The Gombe case study in pursuit of investors

Supreme Desk
15 Dec 2022 9:58 AM GMT
The Gombe case study in pursuit of investors
Observers of developments in Gombe attribute the feat to the political will and determination of Yahaya to reform and reposition the state’s public finance management structure in line with international best practices.

Gombe State, with a population of 3.25 million as of 2016, was created on October 1, 1996, from the present-day Bauchi State by the then-military regime of now-late Gen. Sani Abacha.

The northeastern state is bordered to the north and northeast by Borno and Yobe states, to the south by Taraba, to the southeast by Adamawa, and to the west by Bauchi state.

Without some natural endowments to trigger its rapid economic growth, such as a seaport, an international airport, or a big market as in Kano, Onitsha, and Maiduguri, many regarded Gombe as a no-go area for investors.

However, on his assumption of office in May 2019, Gov. Inuwa Yahaya moved to change the narrative by laying the foundation of a new Gombe state by producing a transformation blueprint that has ushered in a new era.

The initiative has begun to make impacts, as the state has won the World Bank's States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) Award in four key categories.

This is because the reforms have impacted positively on its fiscal transparency and accountability in public resource management.

SFTAS motivates states in Nigeria towards improvements in their public financial management systems, processes, and institutions aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency.

It helps to build trust in government, facilitate accountability in public resource management, and ensure sustainability in the participating states.

Observers of developments in Gombe attribute the feat to the political will and determination of Yahaya to reform and reposition the state's public finance management structure in line with international best practices.

The current status of the state is also attributed to the governor`s support for thecommittee vested with the mandate to implement policies and procedures that ensured the state met all requirements attached to the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) under the SFTAS program.

The governor has enthroned a durable system that instills probity, transparency, accountability, due process, and the rule of law in governance.

Recently, the state moved four places, from the 11th position in 2021 to the 7th position in 2022, in the Transparency and Integrity Index released by the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CeFTIW).

Although Gombe has not magically transformed into a global investment hub, the efforts made by the state government have caught the attention of relevant authorities, and it continues to lay the foundation to build investors' confidence.

Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, at a three-day investment summit in Gombe, said the state's ranking on the ease of doing business and investment-friendly ecosystem indexes are have led cumulated investment pledges and the signing of agreements.

Investment experts have also applauded the state government's vision to produce a 10-year development plan—the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)—and determination towards creating an enabling business environment as key drivers of Gombe's economic growth.

The 2021 State-of-the-States report published by BudgIT, a leading fiscal policy tracking organization in Nigeria, indicated that Gombe State fared impressively in its revenue generation capacity and expenditure efficiency under Yahaya.

Gombe State is leading a path towards economic recovery in Nigeria's northeast region and highlighting its own potential through the investment summit held by the state government.

The summit is a deliberate step to shape the state into an attractive investment destination and to attract investors.

Alhaji Muhammad Magaji, the state Commissioner for finance, said the state has been working in recent years to be investors-ready

He said the state's financial reforms and how it has been able to block leakages, among other things, have helped investors have more confidence in the state.

"We have better roads, electricity, water, and healthcare." "If you are well, you are able to do business, and that is one of the reasons why we came in first in the ease of doing business in 2021," he said.

He observed that the place of Gombe in commerce, industry, and tourism is well established, as it has been throughout history, adding that the state has continued to capture the attention of traders and business caravans from within and outside Nigeria.

"Our position is boosted by Gombe's strategic location at the center of the north-east sub-region and proximity to neighboring countries around the Lake Chad basin."

"We have an enterprising and peace-loving population, unity in diversity, comparative advantage in agriculture and commerce, and an abundance of natural resources like limestone, gypsum, uranium, coal, crude oil, kaolin, etc.," he said.

He said that the state also boasts of great potential in irrigation and hydropower generation through the Dadin Kowa, Balanga, and Cham dams.

The drive to make Gombe State an investor`s haven has driven the governor beyond local investors to foreign investors.

Recently, he received in audience Mr. Yanko Yordanov, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to Nigeria.

The Envoy, in company with other Bulgarian diplomats, held talks on the excellent Bulgaria-Nigeria bilateral ties to explore areas of mutual interest in trade, industry, and agriculture, among others.

The state has continued to woo investors and partners to take advantage of the conducive environment, incentives, facilities, and other available opportunities to drive sustainable development.

Recently, the government launched a special security task force code-named "Operation Hattara" for the purpose of reinforcing the security architecture in and around the state.

There is no doubt the ease of doing business in Gombe State, when fully realized, will improve the standard of living of the people of the state. It is one area of governance that other states of the federation must emulate.

By Joseph Edeh

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