By Emmanuel Akosu
Early in the life of the new administration, a member of the Federal House of Representative from Benue State, Hon Benjamin Wayo ESQ had questioned the rationale behind the nomination of an Idoma, Chief Audu Ogbeh as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria over and above the Tiv who had overwhelmingly ensured the successful election of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR far above their Idoma neighbours. Being that the Idomas had voted massively for the PDP in the last April, 2015 general elections with over 90% of Tiv casting their bet on the APC and President Buhari to ensure he won Benue state convincingly.
In a democracy, even as practiced by advanced countries like the United States, it was a common norm that after a healthy contest (elections), certain committed individuals, groups, and party faithful who have worked and sacrificed for the success of the party were gainfully rewarded with some form of booty and compensation in the range of appointments into public offices, contract awards and other favours with a view to keep them formidably loyal and united to the ideals and future successes of the party. A system typically referred to as the ‘spoilt system’. The Tiv as loyal party faithful began to wait soon after the conduct of the general elections for their deserved place in the formation of the new change regime.
Appointments started flocking in across several states of the Federation, some of them in places where PDP held sway and continues to. States like Rivers where Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi was appointed Minister while other party loyalists like Dakuku Peterside were also appointed as DG NIMASA, others followed suit, and recently 13 heads of various sensitive federal Agencies and Departments were announced with Chief Umana Umana , a contender in the last Akwa- Ibom governorship election making the list amidst other party loyalists spread across Nigeria.
While these appointments flooded, very ardent loyalist of the President like the likes of Comrade Richard Tersoo Mnenga kept assuring an already apprehensive Tiv people to keep faith with the Change administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Even recently, Senator Barnabas Gemade while holding a town hall-like briefing with members of his constituency recently told the people to remain steadfast and supportive of the Federal Government as more appointments were in the offing for them as he too would not rest on his oars to ensure that his kinsmen fit into the system roundly. Then the big blow came! Another 13 sensitive appointments made without a semblance of Tiv reflection on it, making the nearly precarious faith with a President Buhari to further dim abruptly.
This time Barrister Paul Angya who was appointed the Ag. DG, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) was also relieved of his appointment! Angya despite his brief stint at the regulatory body was highly revered and received accolades for his effectiveness at manning this Federal Organization. Now, even if merit system was to be considered over the spoilt system here, Would it be safe to conclude that Angya couldn’t meet the standards and aspirations of the Government and therefore must be sacked? No! He did, and convincingly too. The rest is left for Nigerians to judge.
When Dr Paul Orhii was at NAFDAC, a position he duly earned with his celebrated credentials and was clearly a sought after, many had thought the Late Professor Dora Akunyili’s legacies and standards would be unmatched by any one else. Orhii did not only fit into Akunyili’s large shoes but roundly surpassed the expectations of both Nigerians and the International communities. NAFDAC became a highly reputable global brand in the fight against counterfeit consumables and drugs. President Jonathan for same obvious reasons renewed Orhii’s tenure but was unfortunately short-lived by Buhari soon on assumption of office.
Now, not quite a few are beginning to question the relevance and political clout of the duo of Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade in the present scheme of things as well as their capacities to favorably calve the listening ears of the President. Is it that President Buhari does not really give a listening ear here? What about the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom? Why has it not been favorable to Tiv People as was envisioned before they appended to the social contract with Buhari? Do we now contend that there is actually a delineation within the ranks APC membership as to animals being equal but some more equal than others? to borrow from George Owell’s animal farm.
Bola Tinubu himself had recently raised concerns about the conducts of the National Party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun whom he openly accused of working at variance with the entrenched party interest and philosophy, alluding that the likes of Oyegun had join the party for convenience and not really possessing the moral wherewithal to strictly adhere to the main ideals of the party they had worked so had to give Nigerians.Then one may be tempted to posit that indeed some element of mutual mistrust and discrimination have found roots among the party ranks.
Retrospectively too, in the 7th Assembly when, Senator George Akume was favored over ranking Senator Ganuyi Solomons for the position of Senate Minority Leader, the latter had accused Akume of attempting to reap where he did not sow. According to Solomons , they had pioneered and nurtured the party right from ACN only for the likes of Akume to come in soon and assume leadership.
Again I ask, can Tiv be going through all these unwarranted bargain because it was alleged that Senator Akume who effectively is the arrowhead of the Party in Benue had backed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for President during the primaries even though it was an open secret that the party top notchers had settled for the Buhari’s choice whom it saw as much favorable to wrestle power from then incumbent President Jonathan? Has that singular act as constitutional as it was, amounted to an unfavorable relationship between the Tiv and the Presidency.
Some proteges and followers of the likes of Prof Steve Ugba, Barrister Emmanuel Jime, Chief JKN Waku, Akanga Audu, Mike Iordye have variously argued that if only some core APC breed as replicated in the popular ishor chenji and the Jime’s who had earlier sacrificed in the formation of the legacy parties had sailed through as the party’s flag bearer, President Buhari and other power brokers would have recognize the substance of a dominantly APC Family in Benue and respected their views accordingly. I could only buy this theory , howbeit with a pinch of salt. Firstly, Senator Akume had fervently sacrificed for the formation of the legacy parties with great resources. Senator Gemade on the other hand had equally muscled out the capacity and enormoured resources and with a viable connect with the people , both leaders with collective synergy surmounted and defeated the then ruling PDP which eventually made an easy sail for Buhari to win landslide in Benue state.
Jonathan and the PDP had largely Iinvested in Benue state through appointments of Benue sons like Comrade Abba Morro-Minister of Interior, Samuel Ortom- Minister of state/supervising Minister Aviation, Dr Paul Orhii –DG NAFDAC, Prof Ben Angwe- Executive Secretary NHRC , a Senate President, a former Chief Justice Of the Federation, Katsina Alu, former CEO NEXIM Bank, Robert Orya and several members of Federal Boards . So effectively Jonathan counted on Benue as one of his strongholds but in the end Tiv people particularly went for a Buhari’s bet.
So where did Tiv get it wrong about their choice of President Muhammadu Buhari? With the hues and cries about marginalization, recent bloodletting of Benue by Fulani marauders, evident poverty and neglect in the land and the recent federal appointments been made without an iota of Tiv reflection really smacks evidence that indeed the Tiv people may still be strange bed fellows in the new change administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
AKOSU EMMANUEL LUBEM, Wrote from Abuja, Nigeria
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