Days after his return from vacation, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has not been seen in public, sparking a heated debate over his health status.
The governor has avoided public appearances, and people were reportedly barred from taking his pictures at the airport when he arrived on Tuesday after many weeks of holiday. Up till now, no picture of the governor returning to the state has been made public.
The governor has also cancelled many public engagements since he arrived.
There are rumours that the governor is ill. This could not be independently verified by PREMIUM TIMES.
“The governor has been avoiding public appearances and engagements since his controversial return to the state. We wanted to receive him at the airport but we were barred, but nevertheless, we wish him quick recovery,’’ said a senior public servant, who requested not to be named.
Hundreds of workers who converged on the Jolly Nyame stadium for the workers day celebration were disappointed as the governor did not show up.
The governor is also yet to meet with the striking lecturers of the state university, though his aides had earlier assured that the governor would ensure university students return to the classroom, 24 hours after his return from vacation.
‘’Our hope is dashed, because we were assured by the governor’s aides sometime last week, that as soon he arrived, His Excellency Governor Darius will meet with our leaders but we are yet to hear anything,” said a lecturer who does not want to be named as well.
Sources said a traditional chief, who sought an audience with the governor, was not allowed after waiting for hours at the government house, Wednesday evening.
An online newspaper in the state, Taraba Truth and Facts had earlier reported that even the deputy governor, Haruna Manu, is yet to meet his boss since his arrival.
“Manu has been making several calls to some of the governor’s aides and top members of his kitchen cabinet who told him the governor needs some rest after a long flight back to the country.
“Another close watcher of event in the government house Jalingo told our reporter that the governor’s return from vacation was shrouded in secrecy, only few politicians were carried along, in fact his deputy was informed of his coming, but was not at the airport to receive him,’’ the medium quoted a source.
The deputy governor did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his phone seeking comments.
But, an aide of the deputy governor, who did not want to be quoted as he did not have the permission of his principal to speak, said his boss met the governor “yesterday.” He did not disclose further details.
Governor ‘full of life’
The governor’s aide on political matters, Abubakar Bawa, dismissed rumours of his principal’s ill-health.
“There is no iota of truth in the rumour making the rounds in the state and beyond that Gov. Ishaku is either sick or dead,” Mr Bawa said.
“His Excellency is healthy, energetic and full of life, going about his official duties for the betterment of the state. I wonder why political detractors and enemies of progress would want him dead.
‘’It is obvious that the Almighty God will give the Governor long life and good health to continue to serve as a pillar of support to his people,’’ he said.
But when pressed further on the governor’s absence from public functions, he said: “Must he be at all events? He is being represented by his deputy. During the workers day, he was represented by the deputy, so why must you people ask for his public appearance? I think some are out for mischief,’’ he said.
Abigel Tor, a resident in the statem said it is unfortunate that politicians forget that holding public office means you are “the peoples’ servant.”
“We are all human and can be sick, there is nothing to hide about it. If he is not feeling fine, we wish quick recovery but the people should be carried along so that they can all join in praying for him, he is our governor,” she said.
A public commentator, Musa Maraneyo, recalled how former Governor Suntai’s associates “held Taraba to ransom for three years while he was sick”.
‘’On August 25, 2013, 10 months after his medical trip abroad, Suntai returned amidst reports that he could not talk,” he said.
“He was carried out of the plane by his aides because he clearly could not walk at the time. Umar, his deputy, was blocked from receiving him in Jalingo. Still, the people around him all claimed he was fit to return to his duty post. In fact, one even said at the airport that Suntai was ‘mentally alert and lucid’.
“While we pray for his speedy recovery, we should also avoid a repeat of Suntai’s saga,” he said.