STEPHEN OSU was at a recent ceremony where the late Speaker, Taraba House of Assembly, Haruna Tsokwa, was immortalized for his commitment to the people’s welfare
Tsokwa’s stand for justice
For the record, the immediate past Speaker, Taraba state House of Assembly, late Haruna Tsokwa was one man who stood for democracy, truth, fairness and justice. This, some people believed, was brought to the fore during the challenges occasioned by the air crash which led the governor, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai to near incapacitation. The drama that played out or still playing out, is fast becoming history. And after overcoming many tribulations, the lawmaker was caught up by the colds death, the ultimate decider of man’s fate following a cardiac arrest. And in recognition of his service, the state recently immortalised him, naming General Hospital, Takum after him.
The health facility, then known as CRCN Hospital, Takum, was established by the missionaries of the Sudanese mission in Nigeria in the late forties to cater for the health needs of people of the present Southern Taraba known as former Wukari federation. Communities that make up the are include Ibi, Wukari,Takum, Donga and Ussa local government areas as well as Yangtu special development area with the name CRCN hospital Takum. It was said to be the first of its kind in that part of the country by the time.
The facility was first inherited by the government of the then Benue Plateau state. When additional states were created by the late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed regime, Wukari federation fell under Gongola state. The hospital was upgraded to the status of general hospital by the late governor of the defunct Gongola state, Abubarkar Barde. The facility came under tremendous pressure from people it was designed to serve until 1996 when the chieftaincy crisis in Takum between the Kutebs and the Chamba tribes, consumed the entire Takum town inclusive of the hospital. It was to later come to life under the administration of Jolly Nyame a Mumuye Mumuye man.
The contract for the reconstruction of the new general hospital Takum was awarded, by Nyame but this time around with additional facilities in place which included the school of health technology. The aim of establishing the school was to train manpower for the hospital and the entire health subsector in the north eastern state.
Just as the construction work was about to be completed, another skirmish erupted in Takum, this time around about the staging of the Kuchechev, a Kuteb cultural festival. And like it was earlier, the facility again came under attack. Never deterred, Nyame re-awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the facility when his tenure in office was almost up.
Work again commenced in earnest and the project was steadily progressing until Nyame’s tenure ran out. And in fulfillment of his campaign promises, the ailing Governor Suntai, again mobilized the contractor to site a few months to the end of his first tenur during a campaign tour of Takum. He promised the hospital will be commissioned before he complete his second tenure. But the unexpected happened as the governor got involved in an air crash a few months into his second tenure. Nevertheless, his deputy, Garba Umar who steeped in as acting governor with a promise to complete all projects initiated by his boss, fulfilled that pledge in the seemingly jinxed hospital. \
Cabal at work
Like other projects delayed owing to the activities of the cabals within the state, the hospital also had its own fair share of the power play, until the 14th of April 2013, when the late speaker took charge in the House of Assembly. The facility was completed and furnished within the few months of his takeover as the number one lawmaker in the state. It was completed December, 4 of the same year.
The state-of – the -art of the earth secondary health facility has five functional departments manned by experts. These include consultation, Out patient, laboratory, X-ray and Scanning departments, with ten wards(male, female and children wards) fully furnished and equipped. Conspicuously missing however is the intensive care department.
The wards have a total of 250 bed space, all with nursing stations manned by professionally trained nurses administering prescribed drugs on patients. Worthy of note is a pharmaceutical department stocked with modern drugs inclusive of latest discoveries in the medical world.
Recently on a tour of the southern part of the state to commission some projects completed by his administration, the state acting governor requested the House of Assembly to amend the laws establishing the General Hospital Takum to immortalize the late speaker, for his commitment and contribution for the completion of work and equipping of the hospital with the shortest time he served as speaker.
The communication from the acting governor was given accelerated hearing, the laws were amended and the hospital was renamed Haruna Tsokwa Memorial Hospital Takum. Unveiling the plaque, Umar said, he had to name the hospital after the late speaker because of his commitment, concern and sentiment about the completion and commissioning of the hospital.
The acting governor said: “If we still have people with the kind of confidence, commitment to the service of their people, so dedicated like Haruna Tsokwa , then it means there is a future for Nigeria.”
In the view of Mr. Polycap Istifanus, a trained water engineer of long standing dating back to colonial days, the glory of Takum has finally returned with the completion of work on the general hospital. He described the facility as a child serving people beyond the present Taraba state, while also commending the late Tsokwa’s commitment.
Also in a reaction, a lawyer, Yusufu Nya Akirikwen, said in his close to thirty years in the practice of law, he knew the importance of the health facility as a child and all hopes for the community were dashed when crises consumed the hospital. He commended the foresight of the acting governor for naming the facility after the late speaker, urging the new speaker to emulate his predecessor.
The ninth speaker of Taraba state House of Assembly Haruna Tsokwa is now lying six feet down the grave but his contributions to the development of the community he represented, now outlive him. His name is already written on the sand of time. Without doubt, the late lawmaker lives on in the memory of all. That exactly is a reward of service to the people.