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Inside Governor Ishaku and Senator Bwacha’s roforofo fight

Inside  Governor Ishaku and Senator Bwacha's roforofo fight

Iliyasu Gadu

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They are both from the same federal constituency of Takum/Donga and the southern senatorial district of Taraba. Their hometowns of Takum in the Takum local government area and Marraraba in Donga Local government respectively are just about an hour between them.

If they were to speak to each other they would not speak in English, Hausa or any other language but Jukun or what is called Nuu swan among the folks of southern Taraba.

But today both are at daggers drawn going for each other's jugular in a vicious, no holds barred contest of political will.

What is the cause of the animus between these two most powerful political personalities in Taraba?

Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, popularly called DDI, the incumbent wants to replace Senator Emmanuel Bwacha the deputy Senate minority leader who represents southern Taraba senatorial district at the red chamber of the National Assembly come 2023. 

Senator Bwacha on the other hand, a ranking Senator wants to go the opposite way to occupy Government house Jalingo in 2023. He wants to fulfil a long term ambition which he had to relinquish in 2015 in deference to the instructions of elder statesman General TY Danjuma (Rtd) to allow DDI run when the position was conceded to southern Taraba.

Ordinarily there should not be cause for the two to fight over who gets what in 2023 as none wants what the other have. And coming from the same area and belonging to the same party this should even be a piece of cake.

In the cause of unravelling this, I spoke to two persons from both sides of the divide who gave useful nuggets of information but who pleaded for their sakes to remain unnamed.

From the Senator's corner I was told that when the People's Democratic Party (PDP) zoned the governorship position to southern Taraba for the 2015 elections it was narrowed to three persons; Senator Bwacha, David Sabo Kente (DSK) and Darius Dickson Ishaku (DDI) who had to resign as Minister under the Goodluck Jonathan presidency to contest.

As the Senator Bwacha man told me ''of the three of us DDI was the least qualified in all that was politically required to become Governor. He was and still is a Kaduna man. He had little or no political following even in Takum his hometown. If it came to a popularity contest within the party on who should be the flag bearer he would have emerged a distant third. In fact apart from himself nobody that I know of would have voted for him. But Bwacha and DSK were prevailed upon by General TY Danjuma whom we all respect as an elder to step down for him. I know for sure that DSK was not happy at that because DDI would have been dusted comprehensively. The contest would have been between DSK and the Senator no doubt about that. He was imposed on us by the General just as he was imposed on Goodluck Jonathan in the same manner."

The Senator's man further told me even when DDI emerged he had to rely on the Senator's political structure as he had none of his own to effectively lead the party to victory in Taraba. The Bwacha man called me to notice that because DDI had no political appeal he found it hard to beat late Senator Jummai Alhassan at the keenly contested elections which was only decided at the Supreme Court. At the 2019 elections too DDI despite his incumbency had to struggle to win against a candidate from an opposition party that was in disarray.

The governor's men however told me that the Senator was displaying an attitude unbecoming of the tradition and culture of southern Taraba. In the tradition he said, ''it is expected that when elder comes into a room, the younger man is expected to stand up and respectfully vacate the seat to the elder. Bwacha's problem is that he rose to where his today without learning the basics of life. Who is he to compare himself with the Governor? Politics aside can Bwacha achieve a quarter of what DDI has achieved in his professional career as an Architect of national and International repute? What are his proven academic qualifications? Even in terms of records as public elected officers whose record is better? This is a man whose major achievement in his political career was the heavy slaps he got from a lady counterpart of his at the National Assembly''.

Observers in Taraba have noted that the fight between these major gladiators in their bid to do themselves in seriously affecting the state. Huge sums of money running hundreds of millions which should have spent on improving the welfare of Tarabans goes into this needless fight. The Senator has spent hundreds of millions of naira in getting documents which he forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to prove his allegations of corruption against the governor.

Not to be outdone the governor too has spent huge amounts of money in forwarding his own allegations against the Senator to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)   

As both are not ready to sheathe their swords this has got Tarabans worried at the negative effect this is causing to the state. At the governance level it is suspicion galore. Public officials with a whiff of sympathy or connection to the Senator in any way are either kicked out or made to stagnate.

At the party level the PDP has gone to sleep as a result of the micro management of the party by the governor in furtherance of his Senatorial ambition. Notable party stalwarts like former Speaker Abel Peter Diah,  Mark Useni etc have been kept in limbo.

Indeed in the Taraba PDP now only Senator Bwacha is kicking. The rest have been forced to lie low in fear of being ostracised. Even Senator Bwacha will soon have to bail out of the party as he is being encircled. Governor DDI has caused the appointment of Colonel Dantala Kefas (Rtd) as party chairman in order to strengthen his case that with the party boss coming from southern Taraba it would amount to political insensitivity for the party to zone the governorship to southern Taraba. And with Governor DDI from the southern zone having spent his mandatory eight years in office, it would not be politically feasible for another person from the zone to vie for the position. All these will be reinforced with possible denial of delegates and party nomination forms and eventual expulsion of the Senator for a number of infractions which will effectively cook his political goose within the PDP.

Indeed from feelers the Senator in anticipation of that is said to be holding secret discussions with the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) to move over. He is said to be angling to be made the governorship candidate of the party. But that by all considerations will meet a brick wall as the APC too has its own strong candidates warming up to take a shot at the position in 2023. They will not under any circumstances yield ground to the Senator.

All these happenings have thrown Taraba into uncertainty. Nowhere is this felt more than in southern Taraba where the two gladiators come from.

The brunt of non-payment of salaries to workers is perhaps felt more here for reasons that this area is where the bulk of the state civil servants and local government workers hail from. It is also a matter of regret for southern Tarabans that despite having the governor coming from the area and producing a principal officer of the senate as deputy minority leader in the person of Senator Bwacha, the very important Wukari to Takum road which is a mere 78 kilometers and which is the link road to all the five local governments there has not been done. As a result the road has not only become a death trap where fatal accidents happen frequently, it is also a haven for kidnappers, armed robbers and all kinds of criminal elements.

As we approach 2023 Tarabans are understandably worried that things could get worse as these two slugs it out politically. In addition to having to cope with the desperate situation of things presently occasioned by poor governance, there is the prospect of rising incidence of politically motivated violence as the political uncertainty continues.

The conclusion is that both men should concentrate on delivering their mandates in the remaining two years of their tenure,  failure to do the needful to the voters who elected them both would in no small measure affect their chances  to occupy the political positions they are presently angling for in 2023.         


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