On May 29th, Taraba state would be ushered into new vibrant era dominated by the progressive politics of Arc. Darius Ishaku, the governor elect who would be sworn in on that same day. It promises to be a day of glitters and colours, with lots of interesting sideshows. Already a vibrant Inauguration Team headed by the Secretary of State Government (SSG), Bar. Gebon Kataps is working round the clock to ensure a full-filled day. it would also be a day of sober reflection.
Expectedly, many groups would adorn all sorts of costume, each showcasing their own understanding of the import of the historic event. I foresee a situation where people would like to outdo others as they fete and celebrate the man of the moment. It wont be difficult to figure why this is so.
Fact is that Darius (or Daroos as some folks here fondly pronounce it) is a huge sensation and would clearly remain a favorite for a long time. Right now there is a steamy love story on going between Darius and a majority of the people- a situation that has seen him transform from a lowly public servant to a folk hero of sorts.
The DDI chant is one of the loudest now in the streets of Jalingo. By the way, DDI is short for Darius Dickson Ishaku- the full names of the governor-elect. For those who have always assumed that Darius is relatively unknown, the current cult following must come as a jolt.
But then Darius is not new to soap box politics. He once ran for senate! He has also been silently involved in the politics of the state in one form or the other. But he is well known for his stride in the private sector where he distinguished himself as an architect and University teacher.
His cresting stage is actually as a minister in the federal cabinet where he has straddled the ministries of Power, Environment and Niger-Delta. There is a popular document now making the rounds of his exploits in all of the ministries. And somehow, even in those ministries that saw him criss-crossing the world, Darius found himself always reaching back to his native Taraba and bringing development closer home.
For instance, as the minister in charge of the nation’s electricity, Darius ensured that Jalingo got better light. But beyond increasing the wattage, Darius was the architect of the magnificent Kashimbilla Dam in his hometown Takum. On completion, that dam would account for over 40 megawatts enough to transform the power profile of Taraba and some states in the neighborhood. So, yes, Darius has been around for quite a while.
There is therefore something else that is making everyone go gaga over DDI. And that is the fact that he represents a tectonic shift in the entire Taraba narratives. For the first time perhaps, Taraba is about to have a governor who brings years of robust experience to the job. Many citizens are excited about the prospect of a serious minded administrator, who combines a sterling pedigree with a sense of mission running the show. His CV is arguably one that would enliven the state in a dramatic way.
As an architect many expect that he would impact on even the very design of the state in terms of physical structures. As an astute administrators, it is expected that he would he would best interpret his mission statement translating them into real progress for the moribund state. The expectation is high.
Sensing this, Darius himself ran for office on the platform of the slogan “rescue”. On the campaign trail, he and his youngish looking deputy, Haruna Manu, did not leave anyone in doubt of the onerous task in virtually all the sectors of the state’s beleaguered economy. Taraba, a state created over two decades ago still lags behind other state created at the same time.
For many the state is just a by-word for bad governance, internecine warfare, political intrigues and social unrest. Others just view the state as one of those places not worthy of any serious commentary. Yet, this is totally incongruous for a state arguably with the best endowment in mineral resources, tourism, human resources and agriculture. How many Nigerians are aware that the famous Obudu mountainous range is only but the tail end of the Mambila Plateau in the state?
The Mambila Plateau is not only about hydroelectric power. It is also the crown jewel of Nigeria’s tourism drive. With the proper infrastructures in place at the scenic Mambilla, the traffic to Obudu is bound to reduce by more than a half. How many Nigerians know that Taraba has the longest stretch of the River Benue? How many are aware that Taraba holds the record in water sports (fishing festival)?
The Ibi Nwonyo fishing festival is arguably bigger than the renowned Argungu fishing festival. How many agriculturists know that Taraba has the largest body of cows on the sub continent? How many music lovers know that MI- the internally known crooner- is from Taraba? Or that General TY Danjuma- that venerable citizen of the world is also son of the soil? These are the reason may people lament the backwardness of an otherwise Eldorado of the country.
And it is not as if past leaders have not done their best. Take Governor Danfulani Suntai for instance. The pharmacist turned politician did his best for the state. Hampered by all sorts of legal and political crisis, Suntai was still able to meander his way through the murky waters of the state. At the end, shortly before his plane crash, Suntai has achieved an appreciable level of development in the state in terms of road networks, educational centers (he established the first University in the state), among others things.
His gains were however eroded by the bumbling, ill-fated regime of Garba Umar (UTC) who practically dragged the state to prehistoric times. By the time normalcy returned to Taraba, the Jalingo Motel- that symbol of an emerging Taraba- laid in ruins with grasses all over it once lively place. This was just one example of how bad things had become in the state. The state became enmeshed in a N14b debt and was literally gasping for breath.
Enter Darius and hopes got renewed. The revelers on May 29th would be thinking of all these and silently praying that the new leaders of Taraba can stop the decay, reverse the decline and redesign the battered face of the state. To do all of these is a task that must be done. Darius would have to hit the ground running.
Bello, commissioner of information, wrote in from Jalingo