By Emmanuel Bello
With London under attacks from Nazi war planes during the second World War, Winston Churchill proclaimed that Britain has just experienced its finest hour. And with that, Churchill joined the immortals and still providing inspiration through out civilisation. There is something about troubles and crisis that bring out the true nature of a man. A seemingly weak man suddenly transforms, rises to the occasion to provide clarity, direction and leadership. In Taraba state, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku is providing these: eloquent leadership in the face of fire.
He was built for this, it would appear. Because from the start, emerging as consensus candidate after a gruelling selection process, Governor Darius, who had actually planned to quietly retire into teaching after serving as minister in three different ministeries, suddenly found himself thrust into one of the most challenging governorship contests in the history of Nigeria. It was like war as he battled internal crisis and faced then Sen. Aisha Alhassan in an election that kept the entire nation spell bound. Darius vigorously campaigned in hostile and friendly quarters with zeal and determination. It was the ultimate battle for the soul of Taraba. He emerged from the furnace of post election court cases victorious, smelling like a rose.
Then the hard part began. He became governor when virtually the entire Taraba was in disarray. The southern part of the state had become the epicentre of all sorts of violence. At the centre, many Tivs communities have been decimated and confusion reigned supreme. “Give me peace, and watch me give you development,” Governor Ishaku thundered from his position. But he followed this up effectively with a Rescue Mission plan to not only restore peace but to actually start the arduous job of developing the battered state.
But to even do these he had to face up with certain daunting challenges that could melt an ordinary man. He was confronted by a near empty treasury, an over bloated salary portfolio and a state hungry for leadership. Dealing with these, little did anyone know that the real storm was up ahead: the invasion of fulani herdsmen. Nothing could have prepared the governor for this one because no one actually saw it coming.
Yet, to Governor Ishaku’s credit, he has weathered the storm, repositioned the state, kept it far from more harm and has continued the job of providing development. One thing he has done that has endeared him to many is his courage in a dangerous time. He is now winning admirers in non traditional circles. His forthrightness when telling power the truth is so heart warming. His tendency to remain consistent when speaking on the matters is enchanting. He once looked the fearsome Internal Affairs minister, Gen. Danbazau, in the face and asked “where have you been all the while I’ve been calling for help?” This was when a delegation of top security officers came to the state in response to distress calls from Mambilla. The governor wondered why the Federal Government hastily came to the state this time while rejecting other distress calls. As if the FG belonged to only a section of the state.
The governor did this again last week before the army panel sent to investigate Gen. TY Danjuma’s famous “colluding” speech. Looking straight at Gen Nimyel, head of the delegation, DDI (as Taraba people call the governor) said “I and this entire state stand with Gen Danjuma and back his calls for self defence.”
But beyond his bold utterances, Gov Ishaku has continued to provide leadership in local administration. He is rallying up the political base and solidifying his hold. More people are moving into the ruling party in the state, the PDP. To his credit, he has continued to ensure salaries are promptly paid. He has embarked on numerous road projects within and outside the state capital. And although plenty funds must be going into providing security, DDI hasn’t forgotten all the other sectors: agriculture, job creation, education, health and all the other areas of governance. Yes, these troubles have indeed brought out the best in him: his resilience, courage, creativity, and an ability to inspire a harrased people towards victory. Like the war time Prime Minister, Churchill.
Bello, SSA to Gov Darius on Public Affairs sent this piece from Jalingo.