In the words of Norwegian playwright, Henri Ibsen, ‘A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.’ And just like Ibsen’s description, Tipto represents brotherliness, unity, cohabitation and community in the true sense of it.
Located in Lamurde local government of Adamawa State, Tipto, predominantly dominated by Fulani, Chibo and Hausa tribes is exquisitely beautified with mountains, vegetation, and a river. A tour round the community brings to mind how favoured and wonderfully blessed Nigeria is.
It is however a thing of pain to note that the people of Tipto community despite the abundance of the gift of nature they are endowed with had continued to live in total neglect of the basic amenities other communities around them enjoy.
A trip to this community by SI magazine crew from Abuja – prompted by a report from a member of a civil society corporation, (Beyond Mentors Inc), Erinle Abayomi, whose experiences in the community in 2011 as a corps member – ceased to be accessible with the use of a vehicle at a community called Lamurde because of the terrible state of the road. This is about 100 kilometres from Tipto. The only accessible road from Lamurde is a rugged footpath. However, due to its long distance, a motor bike was used for a drive through a very rugged terrain. At some point, the road was sandy, and the other very stony, muddy, and even grassy. Roads which have been overtaken by streams where passed through, but all these challenges did not surpass the beauty of the mountains seen at close range which makes Tipto a possible tourist attractive site if its natural resources would be well harnessed.
Riding into the community which residents are predominantly farmers, and had just two ‘good’ structures – a church and a health centre, one cannot help but wondered how in this age and time, the residents of Tipto despite their challenges went about their normal businesses happily and unperturbed, as if they belong to another planet. It was much more amazing to note that there were no presence of public power supply (which does not seem possible in the next 10 years), no potable water, no school, no accessible road, no hospital (except for a health centre).
The health centre is run by one Mr Monday Israel, who has been there since 2001 and may remain there for many years to come because a possible replacement remains a doubt. “No one posted to this community has responded to a request to replace me,” said Israel, who obviously had succumbed to his fate.
“I have been the only one who takes delivery, clean up, and do every work needed to be done here. I trek to Tino (over six hours to and fro) to buy drugs for patients.”
Israel has shown great courage to remain as the community only hope of service in matters relating to health issues.
A two self-constructed rooms without windows and desks is used for school. The students who are majorly males attend classes in the morning (for those in primary school), while those in the junior secondary school attend classes in the afternoon, sitting on rough floors.
It was observed that the closest market to Tipto is in Tinto. The residents had to carry their farm produce on their heads and walk for three hours to sell them, according to Israel. Owing to their soil fertility, beans is their major farm produce. This beans can be produced in larger quantity if the required tools and equipment are in place. But for the farmers, it is a fairy tale to see that happen if they can be abandoned by government over these years.
In the face of all these challenges, the people of Tipto draw strength from one another. They have this strong belief that one day things would change for good. While remaining fully expectant of a brighter day, they engage in communal activities to help improve the state of their living condition. One of such services is the building of a bridge, the SI magazine crew were privileged to meet them constructing. The bridge would serve to ameliorate the hardship the community had further been plunged into as a result of a ditch created by an erosion. The ditch had disconnected the community from their farmlands for long time, thereby forcing them to walk a longer distance to bypass the ditch.
The joy on the faces of these men as they join force to tackle the challenges before them, even when they know it is the responsibility of the government they voted into power is an indicator that in no time, the needed help would suffice.