Every state in Nigeria has its own version of the problem foisted by a group of people that have gradually increased in number and become a lot more visible for their nuisance value over the years. They are the Abuja politicians. Their homes and villages in the states are the same as yours and mine but they don’t live there. They have not lived there for several decades. They don’t even visit there either as regularly as you and I do. Some of them do not even know the names of their local chiefs and community leaders and have never made any useful contribution towards the provision of those modest water and electricity facilities which members of their local communities are currently enjoying. But they claim to represent us – yes you and I – and they speak for all of us and about us as if they are our true representatives.
The case of Taraba State with Abuja politicians is no less different. Many of them are spent political forces with expired home addresses and have no real electoral value. They have the best houses in Abuja, Lagos and Kaduna but have none they can be proud of back home in Taraba. Their investments are in ventures located in other Nigerian towns and cities but none back home in Taraba to provide employment opportunities and other ancillary benefits for our children. Yet their voices are loudest in condemnation of the government back home for not bowing to their whims and caprices in the decisions it makes or for not placing funds belonging to the state on the table to be shared by them.
The government that does not enjoy the support of Abuja politicians is doomed in their political boxing ring. It will be pummelled beyond recognition. No project, no matter how relevant to the needs of the people and how well executed is recorded in favour of the government as an achievement unless it has the stamp of approval of the Abuja politician or made some personal financial gains from it. The government that insists on doing things the proper way is always tarred with the brush of blackmail. That is the way of the Abuja politician.
To these people, it means nothing if the state is eternally in crisis and the people are daily killing themselves. Why will it matter? They don’t visit the state. Immediate members of their families don’t live in the state either. They don’t have investments in the state that will be at risk in times of crisis. That is the reason they don’t consider the efforts of the government that have saved the state from the inferno of ethno-religious crises as an achievement. But millions of Tarabans who have experienced the fire of crisis, who have lost loved ones and valuable properties, experienced the social and psychological trauma from the unfortunate situation that prevailed before the coming of Ishaku as governor, have not stopped giving testimony in churches and mosques for the peace that God has used the governor to achieve.
The state’s Abuja politicians have, by choice, remained blind to the achievements of the present administration in infrastructure development. They claim not to have seen or heard about the renovation and renewal of the Jalingo Airport which is now open to direct flights thrice a week from Abuja. Their eyes and minds are also closed to the expansive water projects in Jalingo and the provision of 100 water boreholes that have radically redressed the water supply situation in the town and many other towns and villages in the state.
Also, they claim not to know anything about the numerous road projects of the Ishaku administration, either already completed or still on-going. They don’t know and, they don’t care either, that many hospitals and clinics in the state that were hitherto not functional due to lack of medicaments are back on track with good stock of what they require including drugs and running costs. They will also pretend that what the government is already achieving with the re-opening of the state’s School of Nursing and Midwifery which had remained closed for more than ten years before Ishaku became governor, hasn’t gotten to their attention. Many idle secondary school leavers have been offered admission and will soon take their seats at the nurses’ stations in the various hospitals and clinics in the state to render the much needed medical help. They are also not impressed by the numerous efforts of Governor Ishaku in reviving several abandoned or ailing industries belonging to the government or in which it has an interest. The Kakara tea factory in Mambilla, is a living testimony. The tomato industry in Lau and several others are on line awaiting the remediation pill of the government.
The problem with Abuja politicians from Taraba is largely their inability to subdue political sentiments in their assessment of the government of the day in the state. The tendency, unfortunately, has always been to subject every decision, action and inaction of the state government to the narrow prism of divisive and self-serving political sentiments. This must yield way for a more reflective attitude of appreciation for what is being achieved with the lean resources of government. Indigenes of the state living outside the state, particularly those of them who are politicians, need to kill the virus behind the “pull down syndrome” that makes them blind to the good job the government is doing in the state.
The magic pill against this evil syndrome is empathy that is undiluted with toxic political sentiments. It is the only way government’s views, decisions and achievements can be understood from the correct perspective. It is no crime holding political views that are at variance with that of the government of the day. That, indeed, is the essence of democracy which we practice today. But that is not a license to denigrate and demonise every action of the government of the day. The peculiar character of our own Abuja politicians is not informed by lack of information about the laudable achievements of the present administration but by the deliberate distortion of such information to whip up negative and divisive sentiments for their selfish political gains. That attitude is political demagoguery and it is unacceptable.
Taraba State is a state whose case is different from the others and therefore, deserves the sympathy of all its indigenes. Many of its infrastructure and institutions have been in a state of decay for a long time before the Ishaku administration came on board less than two years ago. What the administration has been doing is to pull the state out of an abyss and lay a solid foundation for development at a time that resources are scarce.
Despite this, the administration has made a lot of impact within a short time, in road construction, the provision of water, job creation, improvement of electricity supply and paid salaries of civil servants regularly. The huge spending on security as a result of the crises which the present administration inherited is hardly remembered by politicians on a mischief mission. Yet, the investment in the achievement of peace is unarguably the best thing the administration has done since coming into office. It is the reason the state is at peace today. Our Abuja politicians need to repent and renounce their ways. They must show more interest in the development of the state. Governor Ishaku, the man whom God has prepared for the remediation project in Taraba, wants all hands on deck to make the job easier. It is the only way the good things of life that our people need and are asking for can come easy and fast.