Uncle Darius, do not be part of this history
LETTER TO HE ARC. DARIUS DICKSON ISHAKU,
THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF TARABA STATE
By Williams Ayooso
At the time of writing this letter, two historical perspectives that have direct bearing on your life are cascading on the state’s historical landscape. You are already counted as the first son of Southern Taraba political zone, the first son of Ishaku and indeed, the first Jukun man to emerge as the Executive Governor of Taraba State. You are already reckoned with as the fifth governor, in the 29 year life of Taraba State. The Almighty God has established this glorious historical perspective in your life and no one can take it away from you and nothing can change it.
There is yet another historical perspective that is inextricably intertwined with the first. What has this Darius Ishaku, the first man from Southern Taraba and Jukun man to be governor, done for the state, during his time? How did the people of Taraba State fare during the reign of Darius, the son of Ishaku? This aspect of history, which comes in a questions form, is very important. It’s very important because, while the first historical perspective is shaped by destiny, the second lies on your shoulders and you are the only one to shape it. The good news here is that you are still in the office and the process of writing, shaping and defining the history, as it affects your role in the project Taraba State is ongoing.
In your own perspective, you have done a lot towards this direction. This is evidence in the volume of promotion that you have hauled on your Rescue Mission mantra. However, there is a historical danger that hovers on your head as you inch close to completing your mandate as the Executive Governor of Taraba State. As your supporter, who has invested so much in promoting the positive side of your administration, I have a moral obligation to point it out before it is too late. I entreat you to take whatever I say hear in good faith and act on the solutions that I have suggested, so that by the end of your tenure, destiny will record your deeds in the good book of history.
Uncle, my concern is the security of lives and property of the people of Taraba State. Even as I write, I’m wondering, just like the majority of the people of Taraba State are doing, about your interpretation of the crisis in the state, especially the Tiv and Jukun bloody crisis that has engulfed your zone, the Sothern part of Taraba State. Why is it taking you so long to deploy measures that can tame the crisis? Why are you feigning lack of capacity to handle the crisis when the instrument of government is your hands? What is your motive? Do you know the level of devastation that the crisis is causing in Southern Taraba? What is stopping you from implementing the resolutions of the 30-man Jukun-Tiv Peace Committee that you constituted?
Your Excellency, these are question that no one but you can answer. The Catholic Church was right, when it wondered why a crisis of such magnitude did not disturb you. There are expectations on what you would have done if you’re truly disturbed. Maybe you are not aware that no day passes by without the killing of at least one Jukun or Tiv person in Southern Taraba. Possibly, you are not aware that no fewer than 20 people are killed weekly, either in ambush, coordinated attacks or highway killings. It is estimated that the over one-year old crisis has killed not less than 1000 people, even as 70 percent of the suburban settlements are either deserted or reduced to ashes.
I’m not talking about the humanitarian situation, which the crisis has created in that zone. The zone is under siege. Aside from an eerie feeling of despair and foreboding that encircled the people, there is no free movement in the zone. Killer roadblocks are actively mounted in some strategic locations in the region, where people from the wrong side are identified and ceremoniously slaughtered. Our children have stopped going to school, long before the Covid-19 lockdown. There is no hope that they would resume even as states prepare to open their schools. While at home, they are constantly inundated with dismembered bodies of slaughtered people, which their parents described as enemies. They are made to celebrate at news of victory in battle fields, especially for attacks that the ‘enemies’ are massacred in one fell swoop. But these are the lucky ones. The unlucky ones are dying in the forests as they run with their parents for survival, while some are dying because of hunger and starvation. Worst still, there are some that watched as their parents are gruesomely slaughtered by their attackers.
The main stay of the people’s economy is agriculture. For fear of being killed, people are not going to farm. A bag of corn that was N9, 000. 00 few weeks ago now cost between N18, 000. 00 to N20, 000. 00. In the circumstances, what does the future portend to the people of the state? Your guess is as good as mine.
The general economic situation is also in soso. As you drive past Hammaruwa way through Barde Way to Government House; look side by side of the road. One striking feature you will discover is that most shops are closed down, few plazas or new shops have sprung up, but there are no occupants. This is not the Covid-19 lockdown effect. Businesses are closing down. This cannot be unconnected with the crisis in the state and some of your policies. If this situation did not disturb you, nothing can.
Uncle, it is true that you have either initiated or participated in many peace meetings to this effect. It is also true that the responsibility of ensuring a peaceful existence of any community rests on the shoulders of everybody. But the buck stops at your table. That is why you are a Chief Executive.
One of the crucial measures, which people expect you take is a visit to the war-torn region of Southern Taraba, as well as regions affected by crisis in the state. This will impact in many ways. In the first place, it will give the people a sense of belonging that their leader cares about their welfare. Secondary, your pronouncement in form of a riot act will scare the perpetrators and protagonists of the crisis. It will also broaden your knowledge of on the ground situation. Only then that you will have a needs assessment or the quality and nature of intervention that is needed, to counter the humanitarian situation that the conflict has posed.
It is a time honoured convention, all over the world, that leaders visit the scenes where calamities befall on their subjects. There is no reason that you can adduce to prove that your case is an exception. Permit me to use the Governor of Adamawa State as an example. Sometimes last year, a torrential rain yanked off a bridge, linking Numan with Gombe. People were stranded. In no time, Governor Umaru Fintiri was there, not only to commiserate with stranded road ushers, most of whom were not even the people of his state, but he directed and some measures were taken to solve the problem. Recently, a crisis erupted in Tino, a fishing community in Lamorde LGA of the state. Fintiri did not wait for the gunfire to subside. He stormed the embattled community and stopped the mayhem. As I write, about 17 people are still in the police net for their nefarious roles in the crisis. Adamawa State Police command paraded them last week. With this action, Fintiri has demonstrated that he is in charge and his administration has a standard that cannot be abused. I’m not citing these examples to slight you, but to buttress the point that I’m trying to make.
My uncle, the fact that you have allowed a one-year internecine crisis that is on the verge of obliterating your community, has taken away any shine from your five-year reign in the state. That I emphasize on Southern Taraba crisis does not mean that other sections of the state are safe. The Shomo community massacre in the Taraba North has become a recurrent event, just as the Kona-Fulani crisis, also in Taraba North is still simmering. But the people are learning not to invest their expectations in you. After all, if a Crocodile can swallow up its own eggs, what do you think a frog can do? It will start running before the crocodile comes around. It is foolhardy for other people to expect that you can do it for them, if you cannot do it for your people in Southern Taraba. Many people have lost confidence in your capacity and willingness to intervene in their time of distress.
Uncle Darius, all over the world, the success of any government is measured by the quality of protection given to the lives and property of the citizens. For example, the ongoing dualisation of Airport road is a beautiful project, but of what value is it to a hungry or dead person. That is why safety and welfare are key components of government responsibility. Most Tarabans are no longer thinking about your cucumber plantation and some of the numerous achievements that you are promoting. All they want now is the safety of their lives and their property.
On the quality of leadership, Taraba State should be celebrating that they have the best. The best in term of your intellectual base, a man with a good physical attribute, a highly polished personality with a thorough bred cosmopolitan background. A man with a good parental and family history to lean on. Haba uncle, you have no reason to fail.
Uncle Darius, I am not taking you on leadership or governance tutorials. I am aware that you know it better than I do. You have a horizon of intellectual depth that spans across many decades in public service and private sector. Your versatility is not in doubt. But there is a missing link in your application of knowledge on the art of governance, especially the subsisting peculiarities in this state that you govern.
Now, where do we go from here? Uncle, what can we do? First of all, Sir. You have to jettison your celebrated mantra of “give me peace, I will give you development” Five years and still counting the people have not shown any readiness to give you the needed peace that you craved in order to give them the development. Aside from this, many things are fundamentally wrong with this slogan. First, it is a recipe for failure. Of course, at the end of time, nobody will listen to you if you claim that, you could not attract much development because Tarabans refused to give you peace. Again, the “Peace for Development” and “Rescue Mission” tripods on which you anchored the ideology of your government are contradictory, they are diametrically at variance with each other. For example, you cannot embark on a rescue mission with a keg of water and morsel of bread only. Rescue Mission has an action based approach and it is different from give me peace, where one will at best, sit back and solicit with humility to have the peace entrusted on his palm.
When Jesus Christ sent his disciples in the first missionary mission, he warned them not to carry any pair of their clothes, neither food nor stick. But on the second missionary journey, what did he say? He asked them to carry all that they have, including sticks and swords. Again, In the Garden of Gadsemane, Peter the apostle, drew out his swords and cut off the ear of one among the Jews that came to adopt Jesus. But what did Jesus say? Sheathe your swords quietly. Note that, he did not ask Peter to throw it away.
What is the lesson? In this life Uncle, you must change with the dynamics to fit into the exigencies and situations as they unfold. In your situation, you must drop the “give me peace for development” mentality with faith based organizations. Roll out the weapons of government apparatus at your disposal and embark on a new aggressive rescue mission project. In this direction, you should apply the proportionate quantum of force that is needed to subdue those who have taken you for granted; those obstinate Tarabans that are not ready to give peace a chance. From here, you can move on to rescue Tarabans from the fangs of those murderers and retrogressive elements who pinned their knees on Taraba’s neck, so that it cannot breathe. Former Governor, Danbaba Suntai did it, I believe that you can do it too, if you want. And the time to do it is now.
In the case of Tiv and Jukun, even if they are bent on killing themselves, as they have being doing in the past, do not allow them to have a field day by continuously spilling blood all over the space of your administration. Also, do not allow any person, especially those who have exhausted their value in the society and are lying waste like a rocket shell to hoodwink or hypnotize you. This is the space which destiny has given to your life, this is your administration. You have your legacy to establish, your family name to protect, the image of the Southern Taraba region to promote and above all, your own history to write.
One more point Sir. You should reconnect with your people. Since you won the election in your second term, you have not been to Takum, your village. I don’t think you will expect a good impression from this kind of posture. Charity begins at home, but it does not stop there. You can extend your visit to other parts of the state, especially areas affected by crisis. With these, you will revive the bond that exist between you and the good people of the State.
Uncle Darius, I think good of you. I’m only nudging you wake up and mark yourself safe from the complicities that are pulling Taraba State into the pit of infamy. Taraba is too bloody, Taraba is dying. Its economy is collapsing. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come as there is nothing in sight to suggest that the situation will be over anytime soon. An eerie feeling of despair and foreboding still hovers on the state’s landscape, while fear of the unknown looms large in the physic of the people.
If this trend persist till the end of your administration, history will record that during the reign of Darius, son of Ishaku, Taraba State had never had it that bad. I don’t want you to be part of this history.
Please Uncle, do something before you go.