Cabinet: How Ishaku shocked Tivs in Taraba

The appointment of a widow, Mrs. Bridget Twar, as commissioner in Taraba State, has excited the Tiv ethnic group in the northeastern state, writes Fanen Ihyongo, who is in Jalingo, the state capital.

When Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State announced his new cabinet and the name of Bridget Twar, a widow of Tiv extraction surfaced on the list of commissioners that will work with him, the Tiv ethnic group erupted in joy as they celebrated what they describe as yet another confirmation of the indigene-status of the Tivs in the state contrary to claims in some quarters. The celebration, our reporter learnt, was also compounded by the personality of the new commissioner.

Speaking on the development and the reaction of the Tivs across the state, a source explained that the significance of the appointment is in the fact that it is coming soon after the Tiv and Jukun people fought over claims by the Jukuns that Tiv are “settlers,” not indigenes in Taraba State. “The appointment confirms the Tivs’ indigene-status in the state,” he said.

Thus, with gladden hearts, Tiv stakeholders last weekend rolled out the drums to celebrate both the appointment and the appointee at her home in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital. Many recalled sadly that few months ago, when they earlier converged at the home of the Twars, it was to mourn the death of the appointee’s husband, Mr. Twar. It was a sad moment. But this time, the gathering was of joy; to eat, drink and dance, with Swange cultural music featuring prominently.

There were two representatives; each from the various local government areas of Taraba state where Tiv are indigenes. The governor was repeatedly hailed as the people spoke, one after the other. The speeches were more of prayers for the appointee and praises for the appointer.  “We are here for two reasons: to celebrate our sister, Mrs. Bridget Twar, who has been appointed commissioner, and to thank Governor Darius Ishaku for finding one of us worthy to serve in his cabinet,” Boniface Naorti said.

Naorti urged every Tiv person with “ideas that can unite people and bring development” in the state to support the appointee so that she can surmount any challenge that may confront her. Another stakeholder, Mrs. Mercy Gbashi, with tears in her eyes while happily praising Ishaku, said: “the governor has wiped our tears; he has given us hope to live -a hope to survive in a time that seems very uncertain. We are grateful to him.”

Isaac Waakaa said he was proud of the governor because he has obeyed the law of equity in the appointment. He explained that the governor, in his first term, had appointed a Tiv person as commissioner from Takum, “today it is in Gassol. The governor has done well for rotating the slot. “Let us not be in hurry; more will come. We have every reason to thank God and support the governor and his administration to succeed.”

A former aide of the governor, Kurason Kura, recalled that “the first Tiv commissioner was appointed from Donga local government area, the second was from Ibi, the third, by Ishaku, was from Takum. Now, our fourth commissioner has come from Gassol. This is a divinity. Mrs. Twar is commissioner for all the Tivs and for all Tarabans,” Kura said. Another former aide of the governor who hails from Gassol where the appointee comes from, Jerry Tyolanga, described the appointment as “noble.”

He said: “We in Gassol, had thought it (appointment) would not come to us. This is the handiwork of God. We appreciate Ishaku and his wife, Anna, who is Tiv. We shall continue to support the governor’s ‘Rescue Mission.’ The governor’s wife is our Esther. Like Oliver Twist, we want more. The governor only needs peace and support from us, and we shall give him,” he said. A Senior Special Assistant to the governor during the first term, Samson Tor Musa, said: “Today, we have a Deborah (Mrs. Twar) in the executive council. We also have a mother (governor’s wife) in the State House. When you have a mother in the house, you always have food to eat.”

Jime Yongo, a lawyer, said the governor has done justice, with the appointment. “Justice to one is justice to all. The appointment of one of us is for all of us. We are fully behind our commissioner and fully behind the governor.” A former House of Assembly member, Dooga Gbashi, thanked the governor for brokering peace between the Tiv and his Jukun people. He urged his people to support the governor and the appointee.

Ishaku, who is Jukun but married to a Tiv woman, is worried over violent clashes between the Tiv and his Jukun kinsmen, hence the appointment, The Nation learnt. The appointee thanked the stakeholders for identifying with her. She also thanked the governor and his wife for their favour. “I never knew God would honour me this way,” she said, adding “I am commissioner, not only for the Tiv, but to all the ethnic groups in the state.”

Twar, whose portfolio is yet to be announced as at the time of the celebration, added: “I don’t have enemies. I don’t have a factional group. I am for all, and all are for me. I need only prayers for wisdom, to be able to achieve. My job is to help the governor move the Tiv nation and the entire state forward.”