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Column:President Buhari, please give us our Minister



By Iliyasu Gadu




Since the sacking of Minister of Power Engr. Mamman Sale over three months ago, Taraba state has been without representation at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as is our statutory right.
It was bad enough to lose our seat at the FEC and worse still for us to continue in this manner for over three months now without any sign that things will be rectified.
Many Tarabans view the sacking of Engr. Mamman and Alhaji Abo Nanono the former Minister of Agriculture as actually an action directed more at Engr. Mamman than Alhaji Nanono. While other states have two Ministers in the FEC Taraba has only one. In the case of Kano state where Alhaji Nanono came from they have the Minister of Defence Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) representing them. So Kano state cannot miss a beat as they have a representative, a powerful one at that, sitting at the council of Ministers to take care of their interest.
In Taraba's case it is zilch. Every other state in the nation has somebody at the FEC but not Taraba. And we lose a lot by this. Where decisions are to be taken concerning the nation Taraba inclusive, there is none from Taraba to provide our perspective on issues. The Budget has just been passed and projects have been earmarked to be implemented but there has been no input from Taraba. We have many challenges crying for attention. The Yola-Jalingo-Wukari federal road has been neglected. The fate of the Mambilla project is uncertain as is that of Kashimbilla Dam. Security wise just last week some rebels from the English speaking Ambazonian breakway region in Cameroon invaded Manga a village in Takum Local Government Area killing 11 persons including the traditional ruler. People living along the stretch of borderline between Taraba and Cameroon are living in fear.
Is Taraba not a part of Nigeria? Why are we treated like the ugly duckling of Nigerian states? Other states are well considered for projects and appointments. But Taraba always gets the short shrift. Yet we are arguably the most endowed state in the country with boundless potentials in agriculture, tourism and mineral resources. Taraba is the legacy of late premier of the Northern region Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory. He it was who persuaded our people to come over to Nigeria and for which a Local Government, Sardauna was named after his title. So why are we being treated poorly having taken this decision to join Nigeria? Why have our brothers in Nigeria chosen to neglect the legacy of Ahmadu Bello who brought into the country in trust and confidence?
The problem might well be with us Tarabans. We often appear not be focussed on what we want. And we are notoriously known to work against one another using religion and ethnicity. When opportunities come to us we are either not single-mindedly focussed to pursue and get it or we try to work against it if it does not serve our personal or group interest. We would rather it goes away than come to Taraba if we cannot get it.
The issue of a Minister representing us at the FEC is a case in point. By now our elected representatives should have mounted pressure for us to be given our statutory right. Our elders too should have weighed in even if it means lobbying other influential groups in the country and seeking audience with Mr President to press home this request. We should emulate what others are doing in the country by making our voices heard in the pursuit of our legitimate rights.
Indeed more than any other state in the country, Taraba needs to be given consideration to achieve its potential. We should be one of the states to be given special status in order to encourage us to come up to speed with the rest of the country. As it we are far behind in many indices of development. We need to be massively assisted to close the gap in the many areas of development that we lag behind.
President Buhari should consider this as a passionate appeal to him. The first and necessary step in this regard is to appoint a Minister from Taraba without delay so as to enable us have a voice in the FEC. That way Tarabans can feel assured that we are also part of the decision making process of our country. For now we can only hear or guess what has happened at the highest organs of the nation.
Please Baba Buhari give us our Minister so that we can also have a sense of belonging and being carried along on issues that affect us and our country.

Warning to Cameroonian rebels
A little over a week ago rebels from the breakaway English speaking part of Cameroon known as Ambazonia, infiltrated into Nigeria, attacked and killed 11 persons including the traditional ruler of the village of Manga in the Takum Local government Area of Taraba state.
By all accounts this is an escalation of the conflict in Cameroon which seems to have spilled over to Nigeria. But we are at loss why rebels in Cameroon fighting for their rights should cross over to Nigeria and deny the rights of Nigerians who have no hand in their plight. The attack on Manga was unprovoked and indeed brutal and cruel bearing in mind that Nigeria has stayed neutral in the fight in Cameroon and even provided humanitarian services and assistance to the tens of thousands of refugees flooding into Nigeria from the conflict in Cameroon.
Apart from the loss of lives, there are economic projects like the Kashimbila Dam which lie in the vicinity of the conflict area in Cameroon.
Communities in the border areas of Taraba share historical and cultural ties with those across the border in Cameroon. But that does not give licence to the rebels in Cameroon to infiltrate into Nigeria to kill and maim Nigerian citizens.
The Taraba state government should be commended for the swift action it took to visit the area and provide assistance to the victim of the cowardly attack. The government also should be further commended for bringing the incident to the attention of the Federal Government and seeking its prompt intervention to check further infiltration and attacks on communities along our border with Cameroon. This will no doubt send a strong message that Nigeria's posture of non-interference and assistance to needy neighbouring countries should not be taken as weakness. As Taraba state shares a long stretch of border with Cameroon both the rebels and government forces might be tempted to escalate their fighting into Taraba state. The situation call for pro-active vigilance by the government of Taraba state in conjunction with the relevant organs of federal government to monitor the situation and respond appropriately when our borders are breached by either the Cameroonian forces or the rebels.
On the heels of the recent attacks on communities in Taraba state, the government must promptly engage and cooperate with the relevant security agencies for assistance to meet these incipient threats to Taraba and Nigeria. We must not rest on ours but take effective deterrent steps against any future attempts to attack any of our communities.



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