MARGINALIZATION OF TIVS: Chief John Akperashi Writes President Buhari...
BEING A TEXT OF A WORLD PRESS BRIEFING IN ABUJA, THIS DAY, 5th Oct. 2016, ON THE SOCIO-POLITICAL EXCLUSION, MARGINALIZATION, UNEQUAL TREATMENT, UNFAIR AND UNJUSTICEABLE DENIAL OF THE TIV TRIBESMEN FOR A FEDERAL CHARACTER REPRESENTATION OF THE NIGERIAN STATE, BY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF TIV YOUTHS.
FOCAL POINT: TO LEGITIMATELY CALL ON THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE NIGERIA ARMED FORCES, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, AND JUDICIARY ON THE URGENT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ABOVE TREND AMONGST THE TIV PEOPLE OF MIDDLE BELT REGION OF NIGERIA. PROLONG:
The Tiv people of the Middle Belt Nigeria are the dominant ethnic group in Benue State occupying 14 Local Government Areas of out of the 774 Local Governments in Nigeria. The Tiv people are largely behind the back born of the Benue State economy whereby they are predominantly farmers with more than 70 percent of the working population involved in active farming. This has tremendously necessitated her worldwide acknowledgement as the food basket of the nation. Suffice it to emphasise also that right from independence, the Tiv people have consistently demonstrated sufficient commitment to the indissoluble sustenance of Nigeria’s unity, oneness and progress. Having enlisted a large percent of her indigenes into the Nigerian force to successfully fight and win the secessionists Biafrans against Nigerians in the 1967-1970 civil war where an unestimated number of Tiv causalities were recorded as having sacrificed their lives to the stability and oneness of this country.
Furthermore, at the very critical stages of political participation towards ensuring democratic engagements, growth and practices, the Tiv people have been consciously involved in protecting the sanctity of democracy in the country hence, the patriotic contributions of eminent Tiv tribesmen such as late Senator Joseph Tarkaa, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, Late Ugba Uye, Sen. Jack Tilley Gyado who among others remain very critical in the attestations to this fact.
Regrettably, the Tiv people of Benue State have been agonisingly relegated to the back door of the access to national advantages in terms of benefits, compensation and appreciation.
Politically, even as very critical in the politics of the nations, they have never been given an opportunity to bear the flag of a political party in any presidential election neither have they ever been considered for the position of Vice President.
To be specific, since 2011, an illustrious son of Tiv and leader of democracy in Benue State and middle belt at large, Distinguished Senator, George Akume has remained in the Senate as an ordinary member, having hitherto gone through all forms of political struggles, intimidations, humiliations and persecutions in the hands of the then ruling party, the PDP. It is not gainsaying that in Benue politics, this said Distinguished Senator was severally and variously subjected to all possible frustrations all targeted at a total annihilation of his potentials of building what was then ACN and today the APC in Benue State and Nigeria as a whole. It must be emphasised that at the height of his steadfastness, the Distinguished Senator George Akume in particular did all he could based on his acceptability by the good people of Benue State to effect the CHANGE AGENDA of the All Progressives Congress in Benue State and Nigeria as a whole. It was indeed the rising expectation of the Tiv nation that Dr. George Akume was going to be given the opportunity and support to be elevated to the position of Senate presidency from his minority leadership when his party eventually captured power as has been the practice even in advanced democracies. Yet perhaps, because he is a Tiv person, he was played out and has been continuously played out in the submerge at the senate.
It is indeed worrisome, that at the inception of President Muhamadu Buhari’s administration, the Tiv people welcome it with profound enthusiasm; hope and great expectation having voted massively for the needed “CHANGE PAK” Agenda in the country and for the president in particular. However, the Buhari’s administration has witnessed a regrettably disappearance of many Tiv sons at the federal level of appointments needed to give the Benue people and the Tiv nation in particular a strong sense of belonging! To mention but a few, the Buhari administration has removed without replacement from the Tiv people, Dr. Paul Orhii of the NAFDAC, Mr. Roberts Orya of the NEXIM Bank; Mr. Samuel Ukura, whose tenure though elapsed but could have still been replaced by a Tiv son as it is done in other climes to fill the gap of his disengagement from the federal civil service.
More recent in this same administration is the fact that one of the only existing few appointments position in acting capacity held by a Tiv son, Dr. Paul Angya at the Standards Organization of Nigeria was abruptly terminated. It is lamentable as how Dr. Paul Angya who has been variously praised and highly commended for reforming SON and effectively repositioning it during his short period in office was relieved of his appointment as the Acting Director General in a bizarre and most humiliation circumstance which can never be hurriedly forgotten as it may go to confirm a plot against the Tiv! The fact is that, at the wake of his removal as the Acting Director General of SON, Dr. Paul Angya had lost a close relation and was at home to participate in the funeral rites of the dead. At the instance of his absence, Dr. Angya’s successor, Mr. Aboloma who was yet to be briefed and officially handed over the mantle of overseeing the affairs of SON as the new Director General, brought in thugs, forcefully opened the doors to the official office of Dr. Angya even in his absence where also all his personal belongings were yet to be removed from his office! This act of impunity and crass display of power drunkenness by Aboloma Anthony is most provoking and touching to the hearts of the Tiv people. More pathetic as a total condemnation of this act also is the fact that Dr. Paul Angya prior to Dr. Aboloma’s appointment as the DG, they had never met before nor seen each other.
The recent appointments made so far by the president which hardly carries the bearing of a concessional appropriation of the Tiv people has given us a serious concern for worry.
Economically, over the years, Benue State has contributed proportionately in feeding the nation, in the face of the abundant challenges of environmental degradation, lack of farm inputs and activities of the mercenaries in the state. It is indeed, disturbing and thought provoking that one year and half of this administration has gone and yet there is no indication that Benue farmers would be availed the necessary supports and encouragement from the federal government agricultural policies to boost and stabilize the agrarian and agro based economy of the state. Rather cattle insurgents, herdsmen and mercenaries have taken the centre stage of the hopes and life activities of farmers in the state, subjecting them to all forms of genocide attack in a manner of ethnic cleansing expedition. The continued sacking, invasion and occupation of Tiv farm lands, outright ruthless and mindless destruction of lives and property in Tiv speaking areas of the state without appreciable efforts to avert such gory acts have raised so much suspicion by concerned youths of the area. As at the time of this conference, it is estimated that over 45,000 Tiv famers have been sacked or killed in their communities and homes, subjecting others to perpetually become residents of IDP camps.
The point however is that since it is gradually becoming apparent that the federal government is becoming unresponsive in addressing the condemnable activities of the herdsmen in Benue State, we urge the Buhari administration to instead support the initiative of our governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom through a grazing bill presently before the State Assembly for the reduction of the activities of herdsmen in the state.
Above that, it must be emphasized that the only economic stay of the Benue people, Tiv in particular then providing establishment was Benue Cement Company. At the peak of the dividends of this company, it was maneuvered and handed over to Dangote. It is surprising that Dangote’s corporate social responsibility to the immediate Tiv community where the Company is located is handed with total neglect to the harsh detriment of the Tiv people. It is the daily witness that the numerous heavily loaded trucks of Dangote cement have contributed 70% in ravaging the Gboko – Makurdi federal road yet he gives little or no attention to rehabilitate them not even in the provision of palliative measures. Instead, the immediate and distant communities in Tiv land purchase a bag of cement at a rate higher than those sold in Kano state. This is even at the height of Dangote’s deliberate refusal to pay his statutory taxes/royalty to the state Government which over the years has accumulated in to hundreds of millions as outstanding taxes owned by the company to the state. It is needless to even mention the ravaging environmental pollution and hazardous effect with which Dangote company operates and subject the people of Mbayion community, whose helplessness in the face of this serial injustice inevitably led to widespread deaths and loss of agricultural opportunities.
The irony of this scenario is that these serial injustices and unfair treatment meted out to the Tiv people under the watch of the Buhari administration is been celebrated by the opposition PDP in the state today who have in recent times carved a political mockery slogan and campaign against the ruling party known as “Change The Change. To the Tiv people, this is not a good political omen and signs as the Tiv people are known to legitimately resist all forms of alienation, seclusion, economic injustice and political marginalization.
Based on the above, the Tiv youths wish to put forward the following demands to the president and commander in chief of the Nigerian arm forces, President Mohammed Buhari, as follows;
That as applying in other states, where those who sponsored the APC or contested elections such as governorship, senate and even House of representative but lost are being compensated, the case should be equally extended to Benue State as most of such People have either been abandoned or forgotten to their fate.
For instance, in the case of distinguished senator Dr George Akume who was supposed to have emerged as senate president but was maneuvered and edged out in this race. We want to call for his consideration for the President of the Senate. This demand is specifically in line with the immense contributions and appreciable struggles of the senator in the sustenance and sponsorship of the party all through the days of the then ACN to the Present APC. Similarly, we wish to call on the immediate compensation of other party supporters whose contributions to the survival and strength of the APC is immeasurable such as; Professor Steven Ugba, Barrister Emmanuel Jime, Chief J.K.N Waku, Hon. Akange Audu, Chief Mike Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN), Kpamor J.T Orkar, Barrister Rhoda Ako, Hon. Adaa Maagbe, Hon. Chile Igbawua among others who are the pillars of APC in the state but have been left out in the scheme of federal appointments.
We wish to call on the administration of president Buhari to prevail on Alh. Aliko Dangote to meet and live up to his corporate social responsibilities in the state and equally for the payment of his statutory taxes to the Benue State Government.
It is also our demand to call on Mr- President to fast track the dredging of River Benue so as to boost economic activities in the state which has great economic resources.
The council of Tiv youths wishes to specially request that the president should increase the participation of the Youths in his administration as a way of solidarity and support which the youth gave to the emergence of APC and Buhari as the president and commander in chief of Nigeria. It is our sincere observation that the present administration does not even have the office of a Senior Special Assistant, Special Adviser or even an office for the coordination of youth affairs in the country. Given the fact that the youths constitute over 70 percent of the population of this country, their recognition and integration into this administration should be paramount. And we are calling that one of such appointments should come from Tiv.
On a very serious note, considering that our dear son, Dr Paul Angya did no any wrong while in the office as he was rather widely commended for his accountability, financial discipline and examplary leadership and considering the way he was shabbily treated by his purported successor, we demand for his kind reinstatement and further stress that on no account should any of our sons or daughter at the federal level be relieved of his or her appointment again.
We wish to call on President Buhari to use his good offices to facilitate an increased funding into the activities of farming by Benue State farmers, considering that the state is famed the Food Basket of the Nation.
In conclusion, arising from the above stated injustices the opposition PDP are embolden and have already come up with inscriptions, slogans and propaganda “Change the change” in apparent reference to the perceived insensitivity and marginalization of the Tiv people by the Buhari administration, in Benue state. This has become worrisome to us because there is no gainsaying that politics is a game of interest. Hence if the Tiv people are not able to quantify or aggregate their interests as a people under the Buhari administration our party leaders in the state shall no doubt have an enormous task of convincing the larger population of the Tiv People in the favorable disposition of the APC in the future elections.
We are forewarning that if these fundamental issues raised are not immediately adequately addressed, we may not be popular as we were in 2015 General Election. Time for remedy is now!. Thank you all and God bless.
CHIEF. (DR.) JOHN AKPERASHI GUM.
National President, National Council Of Tiv Youths.