The farthest states from Lagos and Abuja are frequently under-reported. Unless a disaster occurs, in Zamfara, Nasarawa, Yobe or Adamawa, they might as well not exist as far as the leading Nigerian media houses are concerned. Borno State jumped to the front pages on account of Boko Haram and as the war is winding down, news from the state are now tucked into the middle pages – if at all they get published.
Media awards invariably go to the Governors of Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta states and once in a while to those close to Lagos. There is a strong correlation between our perception of excellence in governance and the revenue the state generates annually.
For some reason hard to understand, there seems to be a collective perception that the Governor of Nassarawa or Ebonyi State cannot possibly be providing excellent leadership to his people simply because the state is poorer by comparison with the big seven – Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Kano and Kaduna. Yet, quietly, some state governors in the states we choose to ignore are running governments that might be more cost-effective than even some of the biggest which are more financially endowed.
Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku, FNIA, of Taraba State is one of them and it was by accident that we met and he bitterly raised the issue of neglect of the smaller and poorer states by the media, especially his own. He was absolutely right. Perhaps the biggest news report to come out of Taraba State in the last ten years was about the former Governor who crashed his self-piloted aircraft. Disaster again.
It is quite possible that if one assembled ten thousand Nigerians from all the states, except Taraba and ask who Darius Ishaku is, none might provide the correct answer. Yet, by contrast to those who left the state and themselves in ruins, this is the first Governor to have launched a RESCUE AGENDA for a state that was moribund when he came to the helm of affairs last year.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Those were the words carved on stone for all leaders of people by Yogi Bera, an American comedian in the 1970s. So, to avoid mindless activities the newly-elected Governor Darius Dixon Ishaku, a Felloe of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, FNIA, in 2015 armed himself with a road map called THE RESCUE AGENDA.
Only a few aspects of the RESCUE AGENDA can be touched upon here, but, the government of Taraba State had taken this as the guinding principles of the administration. In other words, this is not a government flying blind, it has a compass.
Two components of the agenda are worthy of mention and notice:
The purpose of our Rescue Agenda is to restore Taraba State to a peaceful and secured state; to speedily unite the diverse people of Taraba State; and to urgently transform the state in order to guarantee its sovereignty and sustainability, and ensure the wellbeing of its citizens. The Goal of our Rescue Agenda is to unearth all economic natural resources and unlock every requisite human potential in Taraba State for an inclusive and accelerated socio-economic growth and development.
To those who might have heard such lofty promises elsewhere before, without fulfillment, these might sound like one of those political promises. But, Taraba had been devoid of promises to which leaders can be held. This is the first time the governor of that state would venture to commit himself so publicly. That is the significant difference.
NEW LEADERS EMERGING IN THE NORTH
Ishaku represents a new and fresh face of Northern leadership, which includes people like Governor Dankwabo of Gombe State, next door. While Dickson is a professional architect his neighbour is a professional accountant and together they have brought professionalism to the management of public affairs. Talking to Ishaku, one could be forgiven for wondering if the man in front of you is not talking as the Managing Director of Shell or First Bank. The sense of purpose is palpable and the thought lurking in one’s mind is: where were people like these since 1999 to actually move Nigeria forward?
The reader would forgive me for disclosing that I had spent some part of my life in Taraba when it was part of Gongola State. Taraba was created when the former Adamawa province was sliced out of Gongola and the state which emerged was left destitute of virtually all amenities which made life worth living. Operating out of Yola, in the 1980, official trips to Zil, Jalingo, Mutum Biu, Zakin Biam, Wukari, Takum and most of all Gembu were absolute tortures. One customer Danjuma Tsokwas, a distributor of Peugeots and beer in Yola and Wukari was the main reason for making those trips. It was hell.
The return to civil rule in 1999 and the rising revenue allocation provided an opportunity to rapidly develop Taraba – given its numerous potentials. But, for the most part it was opportunity lost. Every Governor before Ishaku had been enmeshed in scandal; funds were stolen; over-inflated contracts were awarded to cronies; contracts were awarded, fees paid and not executed; etc. Every device known to Nigerians was employed to rob a state which, in July 2006, collected N3.4 billion, Delta took home N18.2 billion and Rivers walked away with N23.5 billion. Today, the N3.4 billion allocated to Taraba, ten years ago, appears like a fairy tale since the state Ishaku inherited was already neck deep in debt and the monthly allocations had tumbled to N2.2 billion by January this year and is even less now. It requires a stout-hearted person, sharply focused, and persistent to lead the state at this time and Taraba appears to have the man.
The first question posed to him was all-encompassing, on account of time constraint. What are the major achievements of his administration since it started work on May 29, 2016? He pointed to several but, the project which would provide the reader with an idea of how the man’s mind works is the 400 MEGAWATTS KASHIMBILA DAM. Though a Federal project but, it was Ishaku who got Jonathan to approve it when he was Minister of State for Power.
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