Between Inuwa Yahaya’s victory and challenges of governing Gombe
It’s is becoming a recurring feature of Nigeria’s deepening democracy for candidates that lost past elections to come back and record victory.
That story holds true for Gombe State’s governor-elect, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, who has been contesting the governorship seat since 2011.
In the recent 2019 poll, which was a keen contest between him and the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Alhaji Yahaya of All Progressives Congress (APC) polled a total of 364,179 votes to defeat his main rival Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, who scored 222,868 votes.
The total of 141,311 difference which is the margin of win, represents the measure of public acceptance or understanding of what he has to offer to the people of Gombe State.
The margin of win could be adjudged remarkable, especially given the fact that in 2011 the APC candidate contested against the outgoing Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of PDP, but was defeated by the incumbent at the party’s primaries.
Again in 2015 he ran against Dankwambo on the platform of APC and he lost. So, it is on record that Alhaji Inua Yahaya was twice defeated by Governor Dankwambo for the Gombe State Government House.
From his seeming perseverance, which has paid off in the 2019 gubernatorial poll, it could be said that the governor-elect was destined to govern Gombe, because despite the failed struggles to become governor, Yahaya did not give up the fight. His recent triumph has lessons for the political class and the younger generation.
In the first place, now that Inuwa Yahaya has been able to realise his long term dream, the challenges before him are enormous and require bold and determined effort to confront and conquer. It is assuring that most stakeholders in and around Gombe have expressed their confidence that the governor-elect is determined and ready to confront these challenges head on.
Challenge of settling IOUs
As a commissioner of finance for seven years in the administration of former governor Danjuma Goje, it is expected that he is well-informed about the challenges fronting Gombawas and should, from May 30, 2019, begin to deploy concrete solutions without trial-and-error approach.
It could be this hands-on experience that convinced the Gombe electorate to trust him with their votes to pilot the affairs of the state from May 29, 2019. However, there are issues, which if not addressed properly, the people’s hopes and aspirations could easily melt away.
In the run up to the election, almost all the movers and shakers of Gombe politics teamed up with Yahaya to fight Dankwambo squarely.
Some did that openly while others did it undercover just to make sure that Dankwambo’s chosen candidate was defeated to demystify the incumbent governor.
Now that it has happened, the governor-elect must face the challenges of meeting the yearning and aspirations of Gombe people.
The first challenge is how to accommodate all these individuals and groups that helped him to defeat Bayero. It is a known fact that a typical Nigerian politician cannot invest where his or her interests are not protected and defended.
As such it is not likely that the stakeholders that invested in Yahaya’s emergence generated their IoUs for nothing.
Some are of them have actually started expressing fears that Yahaya may not possess the capacity to handle these people. Those in this group believe that the governor-elect seems to be too slow and as such may not be as rugged and smart as his predecessors, goje and Dankwambo.
On the other hand, Yahaya is seen by many as a methodical but capable hand who can handle virtually all the socio-political problems confronting the state. Those in this school of thought say he exhibited that ability when he was Finance Commissioner under Goje, stressing that now that he would be in charge he is capable of meeting the demands of Gombawa.
For the over 20 years that Gombe has existed as a state, the issue of portable water has not been met. Water has been the major problem of Gombe and 20 years after, the issue of water has not been solved once and for all.
In addition, power supply has combined to compound the existential challenges facing the fast growing city in the Northeast geopolitical zone.
Those could be classified as the two major problems that need immediate solution and the people of Gombe will be happier if the governor-elect gave himself immediate timeline to faithfully address them in a sustainable manner.
Then there is the issue of a segment of Gombe society, which Dankwambo was said to have neglected in his eight years in office out of political considerations.
As a governor that has suffered two defeats to mount the saddle, if the incoming governor gives priority attention to reaching the unreached, he would succeed in writing his name in gold and earning the necessary goodwill to catapult his administration.
The Guardian gathered that of particular interest is the issue of tackling human capital development, as some respondents said it is one factor which most Gombe people are not happy with the leadership style of Dankwambo.
It was gathered that throughout his years as governor, Dankwambo did not pay attention to human development, even though he achieved a lot in the area of infrastructural development of the state by building roads and schools that could stand the test of time.
Also, there are those who blame the government for not patronising local contractors, a development analysts said led to capital flight out of the state. What it meant was that money that was supposed to circulate in Gombe was taken somewhere else leaving the people to wallow in object poverty in the face of beautiful roads within the state capital.
According to some civil servants who spoke in confidence, “Governor Dankwambo built schools but forgot to build human beings that could function in the schools and give them meaning.”
They agreed that since education is the bedrock of any meaningful development, “Gombawas are of the opinion that Yahaya administration should focus attention on such area and provide the needed manpower for the sector to function optimally. Let there be massive recruitment of qualified teachers to revive the education sector and save it from total collapse.”
The incoming governor has another challenge. He has to review those tertiary institutions established by Dankwambo, which seem to be a drain on the state’s finances, because observers note that the state’s revenue cannot shoulder those institutions.
Some of these are the state’s University of Science and Technology, College of Education, Billiri, College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Nafada, College of Nursing and Midwifery, and state’s Polytechnic, Bajoga.
These are higher institutions established by Governor Dankwambo mainly for political considerations rather than the best interest of the state.
As the governor-elect gets ready to step into the shoes of Dankwambo, there is an urgent need to address the lingering problem of education in Gombe State to take it to its rightful position among other states in the country.
IT has been noted that a critical look at the distribution of critical infrastructure in the state for the two terms of Governor Dankwambo shows a kind of bias in which the northern part of the state complains of neglect.
Most of the infrastructure established by Dankwambo are either in Gombe metropolis or in the southern part of the state, leaving the northern part without any.
Unlike Gombe south, a journey to Dukku from Gombe and from Gombe to Nafada is such one would never crave a repeat. It is hard to understand that this is Dankwambo’s senatorial district. That could also explain why the people of Gombe north did not vote for him to become their senator.
The incoming APC administration could right this obvious wrong and show Dankwambo’s people a sense of belonging because they have not only patiently waited for too long, but must feel disappointed that their son failed them.
Yahaya may have set lofty agenda for his administration when he told journalists during an interaction in Gombe immediately after the election that “going by the way Gombe State was mismanaged in the past eight years of Dankwambo’s administration I will like to believe that all facets of development, particularly issues of education, health, agriculture, security rural development if well addressed will help to uplift the people out of their present bondage and servitude.”
He promised to pay attention to the development of rural areas, which he said would bring out the state from the shackles of underdevelopment and “lift it to the next level of modern development. I hope to work assiduously to achieve that.”
Assuring on the issue of perennial water supply difficulties in the metropolis, the governor-elect said: “The capacity of Gombe regional water is not enough and we are going to work to improve on the 50 million litters.”
It is left to be seen in the days after his inauguration how far Yahaya’s long fight to be governor has prepared him for the challenges on ground, especially knowing that he would likely seek a second term in office.