Monday, 29 February 2016

The Search for the next Tor Tiv; for the Greater Good

HRM Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula Tor Tiv IV did his best on the throne, and may his soul rest in peace. I had a cordial working relationship with him when I serviced the Tiv Traditional Council as a State Counsel attached to the Gboko Area Chambers of Ministry of Justice, in the early and mid-90s.



Judging from our antecedents and our immediate past experiences as a nation, we should diligently exercise extreme caution in selecting our next Tor Tiv. Perhaps, this could be an opportune time to convene a meeting of a select number of prominent Tiv elders and opinion leaders, to dialogue on pertinent issues affecting the Tiv Nation today before embarking on the all-important selection exercise. Perhaps, too, only the noblest and most remarkable of our Tiv elders and leaders that have helped Tiv people or assisted in advancing Tiv causes, agenda and well-being, should be invited to this banquet, if my suggestion is not deemed to be out of place. Otherwise, this opportunity for an exclusive dialogue should also painstakingly identify problems and proffer lasting solutions to Tiv’s inability to occupy its pride of place as a majority tribe in Nigeria, amongst other long overdue and compelling issues begging for attention.

Tiv Nation must get it perfectly right this time around; how else could posterity ever forgive this generation? Is it a problem of leadership or that of followership? If Tiv Nation is able to resolve most of these serious problems bedeviling it at this critical point in time, she would be able to progress rapidly in the forthcoming dispensations of successive Tiv rulers and leaders, provided we held an honest conversation.

Be that as it may, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, encourages professionalism over mediocrity, which has adversely impacted our nascent democracy. He asks that people stuck to their trades. It is his advice that Civil Servants wholly dedicated themselves to civil service and left politics to politicians. Traditional rulers too were wisely advised to stay out of politics and concentrated on their assigned roles or resigned their positions for politics, if they felt a stronger gravitational pull towards that direction. To the best of my knowledge, none has resigned yet as at the time of writing this article. Therefore, it may be safe to assume that the present crop of Tiv traditional rulers and future ones shall remain non-partisan. Ultimately, it is very important that we are all on the same page with the aspirations of His Excellency, so that he could successfully execute his vision and mission for the State with a resounding victory.

Beyond the shadow of every reasonable doubt, it is common knowledge that all may not be well with Tiv Nation. Its standing in national affairs and politics has been the worst ever. Therefore, Tiv Nation must inquire into this sorry state of affairs without any further delays because its very survival as the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria is at stake. Comparatively, Tiv may be the only majority tribe in Nigeria looking like a minority, presently. But we only have ourselves to blame for the socio-economic downturns and political misfortunes befalling Tivland today. It has also been argued in some quarters that wrong choice of leaders and/or rulers have wrecked or occasioned untold hardships on the populace, majorly disappointing their supporters in the process. Consequently, Benue State has been robbed of the much needed socio-economic development, and she lags behind most other states in Nigeria in this regard. God is presenting us with an opportunity for a fresh start; an opportunity to make amends and do some serious soul searching. This is also a great opportunity to identify and take stock of our problems, predicaments and sincerely seek lasting solutions to the myriad of internecine crisis hampering our socio-economic growth and political life. We need to preserve whatever dignity we have left as a nation at the barest minimum.

Some have also argued that Tiv people have not been very lucky when it comes to good leaders and/or rulers after so many trials and betrayals; while others lay the blame squarely on the doorsteps of the followership. Whatever the case may be, we will have to face it sooner or later. Therefore, if major attitudinal changes are not effected and a re-prioritization process deliberately instituted immediately, Tiv Nation will always end up with the same results—second best at best! Once again, let who the cap fits the most wear it; let merit together with due process be the order of the day in Tivland and beyond. Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and re-awaken the ethos of the Tiv culture and tradition before it is too late.

Part of the problems in Tivland was attributed to the over-politicization of socio-cultural institutions and organizations in Tivland, coupled with a very poor economic base, which leaves the populace very vulnerable and gullible to the devious schemes of some. Productivity is at its lowest ebb when many youth turn away from agrarianism to a self-styled modernism, peculiarly devoid of any positivity. By the way, Tiv Nation should have advanced beyond the levels of subsistence farming to that of mechanized farming by now, even under an environmentally best practices regime! It is against this backdrop that we search for the next Tor Tiv. Unpretentiously, he has the daunting task of (proactively) resolving internecine conflicts/crisis in Tivland. Notably, acrimonies, divisions and intermittent security concerns are only meant to distract us from reaching our optimal developmental heights as a nation; these need treating and managing with the kids’ gloves special care. We must have in place enhanced and adequate capacity to monitor crisis and instantly deploy transformational conflict management and/or resolutions methods, in order to sustainably maintain and restore peace in Tivland for the greater good. Interest-based interventions in conflicts and balancing of diverse interests to discover common interests is largely a zero-sum game, designed to eliminate possibilities of not reaching any agreements or resolutions at all—the Pareto-optimal frontier.
While not exactly expecting a virtuoso performance, the next Tor Tiv, ideally should be an embodiment of Tiv tradition and custom. It is a great advantage to Tiv Nation if he also possessed the vision, mission and craft to create an enabling environment for peace, love, unity and progress to reign in Tivland and its immediate environs. Potentially, getting it right also takes unnecessary pressure off the shoulders of the Governor, so that he successfully concentrates on the affairs of governance of the entire state. Repositioning the Tiv Nation and the socio-economic development of Benue State are twin-tasks that must be achieved because failure and indifference are not options. We must also be mindful of our Tiv brothers and sisters who are themselves minorities in other states of the federation; relate with them more closely and ease their pains of marginalization in their respective states of origin.

It is plain to see that Tiv Nation urgently needs a tireless Unifier; a Nation-Builder that will easily command respect nation-wide. Integrity, a good listening and discerning ear to act upon good counsel for the betterment of Tiv people, should also be some of the great qualities expected of our next Tor Tiv, without asking for too much. We must also be prepared to set aside elements of pettiness, unnecessary bickering and differences; look to the future with a renewed hope, vigour and courage for the noble task ahead to rebuild Tiv Nation, from the bottom up. We must learn to shy away from the short-sightedness-politics of instant gratification and begin to immediately concentrate on the more resourceful and important tasks ahead of us. By God, we are farmers put on one of the most fertile lands in the whole of the country; and must not be hungry or thirsty. We are also a decent people for crying out loud and that is why most people would preferentially patronize Tiv eating joints anywhere in Nigeria! We are and must remain the food basket of the nation by our policies and politics too! A self-sustaining economy as far as food production is concerned, is within our reach so long as we are honest, dedicated and remain true to ourselves and our resources. His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom, is leading by example as an industrialist and a humanitarian. Our leader, Senator George Akume has commendably tried over the years to empower as many Tiv sons and daughters as possible, while there must be other unsung heroes of Tiv Nation that have also tried their best within their limited means. Special mention must also be made of Ter Nagi, Chief Daniel Abomtse and Ter Ushongu, Chief Ambrose Iortyer, both of whom are known to have admirably upheld Tiv tradition and custom in recent times, giving many of us reasons not to lose faith.

Nonetheless, we cannot as a nation continue to invest more in the hospitality (service) industry to the detriment of the other more deserving (production oriented) sectors of the economy including: education, sports, agriculture, transport, tourism, commerce and industries. We must start seriously talking in terms of laudable projects and programmes to gainfully employ our teeming population (graduates), and promote Tiv custom, culture and tradition in the New Benue Economy enterprise. We must be receptive and open to new ideas, new ways of doing things; harness all our (natural) resources together and rekindle our entrepreneurial spirit, without being afraid of long term planning. How could we be afraid of the future but want to ostensibly live happily today? We must invest in our future and be our brother’s keeper in whatever he chooses to do in life, so long as it is legitimate and productive and benefits the larger society. Empty pride, hatred, envy and jealousy must dissipate in the new dispensation. Instead of envy and jealousy, we should collaborate in a cooperative atmosphere of togetherness. We must also imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship so that the better man meritoriously and creditably wins (elections). In such a situation, the fortunes of every Tiv community or constituency would lie in their hands, because they made their choice and should live with it without complaints; whether they develop like others or not. By the way: no Tiv community should be fooled again by empty promises or the lure of money politics that serves no useful purpose in the long run, especially, not in the face of the great equalizing force of the almighty PVC. After all, we all must know candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, capabilities and qualities, because none of us dropped here from outer space!
Nonetheless, competition must also be welcomed into the arena of politics for maturity to creep into our societal lives without hatred, rancour and bitterness. There is no cogent reason to be envious of an opponent that may be better qualified, prepared or accepted by his people than ourselves. All we have to do is work on our shortcomings, advance and improve our chances and then hope for the best next time around or diversify our portfolio. However, not every shortcoming could be rectified or remedied. After all, we must learn to be contented as each one of us has special talents, skills, gifts and qualities that others may not have and vice versa.

Often, envy and jealousy which are both signs of Weakness and Self-absorption, lead to negative and destructive tendencies. We become easily clouded by emotions and unnecessary sensitivities, which also leads to low motivational spirit. The ability to constantly reflect and morally project our principled core values with due respect to others, sets high moral standards of compassionate strengths. No better time than now for us to pull our collective strengths and resources together, channeling same into more productive human enterprise as dynamic Tiv communities (even in conflict situations). Cognitive-recognition in a role reversal experience, taps into our responsiveness, recognizing human frailty and imperfections, and serves as a soul searching device for that voice of reason within every single one of us. All kinds of wars and battles are fought in this world but the greatest battles of all that we could fight in lives are those we fight within.

A purposefully driven Tiv Nation economy should be uppermost on our minds henceforth. In other words, this is the time to do wholesome turnaround maintenance, so to speak! Adventure and ambition must regrow the Tiv Nation, so that we do not remain stagnated, constipated and disillusioned, and then internally combust out of congestion, frustration and boredom. Every effort must be made to correct the mistakes of the past that got us in this backward and awkward position. Every stone must be turned to find that selfless and non-sectional ruler to gallantly and efficiently play his part in the rebuilding process, in the light of prevalent socio-economic and political realities of the times. Gone should be those days when Tiv traditional rulers pre-occupied themselves with their own personal affairs, ambitions and interests, alone. Tiv Nation deserves so much better. Tiv sons and daughters, near and far, must come together and conscientiously work towards the greater good of Tiv Nation with one soul and spirit. We must all forgive ourselves, have a change of heart so that Tiv Nation rises up to its glorious destiny. Yes, it may all seem like just mere sweet words; but who says we cannot put words into progressive and productive action for the greater good if we as a nation so decide? It is the civic responsibility of every Tiv man, woman and child, as much as it is trite and incumbent on all of us to produce great leaders and rulers for Tiv Nation once again. Let this serve as the dawn of a new and prosperous era for Tiv Nation.

Festus Nyiwo, Esq
Tel: 08164493135
(festme@yahoo.com)

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