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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.

Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku Water Revolution in Taraba State

The Rescue initiatives of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku has advanced towards a definite realization of its intended purpose, by putting his entire self into whatever concerns his people’s welfare. DDI’s appearance on Taraba’s landscape has been applauded by many as the best thing that has happened to the State bringing into cognizance the harrowing experience of socio-economic stagnation over the years. Tangible features of development that would have an impact on people’s lives were in trickles, in selected sectors and spread over long indefinite intervals.

The people seemed to have given up on any possibility of escaping from these state of affairs until they saw renewed hope in the advocacy of the Rescue Agenda. His perception of the poor state of activities in the state amidst abundance ignited in him the resolve to water the beautiful but dried landscape by restoring hope. Literally, water remains a cardinal objective of the rescue mission which the Rescue Captain and the African Development Bank are to expend Ten Billion Naira.

Prompt and Timely Rescue.

The cliché that water is life is practical and the use of water transcends all human activities from food production, processing to manufacturing and industrial use. Water is a fundamental human need. Studies indicate that each person on earth requires at least 20 to

Water Tank

450m3 Elevated Water Tanks in Wukari

50 liters of clean, safe water a day, for drinking, cooking, and simply keeping themselves clean. Water facilities in Jalingo have been in existence but in an epileptic state. Water pipes were practically obsolete and taps in homes were not functional. People turned to any available water source to meet household needs. The challenge is that what is available to a majority of people especially in rural areas, is polluted water which is not only dirty but deadly. Some 1.8 million people die every year of diseases like cholera. Tens of millions of others are seriously sickened by a host of water-related ailments—many of which are easily preventable.

The United Nations considers universal access to clean water a basic human right, and as an essential step towards improving living standards worldwide. Most communities in Taraba State are typically economically poor as well, their residents are trapped in the cycle of poverty.

Looking at the big picture of the Rescue Mission of DDI, any other thing will be a mirage without a healthy population. Virtually every sector of the society is linked to health. Education suffers when sick children miss school and so will it be when sick teachers fail to turn up at work. Economic opportunities are routinely lost to the impacts of rampant illness and the time-consuming processes of sourcing water where it is not readily available. Children and women bear the brunt of these burdens when so much time and energy is invested in the bid to provide water for the family.

Practically everything needs water to function beginning from humans, animals, and plants for hydration, the Agricultural sector, and industries that depend on water for food production. Sanitation is an equally important factor in healthy society and water is essential to realizing the objective. The absence of proper sanitation services not only breeds disease, it can also rob people of their basic human dignity.

Health scholars have argued that Nigeria is one of the countries in the world that has unsafe water supplies due to the uncoordinated efforts of various federal, state and local agencies. Given the low quality of drinking water in Nigeria, most Nigerians usually contact a waterborne illness. Studies have also shown that, when pollutants find their way into drinking water sources and are not eliminated by water treatment processes, it can make people sick. Some common causes have been attributed to lack of sanitation system, dilapidated pipes, contamination of running water in environments where human and wildlife use the same source of water.

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

The reality of the living condition of people became known to him during his campaign tour when he saw humans sharing water sources with pigs at Lau. From that moment, he was determined to change the story of Taraba once given the mandate. On the whole, Taraba State was dehydrated in multiple ways but the step to rehydration must begin somewhere – with potable water. By these considerations DDI, at first instance could not stand the sight of his people suffering due to lack of water so he called his first shot.

A cross section of the populace had different views at the beginning, some were optimistic about the rehabilitation exercise and had confidence on the government to deliver on campaign promises, others saw it as an avenue for government officials to embezzle funds and yet others were indifferent to the entire process. They preferred to watch as events unfold. However in few months, the story on the lips of everyone is the same as water flows steadily. Before now many persons who never saw the need to have pumps in their houses have been forced to have a rethink while others have shared testimonies on how they have been able to cut down on their spending as huge amounts being spent on buying water has been slashed out.

The DDI water revolution is a giant initiative, changing the lives of the people and wetting the ground for limitless socio-economic possibilities for Taraba State.   There has not been a better time than now that the water sector receives pragmatic and purposeful attention and support from the government.

So far, the following remarkable achievements have been recorded:

  • The repair of all broken down plants, pumps and equipment in all water supply stations of the state on assumption of office.
  • The restoration of water supply to Jalingo and 39 other towns through consistent release of funds to the State Water Supply Agency for the operation and maintenance of the State water supply systems.
  • Visit to the Country Director, African Development Bank Nigerian Field Office for collaboration and partnership towards meeting the State’s developmental stride. This has enabled the Governor to secure another support from African Development Bank towards improving rural water supply in the state.
  • The award of new contract for the Jalingo Primary Water Source to augment existing effort.
  • The payment of counterpart funds for JICA drilling rig which has been lying dormant for about two years.
  • The drilling of 100 boreholes in communities across the State.
  • The purchase of cutting–edge modern laboratory equipment for water quality control.
  • The purchase of water treatment chemicals to ensure good quality water that is safe for the people.
  • Study and benchmarking visit to Nairobi City and Sewage Corporation.
  • The purchase of 500 water pumps to support irrigation and dry season farming in the State.
  • Construction of 2 boreholes and dedicated water transmission pipeline to the Greenhouse site at College of Agric covering a distance of over 3km.
  • The passage of National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene policy document to establish the legal framework for water resources development in Taraba State.
  • The Gains of the Kenya Tour.

The passion of Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku to turn around Taraba’s socio-economic fortune has been at the centre of his activities since he assumed office on 29th May 2015. Keen observers have remarked that he hardly lets any opportunity pass by without looking out for possibilities to add value to the State and the people. He is always exploring new grounds and expanding his contact range to reach as many potential intervention agents as possible. With the Rescue captain, there is certainly no dull moment when it comes to his commitment to make good his promise of providing development in exchange for peace.

The Kenyan study tour and benchmarking exercise to the Nairobi City Water and Sewage Corporation was characteristically pedagogic, featured in presentation and participatory sessions, and visit to some leading water supply facilities of the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation as well as to the Thika Dam which serves as the main water supply source to the Corporation.

The interactive session placed in perspective the real needs, possibilities, challenges, projections and successes that will set Taraba State on track for realizing its goals in water provision. This firsthand interaction and practical tour of the water facilities is a major step for the team. Sharing their experience in the development and management of their water sources, distribution, billing, and deployment of modern technology for effective and efficient operations for self-sustainability and quality services presented the visiting team with first-hand narratives that efficient and sustainable water supply is achievable in Taraba State and it is the Ernest desire of the Rescue Captain to make the water system work in the manner they saw in Kenya.  Offshoots of the visit include the following:-

  • The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Taraba State Water Supply Agency and Nairobi City Water and Sewage Corporation, thus creating a platform for collaboration.
  • The government has worked out modalities to send about 50 personnel of the Taraba State Water Supply Agency on a Hands-on –Training to Nairobi City Water and Sewage Corporation to build capacity for the operation and maintenance of the water systems in Taraba State.
  • Governor Darius Ishaku has promised to support the TSWSA through the deployment of technology and innovations to help the agency achieve service efficiency. The government is also working with the African Development Bank to create an enabling environment for the operations of the State Water Agency through the review of existing laws to cater for the new outlook of the institution through institutional reforms and capacity building.
  • The Government is also considering the granting of autonomy to the TSWSA using the principle “Hands-off-Eyes-on”. They are working out modalities for a gradual withdrawal of government financial support for operation and maintenance, while they encourage the Water Supply Agency to stand on its own considering the fact that Water remains a huge revenue earner that can guarantee returns on investment if properly managed.

According to the Governor, Board of Directors comprising highly experienced individuals with a reputation would be appointed to give policy direction to the Agency. The Management of the State Water Supply Agency will be strengthened and repositioned for better performance. They shall sign performance contracts with the management with defined targets and deliverables to achieve in order to ensure accountability and commitment.

Jalingo Primary Water Supply Project.

Recently, a Town Hall Meeting on Taraba State Water reform Sector was held and all and sundry were present; All present commended the Timely Rescue and urged the Governor for sustainability, just like Oliver Twist they unanimously asked for more.
The General Manager of TSWSA, Hon. Musa Buba Siam thanked the Governor for his prompt and timely interventions, and his ever willingness to provide aids in terms of the need to the Water Sector of the State. He conformed to the genuinety of all listed landmarks by DDI in the Water Sector.

The Commissioner of Water Resources, Barr. Gowon Emmanuel Hallan on his own part shed light on the government intervention, he gave more revelations. In his words “The journey has not been easy, even though interesting. The person that turns the tap and sees water running does not understand the energy exerted in planning, construction and operating the system to enable water flow through the tap, but one that is involved in the complexities of the onerous tasks. I appreciate it now that I am involved”.

The Revolution that greeted the water sector in Taraba State has restored the hope of the common man as they now see for themselves what Abraham Lincoln defined as “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”. There is only one thing on the lips of everyone – Praise for Governor Darius Ishaku as he has indeed rescued all from the shackles of lack of portable water supply.  The Rescue Mission Agenda of the current Administration have indeed been made manifest in the Water sector and other areas which have made the people to constantly chant “Taraba, Sai Darius”.

It is indeed a time of accentuated activity for the Rescue captain as he explores all avenues, leaving no stone unturned in the process, to tell Taraba’s story and beckon on willing partners to come and join in the business of moving the State to an enviable height. It is the hope of all Tarabans that these seeds he is sowing will yield profitable results in the near future and posterity will remain grateful to him for the exploring and daring spirit embedded in this astute visionary.

Contributed by:

Sylvanus Y. Giwa
(Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Taraba State on Media and Publicity)

Jalingo Green House: The Silent Revolution Sweeping the Agricultural Sector.

Jalingo Green House: The Silent Revolution Sweeping the Agricultural Sector.

By Nick Dugba

Taraba, which is mostly an Agricultural State and prides itself as the ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’ is about to experience a turnaround in agriculture, thereby boosting its economic standing in the committee of States in Nigeria.

Green House Project

Green House Project

The reason for this revolution is no other venture than the gigantic green house project situated within the premises of the Taraba state University and the State College of Agriculture in Jalingo.

The project was initiated by the Rescue Administration of Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, with the initial capacity to produce four exotic crops- cucumber, lettuce, pepper and tomatoes.

It promises to be the first greenhouse in the entire north east sub region and the largest in the country. It sits on five hectares of land with an installed capacity to house fifteen greenhouses. Currently, eight of them have been completed while the remaining are still under construction.

The project was contracted to Onida Development Ltd, an Israeli company, which hopes to construct the project, train the needed personnel and handover the project to the owner- the Taraba state government, in the future.

Established in August 2015 by the Darius Ishaku government, the green house is worth N2 Billion and according to the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr David Ishaya Kassa, N900 Million has so far been sunk into the project which is about 65 to 70 per cent completed.

Does Taraba Need a Greenhouse?

A lot of politicking had characterized the establishment of a greenhouse in the state with some claiming it shouldn’t be a priority of government. But if we are to go by the business principle of need assessment, a greenhouse is indeed needed for several reasons.

One fact that can’t be debated is the fact that the state hardly produced vegetables which are basic dietary requirements for the people and a greenhouse can serve as not only a source for vegetables but create capacity for farmers who would like to engage in vegetable farming. Vegetables like cabbage, carrots, lettuce, cucumber and so on are mainly brought into the state from elsewhere and a greenhouse might fill that gap.

Secondly, it may serve as a source of employment for the youths and revenue generation for the state as the Commissioner rightly pointed out.

Cucumber from Green House Project

Cucumber from Green House Project

“Apart from supplying the vegetables of international quality, we intend to also take it to other cities. You know in this country, most of our vegetables are being imported. We want to replace those markets; instead of importing vegetables, let’s produce them in Taraba so that we can earn forex. Apart from that, if you go to the greenhouse, you will find out that over 200 of our youths are already employed. That is to say, part of the vision of this greenhouse is being fulfilled by tackling the issue of unemployment of our youths”.

Besides that, Kassa added saying “the location of the greenhouse is within the university and the College of Agriculture. Most a times, you will see our students going on excursion to see how crops are being produced. Now they have them at their backyard. Now they can come and see how these crops are being produced under very high and best agronomic practices. That’s why we say there will be technology transfer”.

Facts About the Greenhouse You May Not Know

Following the establishment of this development masterpiece, a lot of misconceptions, politics, rumours and ignorance have threatened the smooth running of the project.

Some people have speculated that the project is privately owned,while some workers at the site have complained of unfair treatment by authorities of the greenhouse. As a matter of fact, some of them who couldn’t cope with the condition of service of the organization contracted to run the project, have since looked elsewhere.

One of the newly employed workers who pleaded anonymity, complained of the N25,000 monthly pay as too meagre considering the labour involved in the greenhouse.

The mother of one and a HND graduate from the College of Agriculture, Jalingo, regretted the fact that there was no special consideration given to graduates as all workers irrespective of their educational status, are thrown into the greenhouse to do the same menial work. As a result of this circumstances, several workers had quited earlier than expected.

The Site Manager of the project, James Uchenna, however praised the governor for his commitment towards seeing that the project succeeded. He disclosed that the issues of water and electricity had been taken care of by the governor.

“He has delivered on the issue of water and power. On the issue of security, nobody has ever in any guise harassed us. So I must commend him for that. Then also the workers; most of them came here very raw but they were exposed and I can tell you now, we have three greenhouses and they are working there”, he revealed.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, David Ishaya Kassa, on his part debunked  claims of Ill- treatment meted on workers, stressing that the reason workers are having issues is because the government is not yet in full control of the project. He however gave the assurance that the future will be  bright.

“You know the greenhouse is not yet owned by the State. It is still under construction. It is the contractor that has the right to decide who would work for them. But by the time they have completed the work, that is when we would retain some of these graduates and they would do their professional work.

“But as it is now, you have to go by what the contractor would say. Most of them are on casual basis because they are still constructing the greenhouses. By the time it is handed over to us, any person working there would be under the terms and conditions of the Taraba State Government”, the Commissioner assured.

He attributed the claims and speculations to ignorance. “May be the people did not understand it very well. As it is now, they are under the contractor’s’ payroll, later on we would receive them and all the condition of service of Taraba State Government would apply to them”.

Lessons from the Taraba Council Elections

Lessons from the Taraba Council Elections

Those who say that Nigerian politicians are poor students of history cannot be faulted. They are perfectly right. Nigerian politicians are indeed, an excellent example of this brand. They forget the past very easily and often recourse to those things that they had condemned and consigned to the dustbins of history as inimical to the survival, growth, and maturity of democracy in our country.

They insist when it is convenient for them to do so, that elections must be free and fair and that nothing should be done to impede that expressway that leads to the dreamland of electoral freeness and fairness. But when the tide of the political cyclone turns against them, the drumming will change and so will the dance steps too. The rest of their actions, thereafter, can only be better left to the imagination. They will turn hitherto cherished principles of electoral perfection on their heads and unashamedly insist that it is the right way to go.

The most recent example of this contradiction was experienced in Taraba State where local council elections were held Saturday, February 25, Ibi Council Area in particular. Chairmen and councilors were being elected into the 16 local government councils to succeed caretaker committees that have been running their affairs for some time now. The elections were meant to enrich the nation’s new culture of representative governance whereby only those that the people have freely chosen through the instrumentality of the ballot box will occupy elective positions.

The Government of Governor Darius Ishaku, determined to make the elections a positive contribution towards strengthening the country’s incipient culture of democracy, took all steps necessary for this goal to be achieved. Despite all these, there were people who did not want this to happen. They were the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders in Ibi, one of the 16 local government council areas in Taraba State, and the only council area where the recent council elections did not hold on the scheduled date. They came out on their evil mission to stop the elections in the local government and they succeeded but only because Governor Ishaku declined the option of using the machinery of law and order to disperse them from where they had laid an ambush for electoral materials meant for that day’s election.

Before the day of the elections, electoral materials were moved by the State Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC, to police stations in all council headquarters for safe keeping, Ibi inclusive. That had been the practice, even in the case of national elections. It always worked out well. Even in this case, everything looked perfectly right until what became a contest between the good and the bad took the centre stage in Ibi in the early hours of the polling day.

A group of politicians and their supporters belonging to the All Progressives Congress, APC, thought the best thing to do was to prevent the elections from taking place since they were sure that their candidate was unpopular and would ultimately lose if the election were allowed to hold.

They devised a trick to achieve that. They arrived early at the gates leading into the police station in Ibi where electoral materials were being kept and blocked it, insisting that the materials would not be moved out to polling venues. And so, the elections did not take place there. When they were certain that it had become too late in the day to hold the elections, they vacated the entrance to the police station. At that point, the only option feasible was the postponement of the elections and the return of the materials to Jalingo. And that was what SIEC did. The incident which was condemned by many

The incident was condemned by many well meaning Nigerians in and outside Taraba State, a sad reminder of the stiff and unaccommodating attitude of our politicians to elections. That attitude is that all elections must end in their favour otherwise, the process is demonized and truncated. That was what played out in Ibi on February 25. In case those who were behind those unfortunate events in Ibi haven’t realized yet, they need be told that they only succeeded in drawing back the hand of the clock and this will affect their Council area in a negative way for a long time to come. Today, Ibi is the only council area still being administered by a caretaker committee.

Today, Ibi is the only council area still being administered by a caretaker committee.But besides that incident, the council elections were peaceful, adjudged as very free and fair by electoral observers and other independent groups that witnessed it.

Governor Ishaku was commended by the monitoring teams (and there were many of them on duty that period) for creating the atmosphere that enabled the success of polling. The National Orientation Agency, NOA, in Taraba State even wrote a commendation letter which was addressed to Governor Ishaku. In the letter, the Agency’s Taraba State director, Dr. Robert Gulkawi, said the governor demonstrated through the elections a rare “spirit of sportsmanship.” Dr Dulkawi said NOA officers who covered the elections submitted reports to the effect that the process was “incontestably transparent.” This, Gulkawi said stood out the elections as hugely credible, unstoppably convincing and widely acceptable.”

The contest was no doubt, fierce with about ten registered political parties in the race. At the end of it all the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, won in all the 15 local government council areas where the elections were held. It was a well-deserved victory for the party.

The victories were seen in many quarters as evidence of Ishaku’s ever rising popularity rating in the political firmament of the state. It was the people’s way of saying “Thank You” for the marvellous job he has done on the roads, at the Jalingo Airport, in the provision of water to the state capital and other towns and communities, in repositioning educational institutions and in renovating hospitals and equipping them with drugs to improve the quality of healthcare delivery and in stabilizing electricity power supply in some areas of the state. The party’s victory was also a way of acknowledging the regular payment of workers’ salaries by the Ishaku administration and many other things that the government has achieved in less than two years in office.
Those elected have already taken their seats in the various council areas.

At the inauguration on Monday, February 27, 2017, in Jalingo, Governor Ishaku urged the new council helmsmen to discharge their duties with humility and to ensure prudent application of resources. The event was witnessed by a cross section of PDP chieftains from all the council areas in the state. It was a happy ending to an exercise that people had feared would lead to unending crisis. Those fears failed to manifest. Rather, it further united the people behind the resolve to maintain peace. Some people, particularly, youths came out in their thousands in a solidarity rally with the Governor and the efforts he is making to put the state on the path of development.

Taraba: Re-Writing the Tale of Rot and Neglect

Taraba: Re-Writing the Tale of Rot and Neglect

By Jonathan Ajibade

I have just had the privilege of spending some days in some major towns and villages in Taraba State. The experience of visiting 13 out of the state’s 16 Local Council Areas in five days was quite thrilling. But what I found in most places that I visited awed me to no end. I was amazed, for example, at the sheer size of the state, the beauty in the diversity of its weather and nature’s benevolence on the state through the gift of highly valued agricultural and mineral resources.

The visit was also a fascinating eye-opener on the other side of success. It brought out the very painful fact that Taraba State was like a car on reverse gear for many years before the coming of Ishaku to the political stage. Some of the major infrastructural facilities in the state were in a state of decline and rot. Some of the roads, health facilities, educational institutions and even some government-owned business outfits bore the marks of neglect and decay of the past years.

The tomato processing factor in Lau is perhaps the worst victim of neglect in the industrial sector. It was abandoned by Gongola State Government nearly 30 years ago, a few years before Taraba State was carved out of it. The factory has remained comatose since then. This has negatively impacted on tomato production in the area. But fortunately, the factory is now about to be resuscitated under the Rescue Agenda of Governor Ishaku. Tomato processing experts from Germany have already visited the factory on the invitation of Ishaku and are soon to return to revive the business.

Tomato processing experts from Germany have already visited the factory on the invitation of Ishaku and are soon to return to revive the business. This has raised the hope for the return of the popular tomato puree brand that was then known as Kitchen Queen to the markets nationwide. For tomato farmers, the return of the factory to business will be the dawn of a new era. The demand for tomato will increase and so will the money they will realize from its sales.

In the health sector, the School of Nursing and Midwifery stands out like a sore thumb. Nothing tells the story of the rot in the sector more vividly than the institution. For more than 10 years, the institution admitted no fresh students and graduated no new nurses and midwives for the hospitals and clinics in the state. It was suspended by the Nurses and Midwifery Council of Nigeria due to lack of facilities. No governor before Ishaku did anything concrete to reverse that situation.

A few months after he took over as governor Ishaku intervened. The conditions given for the lifting of the embargo were met by the government. The Council, for example, wanted the institution’s permanent site project completed and students moved there. It also wants an ICT unit established in the institution.

The Council, for example, wanted the institution’s permanent site project completed and students moved there. It also wants an ICT unit established in the institution.

Today, all these and more have been accomplished by the Ishaku administration. The embargo has now been lifted by the Council and fresh students already admitted. The closure of the school for ten years is part of the reason hospitals and clinics in the state are poorly staffed today, a situation which Ishaku is determined to reverse quickly.  With this development, the number of qualified nurses and midwives in hospitals and clinics in the state is set to improve. And so is the quality of services that will be provided in these health institutions. Patients visiting the hospitals are certain to get a better deal.

The Specialist Hospital in Jalingo is yet another traumatic case of past neglect. At some point, the hospital could not even render mortuary services. This came to a complete stop because it had no funds to continue with the services. So, it stopped accepting corpses. Some basic and critical equipment had also broken down. One of them is the Computerised Tomography.

The hi-tech equipment is critical to all medical investigations and is a necessity in any hospitals worthy of its name. It broke down in 2009 and nothing was done until Ishaku came and ordered the release of funds for its repair. Today, the equipment is in use. And the hospital is fully back in the service of the people who come from all parts of the state and other neighbouring states.

There is now generally a new atmosphere of freshness in the hospitals in the state with new items being purchased for use in serving the people coming for medical attention. For three times since the coming of Governor Ishaku, money has been released for new medical equipment to be purchased for use in hospitals and the staff members are today more professionally fulfilled than they have ever been for many years in the past. There is also a new attitude of self-fulfilment in the work place that is already translating into efficiency in service delivery in most health institutions in the state.

In all hospitals and clinics in the state, the story is told of the quiet but focused efforts of government to strengthen them to live up to their billings as healthcare givers. Running costs have been reinstated and increased for health institutions. Some General Hospitals are also being renovated and re-equipped. One of them is the Gembu General Hospital in the Sardauna Local Council area. Newly recruited nurses and midwifes have also being posted there to strengthen the professional arm of the workforce in the hospital.

During the trip, I saw excitement on the faces of the people, particularly farmers. It is now harvest time in the state and it is the best of the times for those who have worked very hard on the farms. Heaps of sacks filled with milled and yet to be milled rice were everywhere in the towns and villages in Taraba State. So also were yams, maize, millet and guinea corn.

Farmers were all smiles as they waved down trailers and other heavy duty vehicles to convey them and their harvests to markets in and outside the state. It has been a particularly good year for farmers, courtesy of the new emphasis that agriculture has received from the administration of Governor Ishaku. This underscores what Ishaku said recently about the capacity of Taraba State to produce enough rice to feed the nation. I can testify to the fact that it is not an empty boast.

But even in the midst of the joy of good harvests and improvements in the services now being provided by government institutions, the people have not forgotten the gory spectre of sectarian crises of the past. It is one regrettable chapter in the history of the state that they do not wish for again in their lifetime. Those days when friends and neighbours suddenly became sworn enemies and took up arms against one another must not be allowed to return to any part of Taraba State again.

They would want Governor Ishaku to make the sustenance of peace which he has already achieved for the state a critical part of his administration’s agenda.

From my own position on the sidelines, I can already see that Ishaku is determined to succeed beyond the people’s imagination. He has proved that he has a good understanding of the purpose of governance by making the people the centre of government’s agenda for development. His catch phrase of “Give me peace and I give you development” is an apt summary of what the state requires.

The people of Taraba State are peace-loving and hard working too. In addition to whatever government wants to provide for them, they are also ready to help themselves. I saw that much in them during my trip round the state. But they and even the Governor will not be able to achieve much if there is no peace and unity of purpose among all the critical stakeholders in the state.

That’s why the people must close ranks and become united behind the desire for peace. Religious and ethnic differences must give way to the common desire for peace and development, the twin concept that Governor Ishaku is promoting.

Ajibade is Public Affairs Commentator.

Stakeholders Hail Gov. Ishaku on New VC Pick.

Stakeholders Hail Gov. Ishaku on New VC Pick.

A collection of stakeholders in Taraba state and across the nation, has hailed the appointment of Professor Vincent Tenebe as the new Vice Chancellor of the Taraba State University (TSU). Tenebe was, among many things, the immediate Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). 

Speaking to KWARARAFA REPORTERS, current spokesman of NOUN, Mallam Ibrahim Sheme, said he believes Taraba state has made a “great” choice in the VC pick. He said, “I believe that was a fantastic choice. When we came here we were astounded by all we heard of the former VC. You know, not many people say good things about predecessors. But Prof Tenebe was lauded by many people here. He also helped us as we transited. I think he is a credible choice and I want to commend him.”
 
In a similar vein, Hassan Zanau, a public affair commentator, said Tenebe is one of the best decisions of Mr. Darius Ishaku. KWARARAFA REPORTERS monitored many online reactions that showed that Tenebe enjoyed a close to 100% acceptance among many stakeholders. Some respondents said his track record has qualified him for the new office. 
 
A renown academic, Tenebe is credited with turning NOUN around and making it a veritable institution of learning.
 
Governor Ishaku is being lauded by many who believe Tenebe would move the Taraba State University to enviable heights.