About ninety days to the National Assembly Elections, Governor Ishaku’s major selling point is the power of incumbency and the enormous ‘war chest’ at his disposal. However, will this be enough to deliver the Southern Taraba seat to him? We examine his chances.
Two weeks ago, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, like his governor-colleagues in other states of the federation who are serving out their last and final term in office, flagged off his Senatorial Campaign in the ancient city of Wukari, the traditional headquarters of the Jukun Nation.
The Wukari event, which attracted party stalwarts, top government officials and party supporters (allegedly hired), also had in attendance some senior civil servants who were there ostensibly to massage the ego of the current occupant of the Taraba State Government House, Jalingo.
At the event, Haruna Manu, the State’s Deputy Governor, amongst other speakers, including the Governor, listed some achievements of the Ishaku Administration in his nearly eight-year sojourn at the Government House. For them, the only reward he deserves from Tarabans, particularly of the Southern stock, is to elect him to the 10th Senate, expressing optimism that he will perform optimally in the interest of his constituents.
While Governor Ishaku is entitled to aspire to any political position of his choice as he will be rounding up his tenure come May 29, 2023, the truth remains that he is not likely to have a smooth ride to the Red Chamber, as he would have to contend with other dogged forces with their eyes fixed on the same seat.
This set of contestants seizes every political opportunity to prove to Tarabans that the governor has failed in his onerous responsibility of governing Taraba and will do worse when he is eventually given the mandate to represent his people in the National Assembly.
Governor Ishaku’s major selling point is the power of incumbency he enjoys and the enormous financial ‘war chest’ at his disposal. Political analysts however, opine that considering the nature of Taraba politics, it would pose some difficulty, if not impossibility, for an incumbent governor to be displaced in a Senatorial election.
Posing a gargantuan threat to Ishaku’s bid is the current member representing Ibi/Wukari Federal Constituency Danjuma Usman Shiddi.
The lawmaker serving his second term in the House of Representatives seems to be giving Governor Ishaku sleepless nights. Shiddi, who is of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to defeat the state chief executive in the coming elections.
He had recently accused Governor Ishaku of derailing from the course of democracy in Taraba; due to the clampdown by security operatives on his campaign officials. The arrests and accompanying stringent bail conditions, he says, have the imprimatur of Governor Darius Ishaku.
However, the House of Representatives member has his own cross to contend with. As his opponent in the last primary elections of the APC, David Jimkuta claims to be the legitimate candidate of the party. He says he won the primaries in the exercise conducted by the committee sent from the APC National Secretariat, faulting the submission of Shiddi’s name to the country’s electoral umpire as the party’s Candidate.
Giving flesh to his allegation, Jimkuta has since filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the legitimacy of Shiddi’s candidature. Not forgetting the duo of Iliyasu Gadu and Murtala Muhammad Gamji, who currently fly the flag of the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) and the New Nigerian Peoples’ Party (NNPP), respectively. The two candidates are said to be making strong inroads in the various communities that make up Taraba South Senatorial District.
Iliyasu Gadu, particularly believes that based on his affiliation with the five local government areas that make up the district coupled with his years of experience in both the private and public sectors climaxing at the National Assembly, he believes he has garnered reasonable experience for the job.
For Murtala Gamji, a dye-in-the-wool unionist and immediate past president of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN). He believes his contributions to community development through a series of empowerment initiatives he has carried out in the past are enough to push him to the Senate.
He is also banking on the popularity of the Presidential Candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples’ Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, to plunge him into the Senate.
Considering the fact no former governor in Taraba’s history has ever made it to the Senate after their tenure in office, will Governor Darius Ishaku, who is currently having his second shot at the Senate having attempted but failed in 2003, break the jinx come 2023?