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Column: In 2023, The Type Of Governor Taraba Needs

By Iliyasu Gadu

The political season is upon us. As the tempo of political activities noticeably picks up as we approach the next circle of elections in 2023, expectations are riding a lot on who becomes the next governor of our dear Taraba state.

Politicians in the two major political parties in the state, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) are presently manoeuvring to position themselves to clinch their respective parties' ticket for the governorship elections in 2023. In this regard, it is expected that the political parties will witness continuous realignment of forces and positions all in a bid to upstage one another in order to achieve their aim of occupying government house Jalingo.

While the politicians are doing their thing, the Taraba electorate will be silently and keenly sizing up the aspirants and their parties with a view to deciding who will eventually get their nod.

Looking at the state of things it is certainly not of sync for Tarabans to entertain and voice out their thoughts on the type of person that should be the Governor of our state come 2023.

Unless amongst the precious few who have somehow been favoured, Tarabans in the majority are full of lamentation on the abysmal state of things in the state. Compared to some states in the country, Taraba has become a metaphor for underachievement by all parameters of measurement. It even becomes incongruous and poignant when all things considered the state is probably the most endowed in the country.

No Taraban in their hearts will be happy at the poor state of education, health, infrastructure, social amenities and the level of mind boggling poverty prevalent in the state. When Tarabans look at the positive strides taking place especially in the neighbouring states of the north-east region, some of whom came into being long after our state was created, they shake their heads and wonder what was amiss with us.

This has led to a feeling of despair and fatalistic resignation that somehow the state is doomed irretrievably to its fate and nothing could be done to save it.

Underneath all the despondency is a glaring deficit of genuine leadership which has kept the state from realising its full potentials. As it is now there is what amounts to a leadership emergency in the state which needs to be urgently addressed by the Taraba electorate in 2023. It should be the most important item on the agenda of Tarabans in the run up to the 2023 elections. If we do not address this very significant factor, Taraba may lapse from the comma it currently finds itself now to an even deeper one without any hope of remedy in the future. And that will be tragic for all of us.

So how do we begin to address this issue?

First we must sign ourselves to a new political paradigm by changing the prevailing narrative of ethnicity and religion as the prime consideration for leadership selection and representation. I must admit that it is difficult to attempt to change the minds of people who have been brought up to believe that only when people from either their ethnic group or religion are in power that they can hope to be considered.

But in truth this has turned out to be a fallacy. As has been our experience the people we put up or elect as our political representatives and leaders under this consideration seldom care to take our interest at heart when they get to power. They even turn round to be our worst oppressors wilfully and callously denying us the very dividends of democracy for which we voted them in.

Last time I checked, Taraba is neither the Vatican nor is it Mecca both of which are recognised and designated as exclusive religious enclaves of Christianity and Islam respectively. Our state is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic state in which adherents of both faiths cut across the various ethnic groups in the state. Indeed we are perhaps the most diverse state in the country in many ways and this should be a source of strength rather than regret and weakness as we are led to believe.

Tying our leadership selection and performance in office to the factor of ethnicity and religion cheapens all of us Tarabans and we can see how this has fostered the alienation of fellow Tarabans. It has also provided the impetus for political elites to present and sell themselves to us not on the merit of their candidacy but on primordial sentiments. And in this regard, a feeling of entitlement sets in whereby an aspirant only needs to present himself as representing XYZ religion or ethnic group to be eligible to be considered for office. And when in office in order to perpetuate himself in power he opportunistically encourages and sticks to that narrative keeping the people who voted him in and the state underdeveloped.

This issue has become so self-perpetuating that Taraba political leaders and elites now have develop a template of denying or excluding deserving Tarabans of merited appointments at the state level on the altar of ethnicity or religion. At the federal level our political elites prefer to give out our quota of deserving federal appointments to persons from other states than Tarabans on the basis of same.

We have thus become a state where fear of one another rules our lives and governs our formal and informal relationship and conduct. In many ways this has unfortunately become a state policy and we are not mindful that it is gradually consuming us. We may think it is alright to apply it against a certain group but as we go along in this unwholesome practise it may blowback on us.

In the run up to 2023, the Taraba electorate must look for a unifier with integrity, education coupled with proven competence and compassion for the people of the state no matter their religious or ethnic backgrounds.

We must also consider the world view of who will be our next governor. He must be a charismatic, articulate personality who can hold his own among his peer governors in the country, but who can stand and express himself and push our interest as a state before the media and at the highest levels of government. In the world of today's politics our governor should not only be media savvy, he should be brimming with cutting edge ideas to sell a vision of a state that wants investors and others to be interested in the state. We have had enough of gruff, inarticulate types who all too often make our state the butt of jokes and denigration by other Nigerians.

I must make bold to say that the person who should be our next governor under the parameters I outlined above cannot be found among the usual political suspects in the two political parties in the state. Collectively they have failed the state all these years they have occupied the stage. The testimony to their collective failure is borne by the level of underdevelopment the state is in now. And to keep recycling them as they are seeking Tarabans to do in 2023 is to perpetuate and sink the state into further underdevelopment for which generations will not forgive us.

We must in 2023, break that yoke by bravely and boldly changing the narrative thereby setting Taraba on the path of genuine development through inclusiveness of all its sons and daughters.

Ussa Again?

What's with my in laws, the Kutebs of Ussa? One moment they are complaining about how the Chambas have been oppressing and marginalising them, seeking the sympathy of neutral others. The next moment they are at daggers drawn against one another.

The latest incident of blood-letting between the people of Lissam and Rufu two neighbouring and brotherly Kuteb communities in Ussa Local Government is unfortunate and condemnable. I do not think and nobody in their right minds would support that a cultural event which ought to be an occasion for showcasing the rich culture of the good Kuteb people should be turned into a blood fest.

And to think that men of God were assaulted in the process is taking the matter too far.

I commend the Local Government Chairman for promptly swinging to action in declaring a curfew in the area in order to stem the tide of further reprisal violence and prevent the issue from engulfing the entire Local Government with serious consequences.

It is hoped that the period of the curfew will be used to bring the culprits to book and the rebuilding of the temporarily shattered co-existence and confidence between the two brotherly communities.

Displaced persons should also be helped to return back to their communities and assistance rendered to them in this regard. 

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