The eight years wasted: Is Talba Minna “holier than thou”? By Ahmed Rufai Khalil.

There are many religious and cultural injunctions whose meaning goes far beyond surface meaning, it includes but not limited to phrases like “Fadi alheri ko kayi shiru” meaning “say positive thing or keep mute” the meaning of this particular phrase has significance far beyond what it really meant and where it’s mentioned; one of it deep meaning is that “being calculative and deliberate in what to say is in itself a virtue” This is what it really mean, only negative people say negative things. It also mean that when you say negative things about others, you are exposing yourself to scrutiny; as it is, this is where we are ; the former Governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu said some days ago at the official launch of Lina TV in Minna,that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s 8 years as a Governor is wasted. His opinion certainly, but one thing about opinions is that it’s always subjective, everyone got a standpoint, the subjectivity of your opinion is slaved to it, whether yourself think it negative or positive, it never should matter to anyone but you the maker of such.

Now that we have almost gotten over what we know and witnessed during Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu’s tenure as the number one citizen of the state, his recent pronouncement beckon at our attention to peep into the services of an “holier than thou” Talba Minna administration too. The pronouncement Talba made about someone shouldn’t be a wool he wanted pulling over our eyes on the atrocities his administration committed against Nigerlites.Talba himself is the one calling for this scrutiny as he seek us to scrutinize others, challenge taken, akin to a doctrine of modern warfare on artillery duel; if you seek to stay quiet and undiscovered don’t let your shell singing otherwise counter-battery fire is likely to seek you out and expose your cover. In accusing others make sure you are clean too,this is always livid, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, before we should forget , it’s earlier said ” virtuous Men don’t say negative things” to the above, Talba Minna is not a virtuous Man after all, but one driven by ego, and someone said it’s the most cancerous disease of the mind, because it keeps humanity under snow eternally, above all it’s practitioner.

In accusing his successor,Talba has not noticed probably due to his egotism, that his administration caused the biggest set back in the state’s pension policy so much that this problem will remain unsolved for only God knows how long, by enrolling the state under a dubious pension administration which has become a trap for all succeeding administrations, it was not well thought of, lives and legitimate earnings of people were experimented upon and it turned out bad, so much that many died as a result and many couldn’t claim their benefits yet and may not likely be able to ever; imagine experimenting with human lives; The PFA’S were supposed to get remitted with over 7 billion naira deducted from salaries and earnings of the civil servants but it wasn’t seen and yet to be found where and who took possession of it? Where is this over 7 billion naira? Talba indeed walked Niger into a mine field, a mine field of liability alas dubiously, this will fester for decades. Billions were unaccounted for under this scheme and it has become a trap for succeeding administrations,monies deducted and it wasn’t found anywhere,if this is not a legacy of terror, don’t know what it’s going to be called, if it isn’t Talba’s administration that got wasted one wouldn’t know which one truly is.

Talba’s administration heralded and pioneered white-elephant projects. These projects includes but not limited to 5 star hotel, three arms zone, stadium at maikunkele,Minna City center and more; of particular interest is the 3 arms zone, there was supposed to be the new commissioners quarters, where as the old ones were sold out even before the new ones were built, hundreds of millions were supposed to be realized from it, where are the monies? What account was it remitted to? No wonder it was found that Talba awarded 3 houses of the old commissioners and legislative quarters to himself and the rest to family members and cronies.Disheartenly, Billions were schemed, budgeted, taken and these projects remain uncompleted, some of these projects had monies budgeted for their completion spread in 3 to 4 years budgets passed by the state assembly, year after year, yet they remained so, even the government that came after tried to revive these projects but found out that they were unviable, so much money taken prior, yet they became stalled because it was unholistically concepted. The 5 star hotel issue was even too pathetic, after demolishing a part of UK Bello national monument, it was said that 500 million went down the drain, as it was paid to a contractor and he claim loss of memory after a freak accident. Today the hotel remained untouched and an eyesore, efforts to revive it failed because it was overpriced. The story of the three arms zone is not different, only poor road network and a worthless piece of structure for legislature was put up, yet billions went and it remained uncompleted, another white-elephant project. The Maikunkele stadium, another audio project and a white-elephant. Again billions budgeted, taken and it’s remain at clearing of land and a few pillars stage. The Minna city center project remains the most haunting, an entire market was demolished and compensation paid to adjoining residential areas, a foreign investor offered to develop it and the result is there for you to see, a white-elephant after billions was budgeted and sunken: For all these, the projects failed because of the unhonesty of Talba, they must be remotely beneficial to him and his cronies otherwise he concepted and undermined it according to his whims after payments and work got underway, if this is not called wastefulness any other thing won’t be.

Talba’s administration was also known for substandard and non-qualitative projects. A good example is the kafin koro-gwada, Katcha-Badeggi, Dabban-Batati, fazhi-kutigi roads, these projects as we speak have most potions of it washed off and in many places the asphalts have given way to soils. Let’s not forget too that it was Talba’s administration that took loans to construct non-existing 10 kilometer roads in the 25 local governments areas, while the local governments are still paying for the loans today. Talba’s administration is also the highest financial bond-takers that we still pay even today, these bonds were shamelessly stolen by the administration, despite these Abu Lolo meets and completed some of these projects bonds were taken for without much as a noise.

Talba’s administration happened to be the highest that proliferate departments, divisions and agencies in the civil service, these bodies were created with little considerations for duplications of duties, most of these divisions/agencies created by Talba are rendered useless today, they were hitherto created to siphon billions without much-ado about appropriateness to the existing structures or bodies, indeed it’s this administration that has wasted the wealth of Niger. Interestingly it’s apparent that however we talk about Talba’s administration we will always come back to the issue of “ego”. Talba is one person who believes he knows and is better than everyone else, if it’s not him it’s not it; lately he had appointed himself as a guardian to Governor Bago, despite his respectable place as former Governor, he most times never get invited before he gate crashes at Bago’s functions, the case of the dinner on the eve of Etsu Nupe’s anniversary is still fresh.

Ironically Talba is a man of many faces, back in 2015 it was he who starved his party of funds and allowed the APC come to power; they were even insinuations in some quarters that he indirectly provided fund for the APC albeit surreptitiously; whatever he did that for only he could tell but today he could about-turn to accuse his successor of wastage, could it be that he did that to prevent being investigated because he committed atrocities and wanted to be let off the hook? thank God it didn’t happen, the ecological fund he misappropriated got him to the court where the case is still ongoing, isn’t this in itself a wastage on his part too? As part of his many faces, here is the man at the forefront of the 7 PDP Governors feud with the Jonathan administration, when it was time to decamp to APC be backed out , he betrayed the rest after tricking them into feud with Jonathan, certainly this is not a man whose words are to be trusted, he is but a self seeking individual who shift goal posts and blame others.

It is also rife to ask at this juncture ,what happened in and to SUBEB under the Talba administration? Where is the over 500 million naira accrued to SUBEB from 2008 to 2015 ? Where is it? Who was it given to? The monies accrued and supposed to be used for provision of facilities, in whose care was it deposited? Simple, stolen and certainly wasted. Upon these Talba awarded himself over 250 million naira as rent for his house annually, amounting to 2 billion naira in 8 years in place of the Government House, isn’t this a waste too? Brazen theft of public funds.

Comparatively, the man who Talba accuses of wastage turn out to be a more successful and idealogically driven than himself with an unprecedented success of completing many quality roads, the likes of which Niger is yet to witness, with completion of many projects meaningful to Nigerlites than anyone else like Kontagora General hospitals, Suleja General hospital remodelling as well as Minna General hospital amongst several dozen projects. Former Governor Lolo successfully midwifed his party to succeed him as Governor where the “holier than thou” Talba failed; Lolo kept his party in power where the so-called knowledgeable and seasoned public administrator failed and the crowning achievement of Lolo happened to be making it to the Senate where Talba and his party failed. Talk is cheap and Talba has put to rest the assertion.



Ahmed Rufai Khalil,is a Public Affairs Commentator.He writes from Dutsen Kura,Minna.

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