We Are Negotiating With Ali Modu Sheriff On PDP Crisis- Ishaku | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We Are Negotiating With Ali Modu Sheriff On PDP Crisis- Ishaku

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Posted: Jun 15, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku, Governor of Taraba State, in this media chat with journalists, spoke on his activities in the State among other burning Issues. JANET AUDU brings the excerpts:

Your Excellency, are you aware of some communities in Ibi Local Government are forcefully taken over by the Tarouk in Langtang South Local Government Area in Plateau State. What steps are you taking to address this?

The areas you mentioned precisely is Dampar ward. Yes, I am aware of this development and have written to the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong. I called him few days ago but he said he is out of the country. He promised to call me when he is back from his trip but up till now, I have not heard from him. We have agreed that I, himself and the governor of Benue, Gabriel Ortom will meet because our problems are common insecurity including Nasarawa State. There is a place in Nasarawa call Tunga. That is where the perpetrators meet and follow through Benue and come to Taraba and continue to create more harm. So, we need to come together even through it’s not easy for us to meet like that but I believe we can meet when we are in Abuja.I am working assiduously to see that we meet before our economic meeting will start in Abuja.  

There is also another Village call Chon Village in Gassol Local Government where an individual known as Mallam Ali bought over some hectares of lands which he sells to grazers. There is a petition in the House of Assembly to this effect, are you aware of this development?

If I can get that report I will be happy, even though there are some reports I received from the House of Assembly which I asked the Deputy Governor to form a committee to look into the matter. They have made some recommendations that will bring peace between the Tivs and the Fulanis living in that Gassol. So, if I know of this one that you are talking about, we would have added to that committee to look into that merchant whose  job is to buy lands in Gassol and then sell it at will without the knowledge of the state government. All lands belongs to the State; and thus nobody should own any land without my knowledge or approval, Land has to be certified and the owner will be given Certificate of Occupancy before it genuinely becomes your own. No any chief or district head has the right to take land and sell to somebody. So, these are issues that hardly come to government’s attention. But now you have mentioned it , my team are listening. We will take this matter up when the State House of Assembly reconvene and find out the details of it and look into it critically.

We will like to know the State of finance when you came on board and what is obtainable now…  

 When you are in a position like mine, you can’t have the records off-heart particularly on the issue of finance. If only I know that such question will come, I will have dust my files and records. Actually I did not compute it, I actually inherited debit in billions and I have severally made press conferences and also asked the commissioner of finance to also speak on this debt. We have to negotiate it with the federal government in terms of bailout programme. Most of them are spread within 25 years bail out to free us. It is not as if the loan are forgiven or written off . They spread to give us a breathing space,  just as I jokingly tell people that the bailout is not really bail out and I have been proven correctly.  

We  have  lot of projects which are people- oriented which you have commissioned in the State Capital, even though you came in as a Governor during the era of dwindling economy. Did you borrow money to execute these projects?

I plan and we programmed all we do in such a way that we don’t go out of budget. All the projects you see going on are periodically paid. For instance, P.W Construction Company,  are handling the major roads in the state capital particularly  Bali-Gembu road and the township roads, to stop them from working completely because we are short of money will mean abandoning the job and to start in the later day at higher cost. I am sure you know my background that I am into construction for the past 37 years , so it doesn’t make any sense to stop them completely from working . I agree with them, no matter how small money I have, I make sure that I consistently drop something for them so that they will not park out of site, so it is a win-win situation because stopping work for them means paying redundant staff, working means, they are working with the hope of getting something. So, even if it is not a full payment, they still have the hope of getting something at the end of the day, These are what helped me to achieve what I have achieved in my one year in office. It is not as if I use any magic or secret .

Few weeks ago, you joined your colleagues in Gombe and the entire PDP in the North East to endorse the candidature of Ali Modu Sheriff for the chairmanship of the party. What is your take on the recent situation in the party?

Yes, it is true that I raised his hand here in support of Governor of Gombe. We went to Port Harcourt in agreement that we are going to vote him as our national chairman, unfortunately when we got there, the game table turned. The PDP governors are 12 in number and we are only 2 out of 12 who are with Ali Modu Sheriff. This is democracy; the minority has their say but majority have their way. I kicked vehemently against it and they have their reasons and we also have in our hands a faction in Abuja who worked against him. They stood their ground until he is removed or the party will have two conventions and we don’t want PDP to break up because we are in the opposition, and we are the only hope of Nigerians. If we break up, it means it will be wrong of us. Some of us particularly felt Sheriff has done his best for the three months given him, so he needed to be honoured. We should not lose sense of history which is very common in Nigeria. So, I felt his exit should be more honourable and as it were, we ended up with like three factions instead of two and we are back to the drawing board now. As I am talking to you now, we are still negotiating with Ali Modu Sheriff and asked him to withdraw his case; I think PDP will wax stronger again.

With limited resources all over the country, other states are reducing the cost of governance by cutting down the numbers of political appointees, but in Taraba you kept on appointing more, what are you trying to achieve?

Well, it is true. Somebody like me will not like a large political appointment, you know this is a civil service state most of my political supporters depend on political patronage from the government. So, I have to enlarge the appointees by getting them gainfully employed working also for us, because Taraba State can amply be described as a civil service State, nothing happens here, I wanted to bring in Coca Cola to the state to start operation but later I changed my mind and laid emphasis on water project, because I can’t be seeing people carrying Jerry cans all over the place and I will be blowing siren that I am the Governor of the State while my people lack potable drinking water. So, the first thing I did was to attack the issue of water, we are going to install the 26 cubic million metres of water to the city because, the F.D.B gave out loans based on boreholes that several boreholes should be done but the fact was that there is no water under the ground so, the boreholes were yielding nothing. The company came to me that they are building tanks but where do you get the water and put in the tank? I told them that am already ahead of them. I met the consultant who designed the water plan in Taraba 20 years ago. And he put us through. So,  we are now sinking down where we will get enough water. This is entirely a civil service state. You need to create avenues to empower people, because without empowering the people, the traders too will suffer it. Yes, the appointees are a stress to us but, we have to manage them, I believe by the time I stop the leakages, I should be able to save enough to pay them. We are trying our best to improve our I.G.R, even though we have increased greatly on this. So, that is our political decision.

 What plan is this administration having towards boosting agriculture in the State?

Luckily to Taraba State, I have started work towards that. I started in Mambila Plateau. Let me take the Tunga dam, a 100 kilowatts dam, when I was the  Minister then with the former Government and UNESCO,  we put up that dam. As God will have it, the project was completed when I was still a Minister. They asked me to come and commission it I said ‘no’, I am going out for my campaign’. They insisted that I should be the one to commission the project, so they agreed to wait for me until I become the Governor, I asked them ‘how did you know that I will become a Governor?’ But at last, their prediction came to reality. So what I did was to commission the dam immediately I came on board, there is this tea factory that is not having sufficient power, we went for the modern machines for tea production CTC and 5 months ago we finished the installation, which is producing much better tea quality. They are now working 24 hours. I promised Mr. President that by December, Taraba will supply at least 10% tea that Nigerians will consume we are ongoing, I am not stopping there. All the people living in Kakara are now getting 24 hours electricity supply. They have started working in their abandoned tea bushes, they are harvesting  and we are also trying to see how we can encourage the people there to embrace tea faming so that we will be much better than any oil producing state.