I have had cause to write numerous times about Gombe state, and the wonderful job Gov. Inuwa Yahaya is doing in the state. On the 4th of March, 2019, in an article titled ‘Gombe, on the cusp of economic transformation’, I wrote about his efforts on the reticulation and water works, to bring water to areas like Wuro Juli, Tabra, Nayinawa, Liji, down to Govt Girl’s Science Secondary School Doma, up to the Federal Low Cost areas. I also wrote about the release of N500 million as counterpart funding to World Bank projects, for erosion control. I also wrote about the 3 billion naira counterpart funding to UBEC for projects in Gombe primary schools. I also touched on the 54 billion naira abandoned road projects inherited from the previous govt. On the 1st of March, 2021, in another article titled, ‘Proactive and decisive tutorials from Gombe’, I spoke about Gov. Yahaya’s very proactive and decisive measures in handling the crisis of the installation of a new Mai Tangle. All the 14 persons involved were arrested and brought to face the full brunt of the law. I must say he handled it quite well. It would have easily escalated to an insecurity situation of enormous proportions, especially being in the North East — a den of insecurity.
In another article titled, ‘Inuwa Yahaya’s footprints of purposeful leadership’, published in May, 2021, I spoke about how we were all awed by the urban renewal programmes and rural development initiatives that traverse every nook and cranny of Gombe state, initiated by Inuwa Yahaya’s administration. Education witnessed a boost in its budget by about 62% in 2021. 584 classrooms were built in 156 schools with the purchase of 30,000 sets of furniture. There is also the revitalisation of 1 primary healthcare centre in each of the 114 wards of the state. A very ambitious project of the provision of access roads to all 114 wards of the state has been embarked upon and most of it is nearing completion with some completed already. Gombe was among the first states to implement local govt autonomy and key into the Livestock Transformation Plan. 50 buses were also procured for the state’s transport company. So much has been done by the Governor which has made Gombe the toast of the North East in terms of development, both urban and rural.
Just recently, on the 30th of October, 2021, The House of Representatives Committe on Basic Education applauded the unprecedented achievements recorded in Basic Education in Gombe state. It went ahead to declare Gombe as a role model state for the development of basic education across the country. They specifically lauded the establishment of a Teacher’s Resource Centre at Kwami, and the development of the Alabura Model School at Kumbiya Kumbiya School. The Chairman of the Committee lauded the people the Governor is working with, tagging them ‘competent hands’. On another note, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council of the Federal Government, ranked Gombe state number 1, in a survey undertaken by the council. Gombe ranks first among states that have provided attractive environments that promote business growth in Nigeria. Gombe state has also launched its Industrial Park and the first phase has already flagged off, at a cost of 17 billion naira, covering a space of 347 hectares. The site is located at Dadin Kowa Dam and Hydro power plant, boasting of 40 Megawatts.
It was quite perplexing when I started seeing pieces, talking about Gombe state loans and it’s debt management situation; being a state I have lauded one too many times. So I set to work to find out the true situation of things regarding those loans. Through a cursory look at the financial situation of the state, I discovered that Gov. Inuwa Yahaya inherited a debt stock of 124 billion naira and an empty treasury. Some include a bond of 20 billion, with a tenure of 7 years, meant for infrastructure, with a monthly rental of 260.4 million, to expire in 2023. Another is a bond of 11 billion, a tenure of 20 years, meant for salaries, which expires in 2035 — and was grossly misapplied by the previous administration, leaving out 2014 – 2019 gratuities to a tune of 14 billion unpaid. Another one is a bond of 17.5 billion, with a tenure of 30 years, a rental of 155 million, and expires in 2047. Foreign loans inherited amount to 33 million dollars, meant for various projects, with a monthly rental of 88 million. Gombe state govt pays a monthly 900.4 million to service the loans of the previous administration. Bonds worth 25 billion collected by the previous administration for infrastructure, were not utilised for the stated projects. Some include a mega motor park with 37% completion, School of nursing with 45% completion, GSUST Kumo on 40% completion and regional roads on 25% completion. All the projects initiated by the previous administration between 2012 to 2013, were not completed when they handed over in 2019. Between 2016 to 2019, the 11 LGAs had to borrow 1.3 billion to pay salaries. Gov. Inuwa Yahaya’s govt. had to stabilise the finances of the LGs and are now able to pay their salaries as at when due. It is costing the state another 3 billion to complete the mega motor park.
The world economic downturn occasioned by the pandemic, the hyper inflation world over, and the devaluation of the naira have all weighed in on the finances of Gombe state — worsened by the very burdenous and misapplied/ mis-spent loans. Its almost a miracle that the Governor is still trudging on with great developmental projects across the 114 wards in the state. The use of a very viable and expedient economic blueprint, to keep the state afloat and working, must be commended. Gov. Yahaya was elected with the highest ever votes recorded in the history of the state. Such a very popularly elected governor has no choice but to deliver to his people. He would have no time for profligacy, and end up without tangible projects for all to see. And in this case, we are witnesses to a very committed and purposeful leader. No matter what his detractors say or do, it is in Inuwa Yahaya to succeed and pass out with flying colors. The debts were accrued by them and they can only watch as he pays the debts, and completes his projects, as well as theirs!
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.