing in the following routes:- I. Malala – Zaune – Dukkuyel; II. Mararrabar Gerkwami – Daniya; III. Mallam Inna – Kundulum – Wuro Kesa – Kurba-Titi;IV. Gona- Garko – Kalshingi; V. Kalshingi – Kumo; VI. Boltongo – Nono; VII. Mararraba – Jabba – Sambo Daji – Garin Wada; VIII. Ladongor – Sabon Layi – Ayaba; IX. Bambam – Tula Yiri; X. Kutare – Mwona; XI. Tallasse – Reme – Bembelem -Degri;XII. Billiri – Awak – Dogon Ruwa ….can give a testimony to this effect.
9. Agriculture remains the backbone of our economy, with about 80% of the people engaged in agricultural activities. In order to diversify the economy and empower the populace, this administration is working hard to ensure that farmers have easy and timely access to fertilizer, farm inputs and farm machinery. This will help in boosting productivity and revenue generation for both the people and the government. In the same vein, Gombe State has keyed into the FG’s large-scale irrigation project along our major dams and water bodies as well as the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP). Our objective is to leverage on our comparative advantage in agriculture in order to attract industries along the agri-business value chain.
10. To aggressively pursue our ambitious development agenda, we embarked on a wide range of consultations and engagements with national and international development partners. On our part we have paid over N1.5bn naira as counterpart funds to various developmental programmes in the areas of health, education, agriculture and environment. Our engagements and commitments have attracted further support from development partners such as the World Bank, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to mention but a few.
11. Considering our strategic location and economic potentials in the North East sub-region, we have what it takes to remain the destination of choice for investors. Already, plans are ongoing to build an Industrial Park and Export Processing Zone for which we have set aside 1,000 hectares of land at Dadin Kowa because of the 40 MW hydroelectric power plant and the huge irrigation potentials that our State is endowed with.
12. Our unique position at the center of the North East sub-region exposed us to security threats of regional proportion. It is gratifying that Gombe State has remained relatively immune from the insurgency ravaging our neighboring states. Our security management strategy is hinged on community vigilance, local participation and inter-agency cooperation. Though the influx of IDPs has exerted tremendous pressure on basic services, we are making conscious efforts to integrate individuals and communities fleeing the insurgency instead of confining them to IDP camps. At state level, we created the ministry of internal security and ethical orientation so as to help chart and implement a new security strategy for Gombe State that will ensure sustainable peace and long-term stability. At regional level, we successfully convened the first ever North East Governors Forum meeting in order to collectively confront the various security and developmental challenges facing us.
13. Notwithstanding the economic situation of our state and the country at large, we considered the issue of reward and compensation for both serving and retired civil servants who toiled on a daily basis to ensure the success of the operations of government. In this regard, we looked into the issue of outstanding gratuities and pensions. So far, we settled outstanding gratuities to the tune of 1.6 billion naira to 2015 retirees. In the same vein, consideration is being given to serving civil servants based on a defined arrangement. It is our hope that other welfare packages for existing civil servants like housing and transportation will be considered when the economic situation improves.
14. The Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented economic and public health challenges locally and globally. We responded proactively by improving the level of preparedness of our health system by setting up and equipping 3 isolation and treatment centers across the state. Moreover, we ensured that measures taken to curtail the spread of the pandemic do not bring undue economic hardship to our people. Our pragmatic approach ensured that high-risk individuals are identified and tested. In order to ensure prompt testing, we procured a PCR machine with a view to establishing our own testing laboratory. We are working with the NCDC to ensure proper installation and accreditation in line with international best practices. Despite the various challenges we faced, Gombe State has one of the highest recoveries and lowest death rates from Covid-19 in the country according to recent figures from the NCDC situation report. In order to cushion the effect of economic hardships caused by the imposed restrictions, we set up a palliative committee that delivered palliative support to about 400,000 poor and vulnerable individuals across the State.
15. In line with our commitment to ensure that our state is firmly placed on a sustainable development trajectory, we started the process of producing a 10-year development plan for 2020-2030. The plan is tailored to coincide with the ‘Global decade of action’ for the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and our administration’s commitment to human capital development. A rigorous process of consultation and stakeholder engagement has started in this regard in order to ensure various interests and considerations are captured so as to meet the yearnings and aspirations of a broad spectrum of our people across the state.
16. Let me state that without any iota of doubt, we are now more prudent in managing our resources and entrenching a culture of transparency and accountability in governance. We have set a new record in budget transparency and ensured timely passage of the 2020 appropriation bill. Equally, we have introduced innovative strategies so as to plug leakages and improve state finances. We shall continue to ensure that all funds belonging to the Government are used for the benefits of our people and not for the benefit of any single individual or group no matter how highly placed.
17. My dear brothers and sisters, we could not have achieved all these without a strong support from the overwhelming majority of our people, both the leadership and followership, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, across all tribes and religions. I remain grateful for your support and understanding and would like to use this opportunity to restate my commitments to the oath I took one year ago to serve our people to the best of my ability, with equity, fairness and justice.
18. May Allah (SWT) see us through in the years ahead in the course of our service to our dear state.
19. Thank you for listening and may Almighty Allah bless us all, bless Gombe State and bless Nigeria at large.
Long Live Gombe StateLong Live the FGN!