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Column: Season Of Political Uncertainty in Taraba


Iliyasu Gadu




In a move that sent shockwaves through the entire political establishment in Taraba state, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku through a tersely worded statement by his Chief Press Secretary asked all political appointees who are desirous of running for elected positions to resign their positions immediately. This measure which was extended to the local government level affected the scores of political appointees who are now suddenly faced with the distinct possibility of being cast into political wilderness.

Although there were rumours about the move, the sudden nature of the announcement and the magnitude of the numbers involved has taken many unawares and further compounded the uncertain political situation in the state.

The Governor's move according to a prominent political figure I interviewed but asked not to be named ''amounts to a political earthquake that has shaken the Taraba political establishment. Nobody can tell you for sure why the Governor did this and what the future political direction of the state will be as a result of this''.

Indeed before the bombshell the entire Taraba political establishment has been in a state of uncertainty as both the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) have been embroiled in a silent battle over who among its political grandees will clinch the governorship tickets of the two parties.

In the PDP all eyes have been on Governor Ishaku to indicate who his ''anointed'' was. At one point, it looked as if former state party Chair Victor Bala Kona will get the nod. Then when ''Vicbalkon'' as he is often called, began to bask in the idea of being the ''Khalifa'' amidst references as ''incoming'' by his admirers, he found himself suddenly out in a limbo. The Governor froze him out and now he has been sent to Coventry politically. His much publicised governorship ambition for which he has spent so much in the hope that the governor was going to anoint him has lost its initial verve.

There are allegations that as his strong plan B, ''Vicbalkon'' will be parachuting into one of the lesser known parties to actualise his governorship ambition if the Governor does not look upon him with favour.

Two months ago ''Vicbalkon'' would not have considered this step of moving to another party even if he continues to suffer humiliation from the Governor. He would have swallowed all and stayed stuck within the PDP knowing full well that head or tail the Governor and the PDP would have no choice in the end but give him the PDP governorship ticket.

But the entry of Damian Dodo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria into the Governorship race has thrown all calculations out the window.

Many suspect Dodo a top Abuja-based lawyer knowing his legal pedigree in Taraba and his close association with the Governor is the candidate that Governor Ishaku will support to clinch the party governorship ticket.

Perhaps being fully in the picture of how things are panning out and seeing the handwriting in the wall, ''Vicbalkon'' may just have come to realise that the political headwinds in the PDP with Governor Ishaku as its leader might result in a cop out for the party dragging every down.

Then there is the case of Danladi Baido former Commissioner in the Nyame administration and now a member of the House of Representatives representing Karim Lamido-Lau federal constituency. Baido has been nursing the ambition of being governor of Taraba state and came close to picking the governorship ticket in 2014 but for the last minute intervention by former President Obasanjo.

Baido is one of the governorship aspirants in the ruling PDP in Taraba who is not certain which way the governorship stakes in the party is going to pan in the coming months and in order not to be left in the cold, my sources say he is seriously considering pitching his governorship aspiration under an alternative party if push comes to shove.

If the top members of the ruling party are in such a state of uncertainty about their political status going into the 2023 elections, those below them in the political pecking order are in worse state. From the state of Assembly to the governorship and Federal elective positions nobody is certain how the process is going to be and who will be favoured to clinch which elective position.

In all this, it is difficult not to discern that a touch of paranoia going on in Governor Ishaku's moves. The Governor seems not to trust any of his political associates. He does not think they are reliable enough to deliver his bid to stand for Senatorial elections. So until he is sure of that, which to his own thinking and assessment is not clear, he would want every potential aspirant for any position in the ruling party to mark time. And that is at the root of the uncertainty in the ruling party and which permeates the entire political establishment in the state.

The opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) is not spared the uncertainty either. Indeed the APC is a sitting on a keg of gun powder which is likely to explode at any moment. At present it has no state Executive Council to run its affairs. The deep seated rift within the party led to the dissolution of the El-Sudi led Exco by a court ruling. At the last APC convention which held on Saturday March 26, 2022 in Abuja, the Taraba APC delegates looked like political orphans, At the convention while other states had their Governors leading and chaperoning affairs and while those states who did not have governors as heads of delegation but Exco members doing same, the Taraba delegation looked forlorn without leaders.

And from the look of things it does not seem that the cankerworm in the APC will abate. If anything it will grow.

Even before the recent celebrated entry of Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the APC was in the throes of its usual disarray and disunity. Without a thorough well- grounded leader to lead it, its phalanx of strong personalities were not in any way willing to close ranks on issues affecting the party. The mutually exclusive interests of the top members are what causes it to be perpetually at odds with itself.

The entry of Senator Bwacha has compounded the already existing intra APC contradictions. His entry has resulted in further upsetting the situation in the party with his undisguised interest in picking the governorship ticket in 2023. And because Senator Bwacha is such a formidable political personality, it will be difficult to write him off not just in the APC but in the political stakes in Taraba.

But the optimism and enthusiasm of Senator Bwacha ironically is a major contributing factor to the uncertainly in the APC.  The party grandees who had been there before him and who had laboured to build the party while he was in the ruling PDP trying to thwart them will never allow him use the APC to achieve his ambition. And while Senator Bwacha will seek to use his vast resources, network of sympathetic political friends and his political sagacity to muscle his way, his political opponents within the APC who themselves are no political slouches either will prove very difficult for the Senator to surmount. This certainly will be a political slugfest that will mortally wound the APC in Taraba such that the party may likely implode.

By all permutations Taraba promises to be one of the potentially combustible states in the country in the run up to the 2023 elections. The uncertainty building up currently in the two major political parties is connected to the lack of trust among the leading political personalities in the state. At stake is the allure of political power and accoutrements that accompany it. It is made worse by the winner-takes-all attraction that political offices promise the successful politician. And that is why nobody wants to concede or be left behind in the political game.

In all this however, the unfortunate fact is that the interest of the electorate in the state is not the prime consideration of the political gladiators but their own pecuniary interests. That is why in the 2023 elections the people of the state will need to assert their will and elect those will serve rather than rule over them. Nobody can break the current state of political uncertainty pervading the state than Tarabans themselves. The political uncertainty in the state can only mean that the political figures in both parties have reached their sell by date and in 2023 Tarabans have the opportunity to make the much needed political curve thereby changing the narrative in the fortunes of the state for the better.                

                             

 


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