Caught in a pervasive mood of nostalgia, the Eburu of Iba, Oba Adekunle Adeogun Okunoye was neck deep in reflection of his growing up age and fondly recalled the year he observed his compulsory National Youths Service scheme in the present Taraba State, carved from the former Gongola State by the military regime of the then General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in August 1991.
Other new states created then included Osun State from the former Oyo State, Delta from the former Bendel, Yobe, from Borno, Kebbi from Sokoto, Kogi from Kwara, Jigawa from Kano State.
Oba Okunoye unrepentantly berated the current worrisome state of insecurity in the country and said regrettably that the situation was a contrast to his experience during his service year in the North Eastern Nigeria where he saw and appreciated the allure of ethnic and climatic diversities of the country.
“I was in that part of the country for the first time through the NYSC (National Youths Service Corps) but I fell in love with the environment and different ethnic groups I came in contact with. I am talking of Tiv, Jukun, Fulani. They were all living peacefully until a crisis erupted which forced me to return to the West.
“I was travelling to different places in the North for leisure. I went to Kano and travelled the whole stretch, mixing freely with people I met on the journey without any fear of suspicion. I also travelled from Jalingo through Onitsha, Warri and back to the West. I saw vegetation and beautiful scenery, which made me to believe that we are blessed in this country if we can harness all these natural benefits to grow the country,” he recalled.
The royal father, who would rise to become a Professor of Computer Science, disclosed that he was so loving of the Taraba environment that he returned to the state, on April 28 2007, 15 years after, from the US where he was a university lecturer.
Of more significance to him, in the monarch’s account, was the bond between him and the Emir of Muri, Alhaji Abbas Tafida, whom he stressed, accepted him like his younger brother, a gesture, according to him, he treasured till both lost contact.
The Emir, Oba Okunoye reminisced, picked interest in him on the day he had hosted youths corps members and identified him as the only graduate of Computer Science, coincided with his school project and need to make it Information Technology compliant.
“He asked me a question on what he needed in computer. I told him to get micro computer. He seemed not to get it; he only knew Desktop. I explained it to him, and he was impressed. He showed me love to the extent that I rode with him in his Limousin on his visit to the College of Education, Jalingo, my primary duty of assignment. His visit to the college caused me trouble because the management had tried in vain to bring him to the college. In that experience I saw a true picture of our unity in diversity,” he said.