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Untold Reasons Gov Ishaku Lost His Senatorial Bid In Taraba

Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, contested for the senatorial seat for Taraba South senatorial district on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.


For many political observers, it did not come as a surprise because a number of factors predictably worked against the governor despite the power of incumbency and godfather influence. Some of the factors that played out against the governor are believed to be self inflicted while others are just incidental.


Ishaku was elected Taraba State governor in 2015 in the election most people still believe the late Mama Taraba, Jumai Alhassan, won but was shortchanged. He was reelected in 2019, thereby consolidating the party's winning streak since 1999.

Sadly, the man who defeated the great Mama Taraba in 2015, and Alhaji Sani Danladi in 2019, lost to a complete political neophyte in his own senatorial zone.


While some of the reasons that led to his defeat may be circumstantial, others are direct fallouts of his policies and actions in the course of his eight years in office as governor.


Workers' welfare


Gov Ishaku boasts that the payment of workers' salaries is one of the major achievements of his administration. For a state that is mostly populated by civil servants, that counts a lot.


However, for many, payment of salaries is just mere window dressing, as the issues that actually bother on the welfare of workers are allegedly not taken seriously by the administration. Taraba State is among the few states in the country that have not implemented the last minimum wage in the country. The annual salary increment is also only on paper, while promotions often come without fiscal backup.


The state government allegedly owes pensioners a backlog of unpaid pensions and gratuities running into billions of Naira. The state's union of pensioners had embarked on protess against nonpayment of their entitlements on several occasions without any meaningful results.


For a state such as Taraba, where most families depend on a single breadwinner, mostly civil servants, nonpayment of benefits at retirement could have a devastating effect on the life of the family concerned. Consequently, the governor lost a lot of fans and support, who are victims of his backlog of pensions and areas of gratuities.


Weeks before the general elections, pensioners in the state organised a weeklong fasting and prayers for the governor to lose the election. Most people feel his loss is God answering the cries of the people.


Closely related to the issue of pensioners, is the inconsistencies in the payment of salaries of teachers and lecturers in the state. Primary school teachers are owed upwards of six months in the state. As the people who are closest to the grassroots and opinion leaders in their places, their assessment of the administration as a failure took deep roots in the minds of the locals and informed their voting pattern.


Similarly, lecturers at the state owned university have been on strike too many times in the course of his administration. This is because the administration showed little interest in addressing the issues raised by the union.


Frustrated students, who are made to waste time and resources, have done a lot of social media campaigns against the governor, and that might have influenced the voting decision of many. The aggrieved parents are also relentless in their outright condemnation of the administration.


Ukwe Takum stool


The Ukwe Takum is the stool of the first class chief of Takum Local Government Area of the state, and has been the traditional heritage of the Kuteb people. However, the stool has been in contention for decades since the demise of the last Ukwe, with the Jukun tribe laying claim to the stool.


Governor Ishaku, being a Jukun man, is seen by many as trying to use his position to force the Kuteb to relinquish the seat to his kinsmen. This has created a lot of tension in the area. The incessant attacks on the Kuteb in Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas by gunmen is also said to be related to the resistance of the Kuteb to let go of the seat, especially after the governor insisted on a rotational system, where other tribes would be accommodated to the throne.


The Ussa Local Government Chairman, Abershi Musa, recently resigned his position, and pointed accusing fingers at the governor for his indifference to the plight of the people


The Kuteb is the major tribe in Ussa, where the governor lost colossally. They also have a good population and sympathisers in Takum. Consequently, most of the Kuteb people and those sympathetic to their cause, voted against the governor, leading to his colossal failure at the polls in Ussa as well as Takum, his local government area.


Aku Uka debacle


According to Mr. Aaron Jonah, Gov Ishaku lost election in Wukari more than a year before the election actually held, as a result of the way and manner he handled the sickness and eventual death of the late Aku Uka of Wukari, and his role in the installation of the new Aku.


The Aku Uka is a first class chief of Kwararafa kingdom in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, and one of the most revered monarchs for the Jukun tribe in Nigeria. Consequently, whoever holds the seat enjoys unfettered loyalty and support of his people.


However, Mr Jonah insisted that when the late Aku Uka, HRH, Dr. Shekarau Angyu Massa Ibi was ill, the governor, who is a Jukun man, failed to give him the needed medical attention leading to his death; a grudge the people hold against the governor.


During the preparations for the burial of the monarch, the committee publicly called for financial support to help it plan for the transition/burial of the monarch, alleging that the government was not forthcoming in assisting with the preparations. This was later denied and the state government funded the preparations. For most people, the action was akin to a taboo and unforgivable, and the only way to pay the governor back was to disgrace him at the polls. This probably explains why he lost so badly in Wukari, despite his many efforts to placate the people through appointments, and even a governorship ticket to one of their sons.


Eight years as governor


Time and again, people across various political divides have described Ishaku's administration as the worst in the history of the current democratic dispensations in the state. Despite his alleged giant strides in the provision of water, education, agriculture, youths and women empowerment, infrastructural development and other areas of endeavor, the governor is largely criticised for doing too little for the state.


This notion of poor performance has a great impression on the people, and accounted for their protest votes against the governor, who, most people feel, will even be further away from them once he clinches the ticket as Senator.


While the actions and inactions of the governor contributed so much to his defeat at the polls, the legal tussle within the APC for the seat also worked against him.


A House of Representatives member, Danjuma Shiddi, was initially declared winner of the APC primaries for the Senatorial ticket. He was challenged by the now senator-elect, Mr. David Jimkuta. The legal tussle continued and with the bitterness in the party coupled with the fact that Jimkuta is relatively unpopular, if he had gone into the contest as the clear candidate of the party, he may not have enjoyed the enormous support of the people, and that would have given Ishaku an upper hand.


However, a lot of people across party lines voted for the APC, believing that they were voting for Shiddi who is very popular, and in the very good books of the people for his generosity and ability to blend so well with the people, especially at the grassroots.


The governor has accepted the result of the election in good faith, insisting that he never wanted to contest but for the insistence of the people.


He, however, believes that he was voted against because he focused more on physical infrastructure development rather than stomach infrastructure which is what the people value more.


Culled from Sun Newspaper 

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