Aisha Abdullahi Lau.
Heading into halftime in a matter of months now, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku appears to have stepped up his game in the art of governance. And it seems he is in a new bounce as the end of his second year in office fast approaches. Someone said he used the first year to take a crash course in politics and the second to master it for control and asserting himself. This is in keeping with the format: first-time governors do normally practically use up the first two years mapping out their strategies while playing dumb.
In the third year, they shed off their skin and establish a new order. The world is about to see a different man in his third-year run, going by this theory. Governor Darius should be now more knowledgeable, more street savvy and armed with all the ammo he needs for the battle ahead. A survey showed that many citizens are also starting to change their perceptions about what was considered the governors laid back and almost self-destruct disposition in the past. While the experts are still trying to study what has changed, Darius himself has hit the ground running. No more “seme seme” in the popular Nigerian colloquial expression. And as I sat there in the Town Hall Meeting on Water Resources, last Thursday in Jalingo where DDI (as his supporters call him. Tarabans like to give abbreviations or nickname to their governors. Suntai was DDS. There was UTC and then Sani contact) spoke from his heart, I thought to myself that Darius is gradually coming out. Diana Ross’s ballad of the same line played in my head. I kept telling myself that if DDI had been this forthcoming all along, he would have been spared all the troubles his administration suffered. A town hall is a bit alien in our dear state. Secrecy and the need to keep things away from people looks like the norm. An old template of keeping a stiff upper lip by government officials is one of the best act. No one likes to tell anyone what’s happening. Many governors, in the past, also work with the model: don’t ask, no one will tell you anyway!
DDI is breaking from that, engaging the public more directly than his predecessors. And although I’ve not been in any other town halls, if there ever was one, this one was very well arranged. The state ministry of water resources under Bar. Emmanuel Gowon had done very well. From the highly cerebral delivery of the General Manager of the Water Board, you can tell this has to be one of the best outings of DDI till date. My colleague, Laraba, couldn’t help but whisper to me, “I think I may have to change my views concerning this man now. He has solved the perennial water problems.”
The symbolic import of the town hall wasn’t lost on anyone there, as I survey the room. It was evident that even Darius has begun to feel and see the need to step up his game. Not that he has many options left. He was lagging in the polls. There was a pervading negative perception of him and his performance. The opposition was waxing lyrical and bolder, even hinting of mass protests. The salary crisis hung like a cloud. And the governor was continuously presented as a man who has lost touch. Lies that he is only at home with outsiders reigned. But by coming down from his high horse and freely mingling with the crowd, Darius signalled an end to that dispensation.
Beyond the town hall, DDI has started doing what he was voted to do: solving problems. He now spends more time in the state, going about this onerous business. He also doesn’t limit himself to the office as he has stepped out of his comfort zone all the time. The first lady, Barr. Anna Ishaku, is a pioneer here it seems. She is always in the countryside or with the IDPs. She recently discovered a lost community in Kurmi local government in one of her “expeditions “.
Her husband too in a reloaded mode. After the Town Hall I referred to, he went on to flag off a critical road: the Wukari-Tsokundi road. Earlier, he had signed up on the contract to practically give the state a new radio and a befitting FM station. To deal with housing challenges, he had also commissioned the housing projects. He recently sent out the CAN and the Muslim Council leadership to hit the road in a bid to ensure that religious tensions are kept at bay. He is working round the clock to deal a death blow to the disturbing salary crisis. Each morning sees him doing one new thing or the other.
Of course, he has many tasks ahead of him. Many, for instance, still want to be convinced he means well as regarding their general well being. Some are still criticising his team, hoping he may tinker with it. Others remain sceptical. But from all indications, DDI has come around full cycle. And as he confronts his traducers, it is hoped that he would do the needful in other to make his supporters proud.
Aisha lives in Jalingo.