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Column: There is all round marginalization in Taraba state


 Iliyasu Gadu



Last week, the Taraba Muslim Council accused the Governor Darius Ishaku administration of marginalizing Muslims in the state.

The trigger for the accusation was the recent appointment of 12 permanent secretaries in the state civil service with none of them being a Muslim. The acting chairman of the council Alhaji Chindo Bose who spoke for the council further alleged that employment and appointment into key government positions were given for the most part to Christians in the state to the detriment of the large Muslim population in the state.

Alhaji Chindo said that out of the 25 commissioners in the state executive council only seven were Muslims and out of 221 special advisers appointed by Governor Darius, only 54 were Muslims.

The council also alleged that in addition to the governor who is a Christian, the Secretary to the state Government (SSG), the Chief Judge, Speaker of the House of Assembly and Chief of Staff to the Governor were all Christians.

According to the Muslim council, the marginalization was also extended to the state Tertiary institutions like the Taraba state University, College of Education, College of Agriculture, Taraba Polytechnic and School of Nursing.

Well, well the Taraba Muslim council has finally come out of its hibernation. Are they suddenly realizing all these now or have they all along been aware but decided to keep quiet for reasons best known to them?

The answer can be discerned from the response by the state government through the Commissioner for Information, Barrister Danjuma Adamu who said ''It is wrong for the Muslim Council to accuse the governor of marginalizing Muslims after the same council had in December last year during Christmas homage to the governor in Takum, commended him for his fairness and equity in handling the state's affairs''.

So if the Muslim council saw no reason to blame the governor and indeed praised him for his ''fairness and equity'' just a little over a month ago, what must have happened in the intervening time and now for the Muslim council to discover that the same governor is now guilty of marginalization?

Let us get real on this; the message could be real, but if the messenger has issues of credibility then the message he is trying to convey becomes dodgy and becomes invariably lost or blurred in transmission.

It is quite true that Muslims are marginalized in Taraba and statistics bear that out. And the sheer in-your-face brazenness that the government goes about it speaks volumes of this. The government's attempts to hide the clear fact are just an effort in contrived sophistry. After all leading members of the government have always claimed Taraba is a ''Christian'' state and so impliedly every effort to project that claim is justified.

But the real issue is not about whether Muslims are marginalized in Taraba true as that is. The real issue is that Tarabans whether Muslims or Christians are marginalized by their Muslim and Christian elite.

One would think that with the Christian dominated administration in the state, Tarabans of the Christian faith would show evidence of being preferred. But that is not the case. Many Christians spent the yuletide without being paid their salaries or emoluments. I know many Christians who have not been paid their entitlements by this so-called ''Christian'' government for months.

As for Taraba Muslims, beware of Greeks bearing gifts. The Muslim elite in Taraba are in cahoots with their Christian counterparts in the marginalization. Did the government not say that it ''allocates'' hajj seats to some of the well-known Muslim clerics and religious leaders? Did the Taraba government not say in its response that the Muslim leaders paid homage just a few weeks ago to the same governor they are now vilifying and laying accusation of marginalizing Muslims?

Tarabans let us understand the game being played here.

It is the political season and political figures are now trying to seek the support of the electorate they had last seen four years ago. They know they have performed woefully and have thus left Tarabans in a state of hopelessness and uncertainty. Our elites both Christians and Muslims have weaponized poverty and delivered underdevelopment with the mandate we gave them. And they have realized that Tarabans of all religious persuasions and ethnicity are poised to reject them this time around for the abysmal performance they have put out.

And so it has become timely and convenient to introduce the time honoured jokers of religion and ethnicity that Nigerian elites all too often use to deflect attention from their poor performance. Bear in mind that these elites have a convergence point when and where our common patrimony is shared. Their families are well insulated from the all-round poverty they have dished out across the state. Their children do not attend the ramshackle schools we have. They have the best medicare that money can buy.  They have stashed as much money as possible for generations to come.

The terrible state of things in Taraba has become baffling even by Nigerian standards of underdevelopment. Our state has become the reference point for laggardness. And the most disturbing aspect of all this is our very poor human development index.

It is really not rocket science to know that our issues in Taraba transcend religion and ethnicity. Our issues are the need for human capacity development along with infrastructural development. These, our elites have not been able to deliver. And now faced with these failures and the possible wrath of the electorate at the next elections they are at their familiar games of divide and rule. This is what is at play at the current cries of marginalization being bandied about. We must not be distracted. Let us keep our eyes on the ball.

 

Congratulations to the New Aku Uka of Wukari, Manu Ishaku Ada Ali Matakhiswen

Last Friday history was made in the ancient town of Wukari the cradle of the Jukuns and Kwarrarafa people when seventy-six year old Manu Ishaku Ada Ali was coronated as the new Aku Uka of Wukari. He succeeded the Aku Uka Shekarau Angyu Masa-Ibi Kuvyon 11 who joined his ancestors after a fruitful 45 years on the throne.

The new Aku Uka who was chosen by king makers from a list of several royal princes was from the Bama ruling family. Significantly his father was the former Aku Uka Ada Ali who reigned for a short period and was succeeded by the late Aku Uka Shekarau in 1976. Thus the new Aku Uka doubles as a King whose father was a King. It is both unique and significant.

The new Aku Uka comes from the Wappan Nghaku quarters in the ancient city which incidentally is where my late mother comes from. Indeed as a kid growing up in Jos in the early seventies my mother used to encourage me to visit the house of the late Aku Uka Ada Ali at West of Mines area before he was appointed to the throne. The new Aku Uka's younger brother Adashu was my contemporary then and we used to have a jolly good time plucking mangoes and doing things kids usually do.

I must admit to being happy that someone from my mother's lineage is now Aku Uka although I would just be as happy if a person from the other ruling house of Bagya from my father's lineage was so appointed. I have filial links to both houses anyway.

One thing that stood out and which made me proud of my Wappan matrilineal links was the enduring culture and tradition of the Jukun people which was in full display throughout the proceedings from the time of the demise of the late Aku Uka Shekarau to the coronation of the new Aku Uka. One would have thought that with the passage of time and the fact that it was forty five years since such a thing happened, some of the Jukun cultural and traditional practices in burying and selecting a new Aku Uka would have been lost. But it is a tribute to the enduring culture and traditions of the Jukun people that these practices are still intact. Bravo my people.

Another thing of significance was that Jukun people and other people of Kwarrarafa descent all over Nigeria came to Wukari to participate in the events. And it cut across religious beliefs. It was also beautiful that though the scars of the sectarian conflict that ravaged Wukari town are still visible, Wukari and Jukun sons and daughters sunk their differences misgivings that still exists and participated fully in the events.

This is a positive lesson that we will urge the new Aku Uka to build on so that the on-going reconciliation process in Wukari and indeed southern Taraba can be advanced and consolidated in the interest of all Jukun sons and daughters.                                             


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