On a day like this, three decades ago, Taraba State was created from the defunct Gongola State. Unarguably, one of the most promising states at the time of creation. Being the third-largest state in Nigeria in terms of landmass, most of it being overly fertile. There is hardly a crop that grows in Nigeria that does not grow well in Taraba. In fact, many thrive best here.
While I cannot call myself an Agriculturist, I certainly know one or two things about farming being someone who is very proud of this profession and has had experiences that will forever remain green in my mind because of Agriculture. I am extremely passionate about Agriculture. I know the potentials that we have in Taraba. Unfortunately, states with far fewer potentials than Taraba have harnessed theirs and not Taraba for one reason or the other.
Taraba state has tourist potentials that are unmatched in this country. It is aptly described as “Nature’s gift to the Nation”. As a result, we have some of the most beautiful places anyone can contemplate or dream of visiting in Nigeria. Travelling from: Sardauna to Zing, Ibi to Karim Lamido, Ussa to Yorro, Kurmi to Gassol. In fact, across the length and breadth of Taraba, all one sees is one of the most breathtaking scenery you can find in Nigeria.
The lush green countryside, amazing mountains, wonderful waterfalls, and sonorous birds give sounds that you may not be wrong to call music. Since my elementary music teacher taught me that music is the arrangement of sounds that are pleasant to the ears. On a serious note, you have to fall in love with nature once in Taraba State; of course, I have done that. One has to. Taraba is that special: you can’t escape it.
Sadly, this has not translated to much development. I weep whenever I visit towns, villages, and hamlets in Taraba. I weep not only for the abundant natural resources being exploited but that should and would have been utilised for the benefit of all and the growing distrust and polarised nature of my dear state. Here are people who have refused to unite to defeat their common enemies: poverty, violence, unemployment, underdevelopment, drug abuse, kidnapping, etc. This shouldn’t be our reality.
Whoever fans the embers of disunity is not a good human being, to begin with, let alone being a good and responsible Taraban whether one is: a traditionalist, a Muslim, or a Christian. For God’s sake, we have all suffered for our failure to rise above prejudice, hate and do the needful for our dear state. We disappointedly all continue to play blame-games, while everything is ruined before our very eyes. Tarabans have to think and rethink whatever approach we have been using over the years have left a lot to be desired.
The truth is that we are all in this together. I know this for a fact because I get to mingle with Tarabans from all walks of life. My friend Jerry in Jalingo is no less a victim than my friend Ado in Yelwa, Sardauna local government. The old man I met in Dakka, Bali, local government struggling even at old age to feed his family is not different from the ones I meet in my hometown or any place I visit in Taraba.
The public primary schools in Jalingo, the state capital, don’t look much different from the ones in Borno Kurukuru, in Bali local government; the ones in Pantisawa In Yorro LGA and the ones in Kufai, Gassol local government, or anywhere in Taraba state. The difference is that some of our teachers do extraordinary things to nurture children that can become responsible citizens against all odds. So today, I pay tribute to our teachers and all those who defy all odds to develop our state. Thank you so much for your sacrifice and service to our dear State.
The plain truth is that we are all victims in one or the other. Whether we agree or not, whatever faith we profess or the party we support. A selected few benefit in any state that constituted authorities have failed to live up to their responsibilities, and most of the time, even those that benefit the pleasure are ephemeral.
We still have the opportunity to stem the tide and chart a new course for the only State we have and one that some of us love unconditionally. To change things for the better. But, we cannot do it alone. We must do it together: Christians, Muslims, and traditionalists. Until we unite, leaders or rulers will continue to exploit us and set us against one another. It is high time we commenced the building of a Taraba where merit matters and all Tarabans matter. A Taraba where things work and all that work hard within the ambit of the law can prosper without hindrance. A Taraba where the glass ceiling will be completely shattered.
Happy 30th anniversary to my dear State, Taraba. You will be great despite all the apparent obstacles to stop that from coming to fruition no matter what happens. We will keep on trying until we get it right.
We today live in a state far more divided than ever. But I find solace that we still have good men and women from all parts of the state and of all religious beliefs who are sincerely ready to see a complete revamping of our dear State. These Tarabans give me hope. For just like me, most of them do not have a bean and have no political goals to pursue rather a whole state, and indeed, nation to build.
I see hope boldly written on the face of my friend Jerry, a barber whose dream is to one day be a big employer of labour despite his financial constraints today. I find strength in the words of my friend Abdulhamid who supports his family with the little that he has while working relentlessly with little dependence on the government.
I know God willing things can and will change when Caleb, an ex-drug addict who has turned over a new leaf, advocates for peace and works towards our unity. Likewise, I believe we can change for the better when Zakiru freely works to better society and seeks success against all odds. Yes, Zakiru with even some hilarious jokes to it.
I have no reason to believe things will continue the manner they are today, forever because of the realities of the moment. I know we can change. Although, the time is entirely dependent on how ready we are for that to happen as Tarabans.
Today, I urge us all to mull over our challenges as a state. I plead with you all to reflect sincerely and see how we can all join hands to build the state that should be the envy of every state in the country because of our resources, which I know, once we get it right, Taraba will be the perfect example of how to move Nigeria forward being a state that can correctly be described as a mini Nigeria, with all that is inherent therein Nigeria. We must not fail our dear state as Tarabans; we have to stop failing this beautiful State now.
Happy 30th anniversary Taraba State. God bless Taraba State, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Turaki B, Jalingo, Taraba State.