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Gov. Darius Dickson Ishaku: Between Technocracy And ‘Amala Politics’

It is less than two years now since Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku assumed the mantle of leadership of Taraba state, a state which came into being 25 years ago and is gradually recuperating from its debilitating past.

As a matter fact, the State has been a casualty of its past, characterised by political impunity, economic wastefulness, administrative recklessness and social disorder among other ills.

Although hugely gifted in terms of human and material resources, it has in a most ironic way remained backwards and underdeveloped relative to its peers.

When we say Taraba is gifted materially and humanly, we are not only referring to the huge deposits of untapped solid minerals in Sardauna and Gashaka or the large expanse of rivers suitable for fishing in Ibi, Gassol and Karim Lamido or the rich forests and land suitable for agriculture in Kurmi and virtually all the local areas. We do not only mean the tourism potentials on the Mambilla Plateau either. It goes beyond that!

In fact, Taraba has some of the most productive men and the most naturally gifted women in the country.

Why it has not been able to use these qualities and potentials to its advantage might be the reason for its present state of underdevelopment.

The Ishaku administration came at a time the State was suffering from a serious political and economic malaise which might have informed the sobriquet ‘Rescue Mission’. The state needed to be rescued.

It is no need mentioning the circumstances that brought him into power as even a ten-year-old must have been aware of happenings since October 2012 when former Governor, Danbaba Suntai, had a fatal air crash in Yola. Since then, the State has not been the same, and it marked a turning point in the history of the State, popularly known as ‘nature’s gift to the nation’.

The huge electoral support that Governor Ishaku got from Tarabans in the face of fierce opposition in 2015, the undying solidarity that accompanied his legal battles after the elections, and the sympathy the people ought to have for him as a result of the unfortunate economic condition the administration met, have suddenly fizzled away or are non-existent.

Replacing these positive sentiments are negative sentiments about the present government which are centred on governance, salaries, infrastructure and ethnic considerations.

A closer look at the administration will show that it is at the foundation level in terms of implementation of its policy objectives and more time is needed for proper assessment.

The policy thrust of the administration, ‘The Rescue Watch’, has been lauded by experts and civil society organisations in the State and without, as a ‘scientific’ way of solving the numerous problems of the state.

Besides, his achievements in the water supply to the state which is unprecedented, education, roads and the relative peace in the State, are enough evidence that the administration is working.

The diligent monitoring of his policy instrument, the Rescue Watch, on a weekly basis, is proof that this administration is focussed, determined and technically oriented.

Being a technocrat himself, it is no wonder that his administration is technically oriented and not politically oriented like past administrations. It is yet no surprise that the administration has begun to encounter stiff opposition from political forces. It is just that they aren’t on the same page. Their version of politics which is ‘amala politics’ does not agree with his technically-oriented, people-centered, and service delivery system of politics.

The Thriving Rumour Industry

Unfortunately, an average citizen and even the learned nowadays have formed their opinion of this administration from nothing.

In beer parlours, commercial motorcycles, homes and offices, the view of people are that this government is doing nothing!

However, going by the dynamics of our immediate society, it can be concluded that majority of these opinions are not from an informed source but mere speculations that are unsubstantiated.

Currently, the rumour industry thrives in the State which is as a result of a huge vacuum that has been in existence for a long time in the information space.

Rumours have been entrenched in the society, and people depend on neighbours, friends, acquaintances for every available information, and it is by such information that they form their opinion.

Information experts say, “a society that is uninformed is deformed”. Therefore, the absence of an adequate information machinery in the state, especially in this democratic era, could give room for rumours and disarticulated view of government efforts. Information, they say is power!

Therefore, it would be in the interest of this government and others after it to establish a robust information system. An FM station that would run 24/7 would be a formidable tool for information dissemination and orientation of the people. If that is done, the chances of rumours would be greatly reduced.

I believe the current Governor is interested in embarking on such a project. For the political will may be there but the financial backup is absent. After all, how do you compare an administration that takes half of what his predecessors take monthly as subvention and expect him to do more? There’s just no basis for comparison!

Even at that, he has matched the political will and reality by digitising the state TV and given the contract for the state radio. A functional government website, has been established to help citizens to gauge his performance.

It only suggests that with more resources, he will do more.

This government is indeed a technocracy within a democracy because it has modelled its policy direction in a scientific way with technocrats at the helm of affairs. He is not the ‘amala politics’ or ‘stomach infrastructure’ that have been entrenched by past governments which unfortunately some people have so much gotten used to.

But such people must have to be careful not to subscribe yet to an alternative when they have not tested the one they are having. This is so because “you don’t know what you have until you lose it”.

Who is Darius Ishaku?

An abridged background of the Governor shows that he was born on July 30, 1954, in Takum. He went to St Bartholomew’s Primary School Wusasa Zaria from 1961 to 1967 and St Paul College Zaria where he graduated in 1972. He enrolled into School of Basic Studies, ABU Zaria from 1972 to 1974. He obtained a BSc degree in Architecture in 1977 and MSc Architecture in 1979 with distinction.

By the time he completed his Master’s degree in Architecture, he had travelled to well planned and organised towns, cities and countrysides. Afterwards, he pursued a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning. In 1982, he was admitted as a registered member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects and became a fellow of the institute (FINA) in 2001. He is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planning. In 1980, he served as an architect with Inter Design Partnership, then joined Bestarc International Association where he rose to the position of a Director in 1983. He registered his company, Excelare Partners, an architectural planning and engineering firm the same year.

He began a PhD programme in Architecture at ABU Zaria in 2007. After five years, he completed his coursework but yet to submit his final dissertation. He has several architectural designs and project management to his credit, and they include among others: phase 111 general land use master plan of Abuja FCT, south-east regional development plan,1000 seat lecture theatre and veterinary teaching hospital, ABU Zaria, National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA), Ministry of Science and Technology Housing Estate Lagos, 10 stories residential apartment block, Abuja. He has also provided several community services.

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