Not for the love of Abuja

By Bala Dan Abu

THE dust being generated by the current visit of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku to Abuja must have come to those who have bothered to subject the facts of the case to critical examination as a big surprise. It is a perfect example of making a mountain out of a molehill. A lot of views expressed, including newspapers opinions and comments, are largely biased ostensibly because most of them are anchored on sentiments sponsored by the political opposition in Taraba State just to mislead the public. This is very disappointing and disgusting. For example, the opposition politicians in Taraba State and their collaborators outside the state have been busy counting the number of days the Governor has stayed in Abuja. They have also emphasized the fact that he has not handed over the instrument of office to his deputy while being silent on the fact that the Governor commits no constitutional infringement with his stay in the Federal Capital City.

Of course, the reason for the Governor’s stay in Abuja, as rational and cogent as it is, doesn’t matter to those who are on this “crucify him” mission. There has been no effort on the part of these power-seeking bigots to show sympathy for the Governor’s medical condition. Maybe, empathy is not part of opposition politics in Nigeria.

How sad! For the sake of those who do not know, there is nowhere in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) that limits the number of days a governor can spend outside the state he governs. It only states in Section 190(1): “Whenever the governor is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the speaker of the House of Assembly to that effect, and until he transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration to the contrary, the deputy governor shall perform the functions of the governor as acting governor.” For emphasis, power can only be transmitted to the deputy governor on two conditions: that is when the governor proceeds on vacation and when the governor is unable to perform the functions of his office. None of these two conditions is applicable in the present case of Governor Ishaku. He is neither on vacation nor incapable of performing the functions of his office. The man who has visited several embassies, presided at the sensitization meeting on the Mambilla Hydro project and received numerous visitors, including journalists, cannot be said to be incapable of performing the functions of his office. The leg injury he sustained from a domestic accident has not in any way incapacitated Governor Ishaku.

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This is the truth that the opposition politicians in Taraba State do not want the public to know. To achieve that, a section of the Nigerian media was conscripted into the conspiracy to label Ishaku as a run-away governor. When the case of constitutional abuse against the governor failed them, they devised the theory of a non-existing tension in Taraba State and attributed it to Ishaku’s absence. But none of the reports cited any sign of the so-called tension in Taraba State.

The public was treated to stories on Ishaku’s stay in Abuja that were hollow, devoid of information that could substantiate the scenario of tension that the journalists sought to create. A lot of people couldn’t help ask how anyone can talk of tension in a place where everybody is free and going about their normal duties without let or hindrance, where there are no security threats and breaches, strikes and protests.

Those who have paid attention to happenings in Taraba State and who are not seeing things through the heavily politicized lenses of the opposition politicians, will say that there is no tension of any sort in the state. In fact, the period of Ishaku’s absence has been the most peaceful in the state since the conclusion of the 2019 general elections in March last year.

There has been a drastic reduction in kidnapping, banditry and inter-ethnic clashes and killings. Even the roads in southern Taraba, particularly Takum-Wukari, Takum-Katsina-Ala and Wukari-Makurdi which became known as the axis of killings and kidnapping after the elections, have since become safe again. This is largely a product of the effort of Governor Ishaku, the man who is being blackmailed by politicians and their hired trumpeters. Do I still need to remind these killjoys masquerading as opposition politicians that all these were achieved by Governor Ishaku from Abuja?

While in Abuja, Governor Ishaku vigorously campaigned for help from local and international bodies towards security of lives and property as well as the socio-economic development of Taraba State. Ishaku visited the offices of the World Bank to seek its intervention in some of the projects and programmes of the state government. At the Japanese Embassy in Abuja which was another port of call for the governor, the ambassador promised to send a team of Japanese experts to study first hand, the request of Governor Ishaku for assistance. Governor Ishaku also received and hosted several ambassadors and dignitaries at the Taraba House, Asokoro – Abuja where he resides. The governor’s traducers have also been asking why he is not back in Taraba State if his condition of health is not as bad as has been created in the minds of the public. The answer is simple. The governor publicly admitted sometime ago that he had suffered a domestic accident which affected one of his legs. He said so during the Mambilla project sensitisation meeting in Abuja. During that event, he walked unsupported into and out of the venue. There are video clips of that event and others in which Governor Ishaku had participated while in Abuja. All these are a proof of the incontrovertible fact that the governor is healthy enough and capable of performing the duties of his office. And that he is, indeed, performing the duties of his office.

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The other point to emphasize is that while an ailment may not be serious enough to prevent a governor or anyone for that matter from performing his duties, it could still be troublesome and inconveniencing to the sufferer. In such case what do you do? Ignore medical attention and allow the ailment to get worse? Certainly not. Governor Ishaku’s condition, though not serious enough to affect the discharge of his duties as governor, still requires the attention of specialists in Abuja in order for him to recover fully and quickly. The best he can do in these circumstances, and which he is already doing with the greatest sense of responsibility and commitment, is to pay attention to his duties while also receiving the attention of his doctors. Governor Ishaku has ensured that governance does not suffer while he is in Abuja. And it has not suffered.

The state is at peace. In fact, the state has never been so much at peace in the past couple of years as it is today. During the period also, the state government commenced the dualisation of the Airport Road in Jalingo. The dual carriage way project which comes with an overhead bridge is the first of its kind in the entire North-East geo-political zone. All other road projects embarked upon by the administration are going on smoothly. Educational institutions in the state also received new sets of instructional materials. Only a few days ago, the news of the new WAEC results for Taraba State students hit the news waves bring a lot of joy to education managers in the state. The state scored 84.74 percent. This represents the number of students from the state who passed with five credits and above in the examination. That puts Taraba State ahead of all the states in the North. The statistics of Taraba State students who passed with at least five credits and above has progressively increased since Ishaku became governor.

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While the governor is in Abuja, civil servants and their retiree counterparts are receiving their salaries promptly. More than 3,000 new people were recruited into the civil service. Only last year, 3000 teachers were employed. This is besides the over 4,000 women and youths taken out of the unemployment queue through government’s skill acquisition programme. It is time to let the public know that much of the noise being made about the Governor’s Abuja trip is a product envy and bad politics. Politicians in the opposition camp are still licking the wounds of their defeat in March 2019. Whatever they are saying about the visit is a product of their frustrations. Governor Ishaku is not in Abuja for the love of Abuja. He has good reason to be here.

He is very eager to return to Jalingo and he will do so in no distant time. But he should do so in good health. That is his wish and the wish and desire of the people of Taraba State for him. And I believe that God will grant our wish and desire on this matter soon. Falsehood, distortion of facts and blackmail have been the tools of the game for leaders of the opposition in Taraba State. But these tactics cannot replace the fact and the truth about Ishaku and his leadership in Taraba State.