The Oasis Reporters
May 15, 2019
There is currently a piece of writing in circulation online, titled: Highlights of the major findings of Gombe Transition Committee are summarized below”.
A cursory look would have precipitated the thought of ignoring it since it was more of cherry picking obviously the wrong templates and trying to hang issues not based on facts on the current outgoing PDP administration that has served Gombe State superlatively. Although it is noted that the drafters of the document were careful to give the impression that no particular government is being targeted, but rather a stock taking of where Gombe State is, and where the incoming administration should take it to was the primary consideration.
In spite of the lofty and seemingly noble intentions of the said document in circulation, it has become necessary to correct a few facts that are obviously well crafted as an attempt to blindfold and mislead the general public.
Taking a look at the first item in the write up, it says “1) Huge interest-bearing debts compared to the State revenue profile. The estimated debt profile of the State as at 31 December 2018 stood at N153.12 billion”.
A keen analyst must be interested in digging deeper to find out how that outlandish figure of an “estimated” debt figure came to be.
Did the gentlemen and ladies that possibly drafted the document make any attempt at conducting due diligence before coming out with their entertaining write up ?
Why would the committee need to come up with an “estimated” debt figure when with a click of the mouse, they can view and copy debt profiles of any state government they want from respected organizations like the Debt Management Office, DMO, NBS and BudgIT ?
Well, for the benefit of the general public and the members of the Gombe State Transition Committee, it is worthy to note the fact that unlike a majority of the states, Gombe State has some of the lowest external debt growth rates in the country.
Presently, the external debt is put at about 3.57% which is a good sign of prudent management when compared to that of Abia state ranking at about 145.79% or Enugu State with about 80.88%.
Gombe State’s debt profile is indeed puny compared to that of other states like Osun with 36.79%, Rivers with 38.36%, Taraba with 21.12% and Niger with 25.30%.
The difference surely speaks for itself.
What this means is that unlike other states where external debt stocks are expended at a higher rate than they are growing internally generated revenues, the percentage of IGR in Gombe State is of an exceedingly greater ratio than that of its debt.
79.9% IGR compared to 3.7% external debt status is not only healthy for Gombe but, in comparison with many other states is a sign of the economic management skills of the government of Gombe State that will surely leave office come May 29, 2019.
One of the high points for which Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe state would definitely be remembered after May 29, 2019 is his outstanding prudence and determination to make the state economically independent and buoyant.
Since he assumed the mantle of leadership, Dankwambo has worked very hard in the area of revenue generation while also ensuring that the debt profile he inherited was reduced drastically to a manageable level.
As an accountant of no mean repute, he has over these years exhibited strong erudition in the various economic policies he introduced, leading to a huge leap in the internally generated revenue of the state.
It is thus a huge misjudgment when attempts are made by detractors to unwittingly or deliberately accuse this very prudent and economically savvy governor of plunging the state into debt or not generating enough revenue for the state.
The question is: where did they get their misleading statistics from? The speculation that Gombe state’s external debt profile is one of the highest in the country is preposterous and must be understood as the machination of some unscrupulous elements trying to trivialize the developmental projects and economic renaissance initiatives undertaken by Dr. Dankwambo, a man renowned nationally for his financial acumen.
In eight years with barely two weeks to round up, he has turned Gombe State into a land of economic promise and has revolutionized the state’s revenue generating machine to the extent of transforming a zero income profile when he came in, to one that by 2017 was confirmed by reputable financial institutions, including statistics bureaus, as one having an impressive monthly IGR portfolio running into hundreds of millions.
This reality is known to all people of conscience as the state is fast becoming an investment viable entity; a landlocked area transforming into a well spinning of resource and good fortunes.
Against this backdrop, it must be stated in clear terms that Gombe State has maintained a clean sheet of outstanding financial records pointing to steady economic progress.
In reality, it would be unfair to compare the financial base of Gombe State which currently has 11 LGA and does not enjoy as much funds accruable from the nation’s oil wealth as enjoyed by oil rich states such as Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom or the kind of economic advantages enjoyed by buoyant states like highly industrialized Lagos, a former Federal Capital Territory.
Despite its economic disadvantages however, Gombe remains unbowed, creating an oasis of revenue generation in the Savannah.
Furthermore and by recent ratings, Gombe’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is at 79.24% when compared to Ogun state whose IGR growth rate is 2.54% or oil rich Rivers State’s 4.92%.
In the North, Gombe ranks among the states with the highest IGR percentage, compared to Kaduna with 55.59%, Katsina with 8.73%, Kogi with 17.51%, Kwara with 13.82%, Yobe with 11.02%, Zamfara with 26.10% and Niger with 10.82%.
Even Lagos, with all its industrial and cosmopolitan might has an average of 10.43%! So it is unimaginable that anyone would begrudge so maliciously a State like Gombe which despite its peculiarities and limitations has an IGR profile of almost 80%.
Again, the above statistics are impeccable because they are sourced from independent and reputable organs.
All the other points raised by the Committee are so wishy washy and speculative that they actually deserve no response.
Ordinarily, how would one address the allegation of perceived “inefficiencies in the State Board of Internal Revenue generation capabilities e.g., non-compliance with the Regulation on issuance and custody of revenue receipts, as well as, multiplicity of bank accounts” when the State is primus inter pares in the entire north as it concerns revenue generation and accountability?