New twist in Ishaku’s prolonged absence from Taraba
The last public appearance of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, was during the hasty presentation of the 2020 annual estimate in the House of Assembly. Since then the only evidence that the governor is still in office is his official portrait that adorns various public offices in the state.
Most Tarabans reckon that the last time the state was thrown into similar suspense over the absence of the state chief executive officer was in October 2012, during sallah tragedy in which the late Governor Danbaba Suntai, whose self-piloted aircraft crashed in the Adamawa State capital, Yola, and was flown to the National Hospital, Abuja, for treatment. Although Garba Umar and Abubakar Sani Danladi served as acting governors at brief periods inbetween before Governor Ishaku was elected in 2015, in the present circumstances the incumbent did not transmit any letter to the state House of Assembly mandating his deputy to fill the vacuum in acting capacity.
A mixture of suspense and tension has enveloped the state, not only because of the governance vacuum, but also because prior to his unannounced disappearance from public glare, there were some displacements and impeachments in the House of Assembly involving some principal officers, especially the deputy speaker, which forced the speaker’s resignation.
Meantime, the controversy surrounding the long absence of Governor Ishaku has begun to assume untoward dimensions even as the House of Assembly maintains that the governor has not erred. While calls on the legislators to commence impeachment proceedings against the governor mounts, the Assembly leadership has vowed not bow to the pressure, especially given that the pressures are believed to be coming from some persons and groups with vested interests.
The state lawmakers had in a resolution stated that they would tread all legitimate paths to resist being used by “unpatriotic persons or group of persons” who for selfish reasons are making unwarranted remarks and insinuations about the health status of the governor. But while the lawmakers accuse detractors of fueling the speculations about Ishaku’s whereabouts and state of health, nobody has cared to explain what might have befallen the governor whose long absence has continued to stir dust in the state.
Tarabans note that since December 19, 2019 when he presented the 2020 appropriation bill to members of the House of Assembly, Governor Ishaku has never been sighted in the state nor made any public statement regarding the direction of his administration.
In a motion of urgent public importance, which was sponsored by the Speaker, Mr. Joseph Albasu Kunini and 11 others, the lawmakers resolved to pass a vote of confidence on Ishaku, whose prolonged absence has been a source trauma and suspense among the people. The Assembly members, who said their decision was based on the “good work his administration is rendering in the state,” further resolved that no amount of pressure or carrot dangled before them would compel them to throw the governor out of office.
Presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Hamman’ Adama Abdullahi, the vote of confidence was not only for the governor, it was also extended to the deputy governor, Mr. Haruna Manu, who many have described as the most loyal deputy governor the state has ever had. The members who affirmed their determination and readiness to rally round Ishaku and Manu in order for them to complete their tenure which is due to terminate come 2023, debunked any alleged claim of non-performance and dereliction of duty due to the absence of the governor.
In their argument, they said “this Honourable House will resist to be used by any unpatriotic person or group of persons who, for selfish reasons, are making unwarranted remarks and insinuations about the health status of our amiable leader and Governor of Taraba State, His Excellency, Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku and his administration.
“The governor and his deputy have performed beyond and above average within the present circumstances and that as representatives of the people the House deemed it fit to pass a vote of confidence on the governor and his administration till 2023.”
The strange decision of the Assembly, which did not go down well with the opposition parties, especially the All Progressives Party (APC) as observed by our correspondent, did not deter the parties from mounting pressure on the governor to return to the state or be dragged before the court alongside the Assembly members. Some opposition party members who spoke with The Guardian could not understand why the members have continued to heed the directives of the governor rather than that of the electorate “who are now disturbed about the absence of their governor.”
It’s sad that majority of the members have been “bought over”, a legal practitioner who would not want his name in print, observed that the political saga that erupted in the state in 2012 following the ill-fated plane crash involving late Governor Danbaba Suntai is at the verge of resurrecting its ugly head again. Rather than allowing such act to repeat itself, the lawyer called on the Assembly members to do the needful by advising the governor to “come around since the domestic accident they claimed he is involved in has not incapacitated him.
“I am saying this because we all know the situation we went through in this state in 2012 when our late former governor had an air crash. So, I’m begging all those in position of authority to put aside all forms of sentiments by doing the rightful thing, because whenever two elephants fight, it is the grass that is always at the disadvantage.”
“Vote of confidence”, according to the leadership of APC, “would not discourage us from putting pressure on the members to do the needful for the benefit and growth of our dear state.”
APC state chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, who expressed this view, urged the members to eschew sentiment by putting the interest and the integrity of the state ahead of their personal gains. The state, as observed by our correspondent, has known no peace since the crisis that erupted in the Assembly that finally led to the resignation of the former Speaker, Abel Peter Diah. The said upheaval, which has not only segmented members into two factions, was said to be giving the governor, who was alleged to be behind the Assembly crisis, sleepless nights. But how well the governor would respond to it depends on when he returns to the state.
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