By Nick Dugba
What is in a name? This is the question that begs for answers when people argue, fight and disagree over the name of something. Anyway, historically and spiritually too, names occupy a significant place in the lives of individuals.
Names have meanings, and it is thought that they have the capacity of influencing our lives for good or bad. When people exit the face of this earth, what remains of them is the name they leave behind. It is a legacy and symbol which will be used to refer to that individual whether he does right or wrong. In fact, great cities and countries are recognized by their names and any attempt to change or alter such name, reduces the value of such cities or countries.
It is the issue of name that recently wanted to pitch kith and kin against each other in Gassol LGA in Taraba state and also overheat the polity of the State.
One Jacob Gbagede of Dan Anacha and 26 others of Tiv extraction had in a petition to the Speaker, Taraba state House of Assembly, accused Governor Darius Ishaku of planning to change the name, Dan Anacha, the ancestral town of the Tivs, to Kwararafa, which is a Jukun name.
It has been alleged that Yahuza Yau, Chairman, Gassol LGA, had during a security meeting held in Mutum Biu on 22 July 2016, announced the change of name from Dan Anacha to Kwararafa.
However, the drama took a different dimension when another Tiv group, called Tiv Culture, addressed a press conference where they dissociated themselves from the group that petitioned against the governor. Led by Goodman Dahida, the group stated that they prefer to dialogue over the matter and not to be confrontational in their approach. They accused the APC in the state of fanning the embers of hatred among the Tiv people ahead of 2019.
During a courtesy visit to Governor Darius Ishaku, Dahida said, “The Tiv people of Taraba have an umbrella body known as Tiv Cultural and Social Association, whose decisions and actions are binding on everybody who is of Tiv origin in the State and none of the officials of the association signed the petition.”
In his response, the governor of Taraba state, Darius Ishaku, thanked the association for visiting and urged them to remain peaceful. He justified his actions saying his developmental strides is there for everyone to see, even the blind. He promised that the people of Gassol would soon have a feel of his developmental plans.
The presence of the Speaker, Taraba state House of Assembly, Abel Peter Diah, might have determined the matter. All parties might have chosen the path of dialogue on the issue instead of confrontation as the purported petition had not seen the light of the day on the floor of the House.
It is indeed no more news that the Tiv people were victims of attacks in southern Taraba and many have been displaced while their means of livelihood was taken away. What is appropriate at this point is resettling them and solving the internecine clashes between ethnic groups and not a change of name or any other thing for that matter.
The political tinge that was put to the matter is, however, diversionary and would not serve any interesting party any good.
Therefore, the government must reconsider its plan if it has any regarding the name change while the aggrieved party in Dan Anacha must employ dialogue rather that been confrontational. Dialogue is the preferred mechanism for resolving conflict in a democracy. Anything short of that might be interpreted to be scheming of the opposition against the government of the day.