By Yakubu Bayambe
Throughout human history, the concept of development- whether social, economic or infrastructural- has been a subject of intense debate and interest, especially in our clime. Since the return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999, the country has witnessed several attempts by successive administrations aimed at short, medium and long term social, economic and infrastructural development. But whether these efforts towards repositioning the country for optimal performance, and more importantly to the benefit of Nigerians is anything to write home is entirely a topic for another day. However the overwhelming election of Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya as Governor of Gombe State in 2019, leaves no one in doubt of his capacity to immediately but effectively turn around the fortunes of the State for the overall good of all, more so that his incredible performance as the Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development during the then administration of Danjuma Goje further gives credence to his administrative acumen and leadership sagacity. At the onset of his administration, the policy concepts and direction of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya were clear, realistic and multi disciplinary; given the wide range of consultations through committees made up of seasoned technocrats to discern on what must constitute the immediate and long term developmental needs of the people.
To begin with, the Governor, through the submissions made by the various committees set up by him declared a State of emergency on the Education sector to redeem the ailing sector considered to be the life wire of any meaningful human progress. Irked by the sorry state of the sector on assumption into office, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya had while addressing an enlarged stakeholders meeting to articulate his sweeping reforms on Education made the following remarks: “When we came into office on May 29, 2019, I made it categorically clear that the present state of the Education sector in Gombe State was totally unacceptable. We met and Education system that was ravaged by inadequate and decayed infrastructure, large number of out of School children, absence of instructional materials and basic facilities as well as a teaching workforce that was poorly trained and ill- motivated.
For years Gombe State continued to sit at the bottom of the National Education ranking like the National Common Entrance Examination the WAEC or NECO. Through concerted effort we declared a State of Emergency in the education sector and deployed a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with our educational challenges. On one hand we rolled out the Better Education Service Delivery for All, BESDA project in order to mop up out of School children and increase basic literacy and numeracy on the other hand, we ramped up investment in school infrastructure by renovating over four hundred schools through the effort of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB in conjunction with the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC. Our administration understands that there will be no improvement in education outcome without commensurate improvement in the quality and capacity of our teaching staff. It is in this regard that we set up the Teachers Resource Centre at Kwami which is the first of its kind in the North East sub-region. The Centre will help in training, retraining and upgrading the capacity of our Teachers for effective learning and better service delivery”. The above remarks by Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya Summed up and further reinforced his nine (9) point campaign promises for the Education sector which are as follows: Increase budgetary allocation to the sector to enhance learning outcome; vigorously implement the policy of free and compulsory Universal Basic Education; Pursue a comprehensive teacher training and retraining programme for effective service delivery and enhance the welfare of teachers through prompt payment of salaries and improve allowances.
Others are provide critical learning facilities and equipment in all Primary and Secondary schools in the State; strengthening guidance, counselling and mentoring units in schools; Improve and ensure regular payment of students bursary allowances to indigenous students of tertiary institutions; Significantly increase funding to the two State Universities and other State owned tertiary institutions and Increase access to and judicious utilisation of educational funding from Federal Agencies, International Donors and NGOs. The mid term score card of Governor Inuwa Yahaya reveals that of these campaign promises for the Education sector, his administration was able to fully deliver five while the remaining four are ongoing, with appreciable progress. For instance on teachers training which is sine quo non to effective teaching and learning, the administration of Governor Inuwa Yahaya has established a state-of-the- art Teacher Resource Centre in Kwami which is currently providing regular comprehensive training of teachers across the State.
On free and compulsory education, the Gombe State Government through the Better Education Service Delivery for All BESDA has since mopped up over three hundred thousand out of School children and established 676 non-formal girl- child and Almajiri learning centres. Furthermore, the Gombe State Government under the leadership of Governor Inuwa Yahaya constructed/renovated and fully equipped 584 classrooms in 156 schools across the State, it equally provided over 30, 000 students with furnitures in various schools and informal learning centres. The Government also drilled boreholes and built VIP toilets in selected schools across the 11 Local Government Areas of the State, this is in addition to the systematic renovation and upgrade of five legacy schools to special schools. Similarly in the last few years of the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, the Education sector has seen an increase in budgetary allocation by more than 50%. This has led to an improved learning outcome as evidenced in the rapid improvement in students performance especially in the 2020 and 2021 National Examinations. The payment of bursary to students of Gombe State origin was another area the Gombe State Government has been given adequate attention. To this day, the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has paid over one hundred and nineteen million in students bursary and still counting.
Today the Education sector in Gombe State has substantially been revamped as indicators now show a considerable increase in School enrollment, literacy, numeracy and positive learning outcomes. For the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, the mid-term score card is an expose of his campaign promises and whether or otherwise the Governor has been able to work the talk. For keen observers and ardent followers of the Governor’s policies and programmes in the State, particularly those who are previledged to peruse through his Mid-Term report, his performance is nothing short of a credit mark.