Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Nigeria’s forner envoy to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Alhaji Hassan Jika Ardo has described plans by the Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku to sell the state owned Highland Beverages Company as “most unfortunate, irrational, fraudulent and direct rape of the state’s economic future”.
Ardo was reacting to the publication of bids for the sale of the company in some National Dailies, despite protests by the host community and other stakeholders in the state.
Speaking to Journalists in Jalingo on Friday, Ardo quarried why the governor would want to sell the company only months to the end of his tenure in office as governor and why he chose to sell the only truly viable company in the state.
He noted that the company was jointly owned by the state government and other shareholders including the host community, yet the governor has taken the unilateral decision to dispose of it as if it was a privately owned company.
“First of all, I want to admit my total disappointment at the state governor for his unilateral decision to sell off the Taraba State Highland  Tea Company in Kakara, Sardauna local government area of Taraba State.
“You will recall that there have been series of protests by members of the host community since it was learnt that the state governor wants to sell this company. I understand that a committee set up by the State House of Assembly to wade into the matter escaped death by the whiskers as the people would not hear of yet.
“Despite all of these, I just read in some Dailies that the state government is advertising this company for sale. This is not only irrational, fraudulent, insensitive but a direct rape of the economic future of our dear state.
“Why is the governor so desperate to dispose of this company barely three months to the end of his tenure? If his predecessors have sold all the companies in the state as he is doing what would he have met? The only company he established, which is the Taraba Greenhouse could not even survive his tenure in office. Why is he not selling that one? Why sell off the only viable asset the state has and leave moribund ones that are a liability to the state?
“The host community has clearly indicated that they don’t want the company sold. Major stakeholders across the state have protested the move to sell this company. So why is the governor insisting on taking this decision that could potentially create further crisis in that axis? This is just unnecessary in my opinion and it goes to confirm the allegations at some quarters that the governor wants to acquire the company for himself through his cronies after sinking Billions of state funds into it” Ardo said.
The Envoy, who is also a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) called on the state governor to rescind his decision and listen to the voice of the people, insisting that “there are a lot of things that need priority attention of the state government and the governor should be preoccupied attending to these as he winds down rather than going about raping the state in broad daylight”.
Our correspondent reports that there have been protests by various groups in the state calling on the state government to stop the sale of the company and a media owner was recently jailed for several days by the state government for allegedly inciting the people to protest the planned sale of the company.