Friday, 1 May 2015


It is no longer a hidden agenda that freedom of expression and speech that had been long ago buried in our democracy has been resurrected in recent times. This ‘resurrection power’ has uncorked the inarticulate oral cavity of youths, whose opinions were sealed off.

The masses are beginning to air out their insinuations, opinions and displeasures without distorting democratic and legal processes. This implies that our democracy is longer on print medium; it is now taking an applauding kilter. It is interesting to state that Benue youth are not an exception to this experience.

Early hours of Thursday, 30th April, 2015, Gboko local government secretariat was saturated with aggressive, pushy youths, singing dissatisfactory chorus, others flaunting postcards with gripping catch-phrases and uttering sore messages to passersby. Meanwhile, Tiv traditional leaders had settled down in a cultural edifice to kick off their supreme periodic meeting (Ijirtamen), which addresses issues pertinent to Tiv people. According to the youth, appointment of traditional first class chiefs, which was propounded by incumbent governor of Benue state, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, formed crux of the meeting. Benue Youth Forum, an association of Benue young people had demonstrated their bitterness on the issue via a peaceful demonstration.

As an eye witness of the protest, youth who came out in en masse to register their grievances displayed sore epigraphs. Out of the many inscriptions I selected five engrossing slogans to share with you.

They are:
“No salary, no first class chiefs’ appointment”. Benue youth limpidly inform Gboko local government chairman, Hon. Joseph Tser, who came out to address them, that the most demanding and pressing issue to negotiate first is how to pay workers salaries. According to Benue youth forum president, Mr. Manasseh: “Benue workers remain unpaid for couple of months now and the most important thing to address is how to remunerate these workers, not to appoint first class chiefs. He added that “state government often gives feeble reasons that government coffer is empty, that is why workers’ salaries remain unpaid, so if they appoint first class where would they fetch exorbitant amount of money to cater for their welfare? They should help answer this question.

“No militarization of traditional institute”. According to the youth, the Tiv traditional institution has been tyrannized.  Cultural protocols for appointing traditional leaders have been unduly skipped and overlooked by people driving our state machineries. Leaders are now imposed on their subordinates; it has become a political business. The youth are now contesting this and warning ‘civilian generals’ to withdraw from such act.

“Give us legitimate jobs”. Job creation is a pro term conundrum that must be dealt with, with immediate alacrity. Benue youth outcry today that the present administration has crippled the potentials, abilities of the youth by not creating space for them to contribute their quarter to the development of the state. This must be negotiated before any other thing, according to youths.

 “Rehabilitate our economy”. Our economy has been paralyzed, leaving Benue indigenes in adverse poverty. So, the most essential thing to consider now is to explore ways on how to revamp our crippled economy, not to appoint so-called first class chiefs, who would help tear our coffer.

“Repair our roads, gives us food and shelter”. Our leaders have so many times misunderstood the fundamental demands of their offices. Benue Youth Forum once again reminded them of their core responsibilities which they turned blind eyes on.
At last, sponsored security agencies forcefully let people out of the arena, leaving behind traditional leaders only.  Ultimately, the message got to them and their ever living conscience would continue to remind them. Remember, in times like these if youth fail to express their discontent, history and posterity will repeatedly antagonize them.

                                                              TOR SHIEKUMA FELIX
                                                              Writes from Gboko Benue

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