IS THE “INNOVATION” WORKING FOR YOBE?
When governor Gaidam decided to build a cargo airport in Damaturu many criticized the project as a misplaced priority simply because the Maiduguri International airport is just 130km away from Damaturu the Yobe state capital. Today however the need for the airport is becoming increasingly desirable in the light of the Boko Harm insurgency that has turned the Maiduguri – Damaturu road a heaven for their activities.
Visitors to Yobe now fly either to Bauchi, Gombe or Jigawa and drive a distance twice the difference between Maiduguri and Damaturu to reach their destinations in Yobe.
When Yobe was created on the 27th of August 1991 it was one of the most backward part of the former Borno with a great deficit of infrastructure. I can still recall how we commuted between Maiduguri and Damaturu because there was no infrastructure to readily cater for the emJigawa state bureaucracy.
Twenty Nine years (29) since the state was created it is still lagging among the states they were created together. Under development, mass poverty, high illiteracy and mortality rate, and deficit of infrastructure is still pulling down the developmental efforts of the state.
Previous governments have tried to move the state forward but their efforts were stonewalled by one exigency or the other. Late Governor Mamman Ali saw the problem and was about to implement his vision for the state but death came calling and that deprived the state of someone who could have laid a foundation for growth of the state.
Governor Gaidam tried to carry on with vision but was distracted by the Boko Haram insurgency and bitter politics
When Buni took over power in 2019 with his sophistication, exposure and good temperament brought some kind of hope and rekindled the feeling the state now has a leader who has the vision and confrontment to change the way things are done. Despite this, I had my initial fears because of the populist way Buni ascended to power. Being everyone’s governor there was the fear he may be distracted by blind following and exuberance of power. But so far he has shown some exemplary leadership and my fears are beginning to wane.
I am particularly impressed with his approach to leadership. He earned my respect when on assumption to duty he gathered experienced technocrats in respective of their party affiliations to come up with a blueprint on issues that are central to the developmental needs of the state.
When HE began to gradually unfold his plan for the state you can feel the positivity and the vision a situation the state lacked. To avoid the trap that stalled the success of his predecessors, Buni adopted Continuity, Consolidation and Innovation as the policy thrust of his administration. Fascinated by this catch words, what caught my attention was the key word “innovation” he intends to bring to the administration of a state that is generally agrarian . This fueled my curiosity to became an avid follower of his programs
In the one and half years or so since Buni Administration started the government has awarded several contracts that touched lives of the people from the mundane construction of houses, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, Road construction and social safety net programs for the IDP and the indigent.
Curiously after reviewing the programs, the question I asked, where is the ‘’innovations” in all these? For someone who does not know Yobe you may not see the difference in what is going on but some things stood out that underlines the vision of the governor for the state.
Firstly, I started by exposing how backward Yobe was in every human development indices when the state was curved from the former Borno. The reason was to expose how the development policy of the past administrations were concentrated only the state capitals thereby depriving the other parts of the state meaningful development. Buni knew this and the innovation he introduced is spread of developmental projects equally among the other centers of the state. A cursory look of the 58 contracts he has so far awarded reflects the outlook of his administration as the peoples governor.
Secondly, Buni knew the state can not sustain the over dependence of the both elite and citizens on meagre resources the state collects as it’s share from the federation account. The innovation he introduced here is to free the state from over dependence on federal allocation. To achieve this he embarked on the industrialization of the state and at the time opening the commercial base of the state through the development ultra modern markets and other revenue generating ventures.
As a consequence of this the government has since activated and upgraded the Yobe fertilizer blending plant, aluminum roofing company, flour mills, the sack making company and the Nguru oil which my sources have confirmed is also receiving attention.
Damaturu, the state capital will soon boast of an ultra central modern market 29years after the state was created. Yobe is the only state in Nigeria, which the capital has no central market. Damuturu still relies on the local market that opens for only a day in the week. The governor did not stop there but he is also building similar markets in Gashua, Nguru, Potiskum Gaidam and Buni the most cosmopolitan settlements in the state
Another well thought out program is the construction of a comprehensive long Truck garage at Potiskum equipped with modern hotel and service centre. Any visitor to Potiskum can confirm it is the hub for all long truck vehicles from all parts of the country, the revenue this may generate would be awesome.
Another significant innovation introduced to the system is changing the way government conducts its business. As a ‘’young man” Buni knew there is a generational gap in the machinery of the state administration and for him to avoid the system becoming a clog in his desire to perform. He has to tinker with the machinery of the government without rocking the boat. His blending of the old brigade with those of his peers to bridge the generational gap to get things done shows how well prepared he is for the state administration.
Finally, when I started this discourse I deliberately referred to the cargo airport Gaidam started for the state which many saw as means of siphoning the state resources. But now with the benefit hindsight, people can see how within a short time something that was thought frivolous could become significant. It is gratifying that Buni has adopted as his policy thrust the concept of continuity and consolidation of his predecessor’s program. The community should learn from this, that is how great leaders build their societies.
We, therefore, urge His leniency to continue with his visionary views by continuing with the development of the Cargo Airport so that the project does not become a white elephant and a drain pipe of the state resources.
Recently, I travelled to Calabar on the ‘Ibom Air” an airline owned by the Akwa Ibom government very efficient and profitable. While flying the carrier the only thought that came mind was for Yobe state to understudy the carrier so that Yobe could become the regional hub for the North East and also serve as a gateway for air travellers to the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and by extension to other West African countries. By this also the strategic and economic reasons for building cargo airport would be achieved.
Your Excellency this is done you have the time and the connection for this to work out. You may have noises along the way but that how great leaders develop their society. Even me that I am singing your virtues today will criticize you when I see some lapses in the way you are governing us.
The way things are going, you may not need to come out to campaign in the second term as are you proving to be the governor for all in both actions and deeds.
While we applaud the way Your Excellency is opening other parts of the state, we urge you to begin modernizing Damaturu with modern infrastructures that would make it a befitting capital we envy when we visits sister states.
Lest I forget, permit me to acknowledge the great work you are doing for the APC nationally as well.