By Emmanuel Bello
Taraba state has been blessed with all sorts of professionals as governors in its glorious history. We’ve had adventurous military men who came like conquistadors of old. We saw their rather brash style of leadership. In the democratic dispensation, we’ve had the privilege of having a clergyman, a pharmacist, a businessman and a career politician led us. I can say with all candour that we all saw how they came, saw, conquer and left. They made their imprints and impact and are now subject of all sorts of verdicts by the Taraba people. I’m sure they are also evaluating the days they spent running things and wondering if posterity is judging them rightly.
Enters the architect.
Believe it or not, a man’s discipline colours his style of leadership. While former Governor Suntai, for instance, was very prescriptive in his dealings with people, Sani Abubakar Danladi, was the consummate power broker always with an eye on the intrigues. That’s a small example. In the case of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, there is no doubt his worldview is greatly shaped by his first class architectural mindset. Even as a student at FASS in ABU Zaria, I was fascinated by students of architecture. I marvel at their meticulousness, the perseverance and their penchant for details. Back in the day, architecture students were always forever locked away in the studio, playing some music and happily drawing away into the night. I noticed that, while they spoke little, they were quick with their fingers. Not for them to the seemingly carefree and frivolity associated with some of us. Looking stern and always armed with books, I thought they were too serious.
They have to be. A slip in their drawing could cost fortunes if not lives. Therefore, attention to details is often the watchword for them. But beyond the details, there was the proclivity for perfection. Beauty was also very fundamental to them. On top of all of these, architects strive to be creative like any painter seeks to be. Creating new things was very important as yesterday’s drawings may not satisfy today’s curiosity.
As I watch Governor Ishaku, I see the architect in him dictating the pace of his political life. And thus impacting on his leadership. He’s a very practical person who eschews stereotypes. That’s why is doing away with age long structures and striving to give the state a new direction. An architect can’t afford to be fossilised in the past. Thus, Architect Darius the governor is carefully building a brand new Taraba. As we speak, Taraba state has suddenly entered a new age of effective transportation as the airport opened up. He didn’t start the airport. But it was he who opened it up for business, having expanded the runway and engaged the Overland Airline. There are three flights at the moment but a daily flight will begin next month from Abuja to Jalingo. Investors, tourists and other travellers can now “invade” the state they way they wish. This has all kinds of implications for employment, entertainment and other forms of interactions. Taraba can only be the better for this.
A creative mind would naturally want to revive comatose industries. So even from the earliest days of his administration with all the crisis of post-election court cases, the architect governor worked to ensure that the Kakara tea plantations jerked back to life. Today, the famed Highland Tea has been revived with its implications for commerce and employment. It has restored ancient pride in our collective heritage.
But Darius the architect always seeking new ways to improve on a structure, did not rest on his oars. Dealing a death blow to the perennial water crisis, an ATM for water supply is now a reality in erstwhile thirsty Jalingo. The water came gushing out the way only an architect can imagine. As we speak, 50 youths are on their way to Kenya to practically learn and transfer technology in that sector.
In my constituency, the media, the architect has proven to also be a communicator of sorts. As I write this, the government has sunk over two billion naira to digitise the media outfits of the state. The action has seen a rolling away of close to two decades of obsolete equipment in the state television. Residents now experience the same feeling fans of CNN and other networks enjoy. Clear images, coupled with better content has greatly helped in enhancing modernisation Taraba state. Radio too is on its way to digitisation. An effective AM and FM station would certainly change the way we listen to the radio in Taraba.
Yet it is in agriculture, the mainstay of the agrarian state, that Architect Ishaku is showcasing his creativity. Apart from the largest haul of fertilisers in recent memory, the greenhouse project has radicalised agriculture in Taraba. But it is the advent of over a hundred tractors that has moved farmers from the slow to the fast farming in farming in our history.
**Bello is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ishaku on Public Affairs.