Today 27th August 2021 is a day for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the creation of Taraba State on 27th August 1991 from the defunct Gongola State by the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
However, there are divergent views on whether it is worth celebrating the creation of Taraba State based on premise that there is nothing to show after three decades of statehood.
I have categorized the opinions of Tarabans into two. First are those who see the development of the State based on wielding the state power in their zone, tribe, party, religion or identity. To this group, Taraba is fast developing. Subjective and parochial view of development.
Secondly, are those who see Taraba as backward and have nothing to show compared to other states in the federation of Nigeria. This category do not have power with them. This is somewhat objective view of development.
Political development or rather a development is elusive. As a developing society, we do not have pollsters or scientific techniques to measure development objectively in the third world.
Development is in two ways; physical/infrastructural development and human development. Even though, to measure development according to Dudley Seers is to look at what has been happening to poverty, inequality, and unemployment in any society. Taraba is second poorest state in Nigeria. While inequality and unemployment have increase over the years leading to youth restiveness
The question is why Taraba State is not developed after 30 years? This question is posed because the majority of Tarabans see their state as compared to others as backward
To answer this question, six factors have been identified. Leadership factor which in this context blames leaders who could not think, plan, choose and execute developmental projects as responsible for lack of development. Hence, choice and plans are the driving force of development.
The crisis factor blames the lack of development in Taraba for to lack of peace and harmony. The incessant; religious, farmer/herder, tribal and communal conflicts undermine development. The logic of this argument is that the money and resources that is supposed be used for development would be channeled to security provision.
The political factor blames the political class for insisting on zoning rather than merit for the political gladiators.
Lack of development plan or blueprint for Taraba State for long-term period of 20 or 30 years is not developed. This creates a gap in planning and policing.
Politics of identity is also responsible for lack of development when Tarabans not being vigilant and can not challenge bad governance because of identity. Politics of tribalism, religion, and nepotism all combine to draw the state backward. Political mobilization is done using religion and tribal groups rather than political parties.
The weak or emasculated civil society groups in Taraba. As an autonomous body, the CSOs serve as a watchdog of government excesses and weaknesses. Religious groups have taken the place of civil society in Taraba State.
To measure the achievements of the three elected civilian executive governors Rev. Jolly Nyame, Danbaba Suntai, and Darius Ishaku. Qualitatively, one must use some indices like; major physical projects, institutions, and civil service welfare.
On this note, Nyame has done some legacy projects like Specialists Hospital, Nyame Sports Complex and Jalingo Ultra-modern market, and Jalingo Airport. There is welfare for civil servants.
Danbaba has brought some legacy projects like the Taraba State University, Jalingo, Jalingo-Yola bypass road, Ardo kola-Bali-Gashaka-Sardauna road, Four Kilometer roads in the 16 LGAs, etc. Civil servants were in between happy not too happy.
In his part, Ishaku has done some legacy projects like the Cucumber farm (Greenhouse), the Jalingo Water project, and the ongoing Kpantinapu-Jauro Yinu road dualization projects. He introduces traditional chiefdoms reform and development. However, civil servants were not happy due to the non regular payment of salaries.
In conclusion, Taraba needs a visionary leader for speedy development. The thesis on ruling party alternation is still valid. Since, Adamawa, Gombe Bauchi, Plateau, and Benue have experience change in state powers as result power alternation between parties.
Politics of succession is another problem that has not been properly nurtured in Taraba. Governor Nyame could not have his way. Danbaba too was not opportuned to determine his successor.
Governor Ishaku has the opportunity to achieve a careful political succession plan for the development of the state. Economically, there are no major industries in Taraba apart from pure water and bread bakeries. We need gigantic rice milling, mining, and textiles to provide jobs for the teeming population.
We need strong social cohesion, if not Taraba will continue to lag in development. Shifting theory of violence is looming. We need politics of inclusion and tolerance.
Happy Taraba Day!
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long Live Taraba State
27th August 2021.