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Mid-Term Scorecard: How Far Has Gov. Ishaku’s ‘Rescue Mission’ Fared?

Mid-Term Scorecard: How Far Has Gov. Ishaku’s ‘Rescue Mission’ Fared?

     “Give me peace and I will give you development”- Darius Dickson Ishaku

The above statement is the Taraba State Governor’s most cherished statements and the social contract between him and the people of the State. He does not fail in emphasizing this each time he has the opportunity to meet with his people.

Taraba, ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’, is coming from a turbulent past occasioned by the fatal accident involving former Governor Suntai mid-way into his second term. Apart from that, there were a lot of anomalies in the entire system which include but not limited to, Executive recklessness, Ghost workers syndrome, Ethnic clashes and low morale in the Civil Service.

All these have stunted the growth of one of the youngest States in Nigeria and almost completely taken it off the development trajectory.

Consequently, as this administration has discovered, a greater percentage of the meager earnings of the State has been going down the drain due to sharp practices in the system. For instance, sometime last year, the State Universal Basic Education Board (TSUBEB) was able to save about N52 million after a verification of teachers carried out to get rid of ‘fake’ teachers. In fact, that was a tip of the iceberg compared to what obtains in the Local Government system.

However, the coming of Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, was perceived by Tarabans as a welcome development, having weathered the storm after the general elections which came with a rerun against his opponent, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, the current Minister of Women Affairs.

The Court cases that trailed his victory which stretched up to the Supreme Court even labelled Governor Ishaku, the Governor with the most litigations in Nigeria.

However, as part of his plan for the State, the Governor came with a policy thrust called the ‘Rescue Mission’. The vision of the Rescue Agenda ‘is to transform Taraba State into one of the top two leading vibrant Economies in the North – East Sub Region by 2025′. The mission is “to create and maintain an enabling environment conducive for the optimal participation and sustainable engagement of key stakeholders and partners, by developing a sensitive and responsible political class, a vibrant and purpose driven bureaucracy, a veritable resource base, and a broad based economy”.

Indeed, the vision and mission are ideals which carry with them great challenges considering the political and Socio-Economic situation the State found itself.

A comparative analysis of what Taraba State earned before and after the coming of this Government, may give an insight into the economic challenges the current Government is likely facing. It is also supposed to be a wake up call to explore the huge potentials the State has in agriculture, tourism and mining in order to meet those challenges. (January 2014 and February 2017 were taken as a case study).

A data by the National Bureau of Statistics and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, shows that the revenue allocation to Taraba State for January 2014 was N4,807,942,732.70 compared to that of January 2017 which was shared in February 2017: N2,525,965,659.07. The difference is over N2 Billion and an over 100% drop.

Governor Darius Ishaku, an architect, a former Minister of State for both Niger Delta and Power, must have mustered the experiences gained in the organized private sector where he was before, to achieve the present gains in the State. Some of the values that make the organized private sector stand out are: discipline, profit- oriented goals, hardwork and excellence, which to some extent he has instilled in the system.

Some of his achievements are the revival of the AfDB/ World Bank funded Jalingo water project which has been there before the coming of the administration. His partnership with the Greater Nairobi Water and Sewerage Agency, is yielding fruit as 67 Tarabans are presently in Kenya on a hands- on training.

The Jalingo-Kona-Lau road was dualized up to Kona and would subsequently be extended to Lau and up to Karim Lamido- a great rice farm belt along the Benue river axis.

Incidentally, the Government recently signed an MoU with Dangote Group for the commencement of the Dangote Sugar factory in Lau thereby justifying the road construction to Lau. The factory will no doubt create employment opportunities.

The Greenhouse Project is an agricultural masterpiece which was established in August 2015 at the cost of N2 Billion. It is presently at 70% completion.

In addition, for the first time in a long time, fertilizers were supplied to farmers before the commencement of the farming season.

The sum of N1.5 Billion has been expended for the digitization of the State TV while that of the radio is on going.

Governor Ishaku has introduced e-governance in the State with the active collaboration of his wife, Barr. Anna Darius Ishaku. To this end, a functional ICT office has been established and the Government Website, www.tarabagov.ng reactivated, to fully track Government activities and showcase the potentials in the State.

This is setting the pace for the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to key into the policy. According to the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT, Grace Amaefula, there was a vacuum that needed to be filled since the Government Website then was either not functional or outdated.

Government activities were only carried on national newspapers which was not dynamic enough. In addition, she said an online news medium TaraVoices was also established to bridge that gap.

Adding credence to the innovation, Amaefula boasted saying, “ there is no government function that is not taken online. We have been able to reach 300,000 people. On the google search engine, we have grown with over 600,000 ranks in the last three months alone. We are the 19,000th most visited site in Nigeria”.

According to her the website is the fastest growing website of Taraba origin in the world and hardly would you not find any story about the State on the website. She assured that there are so many opportunities to be exploited in the State using ICT.

In another vein, one of his notable achievements was the creation of NGADA Special Development Area to give a people that once lived on the fringes of good human existence, a good life. Also he was able to conduct the Local Government elections when people at the grassroots could only make do with Caretaker Chairmen for over four years.

Besides these achievements, there has also been regular payment of salaries, rehabilitation of General Hospitals in Bali, Wukari and Karim Lamido, empowerment of 300 youths on Skills Acquisition, the employment of more nurses and midwives and subsequent lifting of ban on employment which was placed by previous governments in the State.

Also, the government approved the recruitment of 3000 teachers while for the first time in the history, several courses of the Taraba State Polytechnic, were accredited by the NBTE.

In essence, under the ‘Rescue Agenda’ is a grassroots mobilization and monitoring programme known as ‘Rescue Watch’. According to the Chief of Staff, Government House Administration, Rebo Usman, the programme is suppose to mobilize the grassroots towards maintaining basic Government facilities in the rural areas and ensuring service delivery.

“Rescue Watch is basically about trying to be in touch with our people at the grassroots level and we have been doing that consistently. The Governor has been receiving reports from the various teams in the 16 Local Government Areas and Yangtu.

“We are having a lot of progress in those areas through interactions that the various teams are having with our people at the grassroots. We have the team members going round Government facilities to see what is happening and then relate with pictures what is happening to the Governor.

“I mean it is something that people are saying has never happened in this country…they have the ward contact persons who visit them any moment and every month. The teams led by Special Advisers, visit them,meet with them to see what is happening. It keeps them on their toes”, says Usman.

As a private sector player, Governor Ishaku has revitalized the Kakara Tea Factory on the Mambilla Plateau, which perhaps, is the only major industrial presence in the State.

He has also initiated a Bill to establish ranches and ban open grazing, as a way of checking herdsmen/ farmers’ crises.

Of late, Communities have grappled with attacks by alleged ‘herdsmen’ in Gassol, Bali, Takum, Lau and Karim Lamido amongst others.

Even though farmers’/ herdsmen conflicts have become a national problem, some stakeholders feel the case of Taraba has been treated with levity for political reasons. They say the Federal Government is not interested in developing the huge potentials in the State.

One of such is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello. In one of his articles, Bello stated that, “the State is decidedly PDP since 1999 and this is the first time it found itself in the opposition. This fact, it seems has pit the State against the center to the extent the Federal Government always now merely pay lip service and has not really taken it seriously on many fronts.

“If it were not the case, I am wondering why, for instance, the Federal Government is not currently going ‘gaga’ over Taraba State’s expression that it could feed the rest of the Country with rice. I wonder why the Federal Government has not tapped into the State’s abundant tourism potentials…the only thing that seems to excite the Federal Government about Taraba is how to ‘capture’ it in 2019”.

On the security issue, he painted the grim reality this way: “But beyond all these is the current insipid reaction of the Federal Government to the fears freshly expressed by the Governor of Taraba State, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku. The Governor was very clear about it when he declared last Thursday that the outlawed Boko Haram outfit is regrouping in Taraba.

“Now, that is a scary scenario on it own. But what is scarier is the mute silence and the unfeeling response from the Federal Government… Nothing, not even a whimpering Press Statement offering the usual sleepy assurances. The Governor must have explored other means to drag the attention of the Federal Government on this serious issue”.

But if the Federal Government has not looked the way of Taraba on the issue of security, it has done so in other areas with the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) recent approval of N46 Billion for the completion of the Kashimbilla Dam and Hydro Electricity Project in Takum LGA of Taraba State.

Meanwhile, from the Civil Society point of view, the Government has done ‘extremely well’ in the area of water but they accused the Governor of not carrying them along in the scheme of things as is done in other parts of the world.

Joseph Gimba is the Coordinator, Coalition of Civil Society for Good Governance in Taraba State. He  expressed their concern this way: “He has invested billions into the water sector, but as an NGO, we have our own concern. Our concern is when you spend such a huge amount in providing water to the people, what is the character of the people in wanting such service?

“In as much as we say water is life, do people have the discipline, do they have the mentality, do they have the interest of managing this water that is so expensive? That is the area that we as Civil Society Organizations have a question mark on. They have been doing this and the NGOs are not involved, so I am not going to report to you what I did not see”.

On the way forward Gimba said, “I think the Governor should be more engaging. He should be accessible to different shades of people. It is not who he wants to see but he should also make opportunity for others who want to see him. The present trend the world over is that Government does not work alone.They bring in the services of NGOs.

“I will call on him to involve NGOs in most of what he is doing…because NGOs are making tremendous contribution to the development of Taraba that Government is not aware of. There are CSOs in Taraba State that expend money on development that is more than an entire ministry’s budget and we really want to let him know the areas we are working on, the amount of money NGOs are spending in trying to effect change”.

Taraba and the New Concept of Development

Taraba and the New Concept of Development

By James Aboki.

There is currently a totally new and pragmatic attitude to the very important issue of development of Taraba State under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku. That attitude is anchored on the need to ignite local and foreign investment interests in the state by encouraging people from all parts of the world to come and see the abundance of agricultural, mineral and tourism potentials of the state.

It is part of the larger idea of developing a partnership with people with the resources and technical competence that can help in the implementation of the state government’s blueprint for socio-economic transformation.
But this highly optimistic concept of development comes with a huge burden.

The state must itself be adequately prepared for the expected influx of visitors and increased tempo of economic activities. That means that the various means of transportation to and from the state must improve to make traveling easy and attractive to all visitors. This got Governor Ishaku working and doing so very hard.

The first thing he did was the renovation of the Jalingo Airport which had been abandoned for many years. The airport is now open to flights. There are now three direct flights into Jalingo, the capital city of Taraba State weekly. Ishaku is still discussing with more airline operators to start similar direct flights to Jalingo and the idea has been very well received.

But the greater aspect of the job of smoothening the way for visitors to the state lies in improving the roads in and around the state. And Governor Ishaku is already doing a good job in that direction. Virtually every local government council area in the state has benefitted from the road construction and reconstruction programme of the administration.

The administration has been more generous with Jalingo in this respect. One of the major road project executed in Jalingo is the Jolly Nyame Road. There is also the Jalingo – Kona – Lau road that was for many years a nightmare to motorists. It has been tarred and this gesture of the administration is being deeply appreciated and applauded by those using the road regularly. Also expanded and tarred is Hammanruwa, a major road in the commercial part of the town.

Construction

Construction of Palace Way Road Jalingo 4KM Road.

Another major road whose rehabilitation has earned the Governor the most accolades is Magami Road where Good Shepherd International School is located. The road attracts huge traffic, especially during school hours when parents drop and pick their children. It was like a trip to and from hell then. Today it is a smooth drive into and out of Magami Street. The story is very much the same for Palace Road which has been expanded and asphalted.

The story is very much the same for Palace Road which has been expanded and asphalted.
In fact, Jalingo is under-going a complete facelift through roads rehabilitation. By the time the administration is done with the work it is already doing on the roads of Jalingo, the town will never be the same again. The beauty of the job being done lies more in the quality of delivery. The roads are in most cases being delivered complete with street lights and drainage channels for containing the menace of flooding.

The road from Bali to Gashaka is one of major projects done by the Ishaku administration. Before that road was done, the journey between the two towns took not less than three hours of stressful and hazardous driving. Now it is a one hour smooth drive.

Construction

Construction of Jalingo-Kona Road Phase1: Jalingo- Kona 6.5 KM (Route 55)

All damaged spots that were notorious for causing accidents and deaths on roads in the state have been rehabilitated. This is not limited to any local government. All parts of the state have benefitted from this road rehabilitation programme that has saved many lives and properties. Before Ishaku came into office, the road from Gashaka to Gembu was cut off by erosion. Motorists spent hours at one spot near the damaged portion of the road to take their turns in navigating through a narrow bush path. This got to the attention of Ishaku who promptly dispatched a construction company to the spot and before long, the road was reclaimed. It is now a smooth drive for motorists on that road.

Motorists spent hours at one spot near the damaged portion of the road to take their turns in navigating through a narrow bush path. This got to the attention of Ishaku who promptly dispatched a construction company to the spot and before long, the road was reclaimed. It is now a smooth drive for motorists on that road.

In Takum Council Area, Ishaku’s intervention has eased movement of people through Wukari to Katsina Ala in Benue State. Before Ishaku came into office, the road was cut off by erosion. He ordered the rehabilitation of the road and it was promptly done. The administration also built a bridge across

The administration also built a bridge across Ndiban River. This has also made the movement of goods and people easier and smoother. Road construction in Taraba State is still a huge work in progress and a priority to which the administration is committed.

The other area of immense achievement by the Ishaku administration is security. Government has taken steps to ensure that the state is crisis free and safe for visitors. In all parts of the state, people are ecstatic with appreciation over what the Ishaku administration has achieved in the area of security. Ethno-religious conflicts have been contained. Roads in the state have been cleared of armed bandits who had taken advantage of the prolonged political and

Construction

Construction of Takum- Donga Gawa ( 15KM) Road

Ethno-religious conflicts have been contained. Roads in the state have been cleared of armed bandits who had taken advantage of the prolonged political and ethno-religious crises in the state to make the roads and homes unsafe for the people. At some point before the coming of Ishaku, all the roads leading into Takum were frequent scenes of robbery. They people called the attention of the Governor who promptly responded by sending security patrol teams to the area to clear the area of hoodlums.

Wukari Local Council Area also had a similarly bad experience with insecurity. Ibi, a major town in the council area, was virtually split into two by ethno-religious crisis. People from the two sides of the divide could not visit one another. It was a very bitter case of erstwhile friends, neighbours and brothers and sisters turned enemies. That was the situation before Ishaku came. His intervention promptly restored sanity and the people now live in peace and harmony. As it is in Takum and Wukari, so it is everywhere in the state. Peace is one of the most remarkable achievements of the Ishaku administration. It has, like his other achievements in other areas of socio-economic development, earned for the governor immense respect and commendation everywhere in the state.

His intervention promptly restored sanity and the people now live in peace and harmony. As it is in Takum and Wukari, so it is everywhere in the state. Peace is one of the most remarkable achievements of the Ishaku administration. It has, like his other achievements in other areas of socio-economic development, earned for the governor immense respect and commendation everywhere in the state. The invasion of Fulani herdsmen into parts of the state has also been drastically contained. There is now respite for the

The invasion of Fulani herdsmen into parts of the state has also been drastically contained. There is now respite for the Tivs in Bali, Takum and Wukari. Ishaku’s characteristic prompt intervention in reported cases of security threats and infractions and, in particular, his strategy of enlisting the support of native Fulani people against the foreign Fulani invaders has worked magic in resolving the crises.

With what has been achieved so far in security and in making travelling to and within Taraba State safe and smooth, the stage is set for the much needed, all-stakeholders collaboration that will uplift the state to greater pedestal. Taraba State is a huge treasure house of valuable raw industrial materials and mineral resources. This makes the state the right investment destination. It is also the best holiday destination. The Gashaka Gumti National Park, the largest in West Africa, is also one of the most endowed. Its unique features include an enviable variety of eco-system and

It is also the best holiday destination. The Gashaka Gumti National Park, the largest in West Africa, is also one of the most endowed. Its unique features include an enviable variety of eco-system and wide range of species of animals, birds and other aquatic creatures. The Park had hosted many international personalities in the past, including the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, in 2005 and the Russian ambassador to Nigeria. It is the best holiday spot in this side of the African continent.

Aboki is a Public Affairs Analyst.

Ishaku: Lighting Up Taraba for Development

Ishaku: Lighting Up Taraba for Development

By Danladi Yaro.

Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku, the governor of Taraba State, is no stranger to the technicalities of electricity power generation and distribution. He routinely dealt with those details as minister of power in the immediate past federal administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. In that position, Ishaku co-ordinated the activities that eventually led to the creation of the present dispensation of active private sector participation in electricity power distribution in the country.

Dam

400 MEGAWATTS Kashimbila Dam

He came out of that job also well grounded in the knowledge of the economic benefits of stable power and with the resolve to use that experience, whenever he had the opportunity to serve his people, as key for unlocking the huge potentials of the state, to create employment opportunities and raise the standards of living of the people. It is, therefore, no surprise that the provision of electricity in urban and rural communities in Taraba State is today a priority of the Ishaku administration.

One of the first things Ishaku did on assumption of office as governor was to identify existing but broken or low performing power generating facilities in the state, assess their state of functionality and determine how they can be immediately put to full and effective service of the people.

That exercise has paid off very handsomely. It has led to the restoration of electricity power supply in many towns and communities in Taraba State. But it took not a small amount of courage and commitment on the part of a government that was not only new but was constrained by the long litigation process over the gubernatorial election result in the state and also hamstrung by a treasury that had been plundered and emptied.

One of the communities that benefitted from this new and positive attitude of the government in electric power delivery is the tea producing Kakara community in the Sarduana Local Council Area of the state.

In August last year, a few months after his election victory, Ishaku commissioned the small but very vital Tunga Dam hydropower project which now provides uninterrupted power to the tea factory in Kakara and neighboring communities.

The commissioning was a product of a political will which previous administrations in the state lacked and which almost crippled the project. Ishaku’s intervention came at the time the European Union, EU, which provided the turbines for the project was threatening to dismantle them and take them to Ghana because of the delay in putting the equipment to use. The commissioning has saved the project and provided succor for the people of Kakara and other

The commissioning has saved the project and provided succor for the people of Kakara and other neighboring communities. The project is today seen as a pathfinder for what the nation’s stands to benefit from the bigger Mambilla Hydro Electricity Dam Project that is yet to start in terms of stability in electricity. Ishaku has visited the Sardauna Council area three times in less than one year to sensitize and elicit the support of the people for the bigger Mambilla project. He has also been to Abuja several times to discuss the project and to awaken the appropriate federal authorities to the need to start work on this very important but long neglected electricity power generating project.

Ishaku has visited the Sardauna Council area three times in less than one year to sensitize and elicit the support of the people for the bigger Mambilla project. He has also been to Abuja several times to discuss the project and to awaken the appropriate federal authorities to the need to start work on this very important but long neglected electricity power generating project.

Ishaku’s intervention came at the time the European Union, EU, which provided the turbines for the project was threatening to dismantle them and take them to Ghana because of the delay in putting the equipment to use. The commissioning has saved the project and provided succor for the people of Kakara and other neighboring communities.

The project is today seen as a pathfinder for what the nation’s stands to benefit from the bigger Mambilla Hydro Electricity Dam Project that is yet to start in terms of stability in electricity. Ishaku has visited the Sardauna Council area three times in less than one year to sensitize and elicit the support of the people for the bigger Mambilla project. He has also been to Abuja several times to discuss the project and to awaken the appropriate federal authorities to the need to start work on this very important but long neglected electricity power generating project.

He has also been to Abuja several times to discuss the project and to awaken the appropriate federal authorities to the need to start work on this very important but long neglected electricity power generating project.

Many other towns and communities have benefitted from the very aggressive disposition of the Ishaku administration towards electrification of Taraba State. Lau is one of them. Ishaku had arranged for electricity power to be stepped down in Lau from Kunini and this has greatly and positively transformed power situation in Lau and other adjoining communities. Before then, power supply in the area was far more than epileptic. The commissioning of that project has brought relief for

Before then, power supply in the area was far more than epileptic. The commissioning of that project has brought relief for small-scale business entrepreneurs whose businesses depend on power.

The Kakulu Bible Institute in Zing Local Council Area also now has steady power supply, provided by the administration of Governor Ishaku. Yakoko, another community in the area is profiting from the Kakulu project. Monkin village has a similar good tale to tell on electricity. Its long dream of regular power supply was finally fulfilled with the commissioning of an electricity project by Ishaku early in the life of the administration.

Bali Local Council area has a more pleasant tale to tell about electricity. Five transformers were provided and installed at the same time while 30 electric poles were also mounted to facilitate the provision of electricity in the area. Governor Ishaku executed and personally commissioned this project within the first 100 days of his administration.

In Takum, a lot has also been achieved by the administration in the provision of electricity. Electricity is now far more regular with the purchase and installation of three transformers to boost power supply. Similar projects are replicated in virtually every local government council area in the state.

In less than two years, a lot of progress has been made to extend power supply to urban and rural communities. A lot of people are even surprised how Ishaku was able to finance these projects at a time that government revenue sources are on the decline. But even with the lot that has been achieved in a short time in the provision of electricity, a lot more needs to be done.

In fact, truth is that what government has achieved, remarkable as its impact has been, is a mere scratch on the surface of the power needs of the state. The ultimate solution depends on the outcome of the Mambilla Hydro Electricity project which is yet to take off. Governor Ishaku is not oblivious to this truth and reality. And that is the reason he has been drumming support for the Mambilla project.

Unfortunately Mambilla, as far as the Federal Government is concerned, is all talk and no concrete action. Nothing really is on ground as testimony to the Federal Government’s commitment. In fact most of the people speaking on the project at the federal level and building the people’s hope of the nation for regular power supply on the Mambilla project have never even visited the site.

As at today, there is no access road to the site of the proposed dam. This is the reason people are asking if the federal government is, indeed, committed to the project at all.

President Muhammadu Buhari has a date with history on the issue of Mambilla. Many Nigerian leaders before him made promises on the project but did virtually nothing to redeem those promises.

Many people know President Buhari to be a man with the reputation to stand by his words. He should do so on Mambilla project. To say that the project is critical to national aspiration for development is an understatement. We can only pay lip service to this project to the detriment of these aspirations. Buhari should take the first major crucial step towards actualising the Mambilla project now.

Yaro is a Public Affairs Commentator.

Taraba: Resolving the Water Conundrum

Taraba: Resolving the Water Conundrum

Abdullahi Tafida.

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.

State of the Art Laboratory, Taraba State Water Supply Agency.

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.

Water Tank

450m3 Elevated Water Tanks in Wukari

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.

Reservoir

Discussing on the Additional Erection of the 1500 Cubic Meter Elevated Reservoir

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.

Education: It’s Harvest Time in Taraba

Education: It’s Harvest Time in Taraba

For education in Taraba State, the harvest season is here.It has never had it so good. One major signpost of the good times is the state’s performance in the West African School Certificate, WAEC, examination, for last year. It scored 67.3 percent, the best score recorded by the state in over 25-years of its history. It came on the heels of the magic touch which the educational sector in the state is currently experiencing under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku. That this happened despite the dislocation caused to schools and life generally by the series of communal crises of the time previous to the coming of the present administration underscores the huge amount of effort that went into the revival of the educational system in the first one year of the Ishaku administration. It is also a signal of hope that greater things are in the offing for education and other areas of socio-economic development for the state.

What was achieved last year, is a big contrast with the situation the administration inherited when it came into office in 2015. In that year, the state had no WAEC result. The government of that time was unable to help its students settle their WAEC fees which it had promised to pay and the foremost examination body withheld the state’s results. In the years preceding that incident, the story was only slightly better. The state recorded low performances. At no point in time before last year did it record anything above 48 percent score in WAEC examinations. But the new Ishaku administration rejected that annual ritual of dismal WAEC results and insisted that things must change.

Things, indeed changed but only after the Governor had read the Riot Act to teachers and school administrators in the state. He assured them that his administration had come with a more pragmatic attitude to the development of education and demanded that they played their roles with a greater sense of dedication and patriotism. He followed this up with series of workshops and training programmes for head teachers and later for teachers and administrators in the educational chain. The programmes exposed participants to modern methods of record keeping, tests, and measurement of performances of teachers and students, how to organize result-oriented programmes and maintain discipline generally in schools.

Teachers in Taraba State are now constantly on their toes and so are their students. The new attitude to education has become infectious. This has impacted positively on the number of indigenes of the state gaining direct admission into Taraba State University. Before now, the state could hardly fill its admission quota there. Most of the students had to take the longer route that remedial studies offered.
The new attitude to education in Taraba is a product of the realization that education is the cornerstone of human development. Governor Ishaku never failed to emphasize this point any opportunity he had to talk to teachers, school administrators, students and their parents. Jigem Johannes, commissioner for Education in Taraba State who has worked the entire period of his career life as a teacher, said education in the state has never received the kind of attention it is presently getting in the hands of Ishaku. “It is my most fulfilling moment since I have been in the education sector. Governor Ishaku will be remembered glowingly in future as the Governor who made the most positive and remarkable contribution to the development of education in Taraba State”, he said this in his office at the State Secretariat in Jalingo recently.

Education in Taraba is a pleasant story of magical recovery from neglect and communal crises that had held the state prostrate. Many schools in Gasol, Wukari, Bali, Ibi and to some extent, Gashaka, were closed down for many months as a result of persistent crises. Teachers and students fled their towns and villages and education virtually collapsed. It took the pragmatic steps and effort of Governor Ishaku for peace to be achieved and for the schools to re-open. Governor Ishaku ordered the erection of security checkpoints on the roads to these towns and villages and even on roads leading to the educational institutions. Emirs and village heads were also drafted into the apparatus for the maintenance of peace and security in educational institutions in their domain at the instance of the governor.

The Rescue Watch team, an innovative feedback mechanism created by the Ishaku administration for keeping the Governor constantly abreast of happenings in the local governments and rural communities has been outstanding in its contribution to the improvements in education. Johannes said the group moves from village to village to monitor developments in schools –  the number of children enrolled, the reporting time of teachers, their attitude to work generally and the condition of schools. The Ministry of Education now has a comprehensive documentation of all schools in the state – primary and secondary – and their conditions.

The state’s team of Rescue Watch contributed immensely to the preparation of this document. The exercise is preparatory to the imminent comprehensive renovation of schools. Governor Ishaku released about N900 million for the project from the 2016 budget and the bidding for the projects has been completed. In 2017 budget, 1.7 Billion Naira is allocated for the building of new classrooms, other school buildings, toilets, laboratory buildings and equipment, computers and computer accessories and furniture.   The idea is to enhance the school environment and make it more conducive for teaching and learning.

Governor Ishaku’s attitude to education in the state is like that of a parent eager to provide for his children. He is not holding anything his administration can afford back from the development of educational facilities. His administration has always been eager to release government’s counterpart funds for all UNICEF educational programmes in the state to ensure that the state derives maximum benefits from them. In December last year when 12 students from the state were stranded in Venezuela after completing their studies due to lack of money to pay their way back home, Ishaku played the fatherly role by giving N1.6 Million to each of the parents to bring them back.
That is not all. The state government also paid WAEC fees for exchange schools in the state and special education centres in Mutum Biyu and Garbabi. Also, every term, the state government hires buses to take exchange programmes students from the state studying in the 19 Northern states to and from their schools. This costs the state millions of Naira each time but Ishaku believes that it is a sacrifice the state is making to ensure the safety and comfort of its students.

Computer gifts are also part of the government’s annual package for students of Taraba State origin studying at the Taraba State University. Last year about 300 computers were distributed to the students through balloting. The gesture is aimed at making studies less stressful for the students. Also to reduce the stress suffered by WAEC candidates in the state, a branch office of the examination body has been opened in Jalingo. The building to be used was built and donated by the Taraba State government. With the opening of the WAEC branch office in Jalingo, candidates do not have to take the risk of going to Yola, Adamawa State, as it has been the case for many years, to register for the examination anymore.

Taraba’s Case of Abuja Politicians

Taraba’s Case of Abuja Politicians

Every state in Nigeria has its own version of the problem foisted by a group of people that have gradually increased in number and become a lot more visible for their nuisance value over the years. They are the Abuja politicians. Their homes and villages in the states are the same as yours and mine but they don’t live there. They have not lived there for several decades. They don’t even visit there either as regularly as you and I do. Some of them do not even know the names of their local chiefs and community leaders and have never made any useful contribution towards the provision of those modest water and electricity facilities which members of their local communities are currently enjoying. But they claim to represent us – yes you and I – and they speak for all of us and about us as if they are our true representatives.
The case of Taraba State with Abuja politicians is no less different. Many of them are spent political forces with expired home addresses and have no real electoral value. They have the best houses in Abuja, Lagos and Kaduna but have none they can be proud of back home in Taraba. Their investments are in ventures located in other Nigerian towns and cities but none back home in Taraba to provide employment opportunities and other ancillary benefits for our children. Yet their voices are loudest in condemnation of the government back home for not bowing to their whims and caprices in the decisions it makes or for not placing funds belonging to the state on the table to be shared by them.
The government that does not enjoy the support of Abuja politicians is doomed in their political boxing ring. It will be pummelled beyond recognition. No project, no matter how relevant to the needs of the people and how well executed is recorded in favour of the government as an achievement unless it has the stamp of approval of the Abuja politician or made some personal financial gains from it. The government that insists on doing things the proper way is always tarred with the brush of blackmail. That is the way of the Abuja politician.
To these people, it means nothing if the state is eternally in crisis and the people are daily killing themselves. Why will it matter? They don’t visit the state. Immediate members of their families don’t live in the state either. They don’t have investments in the state that will be at risk in times of crisis. That is the reason they don’t consider the efforts of the government that have saved the state from the inferno of ethno-religious crises as an achievement. But millions of Tarabans who have experienced the fire of crisis, who have lost loved ones and valuable properties, experienced the social and psychological trauma from the unfortunate situation that prevailed before the coming of Ishaku as governor, have not stopped giving testimony in churches and mosques for the peace that God has used the governor to achieve.
The state’s Abuja politicians have, by choice, remained blind to the achievements of the present administration in infrastructure development. They claim not to have seen or heard about the renovation and renewal of the Jalingo Airport which is now open to direct flights thrice a week from Abuja. Their eyes and minds are also closed to the expansive water projects in Jalingo and the provision of 100 water boreholes that have radically redressed the water supply situation in the town and many other towns and villages in the state.

Also, they claim not to know anything about the numerous road projects of the Ishaku administration, either already completed or still on-going. They don’t know and, they don’t care either, that many hospitals and clinics in the state that were hitherto not functional due to lack of medicaments are back on track with good stock of what they require including drugs and running costs. They will also pretend that what the government is already achieving with the re-opening of the state’s School of Nursing and Midwifery which had remained closed for more than ten years before Ishaku became governor, hasn’t gotten to their attention. Many idle  secondary school leavers have been offered admission and will soon take their seats at the nurses’ stations in the various hospitals and clinics in the state to render the much needed medical help. They are also not impressed by the numerous efforts of Governor Ishaku in reviving several abandoned or ailing industries belonging to the government or in which it has an interest. The Kakara tea factory in Mambilla, is a living testimony. The tomato industry in Lau and several others are on line awaiting the remediation pill of the government.
The problem with Abuja politicians from Taraba is largely their inability to subdue political sentiments in their assessment of the government of the day in the state. The tendency, unfortunately, has always been to subject every decision, action and inaction of the state government to the narrow prism of divisive and self-serving political sentiments. This must yield way for a more reflective attitude of appreciation for what is being achieved with the lean resources of government. Indigenes of the state living outside the state, particularly those of them who are politicians, need to kill the virus behind the “pull down syndrome” that makes them blind to the good job the government is doing in the state.
The magic pill against this evil syndrome is empathy that is undiluted with toxic political sentiments. It is the only way government’s views, decisions and achievements can be understood from the correct perspective. It is no crime holding political views that are at variance with that of the government of the day. That, indeed, is the essence of democracy which we practice today. But that is not a license to denigrate and demonise every action of the government of the day. The peculiar character of our own Abuja politicians is not informed by lack of information about the laudable achievements of the present administration but by the deliberate distortion of such information to whip up negative and divisive sentiments for their selfish political gains. That attitude is political demagoguery and it is unacceptable.
Taraba State is a state whose case is different from the others and therefore, deserves the sympathy of all its indigenes. Many of its infrastructure and institutions have been in a state of decay for a long time before the Ishaku administration came on board less than two years ago. What the administration has been doing is to pull the state out of an abyss and lay a solid foundation for development at a time that resources are scarce.

Despite this, the administration has made a lot of impact within a short time, in road construction, the provision of water, job creation, improvement of electricity supply and paid salaries of civil servants regularly. The huge spending on security as a result of the crises which the present administration inherited is hardly remembered by politicians on a mischief mission. Yet, the investment in the achievement of peace is unarguably the best thing the administration has done since coming into office. It is the reason the state is at peace today.  Our Abuja politicians need to repent and renounce their ways. They must show more interest in the development of the state. Governor Ishaku, the man whom God has prepared for the remediation project in Taraba, wants all hands on deck to make the job easier. It is the only way the good things of life that our people need and are asking for can come easy and fast.