The senator representing Taraba South, Emmanuel Bwacha, in this interview, he speaks on his relationship with Governor Darius Ishaku and other issues.
There are rumours that relationship between you and Governor Darius Ishaku has been sour despite the fact that you are from the same political party, why?
You know in diplomatic cycles when there is low level of communication between two persons, especially in this regard, it can be interpreted to be a sour relation. In my own case, it is not like that, because I choose to avoid controversy. It is not really that I and Gov. Darius Ishaku are quarrelling; we used to meet from time to time, but in fairness to me, it is not the same as it was during the tenure of late Gov. Suntai.
I must make this clear, that in the days of late Gov. Suntai, it was more cordial; it was not as if I was calling the shots. Suntai gave us confidence and we gave him loyalty; that was why he succeeded. So it appears that now there is no much confidence, and in such situation, I will be very careful not to get closer so that we don’t quarrel.
Are you saying Gov. Darius doesn’t have much confidence in you and other members of the National Assembly from the state?
Honestly, I can say the problem is largely attributed to people around the governor; you know he came to the state for the first time, people who should guide him are those around him, but unfortunately, in Hausa they say, “Ba’a mugun sarki sai mugun bafade.” I don’t want to shift much blame to the governor in this wise; but I think it is the people around him who are actually lacking in political experience that cause most of these problems.
I find it difficult to understand when you said people around the governor are inexperienced. What would you say about the likes of the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Victor Bala Kona, and others?
If the party chairman is really an experienced politician, he is not doing his homework because if he is doing his homework very well, you will not see key members of the party shifting base to other political parties as it is happening now. When you have individuals like a former acting Governor, Sani Danladi Abubakar, leaving the party, it is clear that there is a problem which needs to be addressed.
If you trace the problem that led to the decamping of the former acting governor, you will discover it was as a result of a quarrel between Sani Danladi and the party chairman. You will agree with me that some people have reached a level where they cannot be doing sycophancy to any person no matter his position. You know politics is local; which means people go into politics for their collective or personal interests and if you try to play a chase game, people will understand your direction and quickly take a decision for best options.
In general terms, people should be their brothers’ keepers and as a politician who has come of age in the game, I should not hesitate to talk when I see things not being done the way they should be done.
Therefore, it is not out of place to advise that Victor Bala Kona as the state chairman of the ruling party should work hard to woo more people into the party and not send them away.
Did you ever call the attention of the party chairman in this regard?
Yes, I did. It was on the day of our convention in Abuja and it was in the midst of people I advised him because I have been following the quarrel between the chairman and Sani Danladi and therefore decided to give the advice. You see, I knew the story of both of them, and in fairness to Gov. Darius, he was just a victim of circumstances; Darius did not know that there was a prolonged battle between Sani Danladi and Victor Bala Kona. Mr. Kona is supposed to adjust and there is the need for him to improve and be more accommodating if he really wants to win the 2019 elections, otherwise he will be sending more and more people away from the party.
We heard that people in the Southern Senatorial Zone are calling on you to contest for the seat of Governor of Taraba State in 2019, what is your reaction to this?
You said some people are asking me to contest the position of governor in 2019; as a Christian, if God says yes to me I will not hesitate to do so.
I prefer to be spoken to by God than to trust on men. Let me make it clear that my focus is on the parliament; my attention is on the Senate. As I speak to you, to become a governor is not a promotion for me; that is my understanding, except if you say I would have a wider area. Perhaps people want me there because somebody will want you there to be distributing money or stealing money, otherwise I do not see any business to do there as a governor of a state. I can tell you loud and clear I am not so interested to be a governor; especially in my rural state like Taraba. But like a said, if it is the voice of God, if God wants it for me, there is nothing I can do, but as an individual, I can tell you from my heart I don’t see anything attractive in occupying the seat of a governor.
Taraba was created in 1991 and if you look at other states created at the same time with Taraba, you will see that those states have developed far ahead, what do you think is responsible?
I know when Gov. Suntai was there; during his first and second tenures, he did his best to transform the state. I can say this because I was actually around him; we related very closely. He was a very close friend. We were brought up in the same environment and to a large extent we were pairs.
So we were communicating and talking to each other, and from 2007 to 2011, I was not in government and that gave me more time to monitor what was happening. To my understanding, since the state was created, that was the first time Jalingo town was given a metropolitan look.
There was remarkable improvement during Suntai than between 1999 and 2003 when we were there as commissioners. I am very sorry to say that, but it is a statement of fact.
People are talking about lack of road network and electricity. For instance, in the entire Central Senatorial District comprising five local government areas, only one town is connected to the national grid. Is that not a sign of lack of development?
Even Suntai town is connected from my community, Mararaba. It was my Intervention Project I that connected my community from Takum.
It is from Mararaba that Suntai town in the Central Senatorial District was connected to the national grid. You should appreciate the fact that Taraba has a peculiar case of undulating terrain as you can see on the Mambilla Plateau and other parts of the state; there is a very difficult terrain. To channel infrastructure as is done in areas with less difficult terrains is tasking and capital intensive, especially coming from lean pockets like a rural state of Taraba. The only situation that can bring the state out of this problem is when the hydro-power project is completed. We have just granted the Federal Government approval to borrow money to fund the project. I was impressed and I lobbied my colleagues to approve the request. There are a lot of benefits to my people in the state from the hydro-power project and that was why I lobbied my colleagues in the senate to support it.
We are witnessing moments; politicians moving from one party to another, especially from APC and PDP, and this is coming ahead of 2019. What is the reason for this political tourism?
Political parties in Nigeria are not formed on ideology as it is done in developed democracies. For example, it is suicidal for a politician to decamp even in South Africa, talk less in more advanced democracies like the United States of America and Britain. The only solution to the current trend is when political parties are formed based on ideology which will give way for a marketable and effective party system.