Also Read: OF POLITICS AND TRIBALISM IN BENUE STATE: THE BRUTAL TRUTH Part 1
By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng
It will be fool-hardy to attach any form of saint-hood to the Idomas considering the submission in part 1. It is necessary to state here that the 2 Igede speaking Local Governments in Zone C have witnessed garguantuam levels of oppression by the superior Idoma folks. I’m aware that the Adutu Igede, the highest ranking traditional ruler in Igede land was consecutively frustrated by the Idoma counterparts in the quest to be upgraded to a first class chief. His silence and obscurity is obviously pleasing and is seemingly no threat to the Idomas. In many cases, Igede people are often bundled up as part of the Idoma tribe and one might hardly know that a tribe exists like Igede owing to the supremacy of the Idoma and not necessarily the low population density of the Igede tribe. Having produced an Och’ Idoma and a Deputy Governor in the past, the Igede people are not mere push-overs. I’ve listened to several Idoma folks who expressed openly that such feat will never be achieved by the Igede people ever again. Some referred to it as a demonstration of the freedom and friendship that exists between Idoma and Igede while others spoke of it as the foolishness of the Idoma people. In both cases, one thing remains sacrosanct; No igede man will ever ascend the throne of Och’ Idoma ever again. At least, this point was driven deep down to the ground by the discussants on both sides, something every sincere Idoma person will concur. As it stands today, every little spark of development that is meant for Zone C ends up in Idoma land. Igede people are the worst hit as regards underdevelopment in Benue State. In my opinion, the Adutu Igede and the highest ranking traditional rulers of the other minority tribes are supposed to be upgraded to First Class status like the Tortiv and Och’ Idoma. This will beautify tribalism and give all tribes a sense of belonging and also make the Benue State Traditional Council stronger, unlike the unpopular plan of increasing the number of First Class Chiefs in Tivland. I heard a fellow Tivman say “Untill an Igede man becomes Senator of Zone C, an Idoma man will never be Governor of Benue State”. Somewhere in PortHarcourt, I mentioned that I was from Benue State and the first response was: Oh he’s an Idoma man. This is an expression of the popularity and domineering stature that Sen. David Mark presents to the world by the efforts he has made through the appointment of Idoma folks in key positions in Federal parastatals. With his protégé Comr. Abba Morro serving as Minister of Interior, virtually all parastatals in the ministry and beyond have been invaded by Idoma people including the Nigerian Army, Navy and Airforce. A visit to any NSCDC office nationwide will convince you. I was at the ministry to personally deliver a letter to the honourable minister and from the entrance to the top floor, I was attended to by Idoma folks, some of whom treated me like a brother and others like an infidel. This demonstration of core tribalism by Senator David Mark has sent shivers down the spine of the Tiv nation, something many refer to as an indication of what to expect if peradventure power shifts to Zone C. More often than not, comparison has been made between Sen. Mark and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who also served Nigeria as Senate President and three time minister, thereby making him the highest political office holder in Tiv land. He has been bitterly berated repeatedly in arrears over his inability to act like todays David Mark, be it right or wrong.
It is disheartening when I observe our division at the appearance of tribe. Tribalism lost its grip on me when I got to discover the extent and resultant effect of clashes in our various tribally autonomous communities. Back in our various enclaves, we have all exhibited deeper evidences of a worst aspect of selfishness and nepotism than my lamentation can contain. In my interactions with my Idoma friends, they lament bitterly how an Idoma man does not have value and appreciation for another Idoma man. So also, we lament in Tivland how the pull-him-down-syndrome is killing the tiv nation. This is another pointer to the fact that we have not been, are not and don’t look like one. Just like we remember we are Christians at the mention of Islamic invasion or muslim incursion, so also Tiv folks look so united at the mention or allegation of Idoma interest or wrongdoing and vice versa. This is tantamount to living a lie. We must de-emphasize our tribal affiliation in matters of governance. While we may not be able to change our mother tongues, we are equally not empowered to express our differences to the ruin of our state and nation. The onus lies on our generation to undo this anomaly. Under the present circumstances, the possibility of an Idoma Governorship remains a mirage. The attitude and manifestation of Sen. David Mark will further entrench tribalism, encourage disunity and buttress our differences. My generation must decline from admiring this display of segregation. If nepotism was a positive attitude, we would’ve been all applause for Sen. David Mark. The Tiv nation must also get it right. Enough of the political brutality. Let us permit development to take centre stage in Benue State.
As we continue to demonstrate our political supremacy, let common sense, equity, fairness guide our every action. Benue has suffered too many setbacks from our consistent hold on power. This has created a sort of legitimacy in the agitation for power shift. Idoma folks have the right to govern Benue but not through tribal sentiments. There is nothing wrong about a Tiv person deputizing an Idoma Governor or even standing aside provided we will have jobs, roads, bridges, culverts, basic amenities and all round development of the average Benue dweller. I actually don’t care who delivers the goodies, so long as the entity called Benue is the ultimate beneficiary. Tribal affiliation is not a barometer for good governance.
This brings to my memory a wedding between a Tiv brother (Omobo, Emichi) and an Idoma sister (Akpoto, Amahwegh) which was contracted in our church. Comr. Abba Morro was in attendance and was all smiles, be they real or pretence. Brethren and guests made faces over the tribal imbalance but there was a greater force from heaven that ensured a balance beyond mother tongue. We shut down the voice of tribalism that attempted to hijack that union for ulterior motives. My generation is obviously one that will rise up and kill the roaring voice of tribalism and ensure that the best hand available is elected to govern Benue irrespective of tribe and it’s affiliations. Benue needs an improved version of Late Aper Aku, whether he will be Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo, Nyifon, or Abakwa.