By Victor Gai
Four years ago today, one of the most courageous leaders Taraba has ever had, Danbaba Suntai, was involved in a plane crash in Yola, Adamawa state, during his usual shuttles.
Since then, Taraba has never been the same again as serious political deadlock ensued in the state immediately after the unfortunate incident which shaped the political landscape of this north- eastern state.
The state suffered as a result, as it was all struggles between 2012 and May 29, 2015, for the coveted position of governor of the State.
The dangerous trend was however ameliorated with the emergence of Governor Darius Ishaku, who became the burden bearer. Lives were lost, destinies were truncated, enemies and friends were created, and the state was not the same anymore.
The reason it had to be this way was because of the charisma Danbaba had and his firmness too which endeared him to many, at least in the long run.
He was widely criticized while in office by even his own but sooner had he left; then people began to lament his exit from the scene, to lay credence to the saying that, ‘you never know what you have until you lose it.’
Even though the former governor was rather ‘obstinate’ and rigid as was observed by most Tarabans, the blame should not be on him alone. The politicians and his advisers have to be blamed too.
Firstly, bearing his rigid nature, his aides chose to tell him only what he wanted to hear for fear of retribution. If they were bold at that time to sacrifice their positions by telling him the bitter truth, they could have been vindicated by now. Therefore, some religious leaders, politicians, and cronies of his must have a rethink at this moment.
Suntai’s legacy are still there for people to see. Of his legacies, I must say the most outstanding is the Nigeria Sunrise newspaper. From nowhere this news medium became the doyen of the northeast. It reached the rural areas and molded the minds of Tarabans to a great extent. To maintain this legacy, the present administration should bring back the newspaper to the new stands.
Danbaba Suntai constructed the World standard Mile six bye pass, which connects the Mile six highway and the city center. This dual carriageway, the best of all roads in Jalingo was ironically named after him. Unfortunately, the best has not been made of this road as it has no streetlights and traffic lights by its major junctions. As a result, it has become a den of criminals, and reckless road users are exposed to avoidable accidents. The best way to sustain this legacy is to put it to maximum use by providing these facilities.
There are roads that Danbaba wanted to fix before the ill-fated crash. To maintain his legacy, the ‘rescue mission’ must focus on these roads. In as much as it is wise to concentrate on rural roads, in line with the bottom- up approach to development, it is also worthwhile to consider population density as a factor in development.
Using this method, the most densely populated regions are considered first for development. As a matter of fact, so many densely populated neighborhoods in Jalingo are inaccessible. It will be wrong to consider rural roads before these urban roads because of the population factor.
One of Danbaba’s legacies, TARCMA, can be employed to carry out rehabilitation of these roads on a remedial basis before the full constructions are done.
For instance, the Mile six – Roadblock which connects the Airport road is about the busiest in the state. It welcomes one to the city from both directions. It also connects the north and the eastern part of the country, yet it is so dilapidated that tricycles compete for space with bigger vehicles. There are no streetlights or traffic lights. The gauge is narrow as a result of eroded walkways or shoulders. It would interest all to know that Jalingo is one of the capital city in the Northeast and perhaps the whole north, without a dual carriageway at its entrance.
I believe it was Suntai’s dream to construct a dual carriageway along this ever busy way. In fact, now citizens are dying as a result of the poor nature of the road, and it does not augur well for the capital city of a state that prides itself as ‘nature’s gift to the nation.’
While also acknowledging the current administration for continuing some legacies of Danbaba Suntai and initiating others, I would call on DDI to be resolute, fearless and firm because that is what Danbaba Suntai was known for. It was worth it!
Even though Danbaba created enemies for having those qualities to the extent that some celebrated his accident, he has ultimately endeared himself to the hearts of his fiercest traducers.
Victor Gai is a Jalingo based Public Affairs Analyst, and your responses are welcome.