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Financial challenges awaiting incoming Taraba governor

By Charles Akpeji, Jalingo
16 June 2022   |   4:03 am
Taraba, a North East Nigerian state, has never been so indebted to organisations and contractors since its creation out of former Gongola State in 1991.

Taraba, a North East Nigerian state, has never been so indebted to organisations and contractors since its creation out of former Gongola State in 1991.

According to reports, despite the monthly allocation from the Federal Government, the financial profile of the state under the Governor Darius Ishaku administration has continued to go south. 

The deteriorating financial situation will, no doubt, negatively affect the incoming administration, as the next governor, instead of settling down to actualise his election campaign promises, will be busy sourcing for resources to settle Ishaku’s debts.

Apart from the several media organisations presently lamenting the lackadaisical attitude of the state government towards paying them for published advertisements, contractors handling various projects in the state are as well not comfortable with the government’s indebtedness.

The Guardian gathered that no media organisation, especially those that publish national dailies, is willing to take advertisement from the state due to its inability to pay, one year after publication.

Such debts are from advertisements for the governor’s sixth anniversary in office (2021), the 79th birthday of the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), among others.

At the time of filing this report, media organisations, especially the print, no longer want to entertain advertisements from Ishaku’s administration. 

This was lucidly demonstrated at the recent seventh anniversary of the governor in office, as no single advertisement from the state was placed in any of the national dailies to showcase any of his projects. 

Narrating the several attempts made to get their money, to no avail, some of the advert managers told The Guardian that their jobs were at stake, due to the alleged inability of the government to offset the debts. 

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu, who admitted that the advert managers from the various media had been bombarding him with telephone calls, said the situation was giving him sleepless nights. 

His efforts to salvage the situation seems not to be yielding results, as the governor, The Guardian learnt, has continued to turn deaf ears to pleas.

The advert managers have reportedly reached out to some personalities from the state to persuade the governor to offset the advert bills. Those reached include the Chief of Staff of the Governor, Chairman of Taraba State Civil Service Commission, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate and House of Assembly Speaker. 

In their various text messages to the personalities, the advert managers lamented their ordeal in their organisations.

Wondering why the government has continued to drag its feet in settling the media organisations concerned, a top government functionary confided in our reporter that the same situation was applicable to the state’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)

He said: “Since the coming of this administration, our monthly imprest has been stopped, and that is why nothing is happening in any of the MDAs.”

Citing how the government has been tampering with the funds meant for local councils from the federation account, he lamented: “It is so unfortunate that media organisations that have been projecting the image of the state are not catered for.”

A PDP chieftain in the state, who wondered why the state’s debt profile is on the increase, despite the increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and federal allocation, said: “Indeed, our incoming governor would have a lot of financial challenges to grapple with.”

Also wondering why Ishaku, who is presently jostling for the senatorial position of Taraba South come 2023, has continued to display lackadaisical attitude towards the media, he beckoned the governor to, as a matter of urgency, do the needful before his political ambition would be rubbished by journalists.

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