By Jen Jibrin
Everyone in Taraba, whether an indigene among ethnic tribes, Hausa/Fulani and narrows down to a stranger. One thing has defined Nature’s Gift to the nation; it is HATRED.
Hatred is not just a mere word in Taraba. It’s something people take to work, market, school, mosques, churches and even take to bed with them. The verbiage and hateful behavior certainly solidified stereotypes across spectrum in the state.
Taraba people have long recognized the malice, the deceit and the cruelty that comes from living with one another. These characteristics and the very act of hatred exists amongst ourselves, youths, old, children and women. Hate is now how we conduct our politics and the structure of governance in our dear State.
Let us imagined that Garba Umar had become Taraba Governor in 2015. Many Christians would likely be upset by this and criticized him and every aspect of his administration. But the Supreme Court removed him by its judgement. All of a sudden, UTC’s antagonists became happy, Sani Danladi had returned and power must shift to the power. Everything was then supported by Gen. TY Danjuma and eventually, DDI emerged from the zoning formula.
In 2015, Sen. Aisha Alhassan was on the ballot as the APC guber aspirant against Darius Ishaku. She had polled 275,984 votes behind Gov. Ishaku who polled 369,318 votes that brought PDP to victory according to election results by INEC. Many people believed that the anti-muslim Governor stereotype by many Christians also followed Alhassan.
In 2019, one can imagine if Sen. Joel Ikenya had become the APC guber candidate. There will have been many protests against his candidacy, to say the least. Instead, Sani Danladi became Ishaku’s major challenger by the APC. A contest everyone has deemed to be usual, Muslim against Christian.
Taraba Muslims and Christians always vilify each other and engage in fear mongering. In an odd way, Christians would say “Don’t let a Muslim become a Governor, they’ll destroy Taraba.” While the Muslims would say “Don’t vote a Christian, they have destroyed Taraba.”
However, there is a cultural inclination to the hatred that exists in Taraba. And most prevalent was how blood streamed from dagger and sword between TIV and Jukun in the southern Taraba. More than 600 people were killed due ethnic rivalries between two neighbors in the southern Taraba.
By all accounts, the entire Taraba community is tied up to sentiment that has divided families, children, youths and old into protective units. A bridge at mayo-gwoi looks to be a boundary between a predominantly muslim settlement and predominantly Christian area. The hardest thing to buy in the separated areas is a plot of land. A buyer must belong to a particular religion for the seller to be comfortable with the transaction.
When it comes to understanding the problems of Taraba State and the average Taraban, the closet measure to judge is the connectivity between politics and religion. To an average Taraban, anyone in APC is categorized to be in a Muslim party while those in PDP are categorized to be in a Christian party.
Many people in Taraba have argued whether it’s possible to have a demarcation between religion and politics. Taraba politicians often use sentiment to control the minds and hearts of their people towards politics and the manner they win elections at all costs.
After every election, it is observed that many government programmes in Taraba are linked to Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Council in the State. This is a symptomatic of many problems arousing from the hatred that our politicians and religious leaders preached. If it’s fair to assume that the CAN and Muslim Council are now the smokescreen for political leadership by APC and the ruling PDP in the state.
Evidently, there are many elites and citizens who are not happy with Ishaku’s administration in Taraba. But ethnic and religious affiliations cannot allow them to publicly condemn or criticize Darius Ishaku. And those who have the courage to criticize are branded as Judas Iscariot. Thus the hatred has brought many keyboard warriors from their basement to let off the steam by a way of screaming anti-Christ in a needless political environment.
Gov. Ishaku’s supporters across Christian community do not really support him for any reason other than being a Christian. Today Gov. Darius has been uniquely effective in the political division that comes from the stereotypical hatred between Muslims and Christians, rather than the policies and the rescue mission he espouses by administration. Either, Taraba is reeling from a series of hateful phenomena that stop many people from seeing each other as brothers under one God.
Come to think of it, hatred has dominated many households in Taraba where parents now prohibit and warn their children from playing with their peers from other religions in school. A father will tell a child “Don’t let me hear that you’re playing with Hausa or Christian children in School.”
Taraba people continue to suffer from the epidemic of hatred that has left many people feeling hopeless and exhausted. But then ask a question; can the people rise up and stop the hatred towards one another? When can they also stop blaming each other for the social economic problems of the state?
The hatred that persists in Taraba is alarming to bear. But it’s not too late for Taraba people to change course, to embrace one another, to break the cycle of hatred in our minds, the political illusion that crushes our spirits to the good in others and support them in the best way we can.
Until both Christians and Muslims realize that our real enemy isn’t each other, but our vilification of one another, we will continue down this path toward hatred and greater tribal animosity that is the real threat to our collective existence.
Jen Jibrin is a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Asokoro District, FCT, Abuja