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DESPATCHES FROM TARABA.... Is Governor Agbu Kefas the Real Deal? With Iliyasu Gadu


A considerable buzz of excitement ran through Jalingo, the capital of Taraba state when Governor Agbu Kefas announced that the sum of 1 billion naira had been set aside by the state government to pay outstanding gratuities to retired and retiring civil servants in the state. 


I was in one popular eatery when the announcement came and one chap sitting at a table near mine who could not contain his excitement at the news shouted "agbo"! in that popular expression of Tarabans when something profound hits them. Obviously a Jukun he promptly launched into a verbal burst in Takum accented Jukun language to his colleagues. 


I have been incognito in Jalingo for a couple of weeks visiting relatives and quietly assessing the vibes in the state regarding the new administration of Governor Agbu Kefas. 


It has been positive so far as the people of the state have nothing but praises for the former Nigerian Army Intelligence Officer. The announcement of the government's intention to pay gratuities was one more nugget in the Kefas administration's remarkable strides since assumption of office. This issue was one of the most sensitive as during the previous administration payment of pensions and gratuities was taken off the radar. The previous administration of Governor Darius Ishaku never bothered itself with the issue owing months leading to pensioners and retired civil servants placing a curse on the administration. Indeed during the Darius administration salaries were being owed for months not to talk of pensions and gratuities. 


But Governor Kefas has turned the curve on this and not only are salaries being promptly paid, now long owed gratuities and pension will be paid in due course as promised by the governor. 


And to his credit also Governor Kefas has focused on introducing what is called the "education revolution" in the state in which he in his own words want to model educational development in the state along the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo model in the former Western region of the country. And his main focus in this regard has been to reduce school fees considerably in government owned schools across all levels in the state. Now as a Taraba indigene you almost nothing in primary and secondary schools. In the Polytechnic and Colleges of Education and Agriculture and Nursing the fee is as low as 12 thousand naira while at the state owned Taraba University the fee is under 50 thousand naira for indigenes. 


With these developments is Governor Kefas the real deal in Taraba?


Compared to the previous administration of Darius Ishaku the opinion of most Tarabans I talked to is that it is like comparing Water Melon to Cucumber (No pun intended). Whereas one is sweet the other is sour. But still at that many Tarabans believe that Governor Kefas is still miles behind the administration of late Governor Danbaba Suntai in terms of developmental strides across all fields. But it is still early days yet. 


Nonetheless it must be said that Governor Kefas has signalled his intention to right the wrongs in Taraba and may eventually catch up and surpass the Danbaba administration in developing the state. 

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