Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta
After the release of the Dapchi School Girls by the Boko Haram insurgents, curiosity took me to Yobe state. I traversed Potiskum, Damaturu, Gashua and Geidam, with stops at some interesting villages and hamlets. Yobe state is a typical dry savannah region like most Northeastern states, except in the southern part of the state which has a milder climate. There are many interesting landscapes and places in Yobe state. The cattle market in Potiskum is attention-grabbing – herd of cows beyond what eyes can see. It is one of the largest cattle markets in West Africa.
Yobe state is an agricultural state; it also has rich fishing grounds. The people are jovial and friendly. One cannot spend few hours with Yobe people in any community without getting gift of local chows and gist on the insurgency, agriculture, local and international politics. The scourge of the Boko Haram is visible in some areas, but the people are strong and resilient. I spent some few hours at Dapchi, Dapchi town is some 75 kilometers south of the border with Niger Republic, but it has many similarities with towns of northern Nigeria- people are mostly farmers using their vast land and living simple lives with strong community bond.
Yobe state has its fair share of development despite the challenges the state is facing from the Boko Haram war. The state Governor, Ibrahim Geidam, has done fairly well in the areas of healthcare, road construction, school renovation and expansion.
Like all states in Nigeria, the 2019 elections are topics and events that one sees and hears in most towns, villages, including states’ capitals- peer to peer discussion, posters, billboards and the media. In my few days in Yobe state, from discussions with locals and some events I attended, I observed that one man’s name – Alhaji Umar Ali, featured prominently when it concerns who should be the next Governor of Yobe state. Out of curiosity, I decided to dig further, who Umar Ali is? And why the strong support at the grassroots as well as among city dwellers, especially youths?
I found out that Umar Ali is a young philanthropist in his own class. The bulk of his support is from the youths. Coincidentally, Umar is an advocate of youth empowerment, he was once quoted to have said “…Youths should also be gainfully engaged, and empowered with skills. My own idea of this is to provide the youths with enabling environment to engage in farming. Government can provide them with land and farm implements and then create a sort of marketing board to buy the produce which can be sold to consumers or even exported. This way the government will kill two birds with one stone; fighting joblessness and tendency for violence, and helping the agricultural sector to grow…”
Throughout Yobe state, Umar is reputed for his humanitarian activities which range from supporting communities and individuals in need. One interesting thing about his silent philanthropic acts is, he assists community in the areas they need quick intervention. He has drilled scores of boreholes in communities suffering from shortage of potable water across Yobe State and assisted in several other community development initiatives in the areas of health, education and infrastructure.
The next phase of development Yobe state needs is comprehensive human development programme and new initiative to complement achievement of the present and previous governments; this will stabilize the state and bring the peace, stability, socio-economic rehabilitation, and long term sustainable economic development.
Based on my observation from my visit to Yobe state, Umar Ali appears worthy of taking Yobe state to this desired new level. He is young, urbane, educated and a professional with vast knowledge in both public private sectors. His giant philanthropic strides, even as a private citizen, guarantees he will turn the state around for the unimaginable better if he is allowed to steer the state’s affairs. Yobe state will be lucky to have him as governor. He will bring new approach and thinking to the present development in Yobe state.
Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com. www.zayyad.com.ng