By Justin Tyupuusu, Jalingo.
As the curtain for year 2016 gradually winds off, giving way for year 2017, it is imperative to take a look at some achievements of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s Rescue Mission in the outgoing year and the prospects as well as expectations of Tarabans in the new year.
His Excellency Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku rose to power in Taraba State in 2015 defying all odds. Not even the wind of change that swept through the North to the South that saw many PDP controlled States falling to the APC’S change mantra could stop him.
Ishaku traversed the nooks and crannies of Taraba, telling Tarabans to entrust him with their mandate and he would rescue the State from the shackles of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment among other challenges being faced.
The people of Taraba agreed and delivered Ishaku at the polls in an election many Nigerians predicted would produce the first female governor in the country, particularly when President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC displaced former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP at the Aso Rock Villa, using the “Change Mantra”.
But that prediction failed to come true. The sound of Ishaku’s victory at that election echoed from Karim Lamido to Takum, Wukari to Zing, Ardo Kola to Kurmi and Lau to Usssa. Ishaku’s victory which was later consolidated on April 25 after a run off election following the cancellation of the election in some local governments clearly vibrated in Donga, Yorro, and Ibi.
Tarabans’ love for Ishaku was clearly shown in 11 Local Governments Areas out 16, where he won with landslide, while his main challenger and candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Hajiya Aisha Alhassan won in five Local Government Areas.
As it is usual with politicians in Nigeria, the APC candidate Aisha Alhassan went to court to challenge Ishaku’s victory and finally on Thursday February 11, 2016 the Supreme Court put to rest election dispute between Aisha Alhassan of APC and Darius Ishaku of PDP when it affirmed the election of Governor Ishaku and threw out the appeal by Aisha Alhassan for lack of merit.
Interestingly, even when the litigations were ongoing, Governor Ishaku who had not left anyone in doubt that he was on a Rescue Mission in the State embarked on people’s orientated projects to better the lives of Tarabans who overwhelmingly voted him to power.
For instance, in less than 10 days on assumption of office, Ishaku approved money for the overhaul of water facilities in Jalingo the State capital and immediately residents of Jalingo started enjoying potable water supply in Jalingo.
Before the coming of Ishaku, access to potable water by residents of Jalingo was a major problem forcing residents of the city to rely on local water vendors popularly called (Mai ruwa) in Hausa and few streams stretching through the city and its environs for water, while public water supply remained exclusive for a few, despite efforts by successive administrations to provide water for the people.
During his campaign, Governor Darius Ishaku who worried that this God given commodity to mankind could be so scarce in Taraba, sank boreholes in more than five communities even before elections were held.
To further consolidate on this gains, Governor Ishaku within the first three weeks in office, met with the African Development Bank, AFDB, where formalities were completed for the commencement of 47,273m3 per day of water supply target by 2035, which agreement for the contract was signed in 2012.
Work on the multi-billion Naira water project has reached 95 percent completion as the engineers have completed major work on the project while laying of pipes in the city has reached advanced stage says Engr. Musa Buba, General Manager, Taraba State Water Supply Agency.
Buba explained that the Chinese companies handling the project Apex Height, CGC, Ghasalaz and China Zhonghao have finished drilling and rehabilitation of existing boreholes totaling 40 across three locations in Jalingo, as well as laying of transmission channels for conveying water to reservoirs covering 250 km in Jalingo and other new Jalingo settlements. Some of the key indicators of the Rescue Mission’s successes are presented below:
Aviation and tourism
To unlock the keys of investment opportunities in Taraba and woe investors and tourists to the State, Ishaku opened up commercial flight at the Jalingo Airport, the first of its kind since the creation of the State in 1991.
The Airport project which was conceived in 2005 by former governor Jolly Nyame’s administration did not commence commercial flight until Ishaku came on board in May, 2015. On December 7, 2015, six months into his administration the Governor in partnership with Overland Airways commenced commercial flight operations at the airport.
“We are optimistic that air transport will greatly enhance the comfort of commuting passengers and facilitate the influx of tourists, business tycoons and investors by providing swift and safe access to the state for tourism, commerce and industrialization,” Ishaku told the people while flagging off the commercial flight operations.
With Overland Airways now operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays every week, conveying passengers to and from Abuja and Lagos, Taraba has now been launched to the World.
Gov. Ishaku’s Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Mijinyawa believes that with the Jalingo Airport now functional, investors and some of the Governor’s friends outside of the country would soon begin massive investment in the State, jumping in and out easily using the airport.
In the area of road infrastructure, the Governor who promised in his inaugural speech to consolidate on the projects of the Danbaba Administration that met the yearnings and aspirations of the people, quickly mobilised the contractor handling Bali-Serti-Gembu road, PW construction company to site when he paid them N300 million.
Despite the lean and dwindling Federal allocation coming into the State, Governor Ishaku is not only up to date in the payment of workers’ salaries, he has embarked on massive road construction to open up the rural road networks in the State.
For instance, the Jalingo-Kona-Lau road which was awarded by the Federal Government eight months before Ishaku assumed power was still begging for attention. But on assumption of office, the Governor took over the construction of the road because of its importance to the people of the State.
The 6.5 kilometre single lane road awarded without drainage construction has now been taken over by the State Government. The contract was reviewed and expanded to a dual carriageway with super drainage system giving the volume of water and vehicular traffic that flows on the road.
The Michelin-Magami road within Jalingo township is receiving attention. The ministry of works roundabout-Main Market road has been completed even as the Premier Hotel-CSC road, still in Jalingo has also been completed.
Another 6.5km Takum-Katsina-Ala road, a Federal road which was in a dilapidated state and a source of worry for people plying the road has been reconstructed.
To minimise cost, the State government engaged the services of the State owned construction company, Taraba Road Construction and Maintenance Agency (TARCMA) in constructing the road. This is even as the N154 million contract has been awarded for the assessment and design of Mararaban Baissa-Abong road.
Beautification of Jalingo City
Jalingo the State capital is today wearing a new look as the Governor, himself a professional architect has moved to restore the Jalingo master plan.
All Illegal motor parks and shops have been demolished and the monthly sanitation restored in the city which now hold every first Saturday of the month.
The gateways in and out of Jalingo the state
capital have been renovated, just as major roundabouts like the Road Block round about, ministry of works roundabout, are today wearing a new look.
Major roads in the State capital such as Donga road, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai road among others have been adorned with beautiful solar streets lights which illuminate the city at night.
Today, repairs and rehabilitation work on Hammaruwa way in the city centre has been completed, giving residents a smooth ride in the city centre.
Youth and women empowerment
In a bid to check youth restiveness and empower women in the State, the Governor in June 2015, few weeks after assumption of office went into collaboration with the Bank of Industries(BoI) and signed a memorandum of understanding with the bank where both parties committed N700 million for disbursement to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs targeted at creating at least 10,000 jobs in the State, especially among youth and women.
To the Governor, the initiative is in line with his “Rescue Mission” for the State aimed at creating job opportunities to reduce poverty among the people and would stop at nothing to ensure the objectives of the scheme is achieved.
Economic experts including the Managing Director of Bank of Industries, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa have commended the Governor for the initiative saying that the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSME’s ) accounted for half of Nigeria’s labour force, contributing over 50 percent of the county’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and urged the beneficiaries to take the scheme very seriously to grow the country’s economy.
Digitisation of the State broadcast media
The Governor has awarded a N1.7 billion contract for effective switchover from Analogue to digital broadcasting of the State owned Taraba Television (TTV) and Taraba State Broadcasting Service (TSBS).
This the Governor said is to ensure that the State broadcast media outfits are not left behind in the planned digital switch over. Already procurement and installation of digital equipment has commenced and work on the TSBS transmitting station along Mile Six is in progress.
A new studio for the State Television is almost ready for commissioning while the digital equipment for the television is already on ground for installation. With this Taraba is poised to be the next State after Plateau to switch over to digital broadcasting in the Country.
Health, Education and the Judiciary.
Health, Education and the Judiciary also enjoy the attention of the Governor. The State Specialist Hospital benefited from the Governor’s Rescue Mission as funds were approved to maintain the facilities at the hospital. During the outbreak of Lassa Fever in the State, the Governor released funds which helped in containing the spread of the virus.
The Judicial staff who were on strike before the Governor took over office are now back and smiling to banks, but the Governor also procured new vehicles for senior judicial workers.
The story was same in the State University as lecturers down tools in protest for non payment of their salary arrears. The lecturers are now back to the class.
Resuscitation of Kakara Tea
The story of Kakara tea has changed courtesy of the Rescue Mission of the Governor. Ishaku pushed for the completion and commissioning of Tonga Dam Small Hydro Electric Power Plant which now supplies power 24 hours to the factory.
The Governor also procured and commissioned new machines at the tea factory to maximise productivity. To get the best out of the tea project, experts advised the Governor to push for a tea policy in the country to brighten the future of the company.
Nigeria as a country has no tea policy and is not recognised internationally as a tea producing country. A tea policy in the country will benefit Taraba more than any other State in the country as the Mambilla beverages remains the best in West Africa, experts argued.
The Governor who came on board when the entire Central and Southern parts of the State were under siege by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen has worked assiduously to ensure that all displaced persons return to their homes.
Despite the Governor’s persistent call on the people of the State; “Give me peace and I will give you development,” killings have continue in some parts of the State.
However, the Governor through his Deputy, Engr. Haruna Manu when he visited IDPs in Sabon-Gida in Gassol Local Government recently said, Government is determined to end the killings in the State soon.
Expectations for 2017
Given the achievements of the Rescue Mission in 2016 and the presentation of the 2017 budget of over N110bn, Tarabans are convinced that in the coming year, more roads will be opened , more communities connected to electricity, more people will get jobs, farmers would be supported and small businesses will continue to grow.
Rev. Fr. Julius Ioryue of St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish Sabon-Gida in Gassol Local Government is worried and wants the Governor to tackle head long the security situation in some parts of the State, so as to save lives and guarantee food security.
“Our expectations are high, but first the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State should go all out and put a stop to incessant killings every now and then in the State especially in Taraba Central as witnessed in the outgoing year.
“The State is losing on a daily basis because of this insecurity and if we must develop, the Governor should shun all sentiments and set up a committee to investigate the remote and immediate causes of these crises with a view to ending the incessant killings.”
For some civil servants, who preferred anonymity, the Governor should clear issues relating to disparities in salary payment and payment of Pensions, Local Government and Teachers’ salaries.
“He may be a super Governor by doing projects, but he will not win our support if he continues to deduct our salaries and neglect teachers,” one of the civil servants told Taravoices.
A cross section of Taraba citizens who spoke to Taravoices want the Governor to ensure the security of lives and property as well as launch the State on the path of peace and development.
To them, the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State knows exactly where the problem lies and should tackle it head on to ensure a peaceful Taraba where investors would not be afraid to come in and invest.
“More jobs will be created and poverty reduce to the barest minimum if the Governor invests more in agriculture and tourism.
“Taraba has a comparative advantage in agricultural production and tourism and I will like to see more action in these sectors to boost the State economy, Mr. Sunday Ogwu of Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa said this in an email from Lagos.