Oct 13, 2010

Garri Proverbs in Nigerian Parlance

The word ‘garri’ has found its way into a few Nigerian proverbs such as:-

1. Throw “sand -sand into one’s garri.” This means to throw sand into one’s garri. When one throws sand into your garri, it means that he has spoilt that meal or denied you the chance of eating it. Thus throwing sand into one’s garri means ending one’s means of livelihood.

2. “Water don pass garri.” This means that the water is in excess of the garri. A meal of garri is made by adding the right quantity of garri into the right amount of boiled water. At times there could be a miscalculation leading to a little quantity of garri added into a disproportionately large amount of water. The outcome is a mess that isn’t pleasant to eat. It is a problem. This is a problem. Thus water don pass garri means that there is a problem.

Examples of usage of garri proverbs

1. “That oga wan throw sand sand for my garri.” This means that that boss wants to end my means of livelihood.

2. “When rubber challenge iron, you know say water don pass garri.” When rubber challenge iron you know that there is a problem.

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How to Process Garri

Garri is a common meal eaten in Nigeria and parts of West Africa. A meal of garri, commonly known as eba, is made by adding the right quantity of garri into boiled water. The garri absorbs the water to become a solid material. It is then eaten with soup that could be okro, egusi, vegetable, banga or any soup of choice.
Garri is actually granulated cassava. The process of making it starts from peeling the cassava. The peeled cassava is then shredded into tiny particles using a suitable machine that could be the rough edges of holes made on a metal sheet using a nail. This is done by running the peeled tubers of cassava against the rough edges of the holes which chops the cassava gradually.
The next phase of the process is to empty the wet cassava granules into porous bags whose ends are tied firmly. The bags are then held firmly in compressors for about a day. The tight grips of the compressors force the water out through the pores of the bags.
The next step is to further dehydrate the material by frying it in large pans. After frying, the garri is then spread on large mats to enable the evaporation of last traces of water.
There are two types of garri found in the market. These are the white and yellow garri. The yellow garri is a derivative of the white one made by simply adding red oil during the frying phase in the garri processing.

Oct 5, 2010

Plateau State and Federal Projects

By Yiro Abari



On the June 12, 2009 the Nigerian Minister of information and communication, Dora Akunyili commissioned the sound stage, auditorium and an administrative block of the Nigerian Film Institute which is an arm of the Nigerian film corporation, NFC in Jos. The visit of the minister came two days after a report of the Nation daily newspaper quoted the Plateau State Commissioner of Information, Greg Yenlong decrying a suspected plan by the Federal Government to relocate the NFC to from Plateau State to Abuja. While the minister delivered her speech at the venue of the Institute people listened keenly to hear what she was going to say regarding the relocation rumour. At last she spoke to the relief of many when she noted that the decision has been suspended.



The presence of the NFC in Jos is of remarkable significance to the government and people of Plateau State due to reasons that are known to even elementary school children. Thus the State Government has tried all it can to make the city cozy enough to the corporation. According to the Deputy Governor of the state, Pauline Tallen, it has supported the corporation with N 500 000 and provided land for the development of the permanent site. There is also all the certainty that the administration will continue in that direction. Tallen expressed the hope that the Federal Government will live up to its promise.



A lot of people have had qualms as to the true intention of the federal government to undertake such an action. This is because a lot of progress has been made regarding the development of the permanent site somewhere around Shere Hills. Just last year, a library complete with internet service and a photo laboratory were commissioned at the institute. Then the additional projects the Minister came to commission. These are enough reasons to discourage the Federal Government from relocating the corporation out of the state.



Anything can however, happen and many things of this nature indeed happened to the state in the past. During the second republic (1979-1984), Plateau State suffered an inability to pay salaries for months due to shortage of funds. The Nigerian oil wells weren’t dry, just that the state was been administered by the NPP, an opposition to the ruling party at the national level. Thus the leaders of the second republic were the architects of their own fall. JAMB and CBN zonal offices used to be in Jos but were moved to Bauchi State. Towards the last years of the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo as the President, good news came to Plateau State concerning the location of an inland container depot. Then some people started making frantic efforts to divert the project to Bauchi. At last we were told that it will remain in the state. The project is however yet to commence and a lot of people in Plateau State fear that it may end up as another disappointment. Also towards the dusk of the administration of Obasanjo, the zonal headquarters of the Ministry of information was moved from the state to Niger State.



These to many Nigerians, underscore the inability of our leaders to overcome minor temptations for prejudice and sentiments since no satisfactory explanations are usually given to justify such actions. It is an indication that most of our leaders fail to even understand the dire situation of our country and the fact that if we must move on, there is the need for us to build a culture of fairness as failure to do sends to wrong message to upcoming generations thereby nurturing a culture of chaos. In view of the challenges we now face as a country, we should be the last people to take such issues for granted.



Oct 4, 2010

Problems of Public Education in Nigeria

My first position in school after a terminal exam was eleventh out of a class of about thirty pupils. My dad was so pleased that he went to the slaughter and bought meat which was used to prepare pepper soup, specifically for me. Despite my dad's satisfaction, it was not the best I could do. I had the potential to be among the best three in the class. Had I known how to read at the time, I will have been there at the top.

Our class was a class of mixed age brackets. There were pupils of the right age for that class at the time but there were also others who tried life without education and decided against it after seeing how unpleasant life without education could be. Those were the members of the class who could do some form of reading. They were the ones at the top of the examination charts. It was after three years that life outside of school thought me how to read. By then half of the six years of primary school duration was already spent. I was ten and have started following my mum to the choir where I learnt the sound of letters from the music octave of d: r: m: f: s: l: t: d.

The school curriculum was not designed to teach the sounds of letters and how to combine these sounds to form words. Immediately, I started reading and used that advantage to rise to the top of the examination charts where I rightly belong by virtue of my inborn ability.

With time, I have also come to realize that there is no place for poetry in the curriculum. My experience with poetry after coming to know about it, also by accident, is that it stirs your creative spirit thereby making you very resourceful.

That was the legacy of British colonial powers. I have often heard that the colonial powers gave us just enough education to enable us work as clerks in the colonial administrative offices. In view of what I have seen however, I conclude that the situation was worst than that. I don't think that a clerk could be of any use if he cannot read.



The nascence and proliferation of private schools in the last twenty years turned out to be the blessing that provided an option to many parents. The private schools have the nursery where a child is taught the alphabets and their sounds and how to combine them to form words. By the time a child leaves the nursery after three years, he has already known how to read. Reading makes sense to him and is thus able to take full advantage of the six years of primary education and the levels after that.

The next big predicament of public education is the conservatism of our administrators. Despite the big difference that is demonstrated by private schools, they have failed to understand that there is the need to modify the curriculum to enable it give result. They complicate matters by strangling the system and refusing to allow people with an agenda of change to find their way into system. When such people manage to find their way in, their suggestions are viewed as something that can bring about total brake down. The schools they administer are deprived of anything form of motivation that can improve learning, be they books, quality teachers, or decent classes. These are the people for whom billions are appropriated yearly in terms of salaries without anything to show for it.

Additional problems are political. Most governments often see the leadership of ministries as positions that should be given to political friends as a reward for their contribution to the victory of the government at the polls. No regard is given to the training of the appointee, whether he is an educationist or not.

Since a large number of Nigerian children particularly in the rural areas attend public schools, it could be said that the future of the Nigerian nation depends to a large extent, on the state of public schools. This is the reason why the government must take seriously the state of public education in the country. There is the need to improve the curriculum to include the crucial areas mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, train staff to teach them and provide the resources needed to support the sector for optimal results.

Oct 3, 2010

The Cherubim and Seraphim and Modern Day Relevance

In Nigeria today there is a proliferation of liberal churches preoccupied with issues of prosperity rather than eternal salvation. Such churches have become relevant because of the old fashioned way of traditional churches that scold their congregation every weekend for not living righteous lives.

The orthodox churches over the past decade and half have had to grabble with the problem of mass exodus of their members to the new churches. In Northern Nigerian the most dominant churches have been the Evangelical Churches of West Africa (ECWA) and the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). They have conducted their activities in Hausa, the most spoken language in the northern region of the country for more than one hundred years. The threat of the new generation churches have now spurred them into starting English branches in an effort to hold on to the younger generation of their flocks.

The Cherubim and Seraphim

him Church of Christ was founded by Prophet Moses Orimolade Tunolase at Ikare in the present Ondo State in South Western Nigeria. In recent time, the church too has become preoccupied with the strong desire for relevance to potential members. While the repulsion of younger members of the ECWA and COCIN churches have come as a result of the desire for sermons in English a symbol of modernity and to move away from conservative preachers with modest education, the Cherubim and Seraphim in addition to similar problems is generally misconstrued as a church that practices a hybrid religion of Christianity and a traditional African religion. The exotic elements of the church that have kept away potential members are the exclusive use of Yoruba and the manner of worship that bears the semblance of a traditional practice. Members most wear white garments and a red girdle. They must also leave their footwears at the entrance of the church. The church has also been associated with children wearing matted tubes of hair commonly referred to as dreadlocks.

Though the church later spread to other parts of the world after it was founded in the Southwest, its Nigerian congregation has largely remained Yoruba. In 1925 when it was founded the only religions were the diverse forms of African voodoos. In South Western Nigeria, there were practices like the worship of sango (god of thunder), ogun (god of iron), esilouku (god of water), etc. Members of the early churches in black Africa as a whole were either animists or former members of traditional religious groups. Changing from a traditional African worship to a church was a mere change of the Supreme Being that was been worshiped. The posture for asking for favour, forgiveness or exultation of the Supreme Being may not have changed much. It was difficult to draw a distinct dividing line between the traditionalist and Christians. Thus the only way the semblance of traditional Yoruba practice could have been expunged from the church would have been through converts from other tribes or through later generation of educated members.

The right to wear whatever one chooses to a place of worship has led to flamboyance in church and the distraction from the primary reason of going to church. Thus a homogenous costume takes care of that problem and explains why the cherubim and Seraphim insist on white garments for all members during worship. When Moses was to receive the Ten Commandments, the voice of God instructed him to remove his sandals, as the place where he stood was holy. In this regard members of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church most leave behind their shoes at the entrance of the church. The issue of Children with dada, as the hairstyle is known in Nigeria, are however not exclusive to the C and S Church. When such children are born the church seeks for guidance through prayers. The decision to cut the hair or not follows a revelation that come as a respond to the prayer.

In view of the threat of modern churches the Cherubim and Seraphim have resorted to efforts to keep their congregation. They have not only embarked on the education of the general public to understand the actual nature of the church but have also resorted to the establishment of English branches to hold on to their children as members and attract people from elsewhere. If the church must succeed in its campaign, it must also renounce the use of white garments and allow members to come into the temple with their sandals. Majority of today’s Christians don’t go to church for the word and are thus not prepared for any regimentation.

Oct 2, 2010

Challenges of the Automobile Industry in the 21st Century

By Anthony E Emuan

Business in the automobile engineering will continue to thrive and given the peculiar state of underdevelopment in the rail, water and air transportation subsector of our economy, the market opportunities in the motor trade business are enormous. This fact can easily be confirmed by the many vehicle dealers one sees everywhere in our major cities.

The motor trade business generally is divided into two components, namely, sales and after sales. Whereas sales involves that activity of canvassing and getting prospective clients to exchange their hard earned money for the seller’s brand, after sales have to do with providing maintenance services, spare parts and warranty to ensure that the customer enjoys the maximum benefits of service and comfort derivable from the use of the vehicle bought and it is in this later component of business that real challenges lie. It has become pretty difficult for the Nigerian motorist to find the ‘one stop’ automobile services vendor that can provide the satisfaction of the total marketing approach of modern business. This poor state of affairs has been further aggravated at the turn of the century due mainly to high-tech in design, service technology in terms of tools and equipment and quality human capital required to deliver necessary technical services.

Challenges In The Motor Trade After Sales Business In The 21st Century

From 1860 when Lenoir, the Frenchman built the first internal combustion engine that was capable of driving itself with coal gas as fuel with an efficiency of about 3%, the new generation car of the 21st century has undergone tremendous transformation. The quest for higher efficiency, improved safety, comforts and issues of the environment have moved the new-generation car far away from the simple machine that it was. More recently, the term MECHANOTRONICS has emerged. This is because it is increasingly becoming difficult to find a mechanical system in the modern car that is not controlled or managed by electronic means or computer as it is more commonly called by laymen. (fuel, ignition, transmission, door locks, steering, brakes, suspension, air conditioning, lighting etc). These changes or improvement in technology though desirable have brought with it challenges for the 21st Century entrepreneur of automobile engineering practice. What are the challenges?

Challenge no. 1: Death of Skilled Human Capital

Today’s roadside mechanics are endangered specie. Automobile craftsmen and technicians with the requisite skills to handle these high-tech vehicles are very few and difficult to find. Unfortunately, as a nation, we are doing very little for the education and training of low and middle level technical manpower. This ugly trend is evident from the preponderance of public and private educational institutions that only offer non-technical education and training. How many technical and vocational training centres are available for the acquisition of technical skills in this country?

High tech training is key and imperative for success in the 21st Century automobile engineering practice in view of the sophistication in design and service equipment technology. These new generation cars are expensive and their maintenance requirements should not be left in the hands of unqualified and inexperienced personnel (PAN Story Rationalized Dealership Network in the Year 2000)

Challenge No. 2: Specialized Tools, Equipment And Technical Information.

Special tools are needed for the effective diagnosis and repair of the new generation car. The challenge here is that the financial capital required for adequate tooling is high and matters are not helped by the low-volume of work environment vis-à-vis return on investment which makes it imperative to operate multiple-brand repair workshop. This situation is even further compounded by the brand exclusivity phenomenon.
Challenge No. 3: The Number of Parts Have Increased in the New Generation Car

The numbers of parts have increased and is possible to have variants of the same part. The large importation of used cars with all kinds of technical specifications (eg American specifications, European specifications ete) has increased the complexity and down time of sourcing genuine parts. Lean Inventory Management and Central Warehousing has brought enormous efficiencies into vehicle manufacturing processes but the same can not be said of parts sourcing and supplies for after sales purposes.

Challenge No. 4. Poor Remuneration: Even though a man will work into a showroom with pride and easily part with millions of naira to own a car, the same man may contest or haggle a maintenance bill of a few thousands of naira. Discounts are demanded and sometimes payments are differed or even repudiated on grounds of any dissatisfaction over a service or repair. The irony is that there is so many headaches where there is so little economic reward. This is the main reason most car dealers prefer to stop at the sales function and this is one country where many people are not discerning at all when it comes to purchasing a vehicle or any piece of equipment for that matter. I see all kinds of vehicle brand on our roads and I cannot stop to wonder how they are maintained and a vehicle that is not adequately maintained constitutes a hazard on our roads.

Challenge No. 5: The Dynamics of Technological Change:

The constant and regular change or modifications in the technology puts the entrepreneur in automobile engineering practice in a position where he is perpetually contending with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the future.

For example:


A) What will be the new trend tomorrow?


B) How will services be delivered then?


C) What new delivery competencies will be required?


D) How will the competencies be acquired?


E) What proactive steps must be taken today to help remain in business tomorrow?

Some ten years ago, it was inconceivable that a motor mechanic would need to be computer literate. Today, to be able to partake in training course in the Toyota training school you have to be able to use the computer.

In conclusion the automobile engineering business is lucrative one and will remain even more so in the 21st Century. The entry barrier into the business has been raised higher due to challenges already enunciated above and the automobile maintenance service and repair trade will cease to b an all-comers business.


Almajiri and the MDGs

There are ample indications that Nigeria may not meet up its Millennium Development Goals on Universal Primary Education. Besides the shortcomings of educational institutions regarding the provision of quality education needed, there is also the problem of the Almajiri

The word ‘Almajiri’ is a Hausa interpretation of the word ‘disciple.’ An Almajiri is a Koranic student who has chosen to dedicate his life to the study of the Holy Koran with the express aim of enhancing the growth and advancement of Islam. He is expected to distance himself from worldly things to avoid distractions from his primary divine responsibility. He must live a life of sacrifice

Parents are expected to offer their children for the cause. Thus a child as young as five leaves his parents and his immediate community to a Koranic school hundreds of kilometers away from his home.

Wealthy Moslems are expected to make donations to such Islamic schools to enable them carry out their activities. The schools unfortunately are often the subjects of neglect as such individuals often fail to live up to the divine call. The schools are, as a result, scenes of deprivation and squalor. Due to this, the Almajiri is pushed into the streets to beg in order to survive.

It is now becoming increasingly clear that parents who have in the past given their children for the noble cause are now giving out the kids for the return the children bring as a result of begging.

The Almajiri issue has become a constant source of embarrassment to the governments and the people especially in the north of the country. In an effort to overcome the problem, the governments of some northern states that include Zanmfara, Bauch Gombe, Kaduna and Kano started a programme aimed at integrating almajiri schools to the conventional schools. Following this noble initiative, the streets of the affected states are expected to be free of all Almajiris

Plateau State in central Nigeria is predominantly a Christian state and the Almajiri phenomenon has never been rare in the state. In the past four years however, there has been a sudden influx of Almajiris into Plateau State. You see them in the street of Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The kids with ages ranging from 5 to 11 years come from remote villages in Adamawa, Kano, Gombe, Bauchi and Yobe states. These are kids running away from the hybrid schools in their states

At the Jos Railway station where I met some of these kids, I asked them why they are not in traditional schools. Their answer was that they have not been sent to the schools by their parents. I then asked their opinion about such schools and all of them agreed that they would have preferred to be in those schools but since their parents having not sent them, they have been left with no options. I brought out my mobile phone to take pictures. The little ones ran away despite my promise to pay a token in return.





The Successes of PRTVC Under Yiljap Abraham

Yiljap Abraham
Pastor Yiljap Abraham was appointed the General Manger (GM) of the Plateau Radio and Television Corporation (PRTVC) two days after the administration of Governor Jonah David Jang was sworn in. The incumbent administration in Plateau State pride itself as a reformer. In a rare interview, the News Tower was privileged to have the GM unveiled the progress in the area of broadcasting.

Mr. Abraham has been among the pioneer staff of the corporation when it was founded and worked for about 14 years before living to take up a responsibility in the church. He says a lot has changed in his absence and on coming back he had to assess the situation to understand needy areas of the operations of the organization to enable him draw an action plan for reforms.

So far there has been improvement of working conditions. The offices have been made habitable to encourage heads of the different departments to stay around and oversee the activities of their subordinates. Though purchases of equipments have been made by past regimes of the corporation, a large portion of the equipments bought when the station was founded have been maintained with all their shortcomings as a result of wear and tear and the fact that the industry has moved on in terms of equipments needed for excellent broadcasting. Along this line, there has been a computerization of the operations of the organization. Manual and electric typewriters in administrative offices have also been replaced by computers. The issue of staff morale has also not been forgotten in addition to staff training to educate the staff on the operations of the new equipments. The GM says the greatest investment of his organization has been in the area of staff training since the personnel must also be trained in other areas of modern broadcasting. A total of 250 staff of the corporation have been trained in different areas broadcasting.

The corporation has reached a decision that it must have a niche to with it is dedicated. As a result the station has settled on news dissemination as a niche for which they intend to be known. This explains why news feature frequently now on the station whether on the radio or the TV side. This decision was not arbitrarily taken. The decision was actually informed by the fact that the people need to be informed and educated more so that the private stations in Jos are entertainment based.

The PRTVC is also involved in exchange programs with other media organizations to enable it benefit form the cross-breeding of ideas that such exchange offer.

The broadcaster said that foreign radio stations don’t threaten the PRTVC. Rather the PRTVC is challenged by the excellent quality of broadcasting of the stations. According to the GM, the fact that the foreign stations cannot permeate the nooks and crannies of our own locality means that somebody must take up this responsibility. While the foreign media are ahead in global coverage, stations like the PRTVC are ahead in sourcing and diffusion of information about our own locality.

There are a lot of people who felt the PRTVC would have been able to counter the biased reportage of the latest episode of the Jos crisis by the foreign media who so it as a piece of propaganda material. The GM said that no matter what you do, there will always be two sides to a coin. Furthermore, PRTVC operates under the ambits of National Broadcasting Commission’s code which granted a license that gives the corporation the liberty to transmit only within the frontiers of Plateau State. They are thus expected not to use transmitters that go beyond this range. Nevertheless the corporation played a significant role in the restoration of peace and is still doing it through the airing of peace jingles even midway in the course of news programs.

The head of the corporation also underscored the role of presenters in the operation of the corporation. According to him, the presenter is the last man in the production chain. He takes what has been produced and relays it to the rest of the world. He is the salesman of the corporation. If you take a program that has been properly packaged and give it to a lousy presenter, he says, he completely messes it. On the other hand, even if the conception, scripting, production and post-production are not that good, an excellent presenter transforms it into something that is a delight to listen to or watch depending on the arm of the media involved.

In view of the imperativeness of presenters in quality broadcasting, it becomes necessary for them to get regular training. They are also expected to, on their own, work hard to improve their presentation by watching or listening to good presenters in addition to reading widely.

Pastor Abraham agrees that is it normal that when one ages, his manner of doing things also changes. In the case of presenters, people can perceive this in the minor changes that go with their presentation. There however, a limit to such changes the corporation can tolerate, says the GM.

On the issue of program content ownership, Abraham said that presenters could be staff or non-staff. The first category of non-staff are those that present sponsored programs. When they come they do so with the authority and label of the sponsor. The ownership of the program content thus belongs to the sponsor. The second category of non-staff that forms the majority of the presenters in PRTVC do not present packaged programs. They are paid the amount that has been agreed upon in the contract of their engagement for every presentation. The glory of any good presentation by these set of presenters go to the corporation. Where there is a problem, the corporation takes full responsibility and as such the ownership of the content of their presentations belong to the corporation. In that sense, it amounts to an unprofessional conduct for such a presenter to go to another broadcast media to present a program that has become part of the identity of a previous organization. The corporation with be legally justified to challenge such a move.

The GM also gave reasons why 24-hour service will not be possible in the foreseeable future. This is because erratic power situation demands that power generators be used. Though the state government has purchased brand new generators for the corporation, it cost a lot of money to fuel this generators. The fragile equipments will also be overstretched. Though there is a provision for the purchase of new equipments in the 2009 budget, it is not the reason why the corporation should promise 24-hour service. Everything, according to him is driven by principles. The fact that we don’t live the 24-hour culture means that it will make no sense for the corporation to operate anything outside the current eight hours on TV and eighteen hours on radio everyday.



Brief History of Tarok People

Origin of Tarok

As is common with most African cultures, available data on the origin and the history of the people is hinged on oral tradition and its attendant controversies. The Tarok race is no exception to this dilemma. The absence of any written record has thus left this subject open to the fertile imagination of historiographers who subsequently struggle to recreate or unravel the conundrum.

One tradition has it that the Tarok people originated form central and southern parts of the continent of Africa and are Bantoid. The other has even a Middle Eastern origin (Yemen/Egypt). As a result, a western and eastern migration routes thus developed. Further still, scholars have postulated linguistic evidence linking the Tarok to a western migration route and at the same time emphasizing a Niger-Benue confluence origin and a Benue Congo Language, thus challenging any Eastern and Chadic connections.

The Southern African, Niger-Benue confluence origins and migration routes might be controversial and intriguing but it is generally agreed, without any iota of doubt about the common rendezvous of the Tarok race at Tal in the present location in Langtang North and south.

Migration from Tal to Tarok Land

Oral tradition and anthropological notes indicate that by the middle of the century the Tarok race had already migrated from Tal to the present day Tarok land. The migration was in three phases: Zinni clan went to Dutse (Gazum), Namurang went to what is now Kanam country and Gunnu brought Ce (Langtang), Bwarat and Sa to the general area known today as plain Tarok. This Plain Tarok later on migrated to Wase. Oral tradition and anthropological notes (Capt. T A Izard) indicate that the Tarok of Sa, Dangal, Chuwi and Singha had already spread to the plain before 1760. When the Tarok left Tal and arrived at Langtang, Gunnu established himself at the South-west end of Langtang hill, while Bwarat went north-east and settled below.

As mentioned earlier, Tarok land is traditionally divided into hill and plains Tarok. The Hill Tarok (O’Tarok ga Barn) refer to the plains Tarok as O’Tarok ga Byan, but this nomenclature today refers to the Tarok in Langtang South and Wase generally.

Tarok mythology had earlier predicted the arrival of the white men (Ngol: gat Nyalang) and that they will not bring any harm but progress. No wonder when the white men came and were rejected by neighboring communities, the Tarok accepted them whole-heartedly and assisted in building his accommodation and the first church in Plateau. Since then, the relationship between Tarok and western civilization has been growing from strength to strength. Little wonder that Tarok sons and daughters have made great exploits in the local, state, national and international arena.
Economy
The Tarok people are mainly farmers producing both food and cash crops such as guinea corn, maize, millet, yams, rice, cassava, beans, groundnuts, cotton, beneseed, etc. other economic activities of the Tarok people include blacksmithing, carving, fishing, hunting, and mining of local salt using indigenous technologies. The traditional pomade known as miko, produced from the mahogany tree also abound in Tarok land. Local textile is also popular with the Tarok man such as Le. Gba, nyante, agodo etc


Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong at Fifty

Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong is the senator representing Plateau North at the National Assembly. He turned 50 on February 20th. The celebration came belatedly on the April 5th. Staying alive for half a century is indeed a milestone. It became necessary for Dantong to do a stock taking of his life. Thus the celebration was marked by the lunch of a magazine called, the Lang Mark that chronicles events of his endeavor during these years.

Dantong was educated at the University of Jos as a Medical Doctor. From the Landmark magazine, one could perceive that the Senator is one who lived up to the ideals of the medical practice. People go into the medical practice to help mankind. The knowledge of this fact lives people wandering as to why the nation suffers brain drain that is particularly grim in the area of the medical practice in Nigeria with medical doctors preferring to practice in foreign nations where they find better ’working conditions.’ Perhaps Dantong’s upbringing as the son of a pastor ensured he grew up to develop an observable sense of humility. He chose to practice at the Vom Christian Hospital in the heart of the Berom Land. He says one of his greatest challenges at the Vom Christian Hospital was to work without basic tools and enough support manpower. There was a period when he was the only Medical Doctor at the hospital for six months, at times doing two shifts and with no salary all through the period. This gives the impression of one who actually wanted to serve his people.

As Dantong grew, politics also grew with him. His political life dates back to his time in secondary school and on campus where he held leadership positions in the area of students politics and also within religious associations on campus. In the mid 1990s, the peak of the political struggle against the military in Nigeria, his name was mentioned in connection with the tussle for the chairmanship of his local council of Riyom. The fame of Senator Dantong however started when he won elections to represent Riyom/Barkin Ladi at the House of Representatives under the All Nigeria’s People Party, ANPP in 2003.

Nigerian political parties are not founded on foundations of ideologies. As sad as this may be, it has made it possible for politicians to change from one political party to the other. While Dantong’s political momentum was building up, it appeared a certain arrangement within the ANPP made it impossible for him to run for a second tenure. Determined to maintain this momentum, Dantong switched over to the People’s Democratic Party, the PDP and successfully contested for the northern senatorial seat in April 2007.

Nigerian politicians have been the subject of criticism for perpetual betrayal of the nation due to nothing other than selfishness. There is no denying the fact that a large majority of Nigerian leaders have a distorted understanding of what success is and what it is not. There are however, pockets of acceptable leadership here and there. It is obvious that Dantong’s new political role has given him a bigger opportunity to demonstrate his belief that there is no sense in life that is stationary or one in which more steps are taken backward than they are taken forward. He says he “sees politics as a game people should venture into in a bid to render service to others and not as a money making enterprise.” There seems to be a general consensus that he has lived up to his principles.



Dantong believes that so much has been learnt in the nine years of democracy so far and had military rule not interrupted the steady progress of the Nigerian political life, the nation would have learned far more that we have learnt. He says that in as much as we can learn from the mistake of others, people should not be comparing the Nigerian democracies with some of the oldest in the world.

According to the Senator, people always come to politicians to ask for money and that is unfortunate. He however believes that the people will eventually come to understand why this isn’t right.
Senator Dantong is married to Hannatu with whom he has four children.

Timaya and the Niger Delta Problem

Timaya the Bayelsa born Nigerian afro-ragga musician is not among the multitudes of artistes that have remained behind the veil. He is one of the spectacular colors in the spectrum of the Nigerian musicians. His second album, gift and grace, has consolidated this.

 
Musicians use certain tokens to become conspicuous and relevant. For Timaya these qualities have become more evident in gift and grace. The album reveals the complete maturity and confidence of the artiste. The greatest revelation of the album for which the artiste remains the sole beneficiary however, is that Timaya can now be regarded as the greatest Lyricists in Nigeria. If the rating of the lyrics of a song can be done on a scale of five stars, his lyrics by Nigerian standard could be said to be excellent. Good lyrics should not be there for the sheer sake of filling the space but should have meaning, evoke thought and be sensational and entertaining. By the current album, the artiste can boast of these.

 
Political leaders, particularly in Nigeria, often have little or no business at all with musicians. While they see themselves at one end of the social range, they see musicians at the far side. Musicians however, can change the course of history. Prominent musicians anywhere, constitute strong voices that can sway the opinion of the people in favor or against constituted authorities.

The Niger Delta is the home of militants that have been fighting for self determination. Bayelsa state is the most turbulent of all states in the region. The people of Bayelsa fortunately, see Timaya as a hero that has made them proud.

Gift and grace turned out to be that album that opened the heart of the artiste regarding his side on the topic of the Niger Delta struggle. This could be heard in the song if to say which means ‘if I were..’ The relevant lines in the song went thus: if to say a be country, I go become Nigeria. Nigeria na my country, Bayelsa na my state. If to say a be Vice President I go become Goodluck Jonathan. If to say a be freedom fighter I go become Asari Dokubo. If to say I be militant I go become…. (blank). If to say a be NLC President I go become Adam Oshiomole.
On the basis of that song alone, the opinion of the loudest voice from the Niger Delta regarding the future of the region is now clear: Nigeria is his country and Bayelsa is his state. If he were to be a Vice President, he would have preferred to be Goodluck Jonathan the current Vice President who supports a united Nigeria. If he were a freedom fighter, he would have preferred to be Asari Dokubo, the first major militant leader from the Niger delta who gave the nation serious headache but who later reconciled with the nation and now advises other militants to do same. It is up to the Nigerian Government to know how to take advantage of Timaya and have an edge over the militants

In Search of Lasting Peace and Development in Plateau State

Bulus Dabit
Introduction

Peace is the socio-economic condition that provides the right environment for the development of any nation, state, local government or community. It is therefore not surprising that the state government in fashioning its 10-point agenda, places peace and security as the 1st agenda

The priority given to peace and security can be better appreciated when viewed against the backdrop of disturbing the peace in the recent past (i.e. 2001—1-2004 and 2008) crisis. These sporadic violent have been over reported, and this gives Plateau State a bad name. Indeed no reporter who writes on conflicts and crises in Nigeria will avoid the few cases in the state. The over emphasis on the crises by the mass media tend to over shadow our basic character as a peaceful people and the tremendous development we are witnessing through the effort of the government at all levels.

The campaign shall therefore redirect our minds and the mass media to the positive development on the Plateau. It is against this background and the urgent need to achieve sustainable peace and security in the state that the agency in line with its statutory functions is embarking on a state wide campaign using interface sessions with stakeholders and motorized campaign in all the 17 LGAs of the state to preach the social gospel of peace and love. One of the chief means of preaching this gospel is to showcase the peace that is inherent in our culture and tradition, finding expressions in our accommodating and hospitable nature.

In this tour therefore, the state directorate will remind the Plateau people that Plateau State earned the accolade of Home of Peace and Tourism given the imperative of her peaceful and hospitable disposition. Available records and the testimonies of Nigerians leaving in Plateau State have confirmed that her people and groups are peaceful, accommodating and hospitable. This accommodating and hospitable culture needs to be sustained especially in a democratic dispensation with a government that is desperately making efforts to deliver the dividends of democracy to the electorate across the state.

As already stated, no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity and violence. The lack of peace and security as occasion by the sectarian crisis witnessed in the state between 2001 and 2008 did not only thwart and retard development but also reversed previous development achievements, setting the state probably 20 years backward. Ours is a classical case of how the lack of peace can erase any achievements that had been made in the past.

Our experience during this crisis shows that when one part of the state is hurting because of the crisis, the other parts of the state share in the experience. So no part of the state is safe from the adverse consequences of violent conflicts in any part of the country. Violent conflicts in the recent past have affected our tourism, commerce and industry, the provision of social infrastructures, capacity utilization, leaving us with an ugly scar that can only be removed by love and resolve for peaceful coexistence.

The governor’s ten-point agenda, the president’s 7-point agenda as well as all government policies and programmes cannot be achieved in an atmosphere of chaos. It is important to stress that peace is not what the government provide for a people. Peaceful coexistence through tolerance, love, accommodation and hospitality is the product of a social contract between the people and the government.

In this campaign, the National Orientation Agency believes that we are where we are because some people discarded our cherished virtues which made us the natural Home of Peace and Tourism. Today some of us disrespect constituted authorities, traditional institutions and break public laws at will in the process of acquiring material things and positions. Such people have become so intolerant of the perceived differences amongst us so much that they pick up arms against each other at the slightest provocation.

Indeed, peace is an essential ingredient of development, and can only be achieved and sustained through attitudinal change. Unless there is a resolve by our people to live in peace with each other and promote peace amongst them, peace will continue to elude us. This resolved is the most essential attitudinal change that would transform this state and indeed this nation into an advanced society. With increased attitudinal changes towards positive values, we can reduce poverty and hunger, illiteracy and ignorance, moral decadence and corruption, discrimination and the politics of exclusion, as well as wastes in the economy. Violent conflicts and bad attitude make us suspicious of one another. We now live in fear of one another and can no longer trust each other. The present segregation settlement pattern in our urban centres is a case in point. Violent conflicts have left many of our loved ones death. Where is our Jos Main Market? Where are our beautiful houses? It is time we rethink our attitudes and actions. It is time we learn to live together.

Peace and attitudinal change remains a panacea to development on the Plateau. We shall make more progress than we are making at the moment if and when we decide to live together. No one can progress in isolation; we have to do it together. Development after all is all about people. Development does not know religion, ethnicity, political party, social status and other primordial sentiments, politics should therefore be about developing the people, and hence it is a must that we live in peace.

Our people are as diverse as the land. With about 54 ethnic groups and varied terrain, we can tap this diversity to build our dear state. After all, diversity is instituted by God. This evidence abounds in nature. Therefore ethnicity, religion and political parties should not tear us apart in the 21st century when the world is globalizing. Homogeneity is out of place, the norm is pluralism. Let us all work towards a harmonious society. Democracy is a participatory government; everyone has a role to play. In democracy you have rights and obligation of supporting them to succeed. We must therefore learn to live, work, do business together and build the Plateau of our dream as one people under one God with one destiny.



The History of the Gbong Gwon Stool

According to the history and tradition of the Beroms, late Da Dachung Gyang was the first Gbong Gwon Berom and ruled from 1935 to 1952. The traditional stool was in the present day Riyom Local Government Area where he presided over 79 traditional rulers as the first Chairman of the traditional council.

The 79 traditional rulers came from the then Jos Division that eventually evolved into six local government areas including Jos North, Jos South, Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos East.

From 1952 the stool remained dormant until it was restored in 1974 when late Rwang Pam became the first elected Gbong Gwom Jos and died in July 1979 after 22 years on the throne.

In 1970 the second Gbong Gwom, late Dr. Fom Bot ascended the throne, ruled for 32 years and died 1st December 2002.

After two years, Da Victor Dung Pam emerged as the fourth Gbong Gwom Jos and died in March 2009. He was immediately succeeded by former Comptroller General of the Federation, Elder Jacob Gyang Buba who currently sits on the throne.



Tarok People of Langtang in Plateau State


President of Ngwan Ishi Tarok, Rtd. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro

The Tarok people are found in Langtang North and South, Kanam and Wase local government areas of Plateau State. Langtang North and south are however, the heart of Tarok land in the lowland area of Plateau State, central Nigeria. The journey from Pankshin to Langtang, the main town of Tarokland which is bye-and-large a descend through a road that meanders around spectacular rocks to open up in a broad plain. The plain is encircled by high mountains that leave a few accesses to the town. Once these accesses are patrolled, you cannot come into Langtang without being seen. It is said that the choice of the location was deliberate in order to guard against enemy tribes.

The Tarok people have an annual event, the Ilum O Tarok (Tarok Day). The celebration of Ilum O’Tarok is driven by the imperativeness to push for peace and togetherness among Tarok people. It is also a platform for updating the Tarok traditional skills for the sake of spurring technological development leading to economic and social development. If Tarok people must remain distinct, there is also the need to encourage upcoming generation of Tarok men and women to uphold the culture and traditions of their ancestors. One cannot deny the link between a distinct culture and tourism and the economic blessing that trails it. A tribe living in isolation cannot move on with ease. Thus the need for community with neighboring tribes is another driving force behind the Ilum O’Tarok.

The Tarok people are indeed proud of their heritage and are determined to preserve it. This is evident in many of the cultural elements of the Tarok people. For instance, the traditional Langtang architecture has endured till today. This conspicuous architectural style sharply marks the boundary between Ngas land and Tarok land such that one gets the impression of a cultural change at the boundary. The people live in round huts with coned-shaped roofing of grass that the environment provides. Usually a number of these huts that depend on the size of the family could be seen clustered together.

In view of the plain nature of the topography of the biggest town in Tarok land, Langtang, houses are opened to the destructive menace of the winds. Planting trees to serve as wind breaks has thus become a practice among the Tarok people. The most favored plant used for this is the dogonyaro plant that has thus defined the uniqueness of Tarok skyline which is evergreen.

The coming of a new born is seen as a blessing not just to the immediate parents but the community at large. If the community must benefit from the blessing a new child brings then he must live and grow up to become a man. There is however death and some women often give birth to children that usually die soon after their birth. As a result subsequent children are initiated into the Orim cult to prevent them form dying.

Polygamy is a cultural element of the Tarok people and the number of wives a man has marks him out among his peers. Great men are also known by the size of their harvests, the number of children and the spirit of giving to the less privileged. Those that lead men to war to come back victorious are also, without doubt, among great men in Tarok land. Above all a great man is one who once killed a leopard an extremely ferocious animal. Thus he has the right to wear a cap made from the spotted skin of the animal. The cap is now generally won as symbol of greatness among Tarok men.

In life generally love can come at first sight. With consensus. with a Tarok girl meeting a boy for the first time can follow him to his house to become his wife without prior notice to her parents. The love rendezvous is usually market places on market days. The next day, a relation of the new husband is led by a mediator, unim sel, to the girl’s parents to inform them that they should not panic as their daughter is in the custody of their son. They then present a gift that the girl’s parents hardly take on the first day to avoid creating the impression of selling their daughter. The eventual acceptance of the present, usually snuff, is an endorsement of the marriage.

The next step is for the new husband to pay the bride price. This he does by building a three hut apartment, farming for a few years and buying a traditional wear for the father-in-law

Children are named based on the circumstances surrounding the birth. There are names like Nanmwa meaning God has provided, usually given because the parents where almost given up on having a child. Byenchit meaning that it is good. Ventim means ’restored by God.’ In other contexts, Ventim may mean ‘unity’, given when a child is born at a time when there is a disagreement that divides the community into two or more

Tarok people say that militarism naturally runs in their veins. This they say is the reason why the Tarok are remarkably successful in the Nigerian Armed Forces such that it is rumored that there is one Military General in every squared kilometer of Tarok land. The adventures of their men in the military had made the land famous and the sons and daughters of Tarok very proud of whom they are. Hence a distinguished military career has also become a mark of greatness that guarantees one the freedom to adorn the leopard cap.

Funeral rites in Tarok land are also unique. The death and subsequent burial of an elderly man is usually followed by ngaga that involves the beating of drums, chanting of incantations and wielding of spears meant to drive away death. This is followed by nken orim during which the spirit of the death man is received and reunited with his ancestors and by extension the people.

Rural Tourism is the Best Option for Nigeria

Gompil
Mr. Semshak Gompil is a professional in the area of tourism. He got his background by virtue of his training from the Plateau State and Kaduna Polytechnics. After backing a Higher National Diploma in the field of tourism from the Kaduna Polytechnic, he worked with the Plateau State Tourism Corporation for seven years before retiring to private practice. While in private practice he has also added a Postgraduate Diploma in the same field. He runs the Fair Trade Network in Jos Plateau State, Nigeria.

In view of his rare resourcefulness in the area of tourism, the News Tower Magazine sought to know from him the prospect that tourism holds for Plateau State and Nigeria at large, the progress so far and what challenges lay ahead if we must fully develop the industry to a level where we can be fully classified among the tourist destinations around the world.

From Gompil, we have been able to gather that the greatest prospect for tourism in Nigeria as a whole is in the area of material culture which is found mainly in the rural areas. This is because our target tourists are from the developed nations. By virtue of their rapid technological advancements, these nations have moved far away from nature. Thus, most tourists from there set out, looking for hand-made crafts that are organic and natural. The extensive cultural diversity of Nigeria with an ethnic population of about 350 translates to so much distinct material culture and a huge prospect.
 
Hence rural tourism is the area where Nigeria has the comparative advantage to create a niche and attract tourists enough to bring about the economic and social development of our rural areas there by ending a steady rural to urban migration of youths looking for scarce white-collar jobs.

In the course of his studies, Gompil has had to carry out a research to find out what contribution tourism can make to the economic emancipation of the rural areas. The aim is to boost the efforts of those working towards the prospect of rural transformation through sustainable approaches. He says the prospects are enormous.

The benefits of tourism to Plateau State presently come largely from the export of this material culture. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Gompil, come from the export which his organization does three times a year. The tourists are also coming and buying some of these items directly. It is just that their number is not encouraging enough for us to feel that we have finally reached the end of the road as far as tourism development is concerned.

According to Gompil, the benefits of the sale of these crafts to the rural area would have been far greater if the local population can be encouraged to buy them, taking into consideration our population and the fact that Nigerians have the money.

The sad news however is that we may never develop the industry early enough to benefit from the huge promise the industry has for the nation. This is due to the modest role governments often play towards the attainment of the goal. Successive governments often pride themselves as having the monopoly of knowledge by refusing to bring in professionals who are imperative in the planning of policies and the legislations needed to accelerate the growth of the industry. Even in the area of urban planning, it is always wise to involve professional to avoid situations where the tourist needs of city master plans are not overlooked. It is experts that are in a position to inform the authorities that the towns have nothing to offer. They are also the ones to inform the government that the emphasis now is on the encouragement of green rooms for which we have an advantage. The experts alone can help to plan well by taking into consideration our strength and our weaknesses. In Plateau State, Gompil says, we have the highest number of tourist experts in Nigeria by the virtue of the fact that the Plateau state Polytechnic undertakes training in the field and the enrolment policy of the institution ensures that 90% of students come from within the state. These experts are not been utilized, he says and all these mistakes are slowing down the speed of progress towards the development of the industry.

The best option for tourism is not in the concentration efforts in the cities but rather to redirect these efforts towards improving tourist resorts in the rural areas and also basic needs such as water supply and shelter. In the area of security he says that Plateau State is quite okay despite the ethnic problems we have experienced recently. This is because tourists travel to parts of the world where the security situation is worst. With the exception of the Niger Delta, security elsewhere in Nigeria is quite okay.

There is also the need to train tourist guides. Tourist guides should be trained to know the locations of the tourist resources and the history of these resources in case tourists need information regarding them.

Gompil also noted that the sale of tourism online or through conventional print media is the sale of an illusion and emphasized the need for Nigerian tourism promoters to guard against exaggeration to avoid situations where tourists turn deaf ears to promotions of Nigerian tourism

How Grilled Meat Became Suya

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