Segun Awofadeji writes that despite the worsening state of insecurity in the north-east region, Governor Inuwa Yahaya has turned Gombe to epicentre of peace and development
Three years on, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has taken effective measures to maintain the prevailing peace in the state, and also turn it to an epicentre of development despite the insecurity in the north-east region.
Gombe, popularly called the Jewel in the Savannah has been described as one of the most peaceful states in the country considering many critical security indices that placed the state high on the ranking.
This position was made clear in a report published by Eons Intelligence, a media organization and a strategic intelligence and advisory group which specializes in analysis of crimes, political, economic risk and opportunities in Nigeria.
The report analysed the crime incidences to include kidnapping, and other heinous crimes that result into death of people for the month of January, 2022. The report revealed that Niger State had the highest crimes rate in the country in the month under review with a total of 396 kidnap victims and 267 total death cases, followed by the North Western States of Zamfara and Kaduna respectively.
Also, recently, Gombe State was adjudged as the most peaceful state in the North-East by the forum of State Directors of Security ( SDS) after their meeting in Gombe. This is in addition to the fact that Gombe is the reigning number one state in the ease of doing business ranking in Nigeria.
Despite sharing borders with the insurgency-striken Northeastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, Gombe maintains a rather peaceful serenity where the state recorded zero death, and zero kidnapping incidences in recent times.
As paradoxical as it may sound, Director-General (Press Affairs), Government House Gombe, Ismaila Uba Misilli, told THISDAY in an interview that “this development is not a mere coincidence but a result of well planned security policies and strategies by Governor Yahaya administration. Recall that, during the 2019 campaigns, Inuwa Yahaya vowed to reduce crime rate to the barest minimum and mitigate security threats, thus guaranteeing the security of lives and property for all people of Gombe State”.
The Eons Intelligence’s report came at a time when Governor Yahaya flagged off the Gombe State Security, Traffic and Environmental Corps, GoSTEC Programme in which not fewer than 2,000 youth across the 11 local government areas of the State will be trained and engaged into various developmental activities including security where they will assist the statutory security outfits in the state.
His Interventions So Far
Before he came to power in 2019, the Governor vowed to reduce crime rate to the barest minimum and mitigate security threats, thus guaranteeing the security of lives and property of all people of Gombe State as was rightly captured in his campaign manifesto.
Therefore the creation of the Ministry of Internal Security and Ethical Orientation in September, 2019 was an attempt made to facilitate proper coordination of security affairs in the state. The ministry works hand-in-hand with all formal and informal security organizations for proper and effective security services.
In addition, the ministry trains youths to prepare them for possible recruitment into the military and para-military services at the national level.
Aware that majority of the people of Gombe State engage in agriculture, and there had been clashes between farmers and herders which claimed lives and properties, the Governor reconstituted Farmers-Herdsmen Prevention and Settlement of Disputes Committee at the state level and re-established same in all the 11 Local Government Areas of the state. This effort promoted understanding and peaceful co-existence between different communities in the state.
Another aspect where the state government got it right is Community involvement/participation in security matters. Here Governor Inuwa has succeeded in creating a strong platform where community and religious leaders participate in the formulation of security related policies and their implementation.
Community policing is part of the security framework that reflects community participation in security matters. Community security committees were put in place and were equipped with dedicated telephone lines for reporting security breaches by members of the public. This has helped security operatives to nib any infraction in the bud.
Importantly too, from the outset, the state government under the leadership of Governor Inuwa adopted dialogue as an effective strategy for settlement of communal disputes. It’s on record that in many instances, disputes on land, tribal or ethnic grounds in the state were settled through engagement of traditional and community leaders.
All security institutions require adequate funding to operate effectively. Huge amount of money is allotted every year to support security institutions. Police, Army, Civil Defence and other Security outfits are under Federal Government, but to consolidate on what the Federal Government is doing, Governor Yahaya always support the security agencies operating in Gombe state. Meanwhile other non formal organizations like vigilante are also supported in every way possible to ensure effective security service.
Also, worthy of note is the activities of restive youths and political thugs, popularly known as ‘Yan Kalare’ who are known for committing many atrocities and politically motivated violence have been posing a security threat.
Governor Yahaya believed that engaging youth will help in reducing violence and increasing human capital in the state. So, in line with this, the Governor Yahaya-led Administration has established a Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre at Boltongo of Yamaltu Deba Local Government Area for regular training of youth on early warning systems and quick response to security challenges.
Another thrust in that regard is the homegrown human capital development initiative of Governor Yahaya, the Gombe State Security, Traffic and Environmental Corps (G-STEC) which will engage over 2000 youth in the state. This is in addition to collaborative programmes with so many international and domestic development partners to establish training centers, provide technical support and facilities to the teeming youth in the state.
Community involvement, youth training and engagement, establishment and strengthening of security institutions and many more, with this integrated approach to security, the Governor was able to create a peaceful state where people live in peace and harmony with one another; a state that has become a model for others.
Historical memories have revealed that despite the highly sensitive and inflammable nature of religion in the country, the perception of the citizens of Gombe and by extension the entire State regarding religious tolerance is moderately liberal. This religious tolerance played out when the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in conjunction with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Gombe State chapter organised a two-day mega crusade tagged “Light Up Gombe”.
The peaceful atmosphere that enveloped the Crusade was not achieved overnight but through a long term systematic plan and processes engineered by Governor Yahaya. One of such strategies was the establishment of the Ministry of Internal Security and Ethical Orientation alongside other numerous physical and moral support aimed at boosting security network and apparatus in the state and guaranteeing peace, law and order.
Overtime, the idea of when, how and where to worship have brought about suspicion, acrimony and animosity especially between the two major faiths of Islam and Christianity in the state.
Indeed, the peaceful, harmonious and warm welcoming atmosphere that greeted the two- day crusade was infact incredible and an indication that Nigerians can co-habit together irrespective of their religious affiliations.
At a public function recently in Abuja, Governor Yahaya spoke on how his administration has taken effective measures to maintain the prevailing peace in the state.
The governor who bagged the Security Ambassador of Nigeria award at the event, had said, “We thank God for helping us as far as the issue of security is concerned. We are in the midst of the north-east, sharing borders with the frontline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. So, we’ve tried as much as possible to manage security in Gombe state. We are happy and by the grace of God, we shall try to sustain that.
“In addition to the novel ministry of internal security and ethical orientation which we set up on coming on board in 2019, we have security management committees in place, comprising traditional rulers from the ward, to districts, emirates and chiefdoms, up to the state level. Therefore, we share information and manage whatever decision we take, and whenever there is an issue, we nip it in the bud without allowing it to get to an alarming level.”
The unrelenting effort of the Gombe State Government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya towards maintaining peace and tranquility in the State has once again paid off and reinforced the much taunted Gombe as a cosmopolitan state where all men and women of goodwill, good conscience are welcome for the social, economic and spiritual benefits of all.