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Column: For the attention of Hon. Minister Muazu Sambo Jaji

 Iliyasu Gadu

We must thank the almighty God for using President Muhammadu Buhari who hearkened to our calls for the appointment of Muazu Sambo Jaji as replacement for Engineer Saleh Mamman at the Federal Executive Council (FEC). Following the sack of Engr. Mamman as Minister of Power a vacuum was thus created wherein our state Taraba was without representation at the FEC.

It was particularly a double jeopardy for Taraba as we did not only lose a Minister we also lost the Power portfolio through which with Engr. Mamman as Minister we had hoped the Mambilla and Kashimbilla power projects both domiciled in our state would be progressed.

With the recent appointment of Muazu Sambo Jaji albeit as Minister of State for Works and Housing, we can at least smile that our seat at the FEC is now restored. We would have wanted to retain the Power portfolio but the Works and Housing position is not too bad either. Indeed from the opinion of one top bureaucrat, the scope of the Minister of State, Works and Housing is so large that in some ways it rates as a full cabinet Minister in comparison to even other full cabinet Ministerial positions.

And indeed it is just as well that one of us is in the position because there are road projects that urgently need to be completed in Taraba but which have been abandoned for several years now. With Muazu Sambo in this position we will hope that they will be given the necessary attention.

From accounts the new Minister is well regarded but on a personal level and in the area of his ability and competence.

One of the first messages I got about the Minister was from a fellow retired friend and colleague of mine in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company (NLNG) who now lives in New York, the United States of America (USA). His message was thus; Good morning Iliyasu. How are you doing? The newly nominated Minister from your state is my very good friend. He was my immediate supervisor while at Allied Bank. Very nice guy. I pray that God Almighty will guide him to perform efficiently as Federal Minister of Nigeria.''

Another who knew him while he was at National Inland Waterways attested to his good his kind disposition and goodwill. He told me further that Minister Muazu Sambo was kind enough to assist him with some waterway slots legally when he fell on hard times.

And of course as I am further told his competence is not in doubt from his work experience in the various places he had worked.

From vibes reaching us, he has also learnt from the avoidable mistakes of Engr. Mamman. He has prudently pledged not to be distracted by the politics going on in Taraba state. He has pointedly discountenanced interest in seeking any elective post which turned out to be Engr. Mamman's banana peel. For this he has earned the plaudits of many Tarabans as they would want him to focus on his work and especially attend to some of the Federal road projects in the state.

In this regard, Tarabans would want him to give high priority to the Wukari-Jalingo-Numan portion of the Federal highway which starts from Calabar in Cross River state running through Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and terminating at Borno state. The Taraba stretch of the road is particularly terrible and atrocious. The Jalingo-Numan portion is hellish and makes what should ordinarily be a journey of less than two hours more than that. It is a tortuous experience going through that road what with the craters and numerous massive potholes making the road dangerous. The condition of the road has resulted in numerous fatal accidents and has become a fertile ground for the operation of kidnappers and armed robbers, who abduct, rob and often times kill their captives and victims.

This road is a an arterial road for Tarabans as well as other Nigerians which links to Borno state with important stops along the way through Numan, Yola, etc in Adamawa state. I will not be wrong to say that 70 percent of Tarabans use this road either to neighbouring states in the North east region and further down to Plateau, Kaduna, Kano and the Federal Capital of Abuja. Because of the years of neglect of this federal road, Taraban who have complained and made several representations to have it done have almost resigned themselves to the fact that the federal government will do nothing about it.

There is also the all-important road to Gembu. The journey from Jalingo the state capital to Gembu takes a gruelling eight hours due to the terrible condition of the road. The topography of multiple hills and mountains and deep gorges is dangerous and requires an all-weather road to be constructed. This area is well-known for its massive potential in agriculture, power and tourism. It also borders on Cameroon which ordinarily for security and related reasons ought to be accessible for necessary operation by our security forces.

Giving attention to these projects requires the Honourable Minister to stay focussed and not be distracted by other extraneous factors. This is the season of politics as the 2023 elections draws near. Desperate politicians would want to draw his attentions leading him into what is likely to be a blind political alley by goading him into supporting their partisan causes. Nobody needs tell him the dangers in that. Taraba voters are now more discerning and would be first to insist that he be rewarded if he concentrates and delivers on some of the projects I have mentioned here. His performance will definitely work for him and the sky will not be his limit in this regard.

Honourable Minister Jaji should also side step the issue of religious and ethnic considerations which has eaten deep into the fabric of our dear state. Of course as a Muslim he cannot hide the fact. But he is now the representative of a heterogeneous state in terms of religion and ethnicity. He most of all knows the importance of maintaining an even hand in dealing with Tarabans of all shades. From his variegated working experience in the country he is best situated to do this. The note from my colleague in New York city USA unsolicited shows that he is well regarded and the weight of expectation is on his shoulders. As he is well regarded so also he is being observed to see how he can deliver. And in the context of the times it will not be long before we know whether is fit for purpose or not. And for his sake and ours we pray and hope he what we think and believe he is.

From all references about him we can say that the Minister is one of our best. But he has to prove that in practice in his new portfolio which represents a litmus test for him.

As Tarabans while praying for his success in his new endeavour, we will also be keenly watching him and assessing his performance and how he delivers per our expectations.

Jabbama Allah Rene. Allah Ballu               

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