On his inauguration after being elected as Governor of Taraba State on May 29, 2015, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, while acknowledging the loud cheers of the mammoth crowd that came to witness the ceremony, admonished: “Give me peace and I will give you development.” He then proceeded to spell out the cardinal areas his government will be anchored on. These are Peace, Security, Unity and Transformation of Taraba State, tagged: “THE RESCUE AGENDA PROJECT.”
Thus the story of Governor Ishaku’s administration has been one of building peace and development in the state that is known as: “Nature’s gift to the Nation.” By the end of that first tenure, some substantial achievements had been recorded in those sectors, despite serious challenges, notably financial constraints.
Building on all those successes, 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 and transform Taraba into a viable State. The resounding and overwhelming victory in the 2019 governorship election, gave him further impetus to do more in this regard.
Notable among some of these achievements is the massive facelift being undertaken to transform the state capital Jalingo into a model city befitting its status. The projects in this regard include 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 being carried out by the Ministry of Works. The construction works, which is being executed by a reputable firm, is expected to be completed within 24 months.
There are also ongoing road projects, which were started in the first tenure of the Governor, across the three Senatorial zones of the State. They include: Mararraba Lacheke-Pantisawa Road and Wukari-Tsokundi Road.
Another milestone project undertaken by the Governor, fondly called: “Rescue Captain,” during this period under review is the Mararraba-Baissa-Abong 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, however, could not take off, leading to its being abandoned for a long time. 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.
Kurmi Local Government is endowed with enormous, 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, following commencement of work, Ishaku would have his name written in gold for this bold intervention in the socio-economic development of the area.
As an agrarian state Taraba’s arable land is suitable for cultivation of varieties of agricultural products such as rice, maize, millet, yam, beans, soybeans, cassava, fruits among others. The state also enjoys a climate ideal for all-season farming.
To this end, Ishaku has given top priority to agriculture to boost agricultural output so as to ensure food security and increased income for farmers. He has also encouraged mechanised farming through the provision of tractors to farmers at subsidised rates. Similarly, the administration had provided the needed farm inputs like seedlings and fertilizers on regular and at appropriate time to farmers, all being subsidised by the State Government.
Furthermore, animal husbandry is not left out. Taraba climate provides favourable condition for animal breeding. To avoid the perennial farmers and herders clashes, the Government in collaboration with the Federal Government plans to establish a Model Ranch and Livestock Training Centre in line with the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranch Establishment Law.
In the health sector, which is also one of the major priorities of The Rescue Agenda Two Project, the Governor has never relented to promote 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 a start, 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 Taraba 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 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 sanitizers 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.
Indeed the State has not suffered a single death from the disease, which is a remarkable feat considering 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 order to address the problem of unemployment, 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 State 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.
Security being one of the major challenges in the State, the administration has been pro-active in ensuring adequate protection of lives and property. This it does by liaising and synergising with all the security agencies in the State and giving the adequate support for the realisation of this goal. On the 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 is the provision of water. Because Ishaku is passionate in making portable drinking water available to the citizens of the State, especially the rural areas where a majority of the people live, the Ministry of Water Resources has been given a major boost. One of the major projects being undertaken in this regard 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 was signed with the United States Agency for International Development, which formalised the partnership on the management of water and sanitation referred to as EWASH. This, no doubt, will help reduce incidence of water borne diseases in the state. 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.
Power supply is also one of the major planks of Governor Ishaku’s Administration. It has been identified as a necessary spur to boost economic activities and foster infrastructural development around. An important milestone was reached when through Ishaku’s untiring efforts, Mutum Biyu, the headquarters of Gassol Local Government Area and one of the principal towns in the state, was connected 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.
As somebody who values education highly, Governor Ishaku since coming on board in 2015 has paid close attention to the education sector. Budgetary allocation to this sector has increased, thus helping to boost performance at various levels. It is important to note that prior to the coming of the Governor, students of Taraba State had consistently performed poorly in the examinations of the West African Examination Council. Today, because of the active intervention of the Governor, Taraba State has been doing far better than in the past. For example, in the 2019 academic year the students from the State scored an impressive 84.74 per cent in the WAEC. This is a great achievement recorded in such a short period of time, and the credit rightly goes to the Governor for these sound educational policies and programmes.
Also a giant stride worthy of mention is the creation of Ngada Special Development Area out of Kurmi, Donga, Sardauna, Bali and Gashaka Local Government Areas 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 Governor’s concern for citizens of the State, especially those living in the rural areas.
Without doubt, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s second tenure 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 surely will be a pointer to greater things to come for the people of the State.
Hon. Adamu is the Commissioner for Information and Re-Orientation for Taraba State.