Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku
Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku

Recently, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), at its bi annual conference, conferred an award on the Taraba State governor, Arch Darius Dickson Ishaku for his tremendous turnaround of the Taraba State health sector. Omonu Nelson was there.

On May 5, 2018, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s ‘Rescue Mission’ attracted accolades from the prestigious Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). The NMA award was in recognition of Gov Ishiaku’s outstanding transformation of the Taraba State health sector. The jaw-dropping angle to the award is how Governor Ishiaku was able to achieve this turnaround, given the fact that the administration came into office, when Nigeria was going through its worse phase of economic recession, which culminated in dwindling revenue from the federation account. Added to the forgoing is the security challenge in the North East geo-political zone, of which Taraba State is a part.

Though, in recent times, in our clime, awards have almost lost its meaning, as it has assumed a ‘cash and carry’ dimension. However, coming from an association of men of noble profession like an association of medical doctors in Nigeria, the award is considered by many as credible, given the indispensable role, the members plays in the Nigerian economy and how the Association, formed 58 years ago, that has continued to shape the direction of government health policies at all governmental levels in Nigeria. It remains incontrovertible that, of all the professional bodies in the country, the NMA has maintained its integrity. The NMA award night was the climax of the one week bi-annual conference of the association. It also marks the end of the tenure of its officials and election new ones.

At the award ceremony, which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the outgoing President of the NMA, Prof Mike Ogirima said, the Association, with the award, aimed to showcase outstanding achievements in the health sector by some elected public officials and members of the profession, who have stayed true as the Ambassador of the profession.

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“Some elected public officials and members of the medical profession are making giant strides in the health sector in their various domains.” For instance, the governor of Taraba State has massively improved health infrastructures in his state. “In Taraba State under Arc Ishiaku, health workers are well remunerated and paid as when due.” This award therefore, is meant to add impetus to the efforts of his government. Prof Ogirima said.

Arch Ishiaku, who was accompanied to the award presentation by the Taraba State government officials and large crowd of political associates and well-wishers said, while receiving the award that, he is overwhelmed by the recognition by the NMA. He insisted that, he is not always disposed to receiving awards. However, an award from a reputable and prestigious Association like the NMA is certainly an indication of approval of his performances, especially, in the health sector, for which he is being honoured.

“My joy knows no bound by the honour done me by the NMA. Usually, I am reluctant to receive awards but an award from a credible group like the NMA is certainly, a candid approval of the efforts my government is making to reposition the health sector in Taraba State. This is certainly a morale booster that will spur us to do more. NMA should continue to honor deserved private and public officials. This is one way of telling them to do more.”

While addressing press men after the award, Arc Ishiaku explained that, “We are reconstructing and rehabilitating hospitals in our three Senatorial Zones. We are bringing up the local government clinics to shape. More importantly, we are equipping them. “Sincerely, I am surprised that the NMA noticed what we are doing in the health sector just less than three years in office. We will do more to keep our people healthy because health is wealth.”

Arc Ishaku further explain that the insecurity in the north east states has brought untold pressure on the health facilities in the state.

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“The insecurity has added more pressure on our health facilities. Much more than one will anticipate. When you have almost 150,000 displaced persons, it is a challenge. “Before now, in the north east, Taraba State was the safest. But right now, we are having our own share of the herdsmen menace and that has added a lot of strain on our health services. That makes it mandatory for us to engage more doctors, nurses and other health specialists and to a large extent, we are succeeding. I think that is why the NMA recognized our efforts so quickly.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, and Emir of Shanga in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, Alhaji Haliru Yahaya commended Governor Ishiaku for astounding performances in, especially, the health and education sectors. He appealed to other elected public officials to emulate the good example of Gov Ishaku, who less than three year has brought tremendous turnaround to Taraba State.

“Gov Ishaku has done well in three years. My appeal is to other elected public officials is that they should put affordable healthcare on the front burner, for that is the bedrock of every development. “Nigerians are not asking for too much. At least, what will make life more meaningful to them? The monarch said.

That Gov Ishaku recorded giant strides in the health sector in Taraba State does not mean other sectors of the states’ economy were neglected. For instance, in the water sector, the governor hit the ground running from his first week in office. Governor Ishaku made funds available to the Taraba State Water Supply Agency with a stern directive that Jalingo, the state capital had been without water for 10 months and that taps must begin to run. In matter of days all equipment were refurbished and taps started running.

In the area of rural water supply, the administration, within the first few months sank numerous boreholes in the following locations, Pampetel, Gwahir, Garin Sule, Makurna, Madachi, Bashau, Mishali, Bashin, Jalingo Main Motor Park and Mechanic Village. The stride still continues.

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Seeing the purity and selfless determination of Gov Ishaku, the Pan African Development Bank, Africa Development Bank, AfDB officials quickly keyed into his water supply efforts. Soon, the synergy started paying off, with the expansion of water pipelines.

In the power sector, upon assumption of office, Governor Ishaku decried the abysmally low Megawatts supply to Jalingo from the national grid. As former Minister of Power, he engaged Officials and relevant stakeholders; the Yola Electricity Distribution Company to increase Megawatts. The request was immediately granted as Jalingo today enjoys more 18 Megawatts of electricity.

The administration installed gigantic transformers at strategic areas to service the Wukari business district with 7.5 Megawatts of electricity. The same way, about 50 pieces of transformers were made available by the administration for different ward across the state.

Governor Ishaku commissioned the Tunga Mini Hydro-electric dam executed in partnership between the state government, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO. Ishaku gave his best to the project when he was Minister of Power. This project is now providing gainful employment to the people within and around the Kakara community as small scale businesses such as phone charging, grinding machines, business centres, poultry incubators, etc can be powered.

To encourage closeness to our Creator, especially through prayers, the administration has continued to sponsor pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj while food items were purchased for the Muslim Ummah across the 16 local governments in the state during Sallah celebrations.

Governor Ishaku understands the indispensable role of traditional rulers and religious leaders in peace building. This decision has impacted positively as our brotherliness and sense of common purpose have been reinvigorated. He resuscitated the standing Local Government Security Committees which had hitherto gone comatose.