His Excellency, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku
The stage is set for yet another battle for the exalted seat of governor of Taraba state- which has as its sobriquet, ‘nature’s gift to the nation’. Posters have started to manifest in major streets in Jalingo the capital, campaign outlets run by various youth support groups are springing up while politicians are busy putting up strategies to out-wit one another.
Taraba state became a political ‘flash point’ during the 2015 elections and two candidates got into a battle of supremacy that ran deep into the tenure of the new administration. The elections, re-run elections and legal battles between the PDP candidate- Darius Dickson Ishaku and the APC candidate- Aisha Alhassan, which ended in favour of the former, has created a new precedence in the politics of the state.
By the election figures released in 2015, Ishaku polled 369,318 as against his rival Alhassan who polled 275,966. The difference was 93,352 votes.
There was however, a lot of implications from that election which is very instructive. For the first time, a woman gave a man a good electoral fight in a culturally male dominated society.
Secondly, a Muslim was able to get close to the seat of the governor in a religiously volatile state. Thirdly, experts say, the incumbency factor at both the state level and the centre, might have worked in favour of Darius Ishaku, judging from the way our electoral institutions jettison integrity and embrace loyalty in the political system.
In essence, the 2015 elections and the change of power at the centre has shaped the politics of states who were in the centre and now in the opposition, including Taraba.
For instance, several big wigs of the PDP, who were in league with the incumbent governor or contested with him under the same platform, have decamped to the APC. People like, former acting governor and ousted senator, Sani Abubakar Danladi, former ousted acting governor, Garba Umar(UTC), David Sabo Kente (DSK) and and a dynamic grassroots politician, Joel IKenya, have since left the PDP for the APC.
This formation could perhaps, pose a serious threat to the PDP ahead of 2019 because as it looks, it is a coalition cutting across religious, ethnic and political lines, unlike what the party structure looked like in 2015.
But a major drawback for the APC in the state is the fact that the party is polarised by factional politics. The alleged high handedness of current Minister of Women Affairs and former governorship candidate of the party, Aisha Alhassan, have driven a section of the party to forming a faction called the Integrity Group. It is made up of big players like former Senator, Abubakar Tutare, Garba Umar (UTC), among several others.
It is therefore envisaged that, should APC not able to settle its differences before the 2019 elections, the PDP might as well leverage on that lapse to consolidate on its hold to power in the state.
Meanwhile, our reporter has observed that almost all the posters and billboards that adorn the streets of Jalingo, are those of aspirants under the APC.
Among these aspirants are: gubernatorial candidate of the SDP in 2015, David Sabo Kente (DSK), a labour leader and President, Trade Union Congress (TUC) Bobboi Kaigama, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Taraba state University, Prof. Muhammadu Sani Yahaya, former acting governor, Sani Abubakar Danladi (Contact) and former acting governor, Garba Umar (UTC) among several others.
As a matter of fact, the only aspirant on the PDP, whose poster and billboard appears, happen to be the governor himself, Darius Ishaku.
Our reporter sought to know the reason why members of the PDP are shying away from coming into the race. It was however learnt that the seat of the governor is zoned to the southern senatorial zone where the governor comes from. By the way, only one aspirant- Godwin Nyame, a strong critic of Gov. Ishaku and younger brother of ex -governor Jolly Nyame, showed interest. But it looks like the initial flash of posters gradually fizzled out just like other aspirants in the APC who it seems were merely trying to test their popularity.