Darius Ishiaku

Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku has said the crisis in the Mambilla was neither religious nor ethnic, but land dispute-induced.

He reiterated that there is no alternative to ranching as a solution to the crisis of confidence between herdsmen and farmers.

Ishaku spoke at an interactive session with reporters in Abuja.

His words: “The recent crisis in the Mambilla was all about land; it was not ethnic or religious. The 3 per cent population of the Fulani on the Mambilla owned practically all the land. While this is not their fault, the 90 per cent Mambilla are left scrounging for land. This was the basis for the conflict, much like in some parts of the Southeast.

“The challenge would be to solve the land ownership problem which the government is looking into. People with claims over land would have to prove it. I can assure you that there is no plan to forcefully take land away from owners, but justice must be done.

“If there is a better option to good cow production, or a better method to stop cows from rampaging and causing the destruction, please let us know. But for now, and I think all over the thinking world, ranching is what you find”.

The governor denied allegation of taking sides in the crisis.

“As a father to all, I do not discriminate. My philosophy is to equate one life with others. Perhaps, I’m the only one who knows how deeply hurt I feel when I hear of the death of any Taraba citizen due to crisis or for any other reason.

“Of the things my people look up to me for, the preservation of their life and property is number one. If I fail in this, I’ve failed totally. That’s why I said I will give my life; I would rather be sacrificed than any Taraba person, no matter the tribe, religion or status. I would not sleep until there is peace everywhere,” Ishaku added.

Ishaku, who assured the reporters of openness and cooperation, said he has ensured the digitisation project of the state-owned television and radio stations.

He said: “I consider myself a friend of the media and have always sought ways to ensure a better relationship. Back in our state, we are actively pursuing the digitisation of our television and radio outfits.

“We now have 17 hours of television, and the radio is also enhanced because we have phased out obsolete equipment. We believe someday we can have 24 hours TV. We have a newspaper, the Sunrise newspaper, that has now relapsed but we are working to revive it.

“What we did was to take their over 80 workers and subsumed them into other ministries for their salaries. When we are done digitising, we shall go back to the paper.”

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