The just concluded North East Governors summit which held in Yola, Adamawa state was as colorful as it was full of power play. A sumptuous dinner and Gala Night the previous evening set the tone for the main event last Saturday. Cultural dances at the Gala reminded all of the deep diversities( and potentials) in these parts. Governors of the region were all present to underscore the seriousness of the event. Their inscrutinable visage did not give out much but you could feel the passion and energy they exude as a group. They are the express image of a zone in dire need of all the concerted efforts for greater development.
In the midst of it all was Governor Agbu Kefas of Taraba state who was quite an eye catcher: calm, soft spoken and confident. You get the sense himself and the host of the event the governor of Adamawa state, Ahmadu Fintiri were determined to have a great event. Dr Kefas drew more gazes probabley as it is his first regional outing with the other governors but certainly also because many have heard of him already. I noticed that those seeing him for the first time were really enthralled. Affable handshakes with power brokers and traditional rulers indicated that the region was literally star struck by the “new kid on the block”
It is not his first official engagement with the region though as Dr. Kefas was one time the representative of Taraba state on the General TY Danjuma led Presidential initiative in the North East. It was an assignment that brought him face to face with regional challenges and the tough job of finding solutions. Almost as if it was a training ground for the daunting task ahead.
On the second day of the meeting, the governors reminded themselves of the age long troubles of this far flung region: underdevelopment compounded by insecurity crisis. Dr Kefas, more than anyone in the room, understands the depth of this worry. His works as a private citizen had brought him in close contact with these regional emergencies. The governors of Yobe state and Borno, of course, have a first hand experience with what a participant aptly described as “intractable security deficit”
Beyond the event, governors, irrespective of parties, will be going back to confront very familiar and almost similar palavers: desert encroachment, mind boggling poverty, deep seated security issues and the nagging headache of infrastructure growth.
In Taraba state, Governor Kefas is already addressing these regional troubles. His declaration of free education has been revolutionary in addressing endemic poverty and horrific out of school numbers. His unrelenting partnership with his former comrades in the security agencies is also yielding some fruits.
Also, thankfully, govenors of the region have dropped all artificial barriers to go after these ills as a team. It is their best strategy as almost all the malaise are interconnected in the region. The spirit of all for one and one for all has been let loose.
Bello is Special Adviser Media and Digital Communications