The Mambilla Hydro Power project located in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State, which is now gradually translating into reality if work continues at the same pace, would no doubt catapult the rating of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to the high heavens. But it would as well further strengthen the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Taraba, which is bent on maintaining its leadership position in the state ahead of the next election.
At the moment, both political parties are claiming glory for making the resurrection of the project possible since it had lain fallow and unattended to by previous PDP administrations.
While the teeming followers of APC, especially lovers of President Mohammadu Buhari, are solidly rooting for Buhari’s administration for appointing Mr. Saleh Mamman Minister of Power from the state, supporters of PDP are, on their part, also loudly commending the state governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, who they believe facilitated the process while serving as minister of state for power in the last political dispensation.
Tenaciously holding to Ishaku’s claims that as minister of power (state) he redesigned Mambilla dam from 2,000 megawatts to the present 3,050 megawatts capacity, both sides agree that in spite of politics, Ishaku demonstrated rare candour at the sensitization meeting in the actualisation of the Mambilla Hydropower dam, which recently took place in Abuja. The governor had resolved during the said sensitization meeting to work hand in hand with the Federal Government for the speedy completion of the Mambilla Hydro Electricity project.
The project, which is a national dream for stable electricity power, has remained on the drawing board for more than 40 years. Ishaku, who during the beginning of the sensitization phase, described the people as critical to the overall success of the project, said the project is huge and would significantly alter the social, economic, and cultural lives of members of the host communities, hence the need to seek the support and cooperation of the people, especially the host communities.
While applauding President Buhari for his interest and commitment to the project, Ishaku urged Buhari to write his name in gold as the Nigerian leader who broke the over 40-year jinx on the project, which will be for the interest and welfare of the people of Taraba State. Particularly for the immediate host communities, he said the project should cater for their needs, stressing, “All the gains and the benefits coming with the project should not be denied the people of Taraba State.”
While some stakeholders at the said meeting argued that the governor’s statement was aimed at scoring cheap publicity for PDP, others were of the view that honour should actually be given to those who deserved it. Majority of the persons, who spoke on the issue who did not want their names in print, particularly traditional rulers, strongly commended President Buhari for making the project a reality.
Citing the lukewarm attitude of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who were elected on the platform of PDP, the efforts of President Buhari towards “making Mambilla Hydro Power project a reality” they said, would “make APC gain more grounds in the state.”
According to one of the traditional rulers, who claimed to have been voting for PDP since the transmission of power from military to civilian, said, “The very day President Buhari appointed our son as the minister of power, I know the Mambilla project is dear to him. So, with this development alone, I think nothing is going to prevent APC from taking over the state in the next election. But this can only be achieved if they give us a credible candidate and not the one with questionable character.
“If PDP had the desire and wanted to continue controlling this state I think the former PDP presidents should have placed the Mambilla project where it ought to be by now.”
The monarch, who said he and most of his colleagues shared the same view on the project, found it hard to believe that the project was dear to the incumbent governor when he was a minister “as he is now claiming. As you are aware, this is politics and as a traditional ruler, we are not allowed to dive into politics, but the truth is that with this project, APC and President Mohammadu Buhari have won our hearts and we are ready to give our blessings to any credible candidate the party will present as its governorship flag bearer in the coming election.”
While throwing his weight behind those of the monarchs, Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Turbago, Alhaji Hassan Ardo Jika, stated that the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Taraba State, which past PDP administrations failed to address were being attended to by APC under the leadership of President Buhari. The ambassador, who could not fathom why the leadership of PDP, especially at the state level, was now claiming the glory, admonished Taraba people and the country at large to disregard PDP’s claims regarding the project, which he said was being realised by “APC government under President Buhari.”
On his own part, Minister of Power, Mamman, who said he was adhering strictly to the president’s directives to ensure work continues on the project, said nothing would slow the project down.
Senior Special Assistant to Mamman on Media Matters, Mr. Aaron Artimas, who said the project was “used as a conduit pipe by the previous PDP government”, said President Buhari had released funds to compensate host communities whose land would be used for the project. Artimas said in ensuring that the project is not thwarted, said the president had cleared all obstacles threatening its actualization.
Rather than claiming glory in order to achieve cheap political gains, he urged the people to shun sentiments by rallying around Buhari to effectively execute the project which he said would be of immense benefits to Taraba people and the country at large irrespective of political, religious, and tribal affiliations.
But some chieftains of PDP argued that it was PDP government, which set the ball rolling by initiating the project. They said but for the change of government, the project would have been near completion by now. Preferring not to be named, one said, “We agreed that this project is being brought to reality by APC government, but it is also good to let Nigerians know that had it not been for the steps taken by PDP governments to attract attention to the project, nobody would have dreamt of talking or making moves to construct the dam by now.”
The PDP chieftain, who did not want to join issues with APC for fear it would drag its feet on the project, debunked claims that the project served as conduit pipe by the previous administrations to siphon money. The chieftain who argued that it had become necessary for PDP to blow its trumpet, “especially now that we are gradually moving towards election again,” said, “if not so APC would take advantage of the project and make the electorate to vote against us.”
Like the Senior Special Assistant to the Mamman, keen followers of developments in the state are of the opinion that now that the Federal Government had decided to wake up from its slumber regarding the project, allowing such sentiments as politics and religion to dominate the project’s discourse would be inimical to its actualization. They have therefore canvassed caution and the need for all hands to be on deck until the Mambila Hydro Power project is completed.