One of the stinging criticisms against Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku is that he’s not a politician. And you start to wonder what it takes to be a “politician.” But what they mean is that he lacks the subtlety, doublespeak and duplicity of professional politicians. He is seen as a private-minded person not given to the niceties (or nastiness) of politicians. And some so called politicians would often say this with a straight face and a smugness that is entirely theirs. And this writer has always wondered who a politician is. I heard the same thing about yours sincerely in the early days of my political voyages.
I have been in the state political scene for quite a while now and still hear the funny line that “ai Emmanuel Bello ba dan siyasa bane” (Emmanuel Bello is not a politician). I quickly thus emphatise with Governor Ishaku on that score when they say that of him. I know how it feels to meet some self-appointed masters of the power game who believe they are the lords and queens of politics. But what qualifies them? I know folks who can’t win an election unless the state “supports” them; men and women who would lose in front of their homes if the powers don’t “intervene”; goons who would say one thing in the morning and another at night; flimsy characters who can shift from one party to another without any qualms; thieves and murderers who have a record of misdeed; people detached from their people they get stoned when they visit their village; oppressors who have built mansions, bought cars and married all sort of women in the name of success; all these charlatans claim they are politicians. Don’t forget that some of these folks won’t win any free and fair elections; remember that these are folks seen as stingy and untouched by people’s plight; don’t forget that these are people whose youth and women can’t come and greet when they are in town; don’t forget that these are folks whose people are scared of and are never loved; all these characters would look at someone, smile and smugly say “he’s not a politician”!
So who is a politician? You cheat, steal and confiscate votes and turn around to say you are a politician? Your people do not see you at home especially when someone dies, marries or gets a child, and you call yourself a man of the people? You built mansions, pick up cars and oppress the same individuals who voted you into the office and you say you are a politician? Is politics all about cheating people and hoodwinking them? Is it about keeping people under so that they won’t have any hope of ever challenging your lordship over them? Methinks a politician should be a man of the people like Ishaku is; someone we can trust with our votes; someone of good character, pedigree and some world view like Ishaku; a man of good records and a network of associates across the divides; not a moron or some village champion masquerading as a leader. How can you claim to be a people’s leader when your phone is often switched off? Or go to your village and expect even the local monarch to turn up at your bunk? A true leader would seek the best in others, not work hard to put out the light of upstarts.
Darius political giant stride
For those who believe they are better politicians than Governor Darius Ishaku, let me remind them that the man once ran for office as senator. I say this because the other meaning of being a politician in Taraba is that someone once ran for office. I have been branded a non-politician because I’ve never contested in a political race. And it is funny how some people gets called “honourable” for running in some ancient election – polls that they even failed to win. So someone who did some posters and ran a failed bid for governor still gets called “Your Excellency” years later after his posters are no longer even visible. A minion who ran for counsellor and sensationally lost is still called “honourable”! It is comical. These are the sort of people who run around, puffed up and determine who gets called a politician or not. That Darius once ran for Senate means that he has grassroots appeal and that he’s a homeboy. This should put paid to talks that he’s an outsider. How can any outsider ever run for office in those days in Taraba?
How Darius became governor
After his days as a minister, Ishaku decided to retire to the classroom and continue his work as a teacher of Architecture. He was however confronted with the plight of Tarabans. As minister, he has been very close to the Taraba struggle for emancipation from the clutches of external forces. At the time, Taraba was in the hold of a rapacious junta who wanted to take Taraba by all means. A gubernatorial election looms in the distance. If power is to shift to the southern zone, there was a need to produce a consensus candidate from the place. To cut a long story short, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku emerged the consensus candidate. He then ran a gruelling campaign to clinch the primaries. He went on to participate in a tough campaign to win the governorship. If such experience doesn’t qualify one to be a politician, what else would?
The politician at work.
Since becoming governor, Darius Ishaku has done a lot. He has been in the forefront of safeguarding the fortunes of the PDP at the national level. Media footages of him brokering peace deals in the troubled party abound. Back home, Ishaku has become closer to the people, touching lives directly, bringing changes and finding solutions. To his credit, the PDP has become stronger in the state. He recently conducted a successful local government poll – his first election as governor. For someone said to be a non-politician, that’s some feat. I believe Ishaku is now in his element as a born again politician. The question is what’s next?