In one of his famous quotes, Simon Sinek says “Leadership is not about the next election; it is about the next generation.”
And in congruence with his inspirational words, leadership must take into account every aspect of societal growth, advancement and prosperity. This must be at the core of policy move so that the current generation will enjoy something worthwhile and pass same legacy to the next generation.
In today’s Nigeria where lip service is being paid to the very critical sectors, it can be very exciting to see a few state governors who are keen on channeling resources to projects that touch on the lives of the masses. Among his contemporaries, one governor appears to understand the very elements needed to ensure a greater future a lot better than anyone else. He is the Governor of Gombe state, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
It has been said time and again that no nation ever grows beyond what its education can deliver. Therefore, education is a critical area that every future-conscious leader must take seriously.
And His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo clearly understands this. Apart from his thorough understanding of this truth, he possesses enough discipline to stay committed to this cause.
I have often said that Dankwambo is an exceptional politician. He is cut from a totally different stock. For, despite how germane education is, how many of today’s governors pay the required attention to it? Indeed, funding education is certainly the most thankless job. You sink so much money into it, yet it appears as though one is attempting to empty the ocean with a tea cup… no end to spending. This is why anyone who values politics over and above the emancipation of the people prefers to do some cosmetic intervention.
Evidently, the distinguished achiever, Dankwambo, does not belong to this class of political tricksters. He stays focused on the priority areas based on his conviction that such must be taken seriously if we desire sustainable growth.
The crop of leaders that we have in our clime is such as may trick us into believing that governance is about serving self and wealth accumulation. But testimonies arising from even the staunch supporters of the ruling party indicate that there is a different captain in the northeast of Nigeria whose model of leadership can comfortably be replicated across the country and this rare gem is Dr. Dankwambo.
It is evident that before Dankwambo emerged on the scene as the helmsman in 2011, the state’s education sector was languishing at the nether region in terms of government’s funding and its corresponding delivery. And rather than enjoy funding and wide enrollment, what education in Gombe witnessed was unnecessary politicking and needless power play by the powers that be during the past regime. This critical sector was in comatose.
Similar to what obtained in other educationally disadvantaged areas of the country, teacher-pupil ratio was unmanageable. It was everything education should not be. For example, a Chemistry teacher had to contend with 49 students; a biology teacher took more than 500 students; Physics had one teacher taking 645 students, while English language had one teacher taking about 727 students. Mathematics had a more depressing statistics where a teacher had a population of 2,590 students to face. And one teacher took 3,653 students for Computer Studies. For anyone who was privileged to have attended a school with a reasonable compliance with the UNICEF’s recommendations on teacher-pupil ratio, the pre-Dankwambo education in Gombe was nothing but a disaster.
Today, Dankwambo has shown that he truly desires a thorough and workable education sector for the Gombe people. And to demonstrate how totally alarmed he was by what he met on ground, the governor promptly declared a state of emergency in the education sector. This led to a rapid restoration of best practices. Being a product of quality education himself, he understood that preparing our people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century requires the introduction of modern instructional facilities. He then wasted no time in acquiring and upgrading physical infrastructure needed to aid teaching and learning. And for the past seven years, he has not looked back in his drive to reposition Gombe as a reference point in quality education.
In Gombe lies a testament of massive intervention in primary, secondary and tertiary education sub-sector which remarkably positions the state as a hub for learning across the region. The administration of Dankwambo has recorded tremendous feats in education as over 553 classrooms were constructed and 316 renovated. And the state under Talban Gombe now has over 234 hostel blocks constructed while a total of 108 were renovated.
Similarly, he has constructed 251 toilet blocks and renovated 72 dilapidated ones. This has effectively put an end to open defecation and restored the dignity of our young scholars across the state. About 60 units of administrative blocks have also been constructed across the state’s secondary schools.
To boost science education, 90 new laboratories were constructed by the Dankwambo administration, while 24 were renovated. In the area of technical education, 32 workshops were constructed and six others were renovated. This is a good way to launch our children into the 21st Century challenges and opportunities. Similarly, 14 drawing studios were constructed and two renovated. Also worthy of note is the 100 low cost houses constructed for teachers who had hitherto been neglected by previous administrations.
The insightful governor has also constructed about 50 principals’ quarters, while about 20 others got facelifts. About 26 new libraries and computer laboratories were also constructed, while eight have been renovated. Over 5,072 3-seater and 5,000 2-seater desks were also procured and distributed across the state’s secondary schools. A total of 4,320 double-decker beds were also procured for the students’ hostels complete with 8,640 mattresses.
Dankwambo ensured that the new lease of life enjoyed by the young Gombe scholars did not elude the teachers. In fact, the governor, by his action, has demonstrated that teachers’ rewards are here on earth rather than in heaven.
Understanding the need to inject sustained incentives into school enrolment, the governor has defrayed examination fees for scores of Gombe students. The sum of N250,550,950 has been invested in the payment of fees for NECO/WAEC, NABTEB, NBAIS, etc., from 2011 to date.
Equally, about 2,921 graduates and NCE teachers were recruited together with 883 non-teaching junior staff. In the area of procurement of books and instructional materials, students’ exercise books worth N35,572,702 were procured in 2012, while textbooks and other instructional materials valued at N556,494,547 were also procured. This is a historic reinforcement of the concerted efforts being put into the education of the Gombe child.
Similarly, science equipment such as chemicals and reagents were provided for the state’s senior secondary schools at the sum of N210,693,420, while 2,327 units of computers were provided for schools in order to boost computer education.
In the higher education sector, he saw to the establishment of the College of Medical Sciences and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Gombe State University. Also, the College of Education in Billiri was established to strengthen teachers’ education and research. Other institutions of higher learning which are the initiatives of the Dankwambo-led administration include the School of Basic and Remedial Studies (SBRS), Kumo; College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Nafada, and the Gombe State Polytechnic, Bajoga, envisioned to strengthen technical education.
The Dankwambo administration has also upgraded the College of Health Sciences and Technology, Kaltungo, while the State University of Science and Technology, Kumo will start academic activities before the year runs out. The College of Accounting and Management Studies, and the College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry aimed at improving and consolidating agriculture as a strategy for diversifying the economy are in the pipeline.
Gombe state is also dreaming big with institutions like the Institute of Sports, as well as the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies being in the pipeline. Also on the card is the College of Hospitality and Transport Technology.
One interesting thing about the story of education under Dankwambo in the north-east axis and beyond is that there will never be an end to it, even long after he has left the stage. His is a template that can be replicated across our beloved country, Nigeria.
Kera, a communication strategist, writes from Kaduna