Opposition call for my impeachment unfair –Gov Ishaku
Followingrecent calls by the Nigerian Envoy to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Alh Hassan Ardo Jika for the impeachment of the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku for incompetence and gross violation of the constitution, the the Senior Special Adviser to the governor on media, Mr Bala Dan Abu has said the opposition is unfair to the governor as the state has witnessed unprecedented development during his tenure in office. Dan Abu spoke to our correspondent on some of the issues raised by the Envoy.
Ambassador Jika has called for the impeachment of the governor for incompetence. Whats your reaction to this?
Well, incompetence is not a criminal offence, and that is just his own observation and perception. It does not necessarily reflect the thinking of the people. As a member and former chairman of the APC, we don’t expect anything short of that from him. If he does not criticise the governor, then he will have nothing to tell the people. So, he has to destroy the governor and government to retain relevance. What he is saying about incompetence is his personal opinion. The governor is very competent. He has achieved a lot and has moved Taraba from the state of non-performance and poverty to what it is now. This is the best moment in this state and it has been achieved under this government and governor. So yes he is entitled to his opinion but I know he is only talking as a politician. I don’t think in his sober moment, he believes in what he is saying. The public is aware of the facts on ground.
He cited the example of some of the road projects which this government awarded contract for construction and nothing is going on there and the Greenhouse project that gulped over N2.2bn and alleged that these were all means of syphoning funds.
Again, these are vague allegations. If he is accusing the state government of siphoning funds, he should go ahead and provide evidence to show how much money the governor has siphoned. You need to understand that this is a political dispensation and the APC has not recovered from the serial defeats it has suffered from the polls and the series of cases in the courts. The APC has had a very tough time in the state and could not even present a gubernatorial candidate. So, the only thing they can do is to destroy the person at the centre of their defeat and the public is aware that they are just being bad losers. I will advise them to go back to the drawing board and organise themselves because they can’t succeed by cutting other people down.
He also talked about the inability of the state to conduct local government election two years after expiration of tenure of the current chairmen.
All of us know that the state is going through security challenges and the government is not even happy about it. The government did not cause the crisis that we are experiencing. We have had cases of killings, kidnapping, communal clashes and all of that. And it has been from one crisis to the other. In that kind of state, are you expecting the government to organise an election? If you do, people will still challenge the outcome of the election and this is what the opposition has failed to understand. For them, everything the government does is wrong.
But talking about insecurity, we are aware that elections are conducted in Borno and Yobe where the security situation is worse and even here in Taraba, National and state elections were conducted successfully, despite the security challenges.
Yes, we conducted national election here but the circumstances are not the same and we have to take the peculiar circumstances of Taraba State into consideration. This state is heavily divided in terms of agitation for one thing or the other. So, the governor is trying to be very careful so that whatever he does is not causing more problem for the state. So we have to be very careful and that is what the governor is doing.
What would you about the impression that some states recorded tremendous achievements in the first 100 days in office but same cannot be said of Taraba?
This is the mistake a lot of people make. This administration is not a new government. For a returning governor, 100 days are not an issue. We don’t have to rush and execute projects just to impress. But we have a lot of projects that are ongoing. The fact that we have not commissioned them does not mean nothing is going on. But 100 days are not supposed to be a milestone for a government that is returning. So, do not judge us by 100 days. All the projects that were started in the first tenure are ongoing, so why will anyone blame the governor for not commissioning any project in 100 days. Do we have rush and complete projects just to impress the public? All our projects are ongoing.
It is also alleged that the governor is tribalistic, hence, fueling the ethno-religious division in the state; do you agree?
How is the governor tribalistic? What is the bias that they are talking about? Is there any local government that does not have a commissioner representing it or special advisers and other appointees? The governor can only come from one local government and so is other positions that are single. So what is the bias. People should stop making careless statements in public.
He talked about the dilapidation and total negligence of state infrastructure including the foremost Taraba Motel, Specialist hospital and others.
He is only talking about the ones that are dilapidated but has not talked about the ones that the governor has revived and are now the backbone of the production line. So, everything cannot be changed at the same time. This state is at the bottom in terms of revenue coming from the federation account. The only saving grace is that the governor is a prudent manager of resources. That is why he has executed some projects. The reason is that, there is a problem with the inflow of revenue. Should the governor do this with his spittle?
Payment of Salaries of local governments and traditional rulers has been an issue for some time now, what is the problem?
I am not sure that is correct because everybody that is entitled to payment is paid as and when due. Most people are paid even before the end of the month. The governor’s first priority is payment of salaries. This is usually the first charge and it is only the leftover that is rationed for execution of projects.
How about the issue of accumulated pension and gratuity?
I want to tell you that this is not the creation of this administration and the governor never pretended that it is not a monumental problem but has confronted it. For example, the governor has started the payment of gratuity and each month, N100 million is dedicated to the payment of gratuity but that money cannot pay everybody at the same time.
The governor is alleged not to be proactive in handling the Tiv/Jukun crisis.
No governor is expected to take arms and go to the field to fight or ask the people to stop fighting. I am aware that the governor has visited the borders for more than five times in the last three years. The deputy governor has also done same and meetings were held with stakeholders from both Benue and Taraba and government officials. Apart from that, he has also strengthened the security agencies by providing them with the needed logistics to help them to check the fighting among these people. There was also a meeting held in Abuja recently sponsored by the Benue and Taraba state governments. The governor has also appointed a 30 man committee that is currently working to resolve the issues and we are in the process of achieving peace. So, the fact that the governor has not gone there does not mean that he has not done anything to stop the crisis. How much more can the government show concern?
What will you consider as the major achievements of this administration?
This administration has done a lot and you can not understand it until you take your mind back to the time that the governor came in. He took over power when there was communal crisis and this mutual suspicion among the various ethnic groups and it was very difficult for one group to cross to the other side. And this was happening almost everywhere. We are not saying that peace has been completely achieved but this crisis we are witnessing now is limited to a certain party of the state. We have got the formula for resolving it. And then, because of the crisis, most schools were closed down and the education in the state was in disarray. Today, in terms of WAEC performance, the state is the best in Northern Nigeria and number eight in the country. The government has also done a lot in terms of water provision by sinking 300 boreholes in three hundred communities in the state and there are plans for even more to be done. You are also aware of the Jalingo water works which the government is executing in conjunction with the World Bank. The government has also reactivated seven companies that were in a state of comatose when we came in and all of them are productive now, especially the highland tea that is now operating profitably, and also provides employment for our youths. We have also done a lot in electricity by providing the highest number of transformers in the entire North East. The government has also commenced work on the Mararaba Baisa road, and all of these have been achieved in the midst of the insecurity challenges that we have. The government has also done a lot in terms of skills acquisition in conjunction with the skills acquisition initiative of his wife. These two have created more than 4000 jobs to people who were idle. I want it to be on record that this is the only administration in the country that has recruited 300 teachers at a time.