With the appointment of 112 personal aides and 20 commissioners, the Taraba State governor may have set a new record in political appointment. However, the concern of many stakeholders in the state is that this is coming at a time the state, like many other states in Nigeria is finding it difficult to pay salaries, writes SAM TYAV
While President Muhammadu Buhari and some state governors are doing everything possible to save cost of governance, the governor of Taraba State has instead added his political appointees with at least 112 aides in addition to 20 commissioners as members of the State Executive Council. This is in addition to the appointments made earlier in the life of this administration.
Instructively, the state is hugely indebted and the governor is well aware of this. Commercial banks alone were being owed about N20 billion and the state is in a state where prayers have been called.
Concerned and patriotic citizens in the state were rather thinking of how the cost of governance would be reduced.
An account officer in the state Ministry of Finance, who spoke to Nigerian Pilot on anonymous ground, lamented that what the state was going through was getting unbearable to the people. He told this newspaper that the allocation from the federation account has continued to dwindle, a situation that calls for reconsideration of any action taken by the state government for the purpose of development.
He believed that the state government would not go into numerous appointments to worsen the situation even if it wants to reward politicians.
Another staff of the state government in the Education Ministry while speaking to Nigerian Pilot wondered why the state government took that position, expressing worry as to the dwindling financial position of the state government that was going more worrisome. He said that the government chose to conduct screening exercise which some of them thought was a deliberate move to check the leakages and as well ascertain the genuineness of the state workforce.
He noted that the state government workers did not like the exercise but felt that it was a way of coming out with the exact figure to work with as the workforce but while the state government was seemingly trying to save cost of governance it has rather gone further in bringing additional burden on the state government, which according to him does not sound like a good economic move. He noted however that the governor who is well abreast of the precarious situation should have found a way of sidestepping the political appointments in order to save cost. “I will not bother myself on that issue. The governor knows what to do,” he said.
Ironically, while Governor Ishaku was swearing in his 20 commissioners, he instructed them to be guided by the rescue agenda of the state government. He told the Taraba people time had passed and the commissioners should settle down to address the challenges of the state. The governor urged the cabinet members to bring in new ideas and as well demonstrate untiring efforts to develop the state.
Ishaku who lamented that many people in the state have lost loved ones, lost lives, maimed and even lost their property called on the cabinet members to carry everyone along in performing their functions. He insisted that the cabinet members should take their assignment serious, revealing that there were equally qualified Taraba citizens for the job and urged them to consider themselves as lucky ones.
The governor also used the occasion to launch the rescue mission and called on all the executive members to use it as a guide to contribute their quota to the development of the state.
And about 48 hours after the commissioners’ swearing ceremony, the governor swore in another set of 50 Special Advisers and 62 Senior Special Assistants.
Ishaku during the inauguration of his aides charged them to be efficient in carrying out their assignments even as he told them that they were part of the rescue team of the state government. “All activities should guarantee the success of the rescue agenda.”
The governor who said they should be diligent and committed to the assignment insisted on the best practices also implored them to familiarize themselves with the content of the rescue agenda and as well devise ways of taking the state forward. He urged them to represent their communities fairly bearing in mind that a lot of them had sacrificed in these hard times and appealed that they should conduct them with all sense of commitment.
The governor who informed that all the appointees should take their responsibilities with every seriousness insisted that no position was too small or too big. According to him it all depends on how one does his assignment. “A seemingly small position could be made big and relevant by the officer concerned,” he said.
He admitted that lot of people were taken on board by the appointment he gave but explained that it was a deliberate attempt to reach out to every community in the state by carrying them along and believed that
they would not disappoint their communities and the state government that gave them the positions on trust.
With the new appointments made and the other appointments made earlier in the life of the present administration it is believed that the salaries of the appointees alone would go up and the problem of the state government would be compounded. This is the position of the Baba Isho, a pensioner in the state who lives in Jalingo. He lamented that already the state government had forgotten about them who in their youths served the state meritoriously. He noted that the state government had forgotten about them when its salary scale had not gone like this. “I wonder where they would place us having abandoned us in the payment of our pension before now.”
This is why some concerned and patriotic citizens of the state even after the executive council and the aides have been sworn in, still argue that the state government should hasten up in addressing the financial problem, which it inherited so as not to worsen it. They believe that if salaries alone constituting a lot of problems to the state government, one begins to wonder what percentage of the state funds would go to capital projects which by all indications is more important to the wellbeing of the rest members of the state.