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14082018 - POPULATION GROWTH : Danger looms for Nigeria

Vanguard Newspaper 14 April 2018

82—SATURDAY Vanguard,

82—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 Ishaku: Prudent manager of resources in Taraba By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor HE came into governance at a time the fortunes of the state had seriously ebbed and the people embroiled in a gruelling conflict threatening to engulf everyone and everywhere. But Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku quickly deployed his vast wealth of experience as a successful private sector player to quell the riotous state of affairs in Taraba and set a new tone for peace and development in the state. He also got cognate experience in public sector management when he held sway as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and went on to combine Power and Environment minister under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. Perhaps, it could be inferred that this rich private and public sector experience is the reason for his very productive two and a half years in the saddle as Governor of Taraba State. Despite the fact that Taraba State belongs to the group of low income earners among states of the federation, it has nonetheless emerged under the governorship of Arc. Ishaku as one of the fastest developing with many projects completed and commissioned within a short span of less than three years. The secret of this outstanding performance is evident in the prudent management of resources which he brought into office from his private sector background. He also came into office with a well defined mission which was clearly outlined in his famous Green Book. The book is a kind of “a-must-do” list of activities intended to rescue Taraba State from the claws of communal crises and the decay of infrastructure. Without mincing w o r d s , Governor I s h a k u inherited a state that was torn apart by crises. At the time he took over, every senatorial zone in the state had its peculiar case of communal crises. There was also m u t u a l suspicion and m a n y communities that had lived The ‘Green House' project which is today the biggest and the best in Nigeria, is a model farm that employs about 500 people and produces various and special varieties of vegetables that are sold in many department stores in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt together as good and mutually dependent neighbours became estranged. As a result, farming which is the major engagement of the people, became jeopardised. Similarly, the educational system collapsed as schools were forced to shut down. Consequently, all forms of economic activities collapsed. The first task the government of Governor Ishaku faced was to build bridges across these many inter-ethnic, religious and communal divides to achieve peace and end the frightening state of anarchy. This led to his now famous mantra of “Give me peace and I will give you development.” He physically took the olive branch to all nooks •Darius Dickson Ishaku, Taraba State Governor ...leads in agricultural technology transfer and corners of the state, met with community and traditional leaders and preached peace and the need for people to live together and be good neighbours. The success of this peace mission set the stage for the rapid development of the state that the Ishaku administration is today being credited for. In education, damaged schools were quickly rehabilitated and the school system revived. This recovery has been so rapid and successful that the state has recorded outstanding and unprecedented performances in the West African Examination Council, WAEC, it never did in its 26 years of existence. For example, in 2016, the state scored 67.3 percent in WAEC examination. Instructional materials Before then, the state never exceeded 28 percent in that examination. In 2017, the state took the eighth position in the same examination. That performance was the best in the entire 19 Northern states. To keep the record alive, the governor is still rebuilding and rehabilitating more and more schools. Poverty alleviation through skills acquisition and empowerment of women and youths is a critical part of the Rescue Agenda of the Ishaku administration. This programme has rescued more than a thousand idle young men and women from the poverty bracket. They were trained in various areas and through the skills acquired, they have become not only selfemployed but also employers of labour. In addition to the skills they acquired through government-sponsored training programmes, they were also given free start-up equipment to enable them set up their own business quickly and properly. Agriculture is a major emphasis for the Ishaku administration. It has promoted very vigorously wet and dry season farming for various crops, but most especially rice. It has supported farmers through agricultural loans, high yielding seedlings and fertilizer at affordable costs. These very generous farmers support programmes have encouraged farmers to invest more in farming and the results are showing in terms of high and qualitative yields. This has put a lot of money in the pockets of farmers in the state. The administration also established its signature project in agriculture, the “Green House” project which is today the biggest and the best in Nigeria. It is a model farm that employs about 500 people and produces various and special varieties of vegetables that are sold in many department stores in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. This has reduced dependence of the country on the importation of these products. It was commissioned earlier in the year by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who described it as the best effort in agricultural technology transfer in the country. Water is another major area of achievement for the administration of Governor Ishaku. His huge investments in the development of water supply facilities have ended perennial water shortage in Jalingo, the state capital. Perennial water shortage Water dispensing machines have been introduced in the state which has made water supply not only regular but the cheapest in the country. The government is at the moment executing a huge water project that will serve the needs of the state capital for the 30 years no matter the rate of its population growth. The rural areas have also benefitted tremendously from the water supply programmes of the administration. In its first year, the administration provided 100 boreholes in 100 communities which have drastically reduced water scarcity in these communities. These communities had previously relied on streams and ponds for water just like their cows and other animals. Another set of 150 boreholes in 150 communities are currently being drilled to further solve water problem. There are many other bigger water supply projects completed or being executed in all the senatorial zones in the state. Governor Ishaku’s administration inherited 26 government companies that were moribund. It has successfully rehabilitated six of them which are not only functioning but making profits. The Highland Tea produced in Kakara in the Mambilla area of the state is an example.

SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 — 83 •Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa State Governor ...liberalises political space Dickson: Countryman governor who tamed militancy By Gbenga Oke SERIAKE Dickson came into office as Governor of Bayelsa State in 2012 when the state was facing tumultous times. The state was then bedridden with militancy and operated a decadent educational system both at the primary and secondary school levels. Dickson's first decision was to declare a state of emergency on the Education sector. His position was that education was critical to ending militancy in the state. According to the governor, introduction of a compulsory and solid educational system in the state was bound to eradicate the activities of militants. This informed his decision to embark on an elaborate programme of scholarship awards both at home and abroad while also given adequate attention to the decadent primary and secondary education sector. Turmoil-free political landscape To many of his admirers, Dickson is not an everyday politician especially given the manner he has handled the state of affairs in Bayelsa. For instance, he is the first governor to regularly render an account of monies accruing to the State from the Federation account. He followed this up with an executive Bill, which was passed into law by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly. The law stipulates that the governor of the State must always render an account of all monies accruing to the State, including the Federation account to the people. Dickson believes that a turmoil-free political landscape could guarantee the speedy growth and development of Bayelsa State. As a result, he liberalized the political space which made it possible for opposition politicians to thrive. Even when members of the opposition party criticized him, he simply laughed over it. That was how he virtually eliminated political violence, which was the rule in the state before he came to power. The height of that political tolerance was seen in the build-up to the 2015 general elections when he made available to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and President Muhammadu Buhari, the state-owned Samson Siasia Stadium for their campaign at great cost to his political career. Attesting to his political sagacity, former President Goodluck Jonathan said of Dickson “When I was dreaming of becoming governor, Dickson was among the few in the meetings we w e r e holding. He was not in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but he agreed to Dickson believes that a turmoil-free political landscape could guarantee the speedy growth and development of Bayelsa State help. He didn’t want to join the PDP, but I virtually forced him. When I became governor, I appointed Dickson attorney-general and commissioner for justice and that was how he became a PDP member and later became a member of the House of Representatives." He went further, “If Bayelsa is compared to other states in the country in terms of the level of physical infrastructure coupled with the degree of indebtedness in terms of bank loans and capital market, Governor Dickson deserved to be praised. “I am not expecting the governor to score 100 per cent. There are three key parameters I would like to score Governor Dickson. These are payment of salaries, physical infrastructure and low indebtedness of the state in terms of bank loans and in the capital markets. If you compare what has happened in other parts of the country, you will praise the governor. People should think more of about the way the state is being run and prepared for our future generations.” Governor Seriake Henry Dickson was born on January 28, 1966, to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nanaye Dickson of Toru-Orua and a descendant of the famous King Kpadia Royal House of Tarakiri Kingdom, Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He had his primary education at Kolobiriowei Primary School, Toru-Orua from 1972 to 1978 and after his primary education, proceeded to Government Secondary School, Toru-Ebeni, Bayelsa State between 1978 and 1983. Political sagacity He joined the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, in 1988. It was while serving in the Nigerian Police that he got an admission to study Law at the Rivers State University of Technology, Port-Harcourt. The Countryman Governor as he is fondly called earned his Bachelors in Law LL.B in 1992 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1993. Having completed his Law degree and called to the Bar, Dickson was elevated to the rank of a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1994 and thereafter, he left the Police to practice as a Lawyer in a private law firm. He joined the Law Firm of Serena David Dokubo and Co as an associate and worked at the firm between 1994 and 1995. From there, he proceeded to another law firm, Aluko & Oyebode in Lagos as an associate. He, however, opened his own law firm called Seriake Dickson & Co in Port-Harcourt in Rivers State. Dickson ventured into politics and was made the State Chairman of Alliance for Democracy, AD, in Bayelsa between 1990 and 2000. He also held the position of the National Legal Adviser to the party. Afterwards, he became the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State in 2006, a position he held until 2007 during the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in Bayelsa State. In 2007, Dickson decided to go to a higher office and he threw his hat into the ring to represent his people at the National Assembly in Abuja.