Outgoing Taraba governor, deputy under fire over N2bn vehicles
The approval by the Taraba State Executive Council of N2 billion for the purchase of vehicles for outgoing Governor Darius Ishaku and his deputy Haruna Manu as well as their spouses few days to their exit from office has sparked outrage in the state.
According to the report, Ishaku and his wife will get over N1.3 billion worth of exotic cars while Manu and his wife will receive cars worth N750 million.
While residents deplored what they perceive as an insensitive move, the state Information Commissioner Lois Emmanuel said the sum involved was not up to N2 billion.
“It is not N2 billion. The purchase should have been done when he came on board for the second tenure in 2019. The car he was using since 2015 was supposed to be changed but it was not because funds were not available,” Emmanuel told The Nation.
“I could remember the car broke down several times. It was supposed to be changed long ago. That is the gospel truth. Now that he is going, it is his entitlement to have a car. At least as a governor, he needs a bullet proof car for his protection,” the commissioner added.
The spokesman for the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aaron Artimas, branded the government’s decision as “simply reckless and insensitive.”
“Some people, including myself, retired over 10 years ago. I have not been paid my gratuity and you can imagine there are people who do not have cars. Two billion naira would pay many pensioners their gratuity. Some have not even been enrolled after five years of retirement.
“So you can see the degree of recklessness and insensitivity. It shows the level of greed. Anytime they ask him about salary, he would say he has paid up to date.
“The state executive council is just like an errand boy. The ministries are not funded. The state government has not been giving commissioners running costs to run their ministries. The state public service has been run down.”
Also speaking on the issue, the state coordinator, Coalition of Civil Society, Joseph Gimba, said: “Why should this be the right time for the governor to do that?
“It is coming at a wrong time. If it is not captured in the state budget, then it should not be allowed to go.
“He should allow the incoming government to consider that. This is taking into consideration that local government staff have not been paid, teachers have not been paid.”
It was gathered that the relationship between Ishaku and the incoming governor Kefas Agbu is not entirely cordial; a fallout of the cold shoulder the outgoing governor gave Agbu in the run-up to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries.
The governor had preferred a top civil servant for the PDP governorship ticket until a superior power play orchestrated by former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, ensured that Agbu won.
Since his emergence as governor-elect, there has been a visible disconnect between the two as Kefas is hardly seen at state functions.
Their mutual mistrust boiled over two months ago after the governor-elect promised to clear, within 100 days of his assumption of office, the backlog of salaries owed workers by the state government.
Ishaku fired back immediately, saying his administration was not owing anyone as to warrant the promise from the governor-elect.