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Serti, the sleepy but expansive headquarters of Gashaka Local Government Council Area of Taraba State came alive on Saturday, January 28. It was the day the state Governor, Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku, came to the town on a historic mission – the coronation of Alhaji Zubairu Hammangabdo Muhammad Sambo as the Lamdo Gashaka.

For four hours, the town stood still, traffic in a state of paralysis as dignitaries and other guests which included about 42 chiefs and emirs from various parts of the country, Cameroun Republic and everybody that was important in the government of Taraba State, poured into the town to witness the young Prince Zubairu ascend to the throne of his forefathers.  At exactly 1.35 pm, Governor Ishaku stepped out and handed out the Staff of office to the 48-year old Prince Zubairu amidst drumming and dancing by the people. Thirty minutes later the new traditional ruler riding on a generously bedecked white horse was accompanied by hundreds of people mostly on horse backs, to the Palace of the Lamdo which will serve as his dwelling place for the rest of his life.

The presentation of the Staff of office performed by Ishaku was short and simple but it was the most significant part of that day’s ceremony. And it did not come easy for the man who eventually won the crown. There were other contenders to the throne, most of them the direct children of the immediate past traditional ruler as Zubairu. But Zubairu came out of that crowd of eager contenders as the most popular choice. Governor Ishaku whose duty it was to pick one out of the three nominees of the kingmakers wasted no time in doing so, thus leaving no gap for exploitation by mischief makers to start a controversy.

The event was significant in a unique way for both Ishaku and the people of Gashaka. For the governor, it was an opportunity to demonstrate to the people of Gashaka and the entire people of Taraba State that he can be trusted to keep a promise. In Gashaka it is a fact well known to most people that one of the last wishes of the immediate past Lamdo of Gashaka is that the succession to the throne of the Lamdo after his demise should be smooth and devoid of acrimony. He was said to have requested Governor Ishaku to ensure that this was achieved. Ishaku is believed to have also given his words to the then ailing traditional ruler. He kept his words. The late Lamdo must have turned in his grave in appreciation of the peaceful conduct of the processes that eventually led to the emergence of Prince Zubairu and his eventual coronation. His last wish was respected and upheld by Governor Ishaku who is said to have been a long-time friend and benefactor of the late Lamdo.

For the people of Gashaka, the event came as the proof that they could see and feel that Ishaku is a man of integrity, one who is fair and just in decision making. For that was what the choice and the eventual coronation of Prince Zubairu represented for the people of Gashaka. As Governor, Ishaku had the powers to reject the nominees of the kingmakers and even choose from outside the recommended list presented to him by the kingmakers. But he did no such thing. He did not only work with the list but picked the name that was most acceptable to the majority of the people of Gashaka and adjoining communities.

It was no surprise that Ishaku was accorded the reception of a hero, one who has done or achieved the unexpected good thing that means a whole lot for today and the future of the people. His speech at the ceremony was greeted with shouts of “D-D-I” (Darius Dickson Ishaku), and “The Apostle of Peace in Taraba.” He had to pause many times during the speech to acknowledge the greetings of the people, particularly traditional dancers and drummers singing songs that were composed in honor of Governor Ishaku.

In his speech, Ishaku praised the good spirit demonstrated by those who lost out in the race for the throne. In other climes, he noted, the losers will be heading for the courts but in this case, “they accepted the decision taken by the kingmakers and the government, decided to support their brother who was selected and even worked with him to ensure a successful coronation ceremony. This is exemplary”, he said. Ishaku also advised the new Lamdo to be fair in his handling of all matters affecting the people of his domain and to help the government check strange visitors to the area who come with evil intentions. “We are in times of security challenges. You need to be vigilant and to check influx of people who do not mean well for the state and the people.”

Ishaku said Gashaka occupies a strategic position in the state government’s blueprint for tourism development. “Gashaka Gumti National Park is on the global map of reputable tourist destinations and it is already attracting local and foreign tourists. Our state must be free of crisis for this to continue to happen.” The governor enjoined all traditional rulers in the state to join hands with the government to keep visitors on a mission to foment trouble and cause crisis out of the state. He also reminded the people about his popular mantra for peace which is – “Give me peace and I will give you development” and noted that without peace, nothing constructive can be achieved by any government no matter how well intentioned and determined.

The new Lamdo praised Ishaku for the support he accorded his late father up to the point of his death and said, the entire people of Gashaka appreciated that gesture and were solidly behind his efforts to develop the state. To his subjects, he said, Ishaku is a friend that they can always trust to do the right things and urged them to support his administration and its programmes for promoting peace and development.
The event, especially the huge turn-out of the people, was also a loud political statement in favour of Ishaku. It is an endorsement of the policies of his administration from which Gashaka has benefited tremendously. In less than two years of Ishaku’s administration, Gashaka has experienced a radical improvement in electricity and water supply. The road from Bali to Gashaka, a major road through which farmers in the area ferry their produce to markets in and around Taraba State, was completed by Governor Ishaku. Before then, the journey between Bali and Gashaka took more than three hours. Now it is less than one hour. Healthcare facilities have also significantly improved at the Referral Hospital in Gashaka with the recruitment and posting of nurses and midwives to the hospital.
The coronation ceremony was a good reminder of the Governor’s numerous good deeds in Gashaka. It was also a reminder of the popular aphorism that “One good turn deserves another.” Governor Ishaku has scored many good turns in Gashaka. Gashaka owes a duty to reciprocate. And this the people must do at the appropriate time. This is just a reminder to the people of Gashaka, lest they forget.