By Usman Abdulahi
A former accountant-general of the federation, JK Naiyeju had an interesting story to tell the other day. As he narrated it to an audience inside one of the cavernous halls of Oriental Hotel in Lagos that day, he was on a visit to his successor in that office, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who is now the governor of Gombe State, and he had barely sat down when his eyes caught something that struck him: neatly stacked on one side of the governor’s desk was the complete volume of the writings of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. All, without exception.
What was Dankwambo doing with all these, Naiyeju asked his host? It was an idle question: if he had looked more closely, he would have noticed that one of the books was opened to an advanced page of reading in front of the governor and bore pencil markings and side notes.
To run a government that would serve the people for good, Dankwambo casually answered, you must learn the methods of Awo. Since then, Naiyeju has never failed to tell any audience of potential leaders he addresses of the need to study the old methods that worked and are still relevant even as they seek new ways. Certainly, on account of his performance as governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo has become an enigma.
Though a member of the supposedly conservative Peoples Democratic Party, Dankwambo has run perhaps one of the most progressive governments in the history of Nigeria and the results of his exertions on behalf of the people of Gombe are there for all to marvel at. As the race towards the 2019 presidential election reaches high gear, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, appears poised to sieze power from the ruling All Progresives Congress and its presumed flagbearer, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
For a party that ruled for 16 uninterrupted years, PDP is so far from finding the cohesion that should come with its experience in power. But salvation may be on the way. There are names already being bandied about as likely presidential candidates of the party. There is Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa State and a former minister of Foreign Affairs. There is, of course, Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president who appears well prepared for the job having run almost at every turn since the return to democracy. He has, indeed, just appointed Gbenga Daniel, the former governor of Ogun State, the Director-General of his presidential bid.
But, in reality, none of the known and unknown candidates seems better prepared and qualified as the man from Gombe. In the cacophony of voices and clash of ideas over how to save Nigeria, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo has been speaking with facts, figures and self-assuredness that the nation needs. He has also demonstrated what is possible with visionary leadership and prudent management.
“Indeed, it is time every Nigerian listens to the man from Gombe,” says an old colleague of his from his days in the Cetral Bank of Nigeria where he had earlier distinguished himself.
Could Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo be PDP’s joker?
Cerebral and passionate about Nigeria, Dankwanbo spoke the other day at the University of Ibadan and enthralled his audience with his depth.
His core message was how the twin of transparency and accountability has helped him and his government turn Gombe State into a model for the rest in spite of the meager resources that accrue to it. “Our revenues are thinning out when our responsibilities are growing tremendously, and most of the States in Nigeria did not plan for growth during dwindling revenues,” he dead-panned in a rigorous diagnosis of what ails Nigeria today. But the Gombe State which he governs has propelled itself on the path of growth and progress with little by way of resources.
How did Dankwambo do it?
He is an accomplished accountant and a finance expert quite alright. But his genius lay in his commitment to his people and creating the greatest good for the greatest number. “The survival of state governments in Nigeria, is a function of their ability to plan and execute projects and programs effectively and efficiently, and transparency and accountability are the functional media for achieving this.”
To appreciate what Dankwambo has done, it is important to know the background against which he has worked. Gombe State was 36th in GDP (PPP) in 2010.
In 2011, the new governor inherited a population that was 8.5% poorer than when his predecessor took over in 2003. He inherited a population in which only 34.6% attained some level of Education as follows:
Nursery School – 1%, Primary School – 21.1%, Secondary School – 9.9% and post-secondary School – 3.1%.
Infant Mortality Rate was 120.9/100 . Under 5 mortality rate was 105.6/1000. Low birth weight was 24/1000 live births. Maternal Mortality was 1,433.1/100,000.
According to available records, Dankwambo took the reins when Gombe State had a heavy, unfortified debt burden, dwindling revenues, complete disregard for regulations and due process in the management of the state and total planlessness. Of course, there was hardly any other source of revenue accruing to the State than the Federal Allocation and pay as you earn (P.A.Y.E) deductible from the salaries and allowances of employees. Having been the Accountant General of the Federation, arguably the best Nigeria has ever had, Dankwambo set to work.
According to him, “accountability and transparency are the main ingredients for successful public finance management” for the following reasons: They provide opportunity for public participation in governance while making performance accountable as responsibilities and quality of service are defined and made public.
They establish reference points for quality assurance to the public and represent yardsticks for performance evaluation and measurement. They also provide opportunities for improving public expenditure efficiency and effectiveness, as well as internal resource mobilization. The man has always been committed to reducing uncertainty and risks; and ensuring inclusive, sustainable development
“The ability of any government to fulfill its constitutional duties depends on its capacity to generate sufficient funds (revenue) needed to deliver growth and development (expenditure) for its populace.”
“Both activities – generating internal revenues and expending resources – are bound by rules and regulations that aid economic growth and development, the most important of which are transparency and accountability.”
“The survival of states is therefore dependent on their ability to formulate and implement policies and procedures that guide their delivery of projects and programs.”
After winning election in 2011, Dankwambo commenced a consultative planning process by convoking all the eminent sons and daughters of Gombe to a series of committee sessions during which they looked at all the sectors of the economy and made recommendations on how the state should be governed in the next 10 years and beyond.
This planning effort looked at 12 sectors of the economy.
The 12-sector based committees evolved a Master Plan, which was translated into an official Action Plan, costed and broken down into implementable chunks for application by Gombe state’s ministries, departments and agencies. The capital components of the Action Plan have been consistently incorporated into the state’s annual budgets for implementation and have been the guiding tool for the significant infrastructural investments Gombe has attained since 2011. He then embarked on the establishment of guiding norms by domesticating the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was passed into law in April 2012 in an attempt to institutionalize norms that would guide accountability and transparency in governance.
Accordingly, The fiscal responsibility law changed the structure of Gombe’s budgeting process by making it more resource realistic, limiting expenditure pattern to established revenue profile each year, among many other gains.
No doubt, Ibrahim Hassan has changed the content of governace, using his experience as an accomplished accountant and his passion for the people.
Gombe State was one of the earliest state governments to embrace international financial reporting format as prescribed by the Federation Account Allocation Committee. Thereby, increasing the transparency of budgetary process by appropriately codifying and coding all revenue and expenditure heads and subheads in accordance with the National Chat of Accounts. This made the budgetary sub-system easily interoperable with other automated systems, sub-systems and platforms in public finance management such as those for Debt Management, Centralized Internally Generated Revenue, Payroll and Treasury Management, Vendor and Contract Management and so on.
In addition to this, the adoption of IPSAS mandated transparent capital expenditure planning and execution. Each item of CAPEX must be appropriately codified by the objectives for its creation (the SDGs objective it is meant to serve), its specific location, the source of its funding, and the functionality it is meant to provide.
Under Dankwambo, Gombe State domesticated the Pensions Reform Act of the Federal Government in order to appropriately address issues concerning retirement benefits and its offsetting impact on regular state government cash flows. The government’s attempt at putting transparent policies and accountable process has thus helped Dankwambo to achieve much more with less.
The drive to raise additional revenue especially in a rural state like Gombe State has been very challenging. In Dankwambo’s estimation, the state needs revenue-generating assets to garner more revenues for government, but the irony is that he also needs significant revenues to build those revenue-generating assets! This is where the fertile imagination of a leader comes into play and where long-term vision takes precedence over the convenience of the moment. Having realized the need for the state to reduce dependence on Federal allocation early at the advent of his administration, Dankwambo included some revenue-generating assets as part of his government’s portfolio of physical infrastructure, which included:
a brand new modern International Conference Center, which along with some earlier investments the government made in hotels in Gombe, position Gombe as a conferencing hub for the North-east region. And this is just one of many visionary investments that have made Gombe stand out among all the states in Nigeria.
“The provision of these assets by government was necessary because the state is located in the Northeastern region of Nigeria and is neighboring the states that were devastated by the Boko Haram terror. This made the State less attractive to investors at the time in spite of its relative safety in the region. In order to increase the role of private sector participation and to protect the assets from red-tape and undue bureaucracy, these assets are being consolidated, along with others, for management by the private sector under a capital market arrangement that enables the posting of corporate bonds to raise sufficient funds to build even more revenue-generating assets for the State.”
But Dankwambo’s visionary leadership is further sign-posted by his commitment to accountability and transparency. As part of his objective of achieving more with less while increase resource mobilization efforts, his government recently expressed interest to participate in a World Bank’s multi-state performance-based operation in Nigeria aimed at strengthening fiscal performance and sustainability at the subnational level. The program is tagged: State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) Program.
SFTAS is a performance-based (P4R – Performance for Reward) project comprising 12 action commitments made up of 8 actions from FGN’s Fiscal Sustainability Plan; 2 OGP State Commitments, and 2 State-level PFM reform initiatives on budget credibility and contract arrears clearance. The 12 action points are spread across 4 result areas: Increased fiscal transparency and Accountability; strengthening Internal Revenue Mobilization; strengthening Efficiency in Public Expenditure; and achieving sustainable debt management “A state that has no regards for transparency and is not accountable in revenue and expenditure management is one that is facing anarchy and possible extinction,” says Dankwambo.
“Transparency and Accountability in financial management requires planning, honesty, inclusiveness of all the Strata of society and above all commitment to goals in implementation and openness to constructive criticism.
Our current financial status as a nation also requires not only struggle for survival by individual States but also mutual reinforcement amongst States in the form of goal-directed regional development or collectively planned effort at developing the nation.” In conclusion, he sys: “It is imperative that governments at all levels strive to build strong institutions where individual agents are accountable, standards of quality of service are ascertained, and results are knowable as a matter of course.”
So, who is this Northern star?
Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, was born in April 1962 in Gombe City, Gombe State. He gradauted with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and further enrolled for Masters of Science Degree, in Economics from University of Lagos. Dankwambo got a post-graduate Diploma in Computer Science from the Delta State University Abraka, Delta State and finally got a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Phd) from Igbinedion University, Okada.
Professionally, Dankwambo has been an exemplar.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (FCIB), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (FCIT), a Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM) and a Fellow of the Nigerian Economic Society (FNES). He started his career at the firm, Coopers and Lybrand International, (Chartered Accountants), now PriceWaterHouseCoopers where he was from 1985 to 1988.
He later joined the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1988 and was there until 1999 when he was appointed the Accountant-General of Gombe State. He held this position until 20th April 2005 when the then Accountant General of the Federation Mr J.K Naiyeju was retiring. Again the unique qualities of Dankwambo became obvious to all, having served at various committees at the Federation Account and President Olusegun Obasanjo, who noticed his brilliance as well as efficiency appointed him the Accountant-General of the Federation, the position he held until he was overwhelmingly elected the governor of Gombe State.
Continues online (www.vanguardngr.com).
He was the president/Chairman of the Forum of Accountants-General and Auditors-General in West Africa (FAAGWA), and had earlier served as the Protem Secretary of the same organization,
He was the co-Chairman, Standardization of Federal, State and Local Government Accounts in Nigeria, a body formed by the Federation Account Allocation Committee to harmonies the Accounting and Reporting of Financial Statements by the three tiers of government.
On assumption of office as the Accountant-General of the Federation, he became the Chairman of the Technical Sub-Committee of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, a committee saddled with the responsibility of determining how the national revenues are shared equitably amongst the three tiers of Governments, that is, the Federal State and Local Governments. He discharged himself creditably and earned the respect of all.
Dankwambo was also the Chairman of the Audit Committee of ECOWAS, a Board member of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Board members of the Debt Management Office. On the international scene, he was a board member, Royal Swaziland Sugar Company, Southern Africa and member of the board of Extractive Industries Transparency International. He also sat on the board of many successful companies across a wide spectrum of the nation’s or world economy. Dankwambo’s reign as the Accountant-General of the Federation brought about very laudable unique and revolutionary reforms to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
He brought up to date the Financial Statements of the Federal Government, which were in arrears. The revolution in the Public Sector towards a cashless economy began with Alhaji Dankwambo, bringing about the implementation of the E-payment system, which was then a completely a new innovation in the financial services of the government. The Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) is yet another achievement of Dankwambo. Nigerians applaud Treasury Single Account today but they must know the real hero behind it. Dankwambo, as Accountant-General of Nigeria was the one who ensured that he completed the institution of Treasury Single Account which is simply an account or set of linked accounts through which government transacts its financial operations in such a way that its financial position can be determined easily for the facilitation and timely reconciliation of cash balances.
In his quest to evolve a very robust Financial Management System of the Federal Government, he worked tirelessly to install a financial Management system called the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS). This is an ICT integrated system, which computerizes the Public Financial Management processes from budget preparation, execution, accounting and reporting.
Other reforms he embarked upon included the New Chart of Accounts, the Accounting Transactions Recording and Reporting System (ATRRS), which removed the stress of having to prepare and carry hard copies of Accounts by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for Consolidation.
The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) gap analysis was one effort by the Alhaji Dankwambo to upgrade the preparation and reporting of Nigeria’s Financial Statements up to International Standards.
He also embarked on the upgrading of the Federal Treasury Academy to University Standard for the training of Public Sector Accountants and affiliating it to a highly recognized Public Sector professional body in the United Kingdom, (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) United Kingdom).
In many duty posts too numerous to mention, he discharged himself creditably and won the respect as well as admiration of all.
At his current duty post in Gombe, Dankwambo has been a revelation of immense proportions. As a governor, he has ben the man of his peopke. As an administrator and prudent manager of resources, he has developed Gombe into one of the best states in Nigeria in terms of material and human capital indices.
Certainly, as the race for the presidency of Nigeria kicks off, Dankwambo is one man to watch.Related