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LETTER: A Plea To Senator George Akume




By Terna Doki
Let me begin by pleading for pardon from
Senator George Akume’s political loyalists and
supporters who may not be comfortable with my
submissions.
But it is the larger interest of Tiv
nation that is at stake and it surpasses any other
inclination of individuals or isolated interests.
Within party circles in Benue state and beyond,
politicians refer or address His Excellency, Senator
George Akume, who represents Benue Northwest
senatorial district in the National Assembly (NASS)
with appellations such as Leader or the
kingmaker. I accept that the Senator richly
deserves these accolades, having influentially
straddled the political arena in Benue and Nigeria,
in the last 17 years.
His profile excites. From a retired Permanent
secretary in the state civil service, Sen. Akume
was twice elected as governor of Benue state. He
is currently serving his third tenure in the NASS
as a Senator.
Senator Akume has a reputation in politics as a
man who brooks no opposition to his political
ambitions. With an enviable reputation as an
amiable man and generous politician, George,
could crush you with the strength of a truck if
you stand on his path to political success.
To my mind, the Senator was and remains a
pronounced figure in the metamorphosis of the
defunct ACN into the ruling APC, scoring the
shots from his exalted position as Senate Minority
Leader. Along with other political juggernauts, the
APC cornered most Northern states in the 2015
general elections, including Benue state.
APC snatched the state from the claws of the
political lions of the PDP. President Muhammedu
Buhari won the state with landslide victory. I also
wish to remind that APC won Benue because of
the block votes from the larger two Senatorial
districts in Tiv land.
President Buhari experiments politics in a peculiar
manner. He keeps an eye on integrity,
incorruptibility and merit. But I also want to
believe premium is still attached to states or
specifically to communities which extended
maximum support to enthrone any government
in power.
But Buhari has sidelined Tiv nation completely in
his political patronage of sections of Nigeria. I
learned some Tiv youngsters headed by Chief
John Akpereshi addressed a press conference in
Abuja lamenting the isolation of Tiv nation.
I agree with them totally on this score. It really
shudders the heart to feverish limits to think the
Tiv people who are the fourth or the fifth largest
ethnic nationality in Nigeria are not deemed
worthy to sit in the chambers’ of the Federal
Executive Council (FEC) where Nigeria’s national
“cake” is shared. What has been extended to the
people are mere board appointments, one of my
bothers qualified as “very insignificant.”
Senator Akume led Tiv people into APC. But like
me, others too are asking whether Senator
Akume has seen the depravity of his people in
Nigeria by a government they actively backed
and supported? I know there is a problem. But
the silence of Senator Akume is another problem
altogether.
Truly if Tiv people have issues with the current
political arrangement which has disfavoured
them, who should publicly voice it out, if not
Akume? Where are other Tiv political leaders like
Wantaregh Paul Unongo and the State Governor,
Dr. Samuel Ortom, Chief Abu King Shulwa or even
the President of MUT whom Nigeria would listen if
they speak? Should it be Tiv youths in the mould
and status of the likes of Akpereshi that should be
speaking to Nigeria at the behest of Tiv nation?
To this extent, Senator Akume has not only failed
his people at the eleventh hour, but has tacitly
abdicated the responsibility entrusted in him. My
people have an adage that says “when you beat a
child, you don’t stop him from crying”. If Akume
has been beaten by the power play in the APC, as
it seems, who has stopped him from crying out
aloud for his people. But he is silent; very silent.
I would neither blame President Buhari nor
Akume for the plight of Tiv people. The Senator
knows the roots of his problem with Buhari. In
brief, when President Buhari contested the
Presidency in 2003 against former President
Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ), Akume as the
incumbent governor of the state caused the
refusal of his plane, with his campaign team in
landing at the Makurdi Airport. The plane hovered
and made a detour back to where it came.
Again in 2007, when Buhari contested against
another PDP candidate Late Umaru Yar’Adua,
Sen. Akume who was on the eve of his departure
from Government House granted Buhari cold and
insulting audience.
During the APC presidential primaries in Lagos,
when it was obvious Nigeria was bidding for
Buhari, Sen. Akume remained glued to Alhaji
Atiku Abubakar against Buhari. This was after he
prevented Buhari in Makurdi from meeting the
Benue APC delegates to the national convention,
by discreetly ferrying them to Jos for Atiku
Abubakar.
I am not blaming Akume for making his political
choices. It is his inalienable rights. But this is
where it has landed Tiv nation. In Buhari’s shoes,
I will also feel pained to trust and nourish a man,
whose actions would have caused my death, with
many others, in the event the plane he stopped
from landing crashed.
The contempt Buhari holds against Tiv nation
emanates from these offending actions of Senator
Akume. There is the likelihood that as long as Tiv
nation keeps projecting Akume as their APC
political leader, the disdain and neglect may last
for the years of Buhari’s Presidency.
If Senator Akume bows to the power of truth, the
Benue APC crew and himself are disconnected
from the main power point at the national level.
That’s why his people have nothing worthwhile.
It explains his choking grip on governance of the
state to disgraceful limits such as deciding who
becomes a local government council sole
administrator.
He friend and APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed
Tinubu cannot help him out because he is equally
burdened extracting his share from Buhari for his
Yoruba kinsmen. There are speculations that
Tinubu is plotting to float another political alliance
against Buhari in 2019.
Akume may like to join the Tinubu camp again.
But political alliance of Tiv nation with the Yorubas
has not really been profitable. Akume should not
forget to learn from the experience of his elder
uncle, the minority rights crusader, late Senator
J.S.Tarka whose similar pact with late Chief
Obafemi Awolowo gave Tiv nation two destructive
internecine riots/wars in the early 1960s.
My plea and candid advice to Senator Akume is
that he should consider quitting active politics in
2019 for the younger generation and retire to a
respectable life of a consultant Tiv political elder.
If he ponders over this advice and acts on it, it
will save Tiv nation in the weird politics of Nigeria.
There comes a time a man shines in life like a star
and naturally, he fizzles out when that destiny
reaches full moon. The star in Akume is fading
and receding fast. In my perception, political
sunset is staring Senator George Akume in the
face and he has to make haste to the dignified
path while the ovation is still loud.
Doki writes from Makurdi, Benue State.

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