The Taraba State Government has responded to our Special Report on the Mambilla Hydropower Dam on March 18, in which the Federal Government blamed Governor Darius Ishaku for delaying the take-off of the project.
The state government said it was doing a thorough job on the project, which should not be labelled as delay.
The Nation correspondent spent four days in Sarduana, where he visited the sites, before reporting that the project sites are still fishing grounds.
Commissioners for Information and Power Danjuma Adamu and Badina Garba, as well the Adviser on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu, who briefed reporters at the prompting of the governor, said the state was taking the right steps towards making the Mambilla dam a reality.
The commissioners said the state needs some time to graduate from the present stage of surveys to another stage.
Governor Ishaku, who returned to the state capital, Jalingo, last Thursday, after 87 days of medical sojourn in Abuja, said although he received from the Federal Government the funds for settlement of surveyors, he was following “Due Process” to avoid “complaints and controversies” during or after payment.
The Nation, however, gathered that the governor only transmitted a letter to the House of Assembly notifying lawmakers about the receipt of the money (for payment of surveyors of the Mambilla Hydropower project) only last Friday.
The governor, in an interview with reporters, said: “The Mambilla Hydropower Dam will take at least eight years to be completed, if we are lucky.”
Ishaku agreed with our report that there is no road leading to the site for now, except on foot.
He explained that there were eight stages of work to be carried out on the project, of which they are only beginning the stage one.
Commissioner for Information Adamu, who read the government’s statement, in defence of the governor, said:
“A publication in The Nation of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, headlined: ‘Mambilla Hydropower Project Sites Still Fishing Grounds,’ attempted to create false impression that the project is being delayed by the Taraba State Government.
“The truth is that Governor Darius Ishaku, more than any other Nigerian, has campaigned vigorously to get the project off the drawing table where it has gathered dust for several decades.
“He (Ishaku) had consistently rallied support of all prominent Nigerians and stakeholders relevant to the project to get it started by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In our Special Report, the Federal Government also accused Ishaku of delaying or refusing to collect a cheque approved for compensation of those affected by the project. The state government denied the allegation.
It, however, agreed that the governor collected from the Federal Government about N812.5 million for “survey works.” So why has Ishaku not paid the surveyors, since he collected the money in September last year?
“We need to state here with emphasis that due diligence is a cardinal philosophy of the administration of the Taraba State Government under Governor Ishaku. That process is being applied to the planned payment of professional fees to the surveyors,” Adamu said.
He explained that “a lot of work” still needs to be done by the state and Federal Ministry of Power before getting to the stage of compensation.
“There are several milestones to be met. The governor has directed that this must be thoroughly conducted to avoid complaints and controversies now and in future. The process is still ongoing and it is, therefore, wrong to label such honest efforts of the government to do a thorough job as delay,” Adamu said.