Let me ask your permission to bother you with these few questions. Do you live in Jalingo? Or are you only here for a casual visit? Have you noticed and have you been wondering why the convoy of Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State does not move around town, siren blaring as governors of other states in Nigeria always do? Well, it is a deliberate policy and it has got a lot to do with the water problem in Jalingo, the capital city of Taraba State.
One day, not long after Ishaku was sworn in as governor, he was driving to an event in Jalingo. He saw hordes of people including women and children carrying containers in various shapes, sizes, and colours, all of them pounding the streets of Jalingo in search of water for domestic use. The Governor was touched by that piteous site and he promptly ordered the siren blaring to stop and that it should remain so until he has been able to ameliorate the water problem in Jalingo. That is how deeply concerned Ishaku is about the scarcity of potable water in Jalingo and in all other towns and villages in Taraba State.
The Governor was touched by that piteous site and he promptly ordered the siren blaring to stop and that it should remain so until he has been able to ameliorate the water problem in Jalingo. That is how deeply concerned Ishaku is about the scarcity of potable water in Jalingo and in all other towns and villages in Taraba State.
Taraba State is home to many popular rivers. This includes River Benue. Its tributaries called by different names in different parts of the state navigate through the entire length and breadth of the state. In fact, Taraba, the name by which the state is known and called today is a river. Their banks provide the rich waterbeds that support the ever thriving rice farming in the state. Yet water that is good enough for domestic use has been a problem since the creation of the state. There has never been a comprehensive government
Their banks provide the rich waterbeds that support the ever thriving rice farming in the state. Yet water that is good enough for domestic use has been a problem since the creation of the state. There has never been a comprehensive government programme for resolving the water conundrum. It has remained a perplexity for all governments and governors until the coming of Arc. Ishaku. His administration is now well on its way towards reversing that situation.
The provision of water is today a priority in Taraba State. The administration of Governor Ishaku is working very hard at it. It is the reason Jalingo, the capital city of Taraba State, is today a huge construction site. There is presently a massive pipe-laying project on going in Jalingo.
Three gigantic water reservoirs have been installed in different parts of the city. They are being linked with pipes that will take water to the doorsteps of residents of the city. This is the first major water project ever to be embarked upon by any administration in the state and it will comprehensively address the perennial water problem in Jalingo when completed. The water that will eventually be treated and pumped to homes in Jalingo under this project is being sourced from the Lamorde River.
Jalingo is not the only beneficiary of the present radical approach of government for the provision of water. Water is virtually the problem everywhere in the state. Government’s effort is also being spread across the state to address the problem.
In the first year of the administration, more than 100 boreholes were sunk in more than 100 towns and villages in the state. Many existing but abandoned or inadequate water facilities in some parts of the state have also been renovated and upgraded to meet the immediate water needs of the people. One of such water facilities is located in Zing where the people now enjoy uninterrupted water supply from an expanded borehole.
The people of Takum are also full of praises for the governor for expanding their water facilities. The Ishaku administration has sunk three new boreholes, repaired two existing ones and provided them with water tanks. This has radically improved the water situation in the town.
Donga and Wukari local council areas have also had their own share of the benefits from government’s efforts to provide water to the people. All villages located on Ibi-Wukari road now enjoy water provided by the administration of Governor Ishaku. This achievement in the expansion of water facilities is replicated in virtually all local council areas of the state.
There is no doubt that the government is honest and deeply committed to its decision to improve water supply to all parts of the state. Ishaku has amply demonstrated this commitment with what has been achieved so far in the provision of water in all parts of the state. But the brutal truth still remains. And that is the fact that government’s resources are grossly inadequate and cannot adequately support water projects on a scale that is required. They have never been as poor as they are today.
The state’s monthly allocation from the Federation Account is one of the lowest in the country today. What this suggests is that government must seek the help of international donor and funding agencies to solve the problem of inadequacy of infrastructure in the state, most importantly water. I’m aware that the government is vigorously pursuing that option in several countries already. Let’s hope that these efforts will materialize.
But these efforts must be complemented by internal self-help programmes championed by the people themselves. The reality of the economic downturn of today demands that the attitude of expecting the government to provide all the needs of all the communities and people in the state must change. Government, certainly, cannot meet all the expectations of the people for social amenities.
No government anywhere on earth has that capacity. The people must brace up for the challenges that the poor state of the Nigerian economy has brought to bear on the states, Taraba inclusive. The people should form community self-help groups, decide on projects that will greatly benefit their communities and seek the help of wealthy indigenes, charity groups, and foundations towards their implementation. The times call for this approach. It is already happening in many other communities in the Southern parts of the country.
This approach also demands that our people embrace peace and become united. It can only work where the people are united and willing to work together. The good thing is that the state is now relatively at peace. My interaction with most of the people from Taraba, our state, is that peace is their number one desire. Luckily, the Olive branch that Governor Ishaku brought to the state on arrival as governor has worked magic. What we, the indigenes of the state, must now do is to help his administration consolidate the peace that he achieved for us all.
Water is one of the amenities that our communities can provide for themselves. But that is if they are united and do not work at cross purposes. It is less capital intensive. Boreholes do not cost a fortune. We do not, therefore, need to wait for the government to give us what we can offer ourselves. That time of waiting for the government that is supposed to have all the resources to provide the needs of the people now belongs to the past. It is now the dawn of self-help and we have no choice but to embrace it.
That time of waiting for the government that is supposed to have all the resources to provide the needs of the people now belongs to the past. It is now the dawn of self-help and we have no choice but to embrace it.
Tafida contributed this article from Jalingo.