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DAY OF HONOUR FOR THE PRIDE OF TARABA

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The Association of Taraba People in Abuja, TRA , identified and unveiled some of their best on Saturday, December 16,2023 in Abuja. Among them was Dr. Mohammed Murtala Saleh , Director in charge of FAAC at the office of the Accountant General of the Federation in Abuja. They were clearly the Pride of Taraba. In an investiture ceremony, each was honoured with a plaque of honour, in appreciation of their contribution to the development of their communities ,Taraba state, humanity and Nigeria. Dr. Saleh got an award for being a Silent Achiever. The ceremony was witnessed by a cross section of dignitaries in Nigeria, among them ,Alhaji Ibrahim Modibbo, Chairman, Board of Editors of Verbatim Media Group, publishers of Verbatim New Magazine and Verbatim Online News.

Dr. Jeji Williams, Ph.D, mni, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Taraba State , himself ,a Pride of Taraba by all standards was in attendance and have a lecture. We present herein, a photo report of the event and verbatim reproduction of Dr Williams paper for your reading pleasure.

…THE PRIDE OF TARABA AND THE PROMISE OF DIVERSITY BEING AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE SUMMIT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF TARABANS RESIDENT IN ABUJA (TRA) HELD ON SATURDAY, 16TH DECEMBER, 2023
By
DR. JEJI WILLIAM, Ph.D, mni
Chief of Staff to the Governor of Taraba State

This is an important and interesting topic for several reasons.

Taraba State occupies a pride of place in the geo-political entity called Nigeria. With a total landmass of 60,291 square kilometers, it constitutes about 6.5% of the total landmass of the country.

The appellation NATURE’S GIFT TO THE NATION is coined because of the State’s unique geographical features and climatic conditions. The Mambilla Plateau, one of the highest points in Nigeria has a semi-temperate climate, rolling undulating hills and lush green valleys that offer a scenic beauty comparable to the western world. From the southern to the northern parts, the vegetation graduate from forest and tall grass to savannah grassland interspersed with short trees. The State is traversed by Rivers Benue, Taraba, Donga and several rivulets and streams.

Taraba indeed occupies a pride of place because of its rich arable land suitable for all year round agriculture, numerous mineral deposits that largely remain unexplored, unexploited and unharnessed.

So much for the issue of pride.

The second aspect of this presentation which focuses on the promise of diversity is even more interesting and should be taken seriously by all people of goodwill who love Taraba State.

There are over eighty ethnic groups in Taraba State each with its distinct historical and cultural heritage. This makes the State one of the most diverse in the country, though some of the cultures share similarities due to historical interactions. Taraba, with a population of about four million people (my emphasis) is therefore gifted with a vibrant and active populace.

This is the most important resource any society aspiring for progress and meaningful development must harness.

For instance, the United States of America is made up of numerous ethnic nationalities with historically different cultures. It has however in the course of its evolution as a country been able to unite and harness its human capital and transforming the diverse cultures into a super culture based on the principles of justice, hardwork and reward. Though America still has issues with racism, even the hitherto down trodden African Americans, have utilized opportunities and grown and occupied enviable heights in all fields of human endeavours including the President of the United States of America.

Jeji Williams Ph.D, mni. Chief of Staff to the Governor of Taraba State

One of the greatest advantages Taraba State has arising from its diversity is in cultural tourism. The State is richly endowed with a vast array of cultural festivals found among the different ethnic groups. These festivals which are often celebrated to mark occasions such as farming season, birth, death, hunting, adulthood can be very colourful. Many of them have been replicated and presented at State and National events. They are a veritable tool for promoting tourism especially when combined with the beautiful scenery, physical features and wildlife that exist in the State.

Now, at the level of our beloved Taraba State, why are we still where we are despite our human resources? Of course, the most obvious failure that stare us in the face is the recurring unnecessary and avoidable conflicts among some ethnic groups. Needless to say that this has not only drawn the wheel of progress so much backwards, but that “pride” that would have been the soul of Taraba State is gradually turning into distrust.

It is however heartwarming that the promise diversity holds is not lost. The fact that this topic has been brought up for discussion and examination shows that there are progressive like-minds who want to change the narrative.

While I will not claim to offer a magical solution to the issue, we must all remember that apart from the religious doctrines we profess, the simple but sometimes overlooked principles of natural justice, equity, rule of law and reward commensurate to hardwork are very necessary ingredients in uniting diverse groups towards achieving a common goal, which in our case is progress and uplifting the living standard of all in Taraba State. When these principles are practiced and engrained in our psyche, they eventually become a common culture.

Barr. G.T. Kataps
Secretary to Taraba State Government

This I must say is the trajectory the administration of Dr. Agbu Kefas is following. The competition for scarce resources in the country is becoming fierce and people are tempted to use ethnic, religious and other sectional means to get a portion of what is available. Governor Agbu Kefas has tried to lessen the burden of breadwinners by making education free at basic and secondary levels and reducing school fees by fifty percent at tertiary levels.

While the government in the State is strategizing to unite and harness the potentials of the diverse ethnic and other interest groups in the country, I will suggest the formation of a think tank of concerned citizens cutting across all strata of the people of the State to brainstorm and come up with a blueprint to present to the government on the way forward towards achieving this promise of diversity. It should not be a project of the elite, politicians and academics alone; but should include people at the grassroots including villagers who are intelligent enough to offer solutions but are often overlooked.

The promise for a greater Taraba is great and the task of achieving this is a challenge for all of us.

Photos

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