Hassan M. Umar
Taraba State is hugely endowed with purposeful diversity which is an important element in development. From natural to human resources, Taraba is simply a wonder. Of course, no community of people becomes and remains great when its general population lacks genuine and elevating human qualities and abundant natural endowments that drive development and promote good quality of life.
Taraba is largely blessed in all these. For instance, it is home to the largest base of solid minerals, including gold, diamond, galena, limestone, zinc and so on. This is little known to many Nigerians, but it’s true. Unarguably, Taraba sits atop of over 200 solid mineral deposits waiting for exploitation.
The potential for tourism is also vast as the balance between tropical and temperate weather presents a unique quality and reality. Sitting at 1,850 metres above sea level, the Mambilla Plateau in Sardauna local government area possesses the temperate weather condition all year round with beautiful sceneries that compete with any European country, which is why the plateau is popularly nicknamed small Europe in tropical Africa. It is generally a delight to holiday makers. Interestingly, Mambilla Plateau is home to Highland Tea, which is grown and packaged there and consumed all over Africa and beyond because of its finest quality.
Mambilla Plateau is also touted as the greatest producer of cattle as Taraba’s potential in this area surpasses any state in Nigeria. What is visibly lacking is meat processing industry to galvanize economic and social wellbeing of the people, the state and Nigeria as a whole.
The Gashaka Gumti Park is home to unusual fauna, some not found anywhere in the world; while the flora is also unique, there are species of wildlife that can promote tourism and research.
Culturally diverse, Taraba has many ethnic groups living in harmony with a warm feeling of hospitality, accommodation and friendliness. With its three key endowments of agriculture, solid minerals deposits and tourism landmarks, Taraba is, undoubtedly, nature’s gift to the nation.
The landmass of Taraba State is 60,291.82 square kilometers. The population is approximately over three million people. With 16 local government councils and two special development areas, Taraba derives its name from River Taraba, which is one of the major rivers that run through the state, the others being Benue and Donga. The fertile land grows both food and cash crops like rice, yam, cassava, soya bean, sesame seed, groundnut, sugarcane, cashew, tea, coffee, apple, palm trees and so on.
Therefore, with refreshing cultures, multilingualism and multi-religionist, yet exemplifying a charming society united in all fronts, Taraba’s profile debunks the negative picture being painted by a few misguided people. Recently, the media was awash with negative publicity about Taraba characterized by acts of killings, kidnapping and robbery, posting the impression that the state is crime infested. Although criminality is a global phenomenon, we resist its manifestation in our state, because it is anti-progress. The governor, Mr Darius Dickson Ishaku is in the forefront in the fight against criminality so that peace will flow and development will take hold.
To exhibit these shining examples are Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja; Ustaz Bala Lau and Miss Nigeria 2019, Beauty Tukura. These have created heartwarming feelings about Taraba.
The recent installation of the Most Rev. Kaigama as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, once again brought Taraba State to the limelight as the event was graced by notable personalities. It came at a time when kidnapping, communal clashes and other social vices were almost becoming the major news stories coming out of Taraba. These negative stories almost overshadowed the good work Governor Darius Ishaku has been doing in the last five years.
Also, the success story of the famous Islamic organization, the izalatul bidi’a wa ikamatis sunah popularly called Izala headed by another Taraban, Ustaz Bala Lau, shows how the people of Taraba are global players in all spheres of life.
Yet again, the emergence of Beauty Tukura as Miss Nigeria 2019 gives Taraba a special place. And she has proudly promised to project Taraba in the best light practicable. This gives credence to the storied greatness of Taraba, which is regarded by uninformed people as a backward state. But we are far more than that, and we shall keep coming.
While Ustaz Bala Lau has succeeded in elevating the izala sect into a world class institution with its own university, television houses and abundant sources to support its programmes and growth; the reigning Miss Nigeria, Beauty Tukura has taken Taraba State to the highest pedestal in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. We hail them.
It is in the spirit of integrity to secure Taraba that Governor Ishaku has pledged to continue to play the role of a big brother in the North east as Taraba is the most peaceful state in the region. Gov. Ishaku made his feelings known when he received the award as “The Best Human Rights friendly Governor in the North” in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day.
Co-Chairman of the Constitutional Rights Awareness and Liberty Initiatives, an NGO, Mr. Adeola Oyinlade, who presented the award to the governor during a conference at the United States Consulate in Lagos, said the governor was picked based on his tolerance to opposition parties, freedom of peaceful assembly, improvement in educational standard, right to collective bargain and others.
While responding to the award, Governor Ishaku said he created 50 chiefdoms in order to engage the people at the grassroots in governance and has adopted proactive measures to end banditry, farmers and herders crisis, kidnapping and theft.
He noted that Taraba is the most peaceful state in the Northeast; however, it was contending with issues bordering on internally displaced persons and promised to give a new lease of life to the displaced.
Buoyed up by his remarkable achievements in the educational sector in the state which has made it possible for him to employ, train and retrain teachers to boost educational standards, Governor Ishaku said: “Our efforts have yielded results; we have improved in WAEC performance from less than 20 per cent in 2015 when we came into office to about 75 per cent today.
“We are currently first in WAEC performance in the north and 8th in the country and my aim is to improve on that before leaving office as Governor in 2023. I want to commend Human Rights Initiatives for their painstaking effort in tracking our good work in Taraba which has impacted positively on the lives of the people of the state.
We will surely do more and provide dividends of democracy to our people in Taraba.”
The event with the theme, ‘Human Rights: Panacea to National Peace and Development the roles of States Government,’ brought key stakeholders in human rights sector across the country.
This is amazingly impressive leadership by example. Governor Ishaku is bound to open many doors and desires nothing less than cooperation from every Taraban.
Therefore, with these huge potential Taraba possesses in natural and human resources and with the dogged determination of Governor Ishaku to change the narrative of underdevelopment, Taraba can be a safe and rich haven if these resources are studiously harnessed. This is the Taraba we cherish and seek to collectively build, where we make our diversity count. This is our Taraba, promising Nigeria and humanity at large much more in the New Year and beyond.