By Barde Phillips

It is not enough to dream good dreams about changes that can take humanity out of the desolate valley of poverty and under-development. It is necessary to take it a step further by working very hard, even make sacrifices when desirable, for such changes to happen. That seems to have become an abiding philosophy of Governor Darius Ishaku in his determination to bring development to Taraba State. Last week, this desire to bring the good things of life to the people of Taraba State took him out of his busy desk in Jalingo to Abuja in search of hands that can help him lift the state out of the abyss of under-development. The visit took him to the European Union (EU), offices and the Japanese Embassy, both of them in the Federal Capital City.

Last week, this desire to bring the good things of life to the people of Taraba State took him out of his busy desk in Jalingo to Abuja in search of hands that can help him lift the state out of the abyss of under-development. The visit took him to the European Union (EU), offices and the Japanese Embassy, both of them in the Federal Capital City.

The EU Secretariat was the first door Governor Ishaku went knocking as early as 10 am on Friday, November 18. There he met Mr. Kurt Cornelis, Representative of the EU ambassador in Nigeria who received him and his delegation. Later, he went over to the Japanese Embassy where Ambassador Sadanobu Kusaokae was on hand to also receive him and his delegation. In both places, the governor’s message was virtually the same. It was an invitation to them to come and help the state develop its natural resources for the benefit of humanity.

The governor briefed the two envoys on the huge potentials of the state in solid minerals, agriculture and tourism and what his administration has achieved so far in these areas. He told them of the small scale but functional energy sources which his administration has developed, one of which currently services the Highland Tea factory in the state. He also unfolded the state’s rice dream. He said Taraba is not only the largest producer of rice in Nigeria but has the best

He said Taraba is not only the largest producer of rice in Nigeria but has the best species of the commodity. What is required, and which is what he would want the EU and Japan to help the state achieve, is the development of these potentials in rice into an industry that can regularly meet Nigeria’s entire annual rice requirements and to export to other countries to earn foreign exchange for the country. Tourism development is another area in need of development and for which Governor Ishaku asked for assistance.

He told his hosts of his desire to develop Gashaka-Gumti Park located in Gashaka and which already has a wide variety of animals and birds into a big centre of attraction to tourists. He would want the EU and Japan to assist the state in accomplishing this dream. Already, the administration has taken steps to make visiting the state easy and less hazardous to local and international visitors. The problem of insecurity that had frightened foreign visitors to the North East in the past has been tackled with the defeat of Boko Haram. Even in the heat of the Boko Haram’s campaign of death and destruction in the North East,

The problem of insecurity that had frightened foreign visitors to the North East in the past has been tackled with the defeat of Boko Haram. Even in the heat of the Boko Haram’s campaign of death and destruction in the North East,

Taraba was relatively peaceful, the most peaceful of all states in that then axis of mayhem. The state was never really the target of Boko Haram insurgency. Yet the government is not taking the problem of security in the state for granted. Steps taken by the government in concert with all arms of the nation’s agencies of security have worked magic for the state. Ishaku assured visitors to the state that the state is at peace and that they have nothing to fear.

One of the things Governor Ishaku also told his hosts was the steps taken by his administration to make traveling to the state and within the state easy and pleasurable. The Jalingo airport which was long abandoned before he became governor has now been renovated and now opened for flight operations. Already there are three direct flights to Jalingo every week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  More airlines are soon to start flights to the airport. This will then ensure that air travelers wishing to come to the state can do so every day of the week. There is also amassing roads construction and reconstruction going on in virtually all parts of the state. This will make movements within the state smooth and safe.

In his response, Curt Cornelis, the EU official, assured Governor Ishaku that his requests for assistance would be forwarded to the appropriate agencies of the international body for consideration. He told the governor that the activities of the body are always prioritized because they are always many but assured him, that everything possible would be done to ensure that Taraba State receives EU assistance in critical areas of its need. He told the governor that the state had, in the past, benefitted from EU immunization and other health care services. He regretted that his organization was unable to do more for the state in recent years because of other pressing demands on EU and the problem of insecurity in the North East where Taraba State belongs. “But now that the governor has come to remind us, help will come”, he said.

He told the governor that the state had, in the past, benefitted from EU immunization and other health care services. He regretted that his organization was unable to do more for the state in recent years because of other pressing demands on EU and the problem of insecurity in the North East where Taraba State belongs. “But now that the governor has come to remind us, help will come”, he said.

Ambassador Kusaokae made similar commitments to the governor on behalf of the Japanese government. He told Ishaku and his delegation that Japan’s areas of interest in the state were in agriculture, electricity power and tourism development and assured that he would soon visit the state to see how the assistance in these areas could be channelled to the state. He told the governor that he had been following developments in the state and that he was impressed with what has been achieved so far by his administration despite the financial difficulties that states in Nigeria currently face.

For Governor Ishaku and his delegation, it was an impressive outing. The visit was a strategic step in seeking help in critical areas of need for the state. It gave him the opportunity to speak for his people, to advertise the great gifts of nature to the state to the international public and to share the same public his own ideas of how these potentials can be harnessed to improve the quality of life.

He proved a great ambassador and spokesman for the state during the visits. He has also proved with the decision to seek international assistance that he has done a thorough diagnosis of the problems that confront the state. The scope of what needs to be done to turn things around for the better for the state is beyond what the lean financial resources of the state can cope with. The visit was an appropriate step taken at the most appropriate time.

The visit was an appropriate step taken at the most appropriate time. The task of developing the state is the next problem the state must resolve. Peace has been achieved, at least to a reasonable extent. Ishaku is already out soliciting for help. The step he has taken is necessitated by the fact the state’s resources cannot support its needs for amenities. The political elite in the state must rise in unity behind this aspiration of the governor. All of them must support these efforts. They all need to turn ambassadors of goodwill for Taraba State. The more united we are, the better for all of us Tarabans. Good luck to us.

Barde Phillips is a Public Affairs Analyst