A lot has been said about the giant strides of Gombe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, (Phd,OON,Talban Gombe), since his assumption of office in 2011.
The mere fact that within a year of his ascendance, he had attended to the major needs of his people as pertains to social infrastructure, education, commerce and industry, health and otherwise, thrust him into the limelight and attracted so much plaudits from many who termed him “the green-horn of Gombe politics”.
This tag, though somewhat underrating, acted as a propellant for the committed chartered accountant to go the whole hog in bringing the dividends of good governance to his people, one which they had never known in the history of a state so young and greatly in need of development in all ramifications.
With the coming of Dankwambo in 2011 to date, there were three pivotal areas which the state government had tackled to bring about some sense of security and stability. The first was the threat of the errant Kalari youths which hung over the state like the sword of Damocles, threatening to destroy the moral fabric of the young and vulnerable in the state, as well as disrupt what little economic activity the state had going for it.
Also the need to provide gainful means of making a living for both the schooled and unschooled, while the third was to draw up an all-inclusive government that would cater to the every (by ‘every,’ this means in every way possible) need of the people.
On August 2, 2011, just in his third month in office, Dankwambo moved to better the lot of small-scale business owners in the state,as the first Governor in Nigeria out of 23 Governors to signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Bank of Industry, to the tune of N3billion.The scheme which saw soft loans delivered to cooperative societies and small scale business owners (farmers, miners,etc) was a public-private partnership set-up, which saw the state government commit a matching fund of half a billion (N500m) and the BOI do the same as the first batch.
In all, 99 cooperative societies and SMEs counted their blessings, reaping positively from the articulately thought-out scheme, all receiving between N5m and N8.5m, per cooperative society.
To ensure that these beneficiaries were kept in line and put the disbursed funds to good use, the state government set up a committee to this effect. So far, 39 beneficiaries have been visited and overseen, and in all, they have provided more than 1,380 new jobs. Undeniably, this has given the economy of the state a boost – in terms of gross domestic products. This committee has postulated that by the time all 99 beneficiaries have visited, more than 3,193 direct jobs will be up for grabs, while another 6,000 will be indirectly created.
These emerging industries which include fertilizer blending, groundnut oil processing, rice processing, poultry farming, fish feeds processing,, tomato processing, cosmetics processing,, aluminum long-span roofing sheets’ manufacturing, printing, metal fabrication, furniture-making, concrete block-making, and the likes, all located within the Nasarawo-Bogo New Industrial Cluster Site. All these had added value to the domestic economy.
Moreso, the establishment of this cluster site, will help build up Nigeria’s drive to enthrone a degree of competitiveness amongst her industries, light up thousands of business clusters within the different states of the nation and, thus, spread the gospel of cluster forming amongst African nations.
The industries which exist alongside their various skill acquisition centres, will guarantee a principle of continuity and multiplicity in the long-run, besides being a means of pulling young people off the streets.
In the long-run, also, the programme will attract micro-finance and mainstream banks to these entrepreneurs in the state, all wishing to invest in a burgeoning dream. This imagination can only fail the faint-hearted. Moreso, having seen the need to help the state develop her undying urge to shake off her tag of ‘underdeveloped state,’ forefront ministries like those of water resources, rural development, works and housing, trades and investment (and others) will besiege the state, in order to be a part of the dream which will fast snow-ball and propel the state into an economic hub of huge proportions.
There is no doubt that these small beginnings which many have overlooked. In addition, though, it will not bode well for one to appear too delusional: plans are underway for huge campaigns to encourage and prompt the people in the state and all over Nigeria to buy these made-in-Nigeria goods, in order to encourage these hard-working small-scale entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and come to the realisation that all the months of hard work and commitment invested therein will not come to naught.
Also, as much as we might love to celebrate the unification of all SMEs in this cluster, some of them – the mechanics, timber processors and metal fabricators – are still scattered in the state but not anymore through the initiative of Dr Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
The people shall forever continue to remember the architect of new Gombe state of their dream, Talban Gombe weldone.
Junaidu Usman Abubakar writes from Gombe