After 25 years of statehood, Taraba state, the “Nature’s Gift to the Nation” is perceived by many as still struggling to find itself on the threshold of development.
There are many common indices use to measure the level of development of states in the country which include the level of infrastructural development- schools, hospitals, roads etc. Others are social development indicators like the number of radio and TV stations, hotels, motels, resorts, cafes, stadiums and other tourism concerns; economic development indicators like markets, industries, airports, rail transport and an enabling environment for agriculture and mining to thrive.
On a closer look, one would observe that either some of these are non-existent in the State or that they are available but not being utilized or exploited to their full potentials.
Strategically speaking, the State is disadvantaged because it is distant from the hinterland of corporate Nigeria where things happen. Abuja, the nation’s capital is quite far from Jalingo, the state capital while only Yola, the Adamawa state capital is closest.
Amazingly, Taraba is bordered by Plateau and Nasarawa States but not linked in any way to those states with travelers having to agonizingly traverse Adamawa, Gombe and Bauchi before getting to Plateau State. Also, one has to pass through Benue before getting to Nasarawa state from Taraba State. Yet, the two states have close cultural and social affinity with Taraba, including economic ties.
However, this state of affairs may not be unconnected to the neglect of the north- east region in general and Taraba State in particular by successive national governments. It is also as a result of what some people perceive as the poor representation at the top by legislators who have failed to lobby for enough federal presence in the state in spite of the fact that it was begging for attention.
The political and civil service syndrome has also taken the state backward. Today politics is fast becoming an industry of its own because of its patronage.
Today, agriculture is potentially the largest industry in the state. Next to it is politics and then the civil service.
Politics and civil service have become ‘industries’ in the sense that they are platforms where individuals and groups have been exploiting and benefiting from since the creation of the State at the expense of the well-being of the general populace.
In the State politics, we have political jobbers, thugs, and godfathers who have been operating in it from time to time.
In the State civil service too, we have ghost workers, bureaucrats, strategists and manipulators who have mastered the system and exploited it to their advantage.
All these have combined to make the two sectors look like a thriving industry. Yes, many have made their millions and billions through these two sectors while leaving the majority of the youths in penury and lack.
As if that is not enough, the issue of ethnicity and religious chauvinism have taken a stronghold of the society. That in itself has compromised competence and meritocracy in the civil service and politics thereby promoting mediocrity.
A combination of these factors have contributed to the present condition of the State which might have led stakeholders to canvass for a leader that would salvage the State. And to be fair to the State, a thoroughbred, well experienced and intelligent technocrat in Darius Dickson Ishaku was brought to do the work.
Tarabans must, therefore, count themselves lucky to have a first class graduate, a professional architect and an experienced technocrat fresh from the organized private sector as their Governor.
It is believed, he will translate his private sector experience into the system as a whole. We all know that what make the organized private sector stand out are the cherished values of discipline, result-oriented goals, profit drive, and excellence.
Tarabans have started seeing it in the civil service, water sector, agriculture and education and I am sure if Tarabans would be a little bit patient with the administration, they would see more results.
But there are obstacles that this administration might encounter in trying to deliver its mandate. These obstacles are insecurity and the people’s orientation and the way the administration handles these two issues would determine whether it succeeds or not.
First, the orientation of Tarabans need to be influenced positively and that is possible if their is a modern and reliable information machinery of the 21st century status.
Questions that must be asked are, do we have FM stations which transmit to the public 24 hours and real time, events happening around us? Are their programmes on these radio and TV stations that reflect the true character and activities of this administration? A lot of Tarabans have little awareness of what the administration is doing!
Today, the State TV and radio stations are not working in full capacity which is why the information gap is being exploited by rumour mongers and peddlers. Unfortunately, the young ones are too vulnerable and easily carried away by information about government which may be true or false anyway.
If care is not taken, traducers of government might exploit the situation in painting a negative picture of this government while also shielding its good intentions. Through such, Tarabans might lose the opportunity of having the right people that might change their destiny.
The present government should also endeavor to tap the tourism potentials in the State. Aside agriculture, tourism happens to be the most promising sector. Therefore, a huge budgetary allocation must be made to tourism. If need be, partnerships should be made with foreign investors to revitalize the tourism sector. But I doubt if that is possible without adequate security.