By Umar Yusuf
BY all definitions, leadership ability is not acquired by chance but out of a conscious and sustained effort for the purpose of building a better and developed society.
The qualities of sound leadership are as clearly visible as the negative antecedents and mediocrity of political jobbers that populate Nigeria’s political space. Nigerians have since independence complained because most public office holders lacked true leadership qualities.
So, I was genuinely pleasantly surprised when I encountered the Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Talban Gombe. This is because for once in a long while, I saw a public office holder who exemplified the real attributes that define what sound leadership is all about in contemporary Nigeria.
First I discovered that in all his dealings, he has been able to distinguish himself by his academic, professional, public service and political careers. More remarkable is the fact that he had in the process, exceeded all expectations while shattering all known precedents and records set by his predecessors or peers, be it at the state, federal, regional or international level.
His distinguished career began from Coopers & Lybrand and continued at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, from where he was appointed the Gombe State Accountant- General. And on account of his unrelenting hard work, perseverance, dedication and commitment to duty as well as displaying the highest level of professionalism which translated to notable achievements, he has received numerous awards, laurels and commendations. So, it was not surprising that he was soon after appointed the Accountant- General of the Federation before he answered the call of his people to contest the 2011 gubernatorial election which he won to the joy of his numerous supporters.
Particularly worthy of note is the fact that Dankwambo’s commitment to excellence and exemplary performance is only matched by his honesty and sense of integrity. For instance, while most public office holders delight in looting the public till, Talban Gombe continued to demonstrate that he is not in that infamous category. And it is this trait which has endeared him to his peers, colleagues, underlings and political superiors alike.
As events continue to play out in the country, his watchword has remained strict neutrality and a rigid stance that did not favour many partisan interests. This adroit posture has earned him tremendous admiration and even grudging respect from all factions of the political class in Gombe State and beyond.
Having cut his teeth in turning around the Gombe State accounting system for the better, Dankwambo wasted precious little time in applying the same principles at the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation as he had successfully formulated viable policies and financial strategies that the financial system of the country is today relying on.
After this, his next port of call to serve humanity was nearer home, Gombe State, after he succumbed to his people’s pressure and agreed that it was time to change the prevailing status quo for the better. The Jewel of the Savannah was then in the grip of political godfathers, potentates and crown princes who regarded the state as their personal fiefdom and its resources to be squandered and apportioned as they and their acolytes and cronies thought fit.
Therefore, armed with his awesome credentials as a highly reputed and tremendously regarded public servant, Talba, had within days of being sworn in as the Executive Governor, kick-started a series of working visits across the state to see for himself the hitherto shambled and dilapidated government structures and abused public service system encapsulated by shady dealings, financial mismanagement and marginalisation of the majority by those who felt they owned the government and considered same as their personal estate by doing and undoing things to favour them to the detriment of the masses.
After properly diagnosing the state, Dankwambo had later come up with an 11-sector base committee of relevant professionals with terms of reference centred on formulating a working template and blueprint for the development of the state and rescuing the formerly abused public service. Consequently, following the submission of the various committees’ reports, Dankwambo swung into action and soon executed all the viable recommendations with preferential considerations to the education, health, agriculture, and infrastructural sectors of the state.
Today, under the stewardship of the Talban Gombe, the state has turned out to be the most developed and transformed in the whole of the North-Eastern zone as evidenced by numerous state-of-the-art infrastructure made possible by workable administrative policies and strategies. Indeed, a visitor to the state cannot help but notice that thousands of kilometres of roads have been constructed all over the state, including model primary and secondary schools in all the 11 local government areas of the state.
At the same time, old ones are fully renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. There have also been notable interventions to upgrade hospitals and other health-related facilities; farmers have also benefited from government interventions as they have been provided with subsidised fertiliser, tractors and other farm implements.
At the same time, tens of thousands of women and youths have been trained in different skills acquisition programmes and also provided with start-up capital. Indeed, the giant International Conference Centre, Petroleum Tankers Parking Bay, Gombe Mega Motor Park are projects that can only be found in Gombe State despite the lean resources at the disposal of the administration.
In fact, it bears repeating that Dankwambo has transformed Gombe State into the industrial and agrarian hub of the North-East zone, a position that it enviably occupied in the past. In the process, he has changed the infrastructural, developmental, industrial and manufacturing landscape of the state for the better while drastically reducing its poverty, maternal and child mortality rates.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that many political activists, leaders of thought and influential pundits have called on Dankwambo to throw his hat in the ring by declaring his interest in the presidential contest so that Nigerians will have the opportunity of reaping the countless democratic dividends that he has been rendering to Gombe State and its people.
*Mr. Yusuf, a political analyst, wrote from Damaturu,Gombe State.