The Vanguard newspaper is not a flippant medium at all. It belongs to the A-list category as far as print journalism in Nigeria is concerned. With a long history of excellence, this national paper is simply the gold standard. It is owned by legendary reporter, Mr. Sam Amuka of the Sad Sam fame. Uncle Sam is not only a doyen of the profession, he is royalty as far as the newshounds community is concerned. Simple, unassuming and lively, this iconic figure has built a brand worthy of its name: it is indeed at the vanguard of issues. The paper’s Editor in Chief is my boss and egbon, Gbenga Adefaye who, at a time, headed the influential Nigeria Guild of Editors. By now, I know you guess what I’m driving at: that an award from such a medium is not only profound but strategic. Devoid of any merchantalistic considerations, the paper has a name to protect first and foremost as it’s credibility must not be faulted.
Knowing Uncle Sam and the editorial board proclivity for transparency, I know that not every one can make their cut for awards. So when they settle on the governor of Taraba state, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, as a nominee for their award, I knew they meant business and must have done their homework.
I first got winds of it when Egbon Adefaye called me to say the paper has nominated my boss for the prestigious award. I was pleasantly surprised for many reasons , especially that Taraba, a far flung state in the North East, is not always remembered for such honours. But we now live in a global village with everything available at the touch of the button. A mainstream newspaper such as vanguard would have done a thorough job as it would not want to be ridiculed. One top member of the paper’s management said it wasn’t difficult for the award panel to agree on their choice of the Taraba governor.
They were trilled by his modest achievements in the face of fire. Indeed, Governor Ishaku, who came in literally from the cold to become governor, has done a lot to run an efficient government in spite of the daunting security challenges he faces. A war time governor, Arc. Darius now spends his time in the trenches while working assiduously at the same time to run a people oriented government. Today, air travel in and outside the state has opened new opportunities. The Jalingo airport is becoming the hub of the new class of visitors into the state. The airport itself has always been there like an abandoned project but this governor brought it to life as he expanded the runway and got Overland airline to start using it commercially. It was a revolution in terms of access to Taraba from every part of Nigeria. Investments in power has also transformed the business climate of the state. For the first time Jalingo is experiencing an almost 24 hours power supply- a fact that is changing lives in different ways. Working with relevant stakeholders, the state is enjoying relative peace and combating the Fulani herdsmen menace in the most courageous manner possible.
Huge budgetary allocations has seen to the opening of new roads in the state capital and the expansion of some. Hitherto moribund health centres have been revived around the state. The Wukari General hospital is a case in point. It used to be a 50-year relic but has now being renovated to a first class health depot. The state televison station has been digitised into a modern network. Phasing out almost two decades of decaying equipment, DDI (as Taraba people like to call him) transformed the television station so that picture quality is now first class as the reach has also improved.
Roads apart, bridges have been constructed to link up erstwhile forgotten communities. In terms of human developments, Taraba state remained afloat when other states were battling with the monstrous salary logjam issues. And now, apart from some teething problems with ur biometrics exercise meant to exorcise ghost workers, Taraba has the best salary regime in the country.
But above all, it is in efforts at keeping the state safe that DDI has not only become a darling to many but equally worthy of accolades from outsiders. His bold utterances to power, his speed at tackling the herdsmen menace, his ability to work with diverse group within and outside the state; all these are winning him new friends every day and fetching him climbing numbers in the popularity department.
Bello is the SSA Public Affairs to Governor Darius.
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