Nasiru Tanimu U13MM2012
When Taraba state was carved out of the then Gongola state on 27 August, 1991 by the then military government of General Ibrahim Babangida, the idea to nickname the newly created state as “nature’s gift to the Nation” did not came to many as a surprise because the state is well endowed with fertile lands for all kind of agricultural production, rich topography, various kinds of mineral resources, flowing rivers and well as nearly one hundred (100) distinct ethnic groups each providing unique cultural identities. Certainly, Taraba state is well deserving of the nickname “nature’s gift to the Nation”
However, despite the abundant human and natural resources the state is endowed with, it remains one of the less developed and less recognized states in the federation. One may be tempted to wonder how on earth one could be so poor amid plenty. The previous administrations’ reluctant to tap into the abundant natural resources the state is abound with, has negatively affect the size of our IGR, and subjected us to further dependence on monthly federal government allocation to survive. Whenever Taraba state is in the news, it’s largely for political or ethno-religious conflicts rather than economic reasons.
The fact that previous democratic administrations in the state has shown little commitment to harnessing our natural resources right from the 8years tenure of Rev, Jolly Nyame, to Danbaba Danfulani Suntai’s 6years tenure before the unfortunate plane crashed on 25 October, 2012 which led to the emergency of two Acting Governors in the span of 3years, has largely left Taraba state stagnated and barely able to survive without federal government monthly allocations, For the present administration of Governor Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku to follow similar footsteps and ignore the great economic potentials of our dear state will (God forbid) further weaken the status of the state in the eyes of potential investors who probably, are waiting to assess the level of commitment on the side of the state government as regards to its great tourism sites, cultural and agricultural potentials. The recent discovery of precious stones by the locals in Mutum Daya village in Karim Lamido local government area of the state should serve as a wakeup call for the relevant authorities on the need to tap into the many natural resources available and within reach of their willingness and commitment. For a state hugely blessed by nature like Taraba to be among those states queuing every month for federal government allocation as a means of survival is an oxymoron!
Almost all the sixteen (16) LGAs in the state has unique natural resources which if properly harnessed, can help return and reshape the state back into its rightful place as the nature’s gift to the Nation. Some of these natural resources include Tin, coal, precious stones. the ever flowing rivers of Benue, Ibi, Donga and that of Mambilla Plateau each proving opportunities for economic gains for the state and the nation at large. Taraba state certainly, is not living up to expectation in this regard. I am however optimistic that the present administration under Governor Darius Dickspn Ishaku will deploy all the required will and commitment to tap into the abundant natural resources our state is greatly endowed with. Karim Lamido local government area alone, has enough fertile lands which if properly utilized for agricultural production, can sustain the entire North Eastern states of the federation.
Indeed, as a result of massive presence of tourism potentials in the state, repositioning and rebranding the state’s tourism industry from the extremely scenic plains and hills of Mambilla Plateau to the unmatched climate of Gashaka Gumti National park – perhaps the largest in the country where various species of wildlife can be found, should be among the top economic priorities of the present administration. Again, nature has been so generous to Taraba in view of the abundant resources readily available – the tourism sites alone are unmatched anywhere in the country not even Yankari game reserves in Bauchi state could surpass that of Taraba. What then is the reason such rare potentials are been ignored where full utilization of these potentials is required almost unconditionally?
Another factor responsible for the poor presence investors in tourism, culture and agricultural sectors in the state is the absence of key infrastructures such as roads, hospitals among others. Many of these roads linking all the 16 local government areas with the state capital Jalingo are largely impassable especially during rainy seasons. The poor state of many of our roads are sending scary messages to potential tourists and investors, and simultaneously depriving Tarabans the opportunity to export both cultural and agricultural products to other states of the federation, and by extension, the world over.
Among the bestselling commodities in this rapidly expanding era of globalization is culture. If that is the case, certainly Taraba state should be in the forefront of states generating revenue from its over 100 ethnic groups each with its distinct cultural festival enough to woo tourists who would be indirectly adding to the internally generated revenues for the state. Some of these ethnic groups include Wurkum, Fulani, Mumuye, Jukun, Kutep, Jenjo, Chamba, and Mambilla, Each of these ethnic groups are generally commemorative and celebrate several festivals every year. Such festive seasons, particularly the Wurkum Phebe cultural festival held every year from 26-27 November in Karim Lamido local government, are irresistible sight for tourists and those wishing to experience an entirely new cultural festival. However, poor state of the roads in the state remain a number one concern for many tourists wishing to witness the colorful Wurkum Phebe cultural festival, highly scenic and temperate areas like Chappal Wadi – adjudged to be the tallest mountain in the country, the plains and beautiful hills of Mambilla Plateau, Donga river basin forest, or the delightful sight and ambience of the largest park in the country – the Gashaka Gumti National park which houses various kind of rare species of wildlife.
There is no better solution for the rising unemployment in the state than using the available human resources to tap in to the abundant natural resources the state is greatly endowed with. Its high time all stakeholders regardless of party affiliations join hands together to help Taraba state return to its rightful place as the nature’s gift to all the 35 states of the federation. Especially with the dwindling economy and a looming recession compounded by the fall of oil price and subsequent Naira devaluation, Taraba state certainly has no more acceptable excuses to remain where it is now!