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.
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.
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.
Governor Darius Ishaku has allayed fears of civil servants by assuring them he would not rest until all salary arrears are sorted out. While the state workers are not being owed, some workers especially teachers are complaining. Ishaku said he is not sleeping on the matter and that he has practically declared a state of emergency in that sector.
He said he has been personally involved in resolving the logjam. The governor also said government exists for non-salary earners as well who must be catered for. He noted that while considering salary earners, his administration is also bothered about other Taraba residents who are not on government payrolls.
In a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello, the governor noted that salaries are very important as they make the economy more lively. He said, “as a salary earner myself, I know the import of that critical aspect of a worker’s life. I have told my team that no one who sweats for weeks should have to worry about his or her salary. It is their entitlements. As I worry about that, I also worry about pension and gratuity.
I’m not playing politics with this matter. And I’ve warned my team not to even contemplate it. We are going to pay everyone who is entitled. Recently, working with our grass-roots teams, we were able to map out all the schools and teachers too. No teacher should worry about salaries as they are our fathers and molders of our children characters. This is even more so as I’ve been a teacher too and I know what this means to us.”
The governor noted further that government exists too for those who do not get salaries. He said, ” while we are ensuring that salary earners are not shortchanged, it is important to note that we are also providing infrastructures for those who don’t get salaries. And they are many. We need to provide them with roads, hospitals, security and all the other social amenities. So you see, we have to factor them in too inside the little funds we get from the federal purse. That is why we are working round the clock to cater for farmers, youth groups, and women. The entire state is my constituency and we are committed to all inspire of his religion or region.”
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
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.
Sylvanus Y. Giwa
(Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Taraba State on Media and Publicity)
Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku has expressed satisfaction with the speedy work at the Greenhouse farm.
Governor Darius Ishaku was speaking when he inspected the Greenhouse farm at the college of Agriculture Jalingo.
He said Tarabans would soon start enjoying the Cucumber, Pepper, Tomato and lettuce when harvest starts in three weeks.
The Governor remarked that when the farm begins harvesting, Tarabans would get the desired effect of the farm.
Governor Darius Ishaku disclosed that the farm has the capacity of employing more than five hundred youths.
Also speaking, the site Manager James Uchenna assured Tarabans that by the next three weeks, they would start enjoying vegetables from the farm.
Commenting, Moses Nsikkai who spoke on behalf of the workers, thanked Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku for his support to Youths in the state, urging him to do more.
Commissioner of Agriculture, David Ishaya Kassa and other aides accompanied the Governor.