By Emmanuel Bello
Taraba State was created on this day years ago and like the proverbial Phoenix, it has come out of its own ashes again and again, unstoppable. She, like a truly beautiful woman, continue to get fresher and finer even with the passage of time like fine wine. And no matter your political or religious leaning, there is something about our state that inspires and makes one proud. It could be the fact that we are home to the world famous Mambilla Plateau – unarguably the highest summit in Nigeria and one of the most picturesque places on the planet. I was aboard a certain airline and was reading their magazine. I got red in the face when I saw they said the Mambilla is in Adamawa state. See hostile takeovers! I almost stopped the pilot to disembark, if that were possible! Such misconceptions about our state still persist but, as one of its publicists over the years, I’m happy to announce that our state is getting better attention and getting known. Yes, many people now know Jalingo is our capital and that, although we have a predominant Christian population, we also have many Muslims with whom we grew up.
Taraba is the ultimate center of excellence. And although one state calls itself the food basket of Nigeria, Taraba is the REAL food basket and basin of the nation. No one has more yams. No other fish tastes better. No other state can have the abundance of cocoa, timber, sugar cane, tomatoes and, yes, cucumber! We can feed Nigeria with rice as we have one of largest rice plantation on the continent. Facts! And although one state has been named after the famous river, Taraba has the longest stretch of the River Benue. No wonder the biggest fishes in the country are swirling in the great Ibi River.
We should also easily be the tourism capital of Nigeria. Why? What everyone calls Obudu is actually the geographical tail end of the great Mambilla summit. Obudu is the photocopy of Mambilla. The real deal is on the Sarduana summit. The place’s weather is European all year round. Its people, friendly to a fault. Its cuisines, tantalising at all times.
Another state said it is the solid mineral capital of the nation. Na true! Taraba has the largest supply of practically any mineral resources imaginable. We have oil too! We are an oil possessing state.
But above all, it is the people that makes Taraba great. This state has produced famed War time heroes like General TY Danjuma, novelists like Mrs Grace Ake who wrote the Clock of Justice and love songs lyricists like the microphone magician, MI. Plateau State has since claimed the world famous crooner but he’s from here. Taraba’s young men and women are energetic and have straddle virtually all the known sectors from oil and gas to entertainment to telecoms. Some of the most cerebral minds are from Taraba state. As we speak, Bongos Ikwe, yes the same dude, lives in Jalingo where he retired.
And we have land too. Land is wealth. If you are looking for virgin expanses to establish a sprawling industry, Taraba is the place to go. Our land mass is the size some five states in Nigeria. Unknown to many people, Taraba state actually has the largest herd of cows in Nigeria. And 70% of these cows are on that Mambilla hill. Taraba holds the answer to light in Nigeria. With its Kashimbilla Dam (40mw) and the Mambilla dam (4000mw), we are the light house of the nation. It is also the state of the royals from the Aku Uka of Wukari (the stronghold of the ancient KWARARAFA empire) to the Kpatin Zing of the Mumuye up north among others. Happy birthday, my fatherland.