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SUNTAI, ELDERS' COUNCIL DISAGREE ON PERFORMANCE

By NBF News
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CONCERNED elders of Taraba State and the state government have differed on accusation of poor performance by the Governor Danbaba Suntai administration.

The elders, who said they were no longer comfortable with the slow pace of the 20-year-old state, have asked the state government to justify the huge allocations it gets from the federal purse and other sources.

Under the platform of Concerned Elders' Forum, the eminent indigenes from the state's three geo-political zones led by their chairman, Chief Seth Philip Ikaa, said the state 'needs a government of development not underdevelopment.'

Ikaa also appealed to the state government to ensure that all votes count, adding that  'we have decided to courageously speak out' against the 'ills,' which we believe are hampering the rapid growth of the state.

'We have decided to courageously speak out on these matters because of our strong conviction and our desire for good, accountable and transparent governance in the state.'

In a reaction, the Senior Special Assistance on Media to the Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Bello, said: 'It is laughable. The charge is ridiculous, dismissible and comic. How can a man mismanage the kind of funds we get and still construct roads in Jalingo, our state capital and across the state? How can you build schools, hospitals, established a state university and still be said to have squandered state funds?'

The Suntai's administration has restored good governance and probity, adding 'if the governor had not paid off the backlog of pensions and gratuities to the tune of N3 billion owned those folks by the last administration, I wondered how they would have been comfortable today.'

Ikaa, who said the group is 'neither made up of disgruntled nor failed politicians' but 'individually, we have served this state creditably in the past, and also the nation at large in various capacities,' pledged that the members would continue to offer their services in the renewed efforts to save the state.

Ikaa lamented that development had eluded the state in spite of the huge federal monthly allocation, which has run to over N200 billion between 2007 and 2010.

'Our state has remained in greater stagnation in governance with deplorable level of our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning.

'Lack of good and affordable health institutions and services, especially at the rural and local council levels, lack of good roads, and other basic infrastructure that facilitate development are lacking in our state.'

The elders alleged there were several ill-conceived projects being implemented by the state government, designed solely to siphon public funds.

Ikaa accused Governor Danbaba Suntai of frustrating the efforts of genuine investors by failing to create an ideal environment for them to operate.

He said: 'The state government is very hostile to investors. The governor is part of those dragging the state backward because his government has being frustrating the efforts of investors.'