In case you missed what Governor Darius Ishaku said the other day on the Fulani herdsmen crisis, let me attempt a paraphrase of it. He said, “while we would continue to work for peace, it is pertinent to point out that the federal government has to fine tune its response style. You can’t be swift in responding to crisis in one place and go deaf and blind in another. The central powers have to agree if they indeed work and care only about a fraction of Nigerians or indeed have the whole country at heart.” It was the ultimate rebuke yet from any governor of northern extraction to a federal government many dare not join issues with. Even Governor Ayo fayose couldn’t have said it in this more refined way but the Taraba helmsman nailed it. And with that etched his name in gold. The setting too where this was said was also very symbolic. Ishaku said this before none other person but the formidable minister of interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau, easily regarded as the face of amorphous dreary cabal within the Presidency. The retired general had stormed Jalingo last week with pomp and pageantry. He came in with the Inspector General of Police (IGP). Ostensibly, it was all part of the rapid response of the Federal Government to the Sarduana crisis. Before Danbazau, there was the GOC from Jos. General Benjamin Ahanato had also came in charging like a red eyed bull. He was almost frothing at the mouth as he struggled to quickly accuse the state government of genocide. Ahanato was joined in that bid by the duo of Minister of Women Affair Senator Jummai Aisha Alhassan and Senator Yusuf Yusuf of the central zone. It was a week of crucifixion as everyone of the Abuja based politicians tried to out do themselves in the art of condemning Gov. Ishaku.
The usually calm and politically correct governor probably couldn’t take it anymore. And when Danbazau added his own brand of condescending observations on the need for the state government to work for peace, it appeared to be the last straw. The governor saw an opening there to bare his fangs. Looking into Danbazau’s battle scarred face, Darius Ishaku bellowed with the voice carrying the mandate of millions of Tarabans. He spoke not for himself but for the teeming populace he represents. But he also carried with him the history, sociology and world view of a people who are known for their courage, fearlessness and resistance to all oppressors. If Danbazau thought he could bambozzle the governor, he had another thought coming. Governor Ishaku was unfazed as he made his acerbic, scathing and totally damning rebuke. It was a retort like no other that spoke the minds of many Nigerians who have helplessly watched as Fulani herdsmen wreck havoc in the polity. As a surrogate, I was really proud of the governor. Nigeria has become a dictatorship. People don’t say what’s on their mind anymore and some don’t even have anything on the minds to say anymore. Courage and boldness are two qualities you hardly find. Beyond the Wikes and Fayoses, political platitudes couched in stifling officialese is the norm. No one wants to ruffle no feathers with out of the box statements.
Not DDI (the governor’s moniker meaning Darius Dickson Ishaku)! He delivered a profound statement without any coloration. What he did was to cut to the chase and tell power a truth it didn’t want to hear. Ishaku said he was happy that “federal might” still existed after all. It was bitingly sarcastic as it was acerbic. The presidency would remember that Governor Ishaku had tried to reached it when the southern Taraba crisis raged. Ishaku had warned that Boko Haram or elements like that were regrouping in Suntai Daji- a remote outback of the Taraba wilds. While Fulani herdsmen took turns at finishing off whole communities in the southern zone, the federal government remained indifferent. As soon as the crisis went to a different zone, the FG swung into action. The governor said this sort of selective responses only give room for critics to authenticate their doubts and update their fears. He reminded the FG to see the entire country as its oyster. Then he said what was clearly the icing on the cake: that all lives matter irrespective of who they are.
With this, even those who never cared about a certain Governor Ishaku became his fans overnight in the state and across the nation. A new voice of reason was born devoid of the crudity or ethnic bias of others. Ishaku’s was measured, mature and profound. Today, he’s being hailed as the emerging rallying point of the new resistance movement of those against oppression and all forms of discrimination based on tribe and faith. Unknown to Governor Ishaku too perhaps, he has just got inducted into what is arguably the northern resistance hall of fame.
Bello is the Senior Special Assistant to Gov Ishaku on Public Affairs.