Former minister of labour and productivity under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Senator Joel Ikenya has swiftly reacted to claims that the doors to Taraba Government House are “locked up” till 2023. Ikenya, who countered that, told an online newspaper, Kwararafa Reporters that there is indeed vacancy and that the current occupant, Governor Darius Ishaku, should begin the process of packing out immediately. Ikenya, who recently ditched the PDP for the ruling APC said that the opposition in Taraba is not only alive but mobilising to ensure Darius becomes a one-term governor.
It could be recalled Kwararafa Reporters had exclusively reported the Taraba state PDP chairman, Victor Bala Kona, had said those seeking to replace Governor Darius Ishaku, especially from Sourthen Taraba, are wasting their time as the other zones are not prepared to accept a fresh candidate from the south who would do eight years- a situation which would mean southern Taraba held the position for twelve years.
But while speaking to KR, Tuesday, Ikenya, a former senator representing the southern zone (Governor Ishaku’s zone), said, in spite of Kona’s prognosis, time was up for the governor. He said, “I read with consternation and even derision the words attributed to Victor Bala Kona who currently runs the PDP in Taraba. First and foremost, Bala Kona is not my mate in politics. He mentioned my name in your report. Well, we are not mates politically. I actually did politics with his father, not him. Secondly, he said some of us are Abuja based politicians. Well, if he understands politics at all, he should have known I’m more grassrooted than his boss. That we live in Abuja doesn’t mean we are not on ground. All of us are leaders of our people who listen to us. We are always at home. But those are not the issues. His unilateral declaration that there is no vacancy in Government House, Taraba is a deep reflection of his political delusion. These are the type of lies they tell the governor. But everything is crumbling around the governor. His Rescue Mission is being viewed with suspicion as many believe it is a joke. So they don’t know but people are fast moving away from them. We have people in his government who are there collecting salaries as appointees but have since moved secretly to the opposition. They are only staying behind to collect what Darius owe them for their part in his campaign. But to the matter of whether there is a vacancy or not, there is a huge vacancy. And I would advice the governor and his team to begin packing because he’s lost it with the people.”
Ikenya said Victor Bala is only still suffering from the ingrained arrogance associated with the ruling party. He said, “for him (Bala Kona) to say I would return to the PDP is an insult. Let me say here that I would never return. This is the kind of pride that they had with former President Jonathan. See how they ended? PDP is the only party that loves to play the ostrich. The would tell their leaders all is well even when the house is on fire. I can still achieve anything from other parties. After all, I didn’t start my politics with PDP. I started with SDP. My people are not following me for the party. They are with me because of my personality.”
He said that while southern Taraba politicians would prefer to have power remain in their zone, they don’t mind who emerged governor in 2019. He said, “the monumental failures of this governor has made us to rethink the rotation formula. We believe power should remain in the south so we would go for a new candidate. We can’t afford to waste our slot on Governor Ishaku. Just because it is our turn, we shall not sacrifice competence on the altar of mediocrity. We can’t afford to have a governor who appointed aides he doesn’t need. He doesn’t even know them. He pays them huge salaries and doesn’t pay common teachers. The Taraba people can’t afford that. We shall vigorously campaign against his candidature. I did my best to advice him but he doesn’t give anyone that opportunity. We in southern Taraba have become a laughing stock because of the antics of the governor. We are better than that and would prove it. It is either we get a new candidate or let anyone who can deliver from any zone get it. This is a democracy and the voice of the people count.”
He said he isn’t scared of the power of incumbency. “We saw how Jonathan has all the money, power and structures and yet he was defeated by the people. 2019 election is not going to be like the local government election they said they held recently. INEC is not TASIEC. Let them keep deceiving themselves. We would meet Darius at the polls and teach him a lesson.”
(Reported by Kwararafa Reporters)