Last Tuesday, the Taraba state commissioner for information and re-orientation, Barr Danjuma Adamu, parleyed with the media to update them on the accomplishments so far recorded by the state government under Arc Darius Ishakus watch. Blueprint’s ANDREW OJIH was there.
Upon assuming office on May 29 2015, Governor Darius Ishaku spelt out the cardinal areas his government would be anchored on. These were: peace, security, unity and transformation tagged: The Rescue Agenda Project. By the end of that first tenure, some substantial achievements had been recorded in those sectors despite serious challenges, notably financial constraints. Barr Adamu said his predecessors had touched on these achievements during their tenures in office. However, building on all those successes, Governor Darius Ishaku started his second term in office with greater vigour, commitment and clarity of purpose in fulfilment of his pledge to meet the everyday needs of the people of the state and transform Taraba into a viable state. The resounding and overwhelming victory in the 2019 governorship election gave him further impetus to do more for the people of Taraba state.
Sector by sector analysis
Changing the landscape of Jalingo is another task the government has set for itself. Some of the achievements listed by Barr Adamu included the ongoing dualisation of the Kpanti Napu City Gate to the Jauro Yinu City Gate with bridges, a flyover at the Roadblock area, and other pedestrian bridges in Jalingo being carried out by the Ministry of Works. The construction work, which is being executed by a reputable firm, is expected to be completed within 24 months. This project would go a long way to give Jalingo a facelift and transform it into a model city, befitting its status as a state capital. There are also ongoing road projects by which Governor Ishaku is etching his name in gold, which were started in the first tenure of the governor across the three senatorial zones of the state. They include Mararraba LachekePantisawa road and WukariTsokundi road. Another significant and historical undertaking by the Rescue Captain during the period under review is MararrabaBaissaAbong road in Kurmi local government area of the state. Though attempts were made in the past by previous administrations to construct the road, the project suffered several administrative bottlenecks, leading to its eventual abandonment. It is worthy to note that before the bold step taken by the governor to address this important project, which was also part of his campaign promise to the people of the area, the road was a death trap, causing nightmares to travellers plying it. Barr Adamu revealed that the Kurmi axis is endowed with enormous and untapped agricultural and other natural resources, but the deplorable nature of the road has hampered the economic development of the area. When the road is eventually completed, Governor Ishaku would have his name etched in gold for this bold intervention in the socio-economic development of the area. Work has since started on the road project and it is expected to be completed within a short period of time.
On agriculture, the commissioner harped on the agrarian nature of the state, endowed with tremendous natural resources. Its arable land is suitable for cultivation of varieties of agricultural products such as rice, maize, millet, yam, beans, soybeans, cassava, fruits, among others. The climate is also ideal for all-season farming. Consequently, Governor Ishaku has given top priority to the critical sector to boost agricultural output so as to ensure food security and increase income for farmers. He has also encouraged mechanised farming through the provision of tractors to farmers at subsidised rates. Similarly, the administration has provided the needed farm inputs like seedlings and fertilisers on regular basis and at appropriate times to farmers, also all being subsidised by the state government. Furthermore, animal husbandry is not left out. Taraba climate provides a favourable condition for animal breeding. To avoid the perennial farmers and herders clashes, the government in collaboration with the federal government, he said, would establish a Model Ranch and Livestock Training Centre in line with the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranch Establishment Law for the benefit of this group of agriculturists.
Turning to the health sector, the Taraba mouthpiece said it is also one of the major priorities of The Rescue Agenda II Projec as the governor has never relented in promoting the health needs of the citizens. For example, adequate funds have been budgeted and spent on the purchase of drugs and medical equipment for state hospitals and health care centres in the 16 local government areas. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has ravaged many countries around the world, the governor took several proactive measures to ensure its containment and check its spread to the barest minimum. For starters, the governor constituted a 24-member Covid-19 technical committee to coordinate all the activities relating to the control and spread of the disease in the state. In addition, the committee was tasked with the goal of ensuring adequate publicity and sensitisation on various media platforms, and in churches and mosques on the dangers of the disease. In the same vein, the government in collaboration with Access Bank Plc provided a 100-bed capacity isolation centre for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the state. This is apart from the two Covid-19 isolation centres set up at the Federal Medical Centre and the State Specialist Hospital, both in Jalingo. Aside the provision of face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitisers and other medical kits to the frontline workers and some institutions, the government also ordered the lockdown of the state and the closure of its borders with neighbouring states and the Republic of Cameroon. As a result of the focused and proactive measures taken by the Ishaku-led government, Taraba today is one of the least affected states in the country by this dreaded Covid-19 pandemic. As a matter of fact, the state has not suffered a single death from the disease. This is a remarkable feat when compared with the staggering number of deaths recorded worldwide. In the same vein, plans are afoot to purchase some mobile testing equipment to enhance the capacity of the state government to test people with suspected cases of the disease, as well as carry out general tests on members of the public.
In the area of employment, Barr Adamu revealed that Governor Ishaku granted approval to the Taraba State Civil Service Commission to recruit new staff, absorb some of the casual staff working in different government ministries, departments and agencies, fill some of the vacancies created in the civil service as a result of retirements, deaths and transfers among others. This commendable move has helped greatly in reducing the high level of unemployment in the state, thereby checking youth restiveness and social vices. Taraba has had its own fair share of communal feuds and other security challenges of which the commissioner assured that the Ishaku administration has been active in ensuring adequate protection of lives and properties. This it does by liaising and synergising with all the security agencies in the state and giving adequate support for the realisation of this goal. On a few instances where there had been breaches of security, the government had always responded promptly to contain such crises and provide succour to those affected.
Another important sector that has received a major boost, according to Barr Adamu, is the Ministry of Water Resources. The governor is passionate about making potable water available to the citizens of the state, especially the rural areas where majority of the people live. One of such commitments is the multi-billion naira Greater Jalingo Water Project, which also involves extending pipelines to the suburbs of the state capital. Only recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which formalised the partnership on the management of water and sanitation referred to as EWASH. This no doubt would help reduce the incidence of water borne diseases. Also worthy of mention are the 255 boreholes provided in the rural areas of the state to reduce water scarcity being encountered by people in such localities.
On power supply to boost economic activities and foster infrastructural development, the State Rescue Team under the leadership of Arc. Darius Ishaku took an important step by connecting Mutum Biyu, the headquarters of Gassol local government area to the national grid. This development has led to significant increase in business activities in the town and its environs. Also, work is in progress to link Gassol town, Garba-Chede, Bali town and other settlements in the area to the national grid.
For Governor Ishaku, the time-honoured aphorism, Knowledge is power, goes beyond a mere slogan. As somebody who values education highly, Governor Darius Ishaku since coming on board in 2015 has paid close attention to the education sector. For example, budgetary allocation to this sector has increased, thus helping to boost performance at various levels of the sector. It is important to note that prior to assuming the leadership of the state, students of Taraba State had consistently performed poorly in WAEC. Today, because of the active intervention of the governor, Taraba has been doing far better than in the past. For example, in the 2019 academic year, students from the state scored an impressive 84.74 per cent in the WAEC/SSCE. This is a great achievement recorded in such a short period of time, and the credit rightly goes to the governor for his sound educational policies and programmes. A giant stride worthy of mention is the creation of Ngada Special Development Area out of Kurmi, Donga, Sardauna, Bali and Gashaka LGA with its headquarters in Sunkuru. This initiative is specifically aimed at bringing development to these hitherto neglected communities. Today, the people of this area are enjoying a new lease of life with the provision of such facilities as secretariat, police post, primary health care centre, primary and secondary schools, rural roads and the empowerment of the youth through skills acquisition programmes. This is a clear demonstration of the governors concern for citizens of the state, especially those living in the rural areas. Without doubt, Governor Ishakus second coming has been eventful, packed with many laudable programmes and projects, which will greatly impact positively on the lives of the people of the state. His pact with Tarabans is on track, and if the first tenure is any guide, then this second tenure will surely be a pointer to greater things to come for the people of the state.