Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku, governor of Taraba State is no stranger to the technicalities of electricity power generation and distribution. He routinely dealt with those details as minister of power in the immediate past federal administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. In that position, Ishaku co-ordinated the activities that eventually led to the creation of the present dispensation of active private sector participation in electricity power distribution in the country.
He came out of that job also well-grounded in the knowledge of the economic benefits of stable power and with the resolve to use that experience, whenever he had the opportunity to serve his people, as key for unlocking the huge potentials of the state, to create employment opportunities and raise the standards of living of the people. It is, therefore, no surprise that the provision of electricity in urban and rural communities in Taraba State is today a priority of the Ishaku administration.
One of the first things Ishaku did on assumption of office as governor was to identify existing but broken or low performing power generating facilities in the state, assess their state of functionality and determine how they can be immediately put to full and effective service of the people. That exercise has paid off very handsomely. It has led to the restoration of electricity power supply in many towns and communities in Taraba State. But it took not a small amount of courage and commitment on the part of a government that was not only new but was constrained by the long litigation process over the gubernatorial election result in the state and also hamstrung by a treasury that had been plundered and emptied.
One of the communities that benefitted from this new and positive attitude of government in electric power delivery is the tea producing Kakara community in the Sarduana Local Council Area of the state. In August last year, a few months after his election victory, Ishaku commissioned the small but very vital Tunga Dam hydro power project which now provides un-interrupted power to the tea factory in Kakara and neighbouring communities. The commissioning was a product of a political will which previous administrations in the state lacked and which almost crippled the project.
Ishaku’s intervention came at the time the European Union, EU, which provided the turbines for the project was threatening to dismantle them and take them to Ghana because of the delay in putting the equipment to use. The commissioning has saved the project and provided succour for the people of Kakara and other neighbouring communities. The project is today seen as a pathfinder for what the nation’s stands to benefit from the bigger Mambilla Hydro Electricity Dam Project that is yet to start in terms of stability in electricity. Ishaku has visited the Sardauna Council area three times in less than one year to sensitize and elicit the support of the people for the bigger Mambilla project. He has also been to Abuja several times to discuss the project and to awaken the appropriate federal authorities to the need to start work on this very important but long neglected electricity power generating project.
The Kakulu Bible Institute in Zing Local Council Area also now has steady power supply, provided by the administration of Governor Ishaku. Yakoko, another community in the area is profiting from the Kakulu project. Monkin village has a similar good tale to tell on electricity. Its long dream of regular power supply was finally fulfilled with the commissioning of an electricity project by Ishaku early in the life of the administration.
Bali Local Council area has a more pleasant tale to tell about electricity. Five transformers were provided and installed at the same time while 30 electric poles were also mounted to facilitate the provision of electricity in the area. Governor Ishaku executed and personally commissioned this project within the first 100 days of his administration. In Takum, a lot has also been achieved by the administration in the provision of electricity. Electricity is now far more regular with the purchase and installation of three transformers to boost power supply. Similar projects are replicated in virtually every local government council area in the state.
In less than two years, a lot of progress has been made to extend power supply to urban and rural communities. A lot of people are even surprised how Ishaku was able to finance these projects at a time that government revenue sources are on the decline. But even with the lot that has been achieved in a short time in the provision of electricity, a lot more needs to be done. In fact, truth is that what government has achieved, remarkable as its impact has been, is a mere scratch on the surface of the power needs of the state. The ultimate solution depends on the outcome of the Mambilla Hydro Electricity project which is yet to take off. Governor Ishaku is not oblivious to this truth and reality. And that is the reason he has been drumming support for the Mambilla project.
Unfortunately Mambilla, as far as the federal government is concerned, is all talk and no concrete action. Nothing really is on ground as testimony to the federal government’s commitment. In fact most of the people speaking on the project at the federal level and building the people’s hope of the nation for regular power supply on the Mambilla project have never even visited the site. As at today, there is no access road to the site of the proposed dam. This is the reason people are asking if the federal government is, indeed, committed to the project at all.
President Muhammadu Buhari has a date with history on the issue of Mambilla. Many Nigerian leaders before him made promises on the project but did virtually nothing to redeem those promises. Many people know President Buhari to be a man with the reputation to stand by his words. He should do so on Mambilla project. To say that the project is critical to national aspiration for development is an understatement. We can only pay lip service to this project to the detriment of these aspirations. Buhari should take the first major crucial step towards actualising the Mambilla project now.