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Mambilla Project: Open letter to Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf

Dear Distinguished Senator Yusuf,


I am compelled to write you this open letter because the last time you gave me an appointment to meet you at your private office in Abuja it turned out to be a thoroughly frustrating and disappointing experience for me. After waiting for hours without any word from you I had to leave. I missed my flight to Lagos on that day.

You had cause to reach me over the contents of an article I wrote on the wrangling in the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) in Taraba state in which I concluded that if nothing was done to stem the infighting, will once again result in the party losing the governorship election come 2023.

Your note sought to deny this obvious fact even though everybody in Taraba knew that the APC was and still is, a party divided against itself. You had invited me for a discussion on the issue with the aim of providing your perspectives on the matter. But you did what many ''big men'' in Nigeria do most often; you did not honour the appointment you gave and neither have you apologised to me for this up till this moment. 

But the subject of my letter to you is not about the issues in your party the APC but on the more important Mambilla project which unfortunately has once again hit the rocks following the sacking of Engr. Sale Mamman an indigene of our state as Minister of Power.

Distinguished Senator Yusuf, let us cut to the chase. For all practical purposes the Mambilla power project is now as dead as a doornail. Even with our own brother Engr. Mamman as Minister of Power which presupposes that he will take up the long awaited kick-off of the project, from what we know on the shenanigans accompanying it there was no guaranty that it will be completed before this administration leaves office. All we hoped for was Engr. Mamman to make a determined push for the take-off of the project to the point where the next administration would have no choice but to continue with it and see to its completion.

A lot has been said and written on why this project had not gotten off the ground and Engr. Mamman had taken a roasting on that score. With him gone the ball is now in your court.

Why is that?

The first obvious reason is that the project is situated in your local government area which falls under the Taraba Central Senatorial District which you represent in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

As I mentioned in my penultimate article on this subject, Distinguished Senator Yusuf this is your project more than anyone else. Since this administration came on the scene and in your six years at the Senate now two Ministers, Babatunde Fashola and Engr. Maman have come and gone and this project which is situated right in your backyard has not taken off.

The Mambilla power project with a capacity to generate about 3000 megawatts of electricity as well as provide water for irrigation farming in the area is a project anybody will want to have in their locality. For its positive transformational potential for the area, Taraba state and Nigeria, the project is something that requires all hands on deck to see it through. It is the signature project that will finally open up the wondrous potential of the Mambilla plateau from which Taraba derives its apt reference as ''nature's gift to the nation''.

So if Minister's appointed by President Buhari to see to the take-off of the project don't do the needful, Distinguished Senator you as ''son of the soil'' are expected to take the project much more vigorously.

The second reason is that you are the highest ranking elected APC public official in Taraba a position which makes you the party's leader in the state. You are also a man with a considerable network of influential friends in the National Assembly, the APC, the polity and in the administration of President Buhari. The Senate President Ahmed Lawan a fellow North easterner whose state of Yobe stands to gain immensely from the Mambilla project is from your party as is the Deputy Senate President Omo-Agege. You are also in the good graces of President Buhari to whom you could reach out and get this project moving.

With all this at your disposal you could leapfrog any lackadaisical Minister and ensure the acceleration of the project by the federal government.

Thirdly, it is well known that you are in the running for governorship of Taraba state come 2023. The Mambilla project is your gilt-edged chance to wow Tarabans to your cause and make hay. Imagine you in a hard hat on the site of the project with a retinue of media men in tow and you going through the motions of explaining the project against the background of construction cranes and caterpillars and all that. The optics if for anything else will depict you in favourable light giving your governorship ambition a hefty kick.

Distinguished Senator Yusuf now that Engr. Mamman is gone from the scene you are the last man standing as far as the Mambilla project is concerned. We do not know who will be appointed to replace Engr. Mamman as Taraba's statutory representative in the Federal Executive Council (FEC). We are not sure if Taraba state will retain the Power portfolio in FEC.

And quite candidly, even at that with the limited time left for meaningful governance before this administration finally signs off in 2023 we cannot expect any such Minister to achieve much in advancing the project.

 Distinguished Senator it all boils down to you. For the reasons stated above you are the one to do the heavy lifting on this project more than anyone else Minister or no Minister. Ministers will come and go but for the fact that this project is situated in your own locality, in your Senatorial district which you represent in the Senate, in your state which you are angling to govern you just have no option but to push it through.

Already your constituents in Taraba central have cause to complain bitterly that you are not representing them well in the Senate. They say it openly that from your lacklustre performance in the Senate which hardly impacts positively on them they do not feel that they have anybody there. The word is out there that in terms of performance you are the worst of the three Senators representing Taraba at the Senate.

One of the reasons which purportedly led to the sacking of Engr. Mamman was that in pursuit of his ambition to be Governor of Taraba state come 2023, he took his eyes off the ball as far as the Mambilla project which was one of his Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) was concerned. Between his duties as Minister and his ambition to be governor of Taraba state, he had little room to manoeuvre. If he had wiser counsel he would have been advised to concentrate more on pushing the Mambilla project to ground breaking stage and the commencement of construction work on the project in earnest. But he could not manage that and he had to bite the dust.  

As a Senator belonging to an independent arm of government, you do not have such encumbrances. You are at liberty to pursue your governorship ambitions while also pushing for the Mambilla project without looking back over your shoulder in case someone is breathing down your neck. Indeed going vigorously for the latter would boost and complement your governorship ambition in a win-win way.

So Distinguished Senator Yusuf you have your work cut out and you can be sure that in your governorship election jostling  you will be tasked on this. You must be prepared to come up with concrete answers because it is arguably the most important subject matter discussed in Taraba today by Tarabans.

The Mambilla power project is your best chance to redeem yourself in the hearts of not just your constituents in Taraba central but in Taraba as a whole.  

Engr. Mamman faced the wrath of the APC members on this matter as a Minister. It became his banana peel. Depending on how you handle it, Distinguished Senator Yusuf it could be both your banana peel and your oyster. It will be your oyster if you do the needful to Taraba. It could also be your banana peel on which you will slip and bite the dust. For your sake and Taraba's, I hope it does not come to that.

While keeping our eyes on the sparrow, please accept my regards of the highest esteem.



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