NIGERIA: Local council, issues as Gombe goes to polls

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SHOULD the Local Government elections scheduled to hold on February 23 across the 11 councils of Gombe State eventually become a  reality, it would, according to analysts mean that two basic factors occasioned it.

One: that the Governor of the State, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo has harkened to the wishes of the people.
Two: that the governor has also succeeded in building his own political structure at the grassroots.

For starters, Governor Dankwambo prior to his journey into the “murky” waters of Nigeria, nay, Gombe politics in 2011, was completely without a political structure both in the hinterlands and the metropolis of the state.

How Dankwambo emerged
When the news filtered down that the then incumbent governor now senator, Alhaji Mohammed Danjuma Goje was looking the way of Dankwambo as his successor, many called it a bluff. This was chiefly consequent upon Dankwambo’s non-existing “presence” in the state at the time.

In fact, there were hair- grey politicians in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP (the platform upon which the governor contested the election), who were waiting.

Such big shots include the former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali; the then Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Alhaji Biri; former Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Bayero Nafada; and General Timothy Shelpidi among others.

Interestingly, all the hopefuls were loyalists of Goje. Apparently, they had trusted on the affinity they shared with Goje to pick the PDP ticket but were disappointed when Dankwambo was chosen in their stead.

It was to the chagrin of all and sundry when on the day of the primary election early January 2011, the ‘deal’ was sealed for Dankwambo to run the 2011 gubernatorial elections having won the party’s ticket.

To those in the know, it was at this time that a compromise was reached which prompted the unprecedented support from Goje’s camp for Dankwambo.

In fact, to state the obvious, Goje’s political structures were literarily donated to Dankwambo to help him secure a win against the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP’s Umar Kumo; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC’s Abubakar Aliyu and others in the governorship election.

Dashed hopes
And when finally, Dankwambo was sworn in as governor on May 29, 2011, he inherited the reins of power and overtly maintained the status quo created by the erstwhile administration.

One of the legacies he inherited was the 11 caretaker committee chairmen who were sworn in at the twilight of Goje’s administration.

To this end, not a few persons had thought that the new governor would soon after assuming office return the local council fully to the path of democratic rule. But that was one dream that never materialized till date.

Divided polity
The development apparently divided Gombe polity, leaving many people in the state wondering over the intentions of the governor. But then, Dankwambo’s apologists made haste to say that the governor needed time to articulate the right things to avoid errors.

There was also this other school that believed he was playing out the script of the forces that installed him as allegedly agreed.

The allegation seemingly gained credence in view of the fact that the governor ruled the state without a cabinet for almost seven months.

Even though there were pressures  and heckles from many quarters, no one could do anything. The State House of Assembly also appeared muzzled up as sources said the members were gagged from expressing open views on the matter.

Reprieve at last
However, reprieve came the way of the state late last year, precisely on Friday, October 13, 2012 when Governor Dankwambo dissolved the Care-taker committees across the 11 councils and appointed new chairmen in their place, preparatory for the election.

Meanwhile, the election has been slated for February 23, 2013 by the Gombe State Independent Electoral Commission (GOMSIEC).

The news about the conduct of the election has so far elicited excitement from most residents of the state who expressed happiness that at last, there comes hope for real democratic governance in Gombe State.

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