Revitalizing JS Tarka Foundation

I am a student of Tarka studies. Specifically, I study his political thought. JS Tarka, for emphasis, landed on the political firmament of Nigeria with a bang; and from that moment till he joined the saints triumphant, left indelible footprints on the theory and practice of politics in Nigeria. Minoritsm was the centrepiece of his political […]

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I am a student of Tarka studies. Specifically, I study his political thought. JS Tarka, for emphasis, landed on the political firmament of Nigeria with a bang; and from that moment till he joined the saints triumphant, left indelible footprints on the theory and practice of politics in Nigeria.

Minoritsm was the centrepiece of his political philosophy. As a framework of thought it is treasure trove for any critical interrogation of the Nigerian crisis.

The establishment of the JS Tarka Foundation in 1993 by the short-lived administration of Reverend Father Moses Orshio Adasu was to institutionalise a platform to propagate the ideals and ideology of the late sage. The occasion of the launching of the Foundation drew to Makurdi the cream de la cream of the Nigerian political, cultural, economic, military, social elite.

Till date, the golden voice of the guest speaker, the late Maitama Sule, a friend and contemporary of JS Tarka still rings in mind. It was also at the hallowed ground of JS Tarka Foundation that, the late Bola Ige, the Cicero of Asa Oke, lawyer and bosom friend of JS Tarka, and second republic governor of old Oyo State, delivered a very powerful lecture in memory of JS Tarka.

The JS Tarka Foundation was repaired and state of the art facilities installed during the administration of Rt Hon Gabriel Suswam.

Shortly after, the Nigerian Army high command chose Makurdi and specifically the foundation as the venue for the Chief of Army annual conference. From an acorn the foundation had blossomed into an oak tree.

It needs to be emphasised that for his service to the nation, the government and people of Nigeria have been generously grateful. In his honour and memory, there is the JS Tarka University; JS Tarka Stadium; Tarka Local Government. And so many others.

I have deliberately refused to add Tarka Street in Abuja because what Tarka deserves in Abuja is not, and is never a street, but a way that is in the same size, length and proportion like those of Azikiwe, Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Shagari, his historical co-travellers, friends and contemporaries.

What is more? The federal government needs to immortalise him on the one thousand naira note.

Given JS Tarka’s contribution to the growth and development of Nigeria, the place of a foundation in his memory and honour as a centre for the production and consumption of knowledge can scarcely be gainsaid.

His contemporaries and friends such as Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello have similar foundations that have been doing well and churning out development epistemologies to address the Nigerian condition. For instance, last month the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation hosted an education summit and the intendment of the organisers is to mainstream the resolutions of the summit into the public policy process.

What has become of the oak tree that is the JS Tarka Foundation we alluded to? In times like this, when more than ever before, we as a people need to seek refuge in its shade, we have been left hard and dry. The intellectual temple of the JS Tarka Foundation has been desecrated by the satanic smoke of social sybaritism and crass materialism. This ugly scenario needs to be reversed with all sense of urgency.

When the news filtered in that the JS Tarka Foundation had been given to the Benue State University to manage and that it has been rebranded as the JS Tarka Centre for Middle Belt and Minority Studies, our joy knew no bounds. This was a masterstroke and it chimes with global contemporary intellectual best practices. So much is happening in the middle belt and minorities in Nigeria that this centre has its job cut out for it. There hardly can be a dull moment if it functions at optimal capacity.

Given this background, we call on the visitor to the University, Reverend Father Hyacinth Iormem Alia, to give the university the deserved support and push to put it on steady course in its vision to be a centre of intellectual excellence.

Atah Pine sent this from Makurdi

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