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Lessons from Dankwambo


Ibrahim Dankwambo

As part of the activities marking the 60th anniversary of University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA), which came up recently at the University of Ibadan (UI), Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo was invited to deliver the Fifth National Public Service and the 60th anniversary lecture.

The title of his lecture was, “Survival of the states: How Transparency and Accountability Help Revenues and Expenditure Management in States: Success Story from Gombe State.”

Although some of those in attendance at the lecture had never been to Gombe State, the facts and figures presented by the governor, coupled with his profile as a chartered accountant who was the Accountant- General of the Federation in 2005, made the audience to feel comfortable to listen to governor’s homily on accountability and transparency. Again, there are testimonies in the media that he is really performing wonders in his state, turning lemons into lemonade!

Indeed, at the end of his 90-minute lecture, it was glaring that Dankwambo was not only an expert on the theme, but a true practitioner of his own preaching whose transparent and accountable leadership, has since 2011, taken Gombe State to a level that is almost beyond belief.

Gombe which was 36th in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in 2010, according to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), is today achieving so much with so little.

This is as a result of the leadership of a man who initiated the electronic-payment system during the Obasanjo administration while serving as Accountant-General of the federation.

Speaking on the subject, however, Dankwambo who adopted a scholarly approach to dissecting the issue unequivocally declared that fiscal sustainability was a challenge in most states in Nigeria, adding “most state governors inherited a system where transparency and accountability were known only as mere words, devoid of any inherent reality.

Gombe is no exception.” Clearly, the governor is sincere here. Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria. Describing accountability and transparency as relevant to Nigeria’s current economic circumstances, the 1985 Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) graduate who situated his position in the Darwinist postulation, argued that for states to survive” we have to work individually as states and collectively as a nation in developing our “sociable habits” in order to secure the maintenance of our species, our extension, and our further progressive evolution in order to survive or “doomed to decay.”     
Dankwambo who is believed to be nursing a presidential ambition on the platform of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), insisted that the survival of state governments in Nigeria “is a function of ability of the leaders to plan and execute projects and programmes effectively and efficiently, pointing out that transparency and accountability are the functional media for achieving this.

While condemning the widespread corruption in the country, he submitted that state governors must live a life of service and sacrifice for the betterment of their people.

“In 2011, I was bequeathed with a population that was 8.5 poorer than when my predecessor took over in 2003.  

I make bold to say that today, Gombe State has evolved to the level that it has propelled itself on the path of growth and progress, in addition to which it holds even greater potential.
With unpretentious confidence, Talban Gombe, who appeared  highly cerebral in thinking, radical in orientation and courageous in conviction maintained that for states to survive the current economic situation, “the answer could be found in the thinking of Charles Darwin as states must adapt to the changing circumstances or risk possible extermination, which could come in any form, including violent revolution, like Arab Spring. According to him, “accountability and transparency are the main ingredients for successful public finance management.

This holds true both at national and sub national levels.” With an intermittent applause and singing from UI students who thronged the venue to listen to the governor, who holds a Ph.D degree in accountancy believed that accountability and transparency would encourage public participation in governance, citing his experiences in Gombe to buttress his points.

His words: “In Gombe, our deliberate attempt at putting transparent policies and accountable process help us in achieving more with less. Education is our topmost priority. We reconstructed 1,160 classrooms, constructed 784 new ones in various schools across the state and built more than 70 new schools across the state. We have thus greatly increased access to education.”
In business, he said, “in spite of the location of Gombe State being close to the hotbed of terrorism, our state was able to provide attraction to investments due to the confidence and incentives we provide for economic activities as many companies have found Gombe attractive.

I wish to assure you that any state governor that adheres strictly to the principles of transparency and accountability as enunciated in this lecture can proudly stand the storm as we did during Buhari Tsunami in Gombe State in 2015”, he boasted. Dankwambo is the only PDP governor in the Northeast of Nigeria.

The soft-spoken politician who later commissioned the 54-suite Post Graduate hall of residence built by UIAA promised to assist in furnishing the hall,  just as he donated handsomely to the activities of the association.

He was later bedecked with an award as well as honorary membership of the UIAA. Earlier, the UIAA National President, Dr. Kemi Emina had described the governor as an excellent state chief executive who achieves so much with the little resources by judiciously administering the state in a transparent manner.
However, there are some lessons to be taken away from the Gombe governor’s lecture. One of the inherent lessons in this lecture is that leaders should be transparent and accountable. State governors are not expected to personalise the common resources and recklessly fritter away the scarce resources.

State affairs should be conducted transparently. Gombe is said to be running with peak velocity today because Dankwambo makes accountability and transparency his watchwords.

Perhaps, his accountancy training may be responsible for this as it is believed in certain quarters that “accountants are stingy and always unwilling to splurge money.” This notion must have assisted him in managing the Gombe resources.
Another lesson from this lecture is that, whoever must be elected into the public office must be sufficiently educated.

Poor leadership has been variously cited as one of Nigeria’s problems, predicated on inadequate intellectualism. Some of those who are in political positions don’t read. We need enlightened minds in leadership positions.

Dankwambo is a good example here. He really went to school. He has been to four different universities in search of knowledge.

Consequently, his presentation at UI’s lecture was breath-taking in its range and reach, and his delivery was magisterial and compelling. Probably, this is one of the reasons he wants to be President in 2019. I think he has the required intellectual capacity. Some of his quiet policies in Gombe are making loud impacts.
Dankwambo is not a gallery player. He doesn’t shout about his achievements. Until he came to UI to deliver the lecture, many people were not aware of his achievements. But his people are proud of him, because he is performing. Leaders must allow the electorate to feel the impact of democracy by initiating good policies hinged on accountability and transparency.

Saanu is media assistant to the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan.

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