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Gov. Ishaku’s Legacies Of Debts, Uncompleted Projects





As Taraba State Governor-elect, Kefas Agbu, finally takes over the mantle of leadership, he would no doubt buckle under the hefty yoke of over N200 billion debt; uncompleted and abandoned projects which are legacies left behind by the outgoing governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku.

 

Apart from Ishaku's alleged inability to implement the new National minimum wage of N30,000.00, pensioners, and workers all have different forms of woes to narrate.

 

Besides the government's inability to pay pensioners their gratuities which has accumulated to several billions of Naira, over 1,000 of the retirees were also reportedly not adequately captured for the past eight years in the state.

 

Ishaku's alleged refusal to attend to the plights of pensioners, the state chairman of the Nigerian Pensioners Union (NUP), Silas Jafta, and its Secretary, Yohanna Ajiya, said, has "sent some of our colleagues to our colleagues to the Great Beyond."

 

Unlike other parts of the country, the reverse has been the case in Taraba as both academic and non-academic staff of the State University were reportedly denied their legitimate rights since Ishaku ascended the number one position of the state.

 

Non-payment of earned academic allowances, promotion arrears, fractional payment of salaries to staff, as well as unsettled staff pension and gratuity scheme, were among the numerous reasons the state debt profile under Ishaku skyrocketed.

 

The State University ASUU Chairman, Samuel Shitaa had expressed sadness that the Governor also reneged all the agreements he signed with the Union, among which include perimeter fencing of the institution.

 

Admitting that under Ishaku, Taraba workers were relegated to the background, the state chairman of the NLC, Peter Jedeil said the outstanding six months salaries of local government staff and five months for primary school teachers in the state, as well as the non-payment of yearly increment which was stopped for three years now, has been one of the major plights of Taraba workers.

 

The NLC boss who went ahead to cite the backlog of gratuities for retirees in the state from 2015 and inability to capture over one thousand retirees into the monthly pension, said the incoming administration has a lot of debts to grapple with.

 

The inability of Ishaku's administration to hasten the implementation of the new minimum wage for workers in the state, is also a major issue impacting negatively on the performance of Taraba workers.

 

Apart from toying with workers' remunerations which he admitted to have accrued to several billions of Naira, Ishaku, according to him, has also failed in training and retraining of civil servants in the state throughout his eight years in office.

 

He also identified non-release of dues meant for the state wing of the Nigeria union of Teachers, NUT, by Ishaku's administration, as one of his weakest points, which according to him led to the huge debts he is living behind for the incoming administration.

 

Speaking on the debt profile of the state, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Solomon Elisha said that he "cannot claim that the state is not indebted, because government and debt are synonymous, but this administration", according to him, "has ensured that it does not incur loans unnecessarily".

 

The Commissioner who could not give the exact figure of the state debt profile said the amount been quoted is not up to N200 billion.

 

In Taraba State, the outgoing governor, Darius Ishaku, reportedly commissioned multi-billion naira projects few days before his handover to the incoming governor, Agbu Kefas, however many of the projects are far from completion

One of the projects Ishaku commissioned is a bridge on the ongoing Pantisawa rural road although the road is not fully completed. Another project still ongoing but commissioned by the governor is the housing project located along Mutum Biyu road in Jalingo. The estate is named Darius Dickson Ishaku (DDI) Garden Estate.

The state government is said to have begun the construction of the estate, made up of 500 housing units, in 2017. It said the project was a public-private-partnership (PPP) with a developer, Wesany International Concept Limited.

Although the commissioning was done amid fanfare, it was observed that almost all the houses in the estate were in different stages of incompletion.

Almost all the apartments were uncompleted, including a school, market, shopping centre, clinic and recreation centre, which are some of the facilities purported to be included in the estate.

Other uncompleted projects that have been commissioned include the Jalingo dual carriageway and a flyover. Although the flyover and a bridge at Nukkai River, which were part of the dual carriageway were completed, the dual carriageway at the NYSC and Phanti Nahu end of the road is ongoing.

Similarly, the Pantisawa rural road project is not completed, but one out of the three bridges along the road, which has been completed, was commissioned by on Wednesday.

Ishaku also commissioned the 5.45litres Jalingo water project, which was started in 2017 but yet to be fully completed as water is yet to be flowing from the tank to households.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, he said the project was officially launched in 2017 in line with the promise he made on May 29, 2015. He explained that the project was part of his effort to address the problems of water supply and sanitation, and "strategic infrastructure, using leverage from development partners and engaging public-private-partnership (PPP) options, to enhance this pursuit."

On the housing estate, Ishaku said the project was the first phase of 250 completed units of two bedrooms of semi-detached bungalows and three bedrooms of fully detached bungalows, made possible through the PPP.

"We are also using this occasion to flag off the second phase of the multi-million naira 5,000 housing project, which would use the same PPP model," he said.

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