The war of words between incumbent Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya and his predecessor, Dr. Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo over governance and leadership in the state has taken a turn for the worse. This follows the arrest, detention and incarceration of a chieftain of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state
Mallam Khalid Mu’azu Iala, who seems to be the latest victim to be caught in the middle of the crossfire between the incumbent and his predecessor, is intriguingly the Assistant Public Relations Officer for Gombe Municipal Local Government Area chapter of PDP, Dankwambo`s council. Izala`s arrest and brief detention in police custody came after a sudden court appearance before he was eventually sent to Gombe Correctional Centre. The Guardian gathered that the PDP official was charged to court after he condemned the policies of Governor Yahaya and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state for being thoroughly undemocratic and anti-people.
The state chapter of PDP accused the governor of targeting members of the opposition to frighten them away from exposing his underperformance and poor leadership skills, stressing that Izala’s arrest was purely an act of political vendetta.
The opposition party disclosed that before Izala’s recent travails, Governor Yahaya’s goons had also arrested two of their members, including Adamu Babale Makera, a former councillor and Atiku Boza-Boza, a former personal assistant to Governor Dankwambo in a bid to quell growing complaint of poor governance in Gombe State.
FEATHERS were ruffled recently between the two leaders, Yahaya and Dankwambo, shortly after the incumbent announced that his administration was already in the process of taking some government officials in previous administration to court for allegedly carting away what belongs to the people of the state.
While insisting that it was a resolve he had taken and would not go back on it, Governor Yahaya raised the volume of his tirade against the preceding administration of Dankwambo by decrying “the deliberate recklessness and abandonment of government property” by the immediate past government. Yahaya, who made the remarks while inspecting five refurbished fire fighting machines and five other utility vehicles at the Gombe Fire Service, regretted that the equipment were left to rot away even when the government was supposed to properly maintain what was entrusted in its care by Gombe people.
The governor further accused Dankwambo of poor deployment of state resources, stressing that his predecessor encouraged waste. Yahaya spoke during an unscheduled visit to the premises of the uncompleted Mega Park project, which was initiated by the former administration in 2012.
The governor said his administration would not spare his predecessor for what he called the collateral damage to the lean financial resources of Gombe State, noting, “water passing through this building has caused a lot of havoc to the College of Education nearby and that school is very dear to us. Today, it has close to 10,000 students.
“This project was supposed to cost N6.2 billion; it started in 2012 and was supposed to last 28 months. It should have been completed in 2014, but they abandoned it. About N3 billion had been paid; there are certified works worth N420 million and records have not been found.”
Yahaya, who took over from the PDP administration of Dankwambo, regretted that more than N3 billion was not only wasted on the project, but it also caused havoc to the environment. While vowing to “hold whoever decided to put these structures in place responsible and liable for whatever happens to us,” the governor directed contractors and consultants handling the project to return to site. He urged them to be guided by all the protocols of professional development and control.
Stung by these allegations and threats of legal action against him, Dankwambo called out his successor, saying that Governor Yahaya was trying to frame excuses for his leadership inadequacies instead of humbly approaching him to take “tutorials on good governance.”
The former governor, who was also a former Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), noted that the “most important qualities of a good leader include empathy, humility, vision, accountability and ability to manage diversity.”
He maintained that since government is a continuum, the responsibility to complete the stalled Gombe Mega Park project lies squarely at the doorsteps of the incumbent administration of Governor Yahaya.”
Taking to his Twitter handle, Dankwambo stated: “The current governor of Gombe has power to do whatsoever he wants to do. I have been there for eight years and I’m tired of his propaganda against me. How can someone say because a project is uncompleted, it is wasted? The governor is not a polished man.
“(This) APC government needs to stop the blame game and focus on governance. You can’t promise the people Eldorado and still be governing with propaganda because you are unable to deliver on your false promises to them.
“I have done my bit as governor of Gombe State. It is time for the current governor to deliver on his promises to the people. This park was primarily conceived to checkmate the activities of Boko Haram, as there was a need then to have a centralised park.”
FROM their spat over project statuses and governance styles, Governor Yahaya and his predecessor clashed again over the detention and trial of PDP spokesman of Dankwambo’s local council chapter.
Incensed by the arrest and intimidation of Izala, the former governor wasted no time to register his displeasure on his Twitter handle: “I condemn the arrest and detention of Khalid Muazu Izala, the spokesperson for our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe LGA, Gombe State, for criticising the policies and programmes of the current governor.”
Dankwambo maintained that the PDP local government spokesperson’s detention was unconstitutional, declaring, “freedom of speech is one of the building blocks of every democratic society. No Nigerian should be arrested or detained for exercising their constitutional rights. It is wrong and should be condemned by all and sundry.”
He further noted that the “current government of Gombe has zero idea what we did then to keep the people of Gombe safe. Time and resources were invested into this.”
But rising to Governor Yahaya’s defence, the state Commissioner for Information, Mallam Ibrahim Kwami, told The Guardian on phone that the attempt to link the governor with the matter of arrest and detention of Izala was in bad taste.
Kwami stated: “Neither the governor nor the state government has a hand in the case. Garba M. Mairago complained to the police that Khalid M. Izala defamed him; the police investigated and arraigned Izala before a competent court.”
The Information commissioner explained that although Izala’s defence counsel applied for bail, the police opposed the application, noting that while the court adjourned, Khaid Izala was remanded pending the ruling.
“Mairago, the police, the defence counsel and the court all acted within their rights and powers,” Kwami said. “Does it mean that just because Mairago is of the APC and Izala is of the PDP, he (Mairago) has no right to complain against the breach of the law that affects him?
“Or that the police has no right to arraign the culprit just because he belongs to an opposition party? If they have any grudges against any of the legal steps taken by any of the actors, they should be knowledgeable enough to identify what legal action to take. The governor has no hand in this. That’s why they couldn’t categorically say what he did or what role he played.”
Also, a member of APC in the state, Rabiu Adamu, faulted Dankwambo’s stance on the matter, stressing that the former governor’s position on Izala’s detention directly makes Governor Yahaya complicit in his ordeals, when in actual fact no one mentioned the incumbent governor during the court sitting.
“The name mentioned was someone who works with him (Governor Yahaya) during campaign and part of his government,” Adamu remarked, explaining that it was not possible that the governor instigated Mairago to involve the police.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that shortly after the war of words between Governor Yahaya and Damkwambo broke out, particularly the threat to prosecute members of the last administration, overzealous youth in their camps decided to take matters into their hands to demonstrate their loyalty. It would be recalled that despite surviving President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 Tsunami that swept out most PDP governments in the north, Gombe PDP lost the 2019 governorship to APC.
While some PDP faithful in Gombe blame the confusion-laden governorship primary that produced Senator Usman Bayero Nafada for the party’s loss in the 2019 elections, the APC administration of Governor Yahaya continued to attack the eight years of PDP under his predecessor.