My take on Taraba state governorship election March 2019

Tarabans are once again faced with difficult choices, not because we would not be allowed to cast our votes comes Saturday 9th March, but because it’s a choice between a failed leadership of Governor Darius Ishaku and, with the return of Sani Abubakar Danladi, a definite reverse to the bad past. None of the two major contestants, by their records, merits to lead Taraba state anymore, especially now.

Darius Ishaku had a chance to neutralize his allegedly flawed mandate, to be seen as a leader, but failed almost woefully. Everyone knows Yar’adua’s election was flawed, too – he was imposed by the elite – but for what he demonstrated during his leadership, many Nigerians believed he was genuine, and so celebrated him till his death. For Governor Darius’ case, it’s otherwise. He inherited a good infrastructural development that was started by the late Danbaba Suntai’s government but neglected it to run down. The dignity of workers was shattered. Worst of all, he obliviously stripped himself of the primary responsibility God bestowed on him as the shield and father of all Tarabans. He turned a blind eye while his children were massacred, our law-abiding society turned into a jungle.

I am not sure if Governor Darius has anything to show worth four years of stewardship and worthy of re-election. I am also very certain that, as an elder statesman who thought he had sent his confidant to lead his state to glory, General T.Y. Danjuma would be very disappointed with his performance. Danjuma was a diligent general who, when deployed to protect the unity and integrity of this country during the civil war, did it with all sense of patriotism and sacrifice for us, for all Nigerians.

Therefore, for this coming election, governor Darius is nothing short of who he was when he was introduced to Taraba gubernatorial race – an unpopular candidate who had the backing of a strong godfather.

What about Sani Abubakar Danladi? As far I know, he is among a few young Tarabans who had the rare privilege to be part of decision making in the early years of the state. If you will, he is among the people that laid this bad and twisted foundation of our state. To be frank, I did not expect anything more from them. They were just inexperience young people, most of them were political thugs, who had the purse, the blank check and the steering control of a baby state without any structure to check their excesses. With what they accumulated, they became the only people we can recycle again and again.

Imagine just in 2015 elections, Sani Abubakar Danladi rigged himself to the Nigerian Senate and, in a landmark judgement, was returned by the Supreme court on 23 June 2017 in favour of the legitimate winner, Alhaji Shu’aibu Isa Lau. In addition, he was ordered to refund all the jumbo packages he had received while impersonating in the Senate chamber.

The fact that again we chose this same person not only as an option for the race but also a hero speaks volumes of the level of our desperation, lack of direction and possible hopelessness. I believe, as Tarabans, we need something better than this. We tested them. We know who they are. And we need to move on.

I wish Mama Taraba had not made the mistake she did. She, by her political evolution, would have been the best candidate to give Governor Darius a good fight and tell him that Taraba state is not a playground. Having been sacrificed by her party in 2015 to the indispensability of T.Y., and having T. Y’s hope dashed by his candidate, this would have been her chance to let us see the love of a mother. Practically, she was the most prominent politician from Taraba state at the national level that had the opportunity to change our narrative and place us where we belong. Unfortunately, her blind loyalty for her boss led her to throw out the water with the baby.  For this, Mama, you and we are back to square zero. Also, for this, I don’t see any miracle placing you above the two contenders of the major parties come what may.

So, for God’s sake, how did we find ourselves here? Taraba state used to be a very peaceful land with growing diversity. We might be small in size, but significant by the resilience and patriotism of our people, by the beauty and fertility of our land, phenomena that every Nigerian attests, ‘we are a gift to this great nation.’

Tarabans are not just onlookers. We brought food to the national table. During the first republic, the time of Azik, Awos and Sardaunas, we gave the North and Nigeria Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf and Alhaji Umaru Abba Tukur, the 11th Emir of Muri. While Tanko Yusuf was an upright and competent Nigerian diplomat at the time, Umaru Abba Tukur along with his contemporaries, like Mamman Bashar, the late Emir of Daura, remained the most vibrant ministers of their time. To date, Umaru Abba Tukur keeps the record of the most celebrated and colourful Emir in the North (apparently the country), winning top position in Kaduna Durbar during his reign.

When you think of national defence, Taraba gave Nigeria General T. Y. Danjuma, one of the bravest and influential military in this country. We are beneficiaries to the sacrifice they made to allow us to have and enjoy a united Nigeria that we recklessly gamble with today, most especially on social media. He remains one of the custodians of the nation’s governance and politics to date.

You may think we are not business oriented or economically enlightened. Who gave Kaduna Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi? He was our son, and everyone knew (still knows) the economic and philanthropic contributions he made during his lifetime. His legacy lives on.

The list of our sons and daughters who made their mark, as well as our collective contributions to regional and national development, is endless. If we take our position, we are a state to be reckoned with in a committee of Nigerian states.

But what happened? Most of you know better than I do. We become divided; we refuse to recognize our diversity and uniqueness. We become bigots, and our selfish interests cloud our human sense of reasoning. Instead of looking inwards to solve our problems by ourselves, we always look for a messier from outside when everyone across the nation is entangled in his own unfortunate menace – from Borno to Zamfara to Niger Delta.

What’s the solution then? Well, in the long term, I’d love to see, and everyone loves to see a crop of young Tarabans, not too young to run though because, to me, the whole idea is more of an illusion than reality. Don’t ask me how old were Sardauna, Shagari, Aminu Kano and the rest of these great leaders when they led this country. Ask me what sort of education system and training institutes prepared them for such tasks. Before we compare, we must know our basis for analogy. So, we’re hoping to see young Tarabans who are grounded, detribalized and, their understanding of our common destiny and their desire to pursue our collective goals, have risen above all sentiments.

In the meantime, for this Saturday’s election, my dear Tarabans, I have no verdict.  You do. You may have no alternative at the moment mainly because this is what they always do – leave you with no choices, but them.  My only hope now is that you know who is who, and I trust you understand that this election is more about our shared future than our divided present; it’s about the future of our children – our destiny is intertwined. So, please don’t fight or take it too seriously to jeopardize  the state. Go out to vote for the sake of Taraba state. May Allah choose the best of them for us.

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