My dear people of Gombe State
2. All praises be to Allah (SWT) for sparing our lives to witness yet another milestone in the life of this administration. With a strong sense of accomplishment, today we are celebrating our second year in office which marks the end of the first half of the four-year mandate. The mid-term is an ideal period to reflect on our journey towards building a better Gombe State for all of us. It therefore becomes highly imperative to give a short account of our stewardship.
3. You may wish to recall that when we took over government on the 29th of May 2019, we inherited a myriad of challenges such as huge debt burden of over 120 billion Naira, dilapidated educational and health infrastructure, an ill-motivated and dysfunctional civil service and neglect of our rural areas and low-income neighbourhoods amongst others. As we were settling to tackle these challenges, the advent of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent lock down that followed led to severe health, economic and social impacts globally thereby plunging the country into a deep economic recession with devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods of the people. However, with your prayers, support, cooperation and understanding, these unprecedented disruptions did not daunt us from our determination to deliver on our campaign promises.
4. Over the last two years, our administration has taken bold steps to address the pressing developmental challenges facing our dear state. You may recall that in my inaugural address, I pledged to do my utmost best to achieve all the goals outlined in our manifesto. Thanks to Almighty Allah that within 2 years we have been able to keep to these promises and did even more.
5. We pursued an all-inclusive, needs-driven developmental approach which enabled us to make significant progress in our quest to improve the health delivery system, basic education, environmental sustainability, rural development, urban renewal and institutional reforms while ensuring the security and safety of lives and property of our people. Today, the results are evidently clear for everyone to see.
6. Our administration has proved to be a break from the past, progressively moving from a culture of administrative recklessness, financial mismanagement and political apathy to that of prudence, accountability and responsibility. In keeping to our promise to institutionalize accountability, we have empowered the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to deliver on its mandate, enacted and signed into Law the Public Procurement Act, introduced Treasury Single Account and established the Bureau for Public Service reforms which facilitated the introduction of Biometric attendance and facial recognition system for the public service thereby tackling the ghost worker syndrome and its attendant consequential effects squarely.
7. These reforms have started yielding positive results as evidenced by the state’s excellent performance in the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme thereby attracting over 14 million USD reward for the State from the World Bank. Furthermore, we have successfully improved our Internal Revenue Generation by 25% in 2020 fiscal year and by 62% in first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter in 2020. Equally, we have strived to reduce the inherited liabilities by paying off gratuity and pension arrears to the tune of about 2.4 billion Naira thus committing an average of 100 million monthly out of the 14 billion inherited from the immediate past administration.
8. During the electioneering campaigns, we promised to revamp the education sector through increased budgetary allocation and the provision of critical learning facilities and equipment in all basic and post-basic schools. Upon assuming office, we declared a state of emergency in the education sector and consistently increased the capital allocation to the sector by over 60% in 2020 and 2021. This has translated into the construction, renovation and equipping of 584 classrooms in 156 schools across the state. Equally, over 30,000 units of classroom furniture have been provided to various schools and informal learning centres. This is in addition to the provision of sporting facilities, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, laboratory equipment and assorted instructional materials. We have mopped up over 300,000 out-of-school children and established 676 non-formal girl-child and Almajiri learning centres through the Better Education and Service Delivery for All project (BESDA).
9. We have designated 5 legacy secondary schools – GGSSS Doma, GSSS Gombe, GSSS Kaltungo, GSS Dukku and GCSS Dadin Kowa as Special Schools in order to deliver qualitative post basic education to our children. These institutions are undergoing thorough upgrading so as to provide the conducive atmosphere necessary for learning. In addition, all other senior boarding schools will be improved and a secondary school’s management board will soon be established to ensure their effective management.
10. In order to ensure our teachers are adequately trained, we established the Teacher Resource Center Kwami for continuous professional development. The center is fully equipped with modern facilities including a 145-bed accommodation for trainees, a conference hall and an ICT Laboratory amongst others. Evidently, these bold initiatives have started yielding results with a resultant increase of 4.4% in the performance of our students in senior school examinations (WAEC) from 22.4% in 2019 to 26.8% in 2020 for candidates that obtained the minimum of 5 credits including Mathematics and English.
11. In order to ensure a healthy and productive citizenry, we adopted a holistic approach to health system revitalization over the last 2 years. In that regards, one (1) primary health care centre in each of the 114 wards has been thoroughly renovated and provided with basic equipment, solar power and borehole so as to render 24-hour service to the people at the grassroot level. At the secondary level, the specialist hospital Gombe has been upgraded to a modern health facility that has led to its full accreditation by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) so as to train intern doctors. In order to improve access to specialist health services, plans have reached advanced stage to upgrade 1 general hospital in each of the senatorial districts namely General Hospitals Bajoga, Kumo and Kaltungo. We also established the Hospitals Services Management Board to ensure effective management of our hospitals.
12. While we worked to improve physical accessibility to health services, we equally established the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth) in order to reduce financial barriers to accessing essential health care. GoHealth has so far enrolled over 25,000 poor and vulnerable persons under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund so as to enjoy free access to basic health services.
13. Despite the weaknesses we inherited in our public health system which were compounded by the covid-19 pandemic, we mounted one of the best response strategies in the country against the virus. We established a modern molecular diagnostic laboratory and an Intensive Care Unit in the Specialist Hospital and strategically provided isolation centres for the management of infected persons. In order to cushion the economic effect of the pandemic, we procured and distributed over 750 million Naira worth of palliatives to about 100,000 vulnerable households across the state.
14. In fulfilment of our ambitious and strategic goal of providing critical infrastructure, we have constructed over 350 KM of roads network under our Network 11-100 initiative that aims to construct at least 100 KM of roads in each of the 11 LGAs. Similarly, arrangements have been concluded for the take-off of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) in collaboration with the federal ministries of Finance and Agriculture to further open up our rural communities.
15. The Gombe regional water supply scheme which suffered years of neglect under the immediate past administration has been resuscitated leading to the restoration of regular supply of about 50 million liters of water daily to the metropolis and its environs. Similarly, in order to enhance water supply to remote communities, over 300 boreholes were drilled across all the 11 LGAs by the Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA).
16. In our quest to take advantage of our unique geographical position and existing opportunities around us, arrangements have been concluded for the take-off of the 1,000 ha Muhammadu Buhari Industrial park at Dadin Kowa, home to the 40 MW hydroelectric power plant and huge irrigation potentials that our State is endowed with. This will attract local and international investment, create jobs to our teeming youth and boost our state’s economy and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
17. Our resolve to combat environmental degradation has put the state on the path of environmental sustainability. Thanks to our ambitious Gombe Goes Green (3G) project that aims to plant 4m trees in 4 years through woodlot and shelter belt establishments, roadside planting as well as social forestry. Similarly, we have commenced the replacement of all diesel-powered street lighting system with the more efficient and environmentally friendly solar powered system. These initiatives have made Gombe to become a household name in environmental protection and climate change mitigation. In the same vein, our partnership with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) has resulted in the construction of the 2.5 KM GSU – Mallam Inna – Kagarawal monstrous gully. The Federal College of Education (FCE) and four other major gully sites in Gombe metropolis will follow suit soon Insha’Allah.
18. Agriculture continues to play a vital role in our socio-economic development, being the major source of livelihood for the majority of our people. Our administration was able to ramp up support to our farmers through timely supply of fertilizer, seedlings and other farm inputs. We have also revitalized farm service centers across the state to promote extension services and provide agricultural support to farmers. Similarly, we launched the cooperatives reactivation project in order to enhance opportunities for our people to access support such as the anchor borrower programme, soft loans and other initiatives of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN). In our bid to support livestock farmers, we have procured and distributed ruminant feed, mineral licks and conducted annual livestock vaccination exercise in the last two years. Furthermore, we are working with the federal government to pilot the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) at the Wawa-Zange Grazing Reserve.
19. Gombe State had her own share of the prevailing insecurity in the country. However, we undertook proactive measures to curtail and restore peace and provided support to the affected communities. Let me at this juncture acknowledge the role played by the security agencies, traditional and religious leaders who worked tirelessly to restore and maintain law and order in our state. We shall continue to support them in order to guard our cherished peace and stability.
20. Our resolve to place Gombe State on a sustainable development trajectory through mainstreaming long-term visioning and planning in governance has led to the preparation and launching of the 10-Year Gombe State Development Plan (DEVAGOM 2021-2030) which is fully aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. DEVAGOM will henceforth form the basis for our medium-term sector strategy and annual budgeting processes.
21. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, going by what we achieved in the past two years together with your continuous support, we are now more determined and committed to build on the successes recorded. We shall embrace technology, harness new thinking as well as the energies of our youth to consolidate on these gains. We shall equally double our efforts to ensure security of lives and property, provide jobs and boost the skills and capabilities of our teeming youth. Equally, we shall empower our women folk and address the issues of the physically challenged persons in our communities.
22. Already, we have commenced work to establish the Gombe State Citizenship and Leadership Training Center in Boltongo and the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Training Center at Garin Tafida that will train not less than 3,000 of our youths annually on various skills and vocations. The re-capitalized Bubayero Microfinance Bank, will very soon begin the disbursement soft loans to our enterprising youth and women so as to enable them engage in small scale businesses.
23. I would like to commend the Gombe State House of Assembly and the State Judiciary for the harmonious working relationship we have been enjoying over the last two years. I would like to assure you that the existing cordial relationship shall be strengthened. Similarly, the role of our traditional rulers in conflict resolution and peace building is worthy of commendation. In that regards, we are working to revitalize our traditional institutions for them to play a better role in the development of our dear state.
24. We remain committed to executing meaningful projects such as the 2,500 affordable and social housing programme, provide our state with a state-of-the-art secretariat complex to house ministries, departments and agencies of government and upgrade the state assembly complex to a befitting status. With the database on unemployment that we have generated, we shall replace all vacancies to be created as a result of the ongoing biometric attendance exercise being implemented across the state in our commitment to providing equal opportunities for our unemployed youth.
25. While upholding the principles of accountability and transparency in governance, our government shall continue to faithfully deliver on all the promises we have made to the people before the end of our tenure Insha’Allah. We shall be responsive to the needs and yearnings of our citizens.
26. We remain grateful for your support and understanding and I would like to use this opportunity to restate our commitment to serve all our people to the best of our abilities with equity, fairness and justice.
27. Thank you for listening and may God bless you all!
Long Live Gombe State
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria