Taraba State inherited from the former Gongola State only rudiments of what can be described as indices of development. Most social infrastructure like educational institutions, health facilities, roads network, electricity supply, etc, are grossly inadequate and where available, are poorly developed and substandard. In most cases, they are found in the urban places.
Taraba remains one of the least developed states in Nigeria, not because it lacks the natural and human resources to develop. Its backwardness may be linked more to the problems of improper planning. Even where there is little planning, lack of proper and disciplined plan implementation, monitoring and evaluation by past governments had consistently resulted in misapplication of scarce resources for development.
Industrial investments are grossly lacking; rural and urban markets are poorly developed; transport facilities were on the verge of total collapse until the PTF intervention; schools and the entire educational sector are neglected seriously and dilapidated, health facilities are grossly inadequate and inefficient.
The general insensitivity of past governments to the ample development potentials and needs of the state have no doubt placed Taraba in a condition of abject poverty and economic backwardness which future administrations especially, the democratic system, must redress. This requires proper planning and application of the state's human and natural resources to the development process.
Education: The stock of educational institutions, especially at the lower level, appear not to be uniformly provided in terms of their number (Table 34.3). There are a total of 986 public primary schools with a total enrolment of about 561,037 pupils distributed among the 16 local government areas of the state, with a mean of sixty two primary schools and a range of 123.
This indicates a very high spatial inequality in the level of provision of pri mary schools. Eight out of the sixteen local gov ernment areas have more than the average number of primary schools. Ardo Kola, Bali, Ashaka, Ibi, Jalingo, Kurmi, Yorro and Zing have less than the mean number. The local government with the largest number of primary schools is Sardauna (132) while Ashaka has only sixteen schools.
Based on the projected 1999 population of the state, 79.7 per cent of the children of school age enrolled in the primary schools. However, the quality of the services rendered may be anything but satisfactory. The students teacher ratio which ranges between 25 188 students to a teacher in the state's 109 secondary schools is among the highest in the country.
The current students population of 113,497 in the state's fifty-six secondary schools represents only about 20.23 per cent of the population of secondary school aged children. The problem of female education, as reflected in the pattern of school enrolment, appears to be more acute at the secondary school level. According to the final results of the 1991 population census, 64.5 per cent of the state's population are illiterates. More seriously, the level of female illiteracy (about 75.1 per cent) is probably the highest in the country.
Health Services: There are only eight Governmentowned General Hospitals located at Jalingo, Takum, Bali, Gembu, Zing, Bambur, Warwar and Wukari, serving about 1.94 million people in the state. There are about 589 other medical establishments providing primary and maternal health care services in the state.
About 70,8 percent of all the health establishments are owned by the local governments while private and Missionowned establishments constitute 27.6 per cent. Only 0.33 per cent and twelve per cent of the health facilities are Federal and State government investments, respectively. With only thirtyfour medical doctors and a total of 1,156 hospital beds, the quality of services cannot be said to be adequate.
In order to improve the health care delivery sys tem and ensure regular supply of essential drugs, the government operates a drug revolving fund through which people contribute to health care delivery. This is in addition to the state government's Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT), and the Family Planning Programmes.
Electricity Supply: Presently only four towns (Jalingo, Wukari, Takum and Zing) enjoy electricity supply from the national grid. Otherwise, all other major towns in the state rely on erratic power supply from isolated generating stations under the Rural Electrification Scheme .
Water Supply: Per capita water supply in Taraba State is about 15.5 litres/day which contrasts greatly with the 25.8 percent litres/day for for mer Gongola State. This cannot be said to be good enough especially when one realises that much of the supply is either from handdug wells, or from streams whose quality is doubtful.
The DFRRI and UNICEF, however, made sig nificant impact in providing many towns and villages with boreholes/hand pumps to facilitate clean domestic water supply. Two medium scale water treatment plants are in operation in Jalingo and Wukari under the World Bank assisted Infrastructural Development Fund (IDF). Two other medium size water supply schemes are proposed to provide potable water in Jen and Lau.
Transport and Communications: The most important means of transport in Taraba is road transport. The system is largely run by private transporters, providing intraand inter city taxi/bus transport services. Taraba is served by a fairly good network of roads which is however, very poorly maintained. There are a total of about 2,581 km of both Federal and State government roads in the state. Only about 776km (i.e.30.06 percent) of these roads is bitumen surfaced.
The now defunct DFRRI also constructed or rehabilitated a total of about 1,777km of feeder roads within the state to improve the connectivity and accessibility of towns and villages. These include the AbongNguroje and Serti Maisamari roads on the Mambilla Plateau. Out of these, only 776km of the roads are tar marked.
However, most of these roads are currently in need of maintenance work. Postal and telecommunication services are provided almost exclusively by the NIPOST and NITEL two agencies of the Federal Ministry of Communication. Post and telecommunication services are essential catalysts to the processes of social and economic transformation. For a typically rural state like Taraba, postal facilities are highly necessary, especially because of the acute paucity postal facilities are also scarce.
The state has only twentyone postal establishments, made up of twelve post offices, one subpost office, and eight postal agencies. These facilities are located at Jalingo, Bali, Baissa, Donga, Gembu, Ibi, Lau, Serti, Takum and Wukari. Karim Lamido and Lau operate postal agencies.
Three major towns namely Jalingo, Wukari and Gembu operate automatic telephone exchange and the International Direct Dialling (IDD) System. With a total of 2,151 telephone lines, the state has a ratio of 1.45 lines/I 000 population, and ranks among the least in the country. The State Radio Corporation and the State Television (presently on test transmission) provide means of information especially to the residents of the state capital.
Tourism and Recreation: Although tourism is not yet developed, Taraba state has ample potentials for the industry. Potential tourist attractions which need greater attention from the state government and private investors include;
The Mambilla Tourist Centre: Standing at an altitude of about 1800m, the Mambilla plateau is part of the Adamawa, Obudum Shebshi and Alantika Mountain system on the eastern part of Nigeria. The rolling land surface with features of a basket of eggs and beautiful green scenery, a temperate climate and the abrupt water fall, the Mambilla tourist centre holds a lot of attractions for tourist.
Tea and Coffee and fruits like pears are grown there. The citing of the Nigerian Foot Ball Association (NFA) high altitude training camp on the plateau is a potential booster for tourism in the state. The proximity of the Mambilla Plateau to the GashakaGumpti Game reserve located at the foot of the Plateau offers a double advantage for the Mambilla tourist centre.
The Gashaka/Gumpti Game Reserve. which is situated at the foot of the Mambilla Plateau covers a land area of about 6,411 sq. km. The game reserve is not yet fully developed since the roads leading to it as well as the viewing tracks are not well developed. There is, however, a catering rest house at the Gashaka Game Reserve. Species of animals found in the game reserve include buffaloes, lions, hyena, elephants, rhinoceros, and different types of reptiles like crocodiles and alligators. The waterfalls and numerous streams give further attraction to the game reserve.
The Kpambo and Fikyu Mysterious Hills: The two hills found at Kpambo in Takum LGA, and Fikyu in Wukari LGA have the appearance of a human being on top of a cave. There is also a big rock hill having the appearance of a human being wearing "agbada" (traditional flowing gown). They are believed to be legendary features and constitute tourist attractions.
The Marmara Pond: This pond, found in Wukari is also legendary. There are crocodiles in the pond It also harbours sever al white fowls which are sighted especially on Fridays. In the olden days, the crocodiles used to wander over a distance of about 1.5 km into the town unmolested.