By Barde Phillips.
The Rescue Agenda is an innovation in governance packaged by the Governor himself and unfolded to the people at his inauguration on May 29, 2015 as an antidote for all the obstacles and the missteps of previous administrations that had impeded peace and development in Taraba State.
It is an all-inclusive social, economic and political “tools box” necessary for fixing all the problems that have crippled development in the state in the past.
Everything that the administration has done or planned to do in the past two years is anchored on the philosophical foundation provided by the Rescue Agenda.
The Agenda has yielded a lot of dividends. Peace which is a basic requirement for development is the most outstanding achievement under the Rescue Agenda.
Indigenes of the state, particularly those who live there are in a better position to appreciate this viewpoint more. Ask any of them on the streets of Jalingo, Wukari, Takum or Gembu and they will be quick to name peace as the greatest gift the governor has given them.
They cannot forget in a hurry the devastation, the social and economic trauma and the humanitarian problems that those crises left in their trail. It is a nightmare they would never even wish for their enemies.
Today, the markets are back in full swing and people can now go to city and village markets wherever they are located in the state to buy and sell.
They could not do so in those days of mayhem. Farmers are also back on their farms working very hard again. They couldn’t dare that in those days of crises.
Now the markets are flooded with harvests from their farms and both the sellers and the buyers are enjoying a relationship that is mutually friendly and beneficial.
The common enemy of the state remains the foreign Fulani herdsmen who occasionally invade Taraba villages to steal, kill and maim.
Government has been very decisive in its handling of these attacks. The people must unite behind the government to permanently end this ugly trend.
The government’s achievement in agriculture under the Rescue Agenda is far more than the creation of an enabling environment for farmers to return to the farms.
In fact, as they say in local parlance, farmers’ level don change in Taraba, courtesy of the various support schemes and programmes designed to promote agriculture.
Under the Rescue Agenda, the income of even the small scale farmer has increased tremendously. Many of them can afford to buy tractors now and some have, indeed, already bought tractors for themselves.
“This is what Rescue Agenda is all about”, said Governor Ishaku recently during the flag-off of the sale of fertilizer and distribution of other agricultural inputs to farmers.
“Agriculture will be transformed into big business and farmers will become richer than contractors”, the Governor said.
Government has assisted farmers with soft loans, provided fertilizer at highly subsidized prices, in addition to high-yielding seedlings of major crops grown in the state.
The government even went a step further to help rice farmers find international markets for their produce, all in an effort to put plenty of money in their pockets and for farming to become more lucrative.
Government has also been directly involved in farming through its Green House project in Jalingo. The farm, the most modern in this part of the world, produces a wide range of vegetables for local consumption and export.
It is also helping government fulfil one of its major obligations – job creation. The farm has already employed 250 youths from the state. This will soon increase to 500.
It is also a training ground in modern farming techniques, a legacy which will forever continue to impact positively on attitudes and commitment to farming in the state.
The Rescue Agenda has also significantly resolved the conundrum called poverty. Skills acquisition is a critical arm of the agenda. Under the programme, many un-employed and hitherto un-employable women and youths have become self-employed through skills acquisition training organised for them.
About 335 of them trained in the first phase of the programme have settled down to their own business in various parts of the state with free start-up equipment which include sewing machines, weaving machines, hair dryers, wood carving machines and shoe and soap making equipment.
These were accompanied by electricity generators to help them overcome the problem of power instability. Recruitment for the second phase of that scheme has begun in earnest.
Apart from directly and positively changing the lives of individuals, Rescue Agenda has also profoundly rescued infrastructure of social amenities in the state.
Water problem has been comprehensively addressed. The 100 boreholes in one hundred communities in the state has been completed and another 150 in 150 communities is about to start.
In Jalingo, a gigantic water project that will be the pride of the nation is currently being executed. While this is on-going, existing water infrastructure have been revived and strengthened to meet more of the water needs of the state.
The recent introduction of water ATMs to generate revenue and to curtail wastage of water has been received with enthusiasm by the people.
Highways, township roads and rural roads have been reconstructed to ease movement of people and goods. All senatorial districts in the state have had many of their roads reconstructed.
Several abandoned federal road projects in the state have also been completed under an arrangement whereby the state government will be reimbursed later.
The revival of direct flights into Jalingo has greatly helped the economy of the state, especially in tourism and commerce. This happened only after the airport, hitherto abandoned by previous administrations received the magic touch of Governor Ishaku, captain of the rescue mission in Taraba.
The Agenda has also breathed life into five out of 25 industries inherited by the Ishaku administration in a state of comatose.
These include Taraba Gas, Highland Tea, Viva Feed Mills.. Polythene and Palm Oil companies, some of them have already started making profit.
Cassava processing plant is next on the line for rescue. The sugar production company planned for the state by the Dangote Group but which had failed to see the light of day for the whole of 13 years was eventually rescued by Ishaku on Tuesday May 2, 2017.
On that day Ishaku signed documents which cleared the way for the company to be established after all the encumbrances that had delayed the project had been cleared. This means the creation of thousands of employment opportunities for indigenes of the state.
The list of accomplishments under the Rescue Agenda in Taraba State is endless. All the sectors have been touched in just two years and those were the two years of unnecessary distraction for the government and the Governor caused by numerous court cases brought by those who lost the gubernatorial election of 2015 but who desperately wanted to bend the hands of the courts to upturn the popular mandate freely given to Ishaku.
If what was achieved in those two years that were dogged by series of unhealthy distractions can be used as yardstick, then one can safely say that what the people have seen of the Rescue mission is just the beginning.
Greater days of peace and development are here.