By Antswen Emmanuel Bem
Open Letter To Senator George Akume
My dear leader,
I am compelled to write this open letter to you because of the state of affairs of the Tiv nation. Firstly, I wish to acknowledge that fate has put you in a prime position to determine to a large extent the direction that the Tiv people will go since the beginning of this republic.
The indisputable truth is that one may quarrel with your brand of politics but your sagacity is never in doubt. Even those who don't see eye to eye with you agree that you are imbued with unusual native intelligence, uncommon people skills and unrivaled foresight. You, more than any other person, have been the game changer since the advent of democracy in 1999 in Benue State. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to direct this letter to you, my dearest elder.
My singular purpose is to tug at the strings of your hearts. I am not writing to appeal for partisan considerations but to see, if per chance, I can pour out my heart to you in a manner of speaking.
God has blessed you even beyond your wildest imagination. You have been a governor of your state, installed Governors and Senators. You have removed Rep members and even indirectly remove a Governor. Though not everything you wished for in this world that you have gotten, God in his infinite mercies have granted you all you needed to succeed on this earth and be the leader of the Tiv nation.
Fortune has smiled on you. Goodwill follows you everywhere you go. You have done very well- more than most men ever will. However, there is one area that is begging for your urgent attention. This area may well define you and all you have ever achieved. This matter, in my opinion, is the only difference between you and your elder brothers, the late sage, Chief JS Tarkaa and our distinguished first Executive Gov of Benue State Mr Aper Aku whose legacy 30 years after remain unbeatable. Though the pair may not have been able to install governors and senators like you, they both lived for us an unimaginable legacy. What will you be remembered for?
Let me restate for the purpose of emphasis that this is the area in which the late sage and Leader of the Tiv's Chief Tarkaa stand head and shoulders above you. It is the reason his name has been a constant denominator in our regional and national politics. It is the reason politicians, friends and foes invoke his name for political advantage and personal glory. It is also the reason why we can't stop talking about him many decades after his death. Again, it is the very reason your people keep talking about Chief Aper Aku 30 years after his magnificent and selfless service to his people. BENUE today is all about Aku. The entire state structure is built around the very legacy of our first civilian governor, Aper Aku, not minding that he had mere four years in office against your eight complete years as our governor. Aku and Adasu's 5 years and 6 months achievement as governors of the state are far better than the first 16 years of this present republic. If Chief Tarkaa was alive, there is no way he would see the only road leading to his home town Wannue dilapidated and do nothing about it for over two years. What a shame. What will anyone say about you and your pairs who have ever ruled this state just three years after you have transited?
Leader, you may be wondering what I'm talking about? It is the issue of legacy. According to Peter Strople, 'Legacy is not leaving something for people, it is leaving something in people'. Legacy is building something that outlives you. Legacy is greater than currency. In the words of Leonard Sweet, ' What you do is your history. What you set in motion is your legacy'. You can't live forever, Sir. No one can. But you can create something that will. Enough of speaking in parables- I shall now speak plainly.
When destiny brought you on the scene in 1999 as our governor, we were enamoured because though our country practice Distributive Federalism instead of Contributive Federalism we strongly felt that you will follow the foot steps of your elder brothers, Aku and Adasu who ruled us before you. This is because, the Tiv people fare better under those regimes than yours and your predecessors. We believed that our people will fare better under a restructured arrangement rather than under the type of unitary government we run while pretending by calling it a federal government. Everyone knows that there is nothing federal about our government at all. If truth must be told, the Tiv nation has fared very badly since the advent of our new democracy. And this is not about holding power at the center.
Let me bring this home: someone passed a comment recently that he would want Biafra to become a reality because he knows the Igbo nation will survive. That comment led me to deeper introspection as I wondered if the Tiv's can truly survive. Let me cite my first example. From Makurdi to Aliade, Gboko to Katsina-Ala, Adikpo to Anyii and Guma to Makurdi you will never see any industry even owned by a none indigene in our beloved Tiv Nation. What really is the problem that we can't build factories and industries of our own in our own very Tiv Nation? Our famous Benue Cement now Dangote Plc has gone with no credible replacement I hope you know that? As we speak even mere super markets are owned by Igbos and Hausa's in Benue until few days ago "Sudo-Pee supermarkets and kiddies Nig Ltd" was opened in Makurdi.
Even if building of two stars hotels in the state is a sign of development you and your predecessor should have rather furnish the five stars Makurdi Sheraton Hotel built by Aku in 1983 to generate revenue for the state. But because of certain parochial reasoning, you guys did otherwise. Posterity will judge each and everyone of us. As of Gabriel Suswam and Samuel Ortom I will talk to them in their respective letters.
That is how low we have sunk. If our past is better than our present- if we always look back with nostalgia frequently, then there is a problem. Nationally we are nothing. Politically, our case at the national level is pathetic. Ditto to appointments and employment at the Federal Civil Service. There was a time in this country that whatever was the case, the Tiv people must produced a senior Minister, today our situation has become so bad that we are not even been considered for appointment for mere adviser to the president. Yet we understood that you were among the very few people in Nigeria who removed President Goodluck Jonathan from office and installed President Mahammadu Buhari. How dose your people benefits from this after all the support they gave you bearing in mind that you are nothing without them?
In contrast, Sir, go to the South East and look at the manufacturing concerns in Onitsha, Aba and Nnewi. Please don't forget those were areas ravaged by civil war a mere forty something years ago. The Igbos have certainly made tremendous progress but the Tiv nation has regressed. I wish to state that this letter is not meant to whip up primordial considerations or ethnic sentiments but just to put things in proper perspective.
My Leader, I will like to also talk about the state of education in the Tiv nation. Our education has gone to the dogs. We have a bunch of mis-educated and ill-educated young men and women looming the streets. From Katsina-Ala to Gboko down to Makurdi through go Aliade we have able body young men and women looming the streets most of whom are uneducated. The most painful aspect of the whole situation is that Tiv leaders have done nothing to help the situation, even the few ones that have acquired education are without jobs. Some have become political thugs overnight just to get food on their tables ones in a while.
Our youths which we used to take pride in are largely a mass of unemployed and unemployable people. Have you noticed the abundance of street urchins, area boys, touts and 'agberos' that we now have all across the Tiv nation? Have you noticed the swell in the ranks of NURTW (I mean no disrespect to an otherwise noble union)? Have you noticed the increase in the number of Tiv beggars? As a State, we have regressed into a most parlous state.
There was a time that it was taboo for a Tiv man to beg- but no more. The spirit of hard work is dead. How can a physically fit person be begging on the streets instead of going to the farm? The very farm that we are none for. We now beg more than the Huasa's, what a shame..
We have abandoned the farm settlement strategy of our fore fathers and only pay lip service to agriculture. Instead of feeding others like we once did, others now feed us. We plant no tomatoes, no pepper and the basic food that we require. The water body in River Benue and Katsina-Ala can provide enough fish to feed the whole of the North Central. From being a major yams, Soya beans, ground nuts exporter many years ago, now one can not point to even one vestige factory that deals with our local produces in the Tiv nation or else where owned my a Tiv person. All our groundnut pyramids, yams bans, soya beans among others have long gone living us with nothing except gossips and operation bring down our fellow Tiv brother as our current stock in trade. The glory has long departed from the Tiv nation. How have we improved on what our heroes past left us?
You will agree with me that there is nothing we can boldly say that the Tiv nation controls in this country. At the moment we are no longer the "Food Basket of Nation". We can't even feed ourselves talk less of the nation. Other states such as Kebbi, Bauchi among others have taken over from us. They produced rice is large quantity, Kaduna is now the home of tomatoes, even though we are surrendered by two major rivers, River Benue and River Katsina-Ala. However, the only thing we can boldly say the Tiv nation controls is the gossip information machinery- we own largely the gossips that helps us to bring down our fellow brothers. We prefer fighting our own instead of an external enemy. It is because of our control of this negative information machinery (gossips) that we have rewritten the our history with the misguided self-belief that things are normal and we are making progress. A look beyond the surface will prove that this is so untrue.
We are largely divided. For the first time in the history of the Tiv nation, politics is about to divide us further- and it has already started. You are very lucky to have won election on the platform of the PDP and now senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of APC and you understood better the ideology of both parties. I do not expect that you will sit down quietly and allow your followers fight dirty in the public as it is currently happening in your home state. You most agree with me that politics especially in Nigeria is not based on ideologies but mere alphabets. Our politicians lacked ideologies. Nigeria has never practice a one party system neither the Tiv people, that is how we have peacefully co-existed but the fabrics are about to be torn to shreds because of poor management of issues by our current leaders who are your political children.
Tiv tradition has been reduced to a shadow of itself. Mouth of Tiv that once defended Tiv interests has gone into oblivion. Tiv elders have been vilified in the name of politics and partisanship. It is no longer news to see teenagers throwing stones at their elders because of their political indoctrination. Even under the late sage, Chief JS Tarkaa, the Tiv never belonged to just a single party- yet our unity was without blemish. Now, our values have gone down the drain.
Senator, I believe I have said enough. The task is Herculean but I believe Providence has brought you here for such a time like this. It is time for the Tiv nation to clean up its acts. What do we really want? How can we quickly right the wrongs? The Tiv nation is in a state of arrested development. The Tiv nation is gasping for breath and crying for help. Will you rise up to the occasion? I am aware you understand that all politics is local and charity begins at home. I know there are no quick fixes but I also know that if there is anyone who has the capacity to do something about our current situation, that person is you. This should be the legacy you should think of. Your legacy is our future.
Yours Very Sincerely,
Anstwen Emmenel Bem is a journalist
Watch out for the letters to Dr Gabriel Suswam and Chief Samuel Ortom
A MUST READ: Open Letter To Senator George Akume Reviewed by Link Naija on 03:26 Rating: