By Amos Magaji.
They are like Siamese twins. Peace and development. They are inseparable.
This twin concept has proved an enduring but regrettable fact of life in many countries and communities around the globe where hostilities in all their manifestations and ramifications have crippled human efforts at improving the quality of life and living.
Many societies that had earned for themselves the reputation as great and enviable signposts of human creativity in development have crumbled and their progress retarded due to the absence of peace necessitated by wars and other forms of inter-communal hostilities.
Examples of such societies abound in modern and medieval times.
The import of this assertion is that no society can develop if it does not enjoy a reasonable level of peace and stability. In the same vein, chronic lack of development can also lead to poverty-induced crises.
Peace and development are therefore two sides of the same coin. It is for this reason that some leaders pay attention to the task of forestalling crises and promoting peace through deliberate policies.
One good example of such modern day leaders is Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, governor of Taraba State who came into office in May 2015 trumpeting the philosophy of peace and stability as a necessary and desirable ingredient of a conducive atmosphere for sustainable development.
People who are familiar with the recent history of Taraba State will not find it difficult to appreciate the wisdom in Ishaku’s choice of the twin concept of peace and development as the underlying philosophy of his administration.
Within the period of two years before he assumed the leadership of the state as governor, Taraba was a state in political and inter-ethnic turmoil. The situation had prevailed even up till the elections that brought him in as governor.
The crises left in their trail frightening memories that had destroyed the fabric and fibre of mutual trust among the various ethnic groups in the state. The ultimate loser was development which the state was in dire need of.
For this ugly situation to change, Governor Ishaku had to take the message of peace to all corners of the state in order to help heal the social and emotional wounds inflicted and to psych up the people to believe in themselves and their state once more.
It was also to woo them in support of government’s development agenda to which the governor had unequivocally committed himself.
Today, just over a year after, the peace effort of the governor has proved a wise political and social investment.
Through the machinery of security surveillance established by the governor, crime and criminality have been drastically reduced in the state. But the bigger frontier of achievement is inter-ethnic crises and herdsmen attacks on farmers.
These were the major causes of bloody clashes with heavy casualties under the immediate past political dispensation in the state. It gladdens my heart and, I believe the hearts of numerous
Tarabans and Nigerians also, that the gory spectre of socially and economically ruinous crises have ended, thanks to Governor Ishaku’s peace and reconciliatory efforts. Those bitter religious and inter-ethnic ill-feelings that often fuelled crises in the state have been subdued.
It is in the interest of all indigenes of the state that this situation is sustained. Crises of the magnitude that were witnessed in the state in the past two or three years can, apart from the social and psychological trauma that they inflict on the people, also be an unfortunate source of distraction and financial waste for the government.
Funds that could have been otherwise channelled into the execution of projects with direct benefits on the social condition of the people will be wasted in the promotion of government’s peace efforts.
Government may also lose concentration in the process and its development plans and projections greatly jeopardised.
Today the people of Taraba State can thumb their chests and say that their state is at peace. That was not the case before the coming of Governor Ishaku.
They can also now say with pride that they have a government that is not only deliberately promoting peace but determined to develop the state through the execution of people-centred projects.
For example, the scarcity of portable water in Jalingo and other major towns and cities in the state is now being aggressively tackled by the governor.
I’m also aware that government is working on a partnership with the African Development Bank for a more dramatic, all-encompassing approach in addressing the problem. This is highly commendable.
In the past one year, Jalingo has turned a huge construction site. Road projects have received the attention of government. This trend is replicated in other major towns in the state.
Electricity power generation and rural electrification projects are being vigorously pursued as part of government’s overall poverty alleviation and job creation package.
There has also been a deliberate government emphasis on agriculture to achieve increase in food production, reduce hunger and poverty as well creating employment opportunities.
These projects, some already completed and others on-going, are only possible because of the relative peace the state has enjoyed so far. The state would have fared worse if the security situation had been otherwise.
The lesson behind this development requires no emphasis. The people of the state must give peace a chance to reign. Some people have said in the past that most of the crises in the state are fuelled and even sponsored by the political elite in the state for their selfish political gains.
This is not far from the truth. The ordinary people of the state usually nurse no ambitions and desires that bring their communities and ethnic groups into conflicts and crises with others. The elite do. That is the reason they are the target of this writer’s appeal for peace in the state.
Politicians and political leaders in the state should now realise that the elections are over and time to work for the people is now here. It is not the time for acrimony and bickering over personal matters.
It is not also the time for unhealthy posturing as tribal champions. It is now the time to be united behind one goal which is to lift the state to greater heights.
Taraba State cannot afford any more crises and conflicts now and in the future. It has suffered more than enough setbacks from the crises of the past. The state must now move forward.
The luck of the state today lies in the fact that Arc Darius Ishaku is governor. He is a man with a big dream of a greater Taraba State. Such a man deserves the support of all the people.
That is the much they owe this patriot currently occupying the highest political stool in the state.
To deny him support and co-operation is to also deny the state the chance to grow and to take its rightful place among the states of the federation.
Amos Magaji is a Current Affairs Analyst.