Tuesday, 15 December 2015


The news of the passage of His Royal Highness, Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv, IV, was received with shock by most Nigerians, especially the people of Benue State where the paramount ruler was the chairman of the State’s Traditional Council. He died on November 23, 2015 at an Abuja hospital where he was rushed to a week earlier after he suddenly took ill in Gboko, traditional headquarters of the Tiv nation.

Dr. Alfred Torkula was a great bridge builder who contributed immensely to the development of Benue State and the northern region. An astute administrator and technocrat, the Begha U Tiv (Lion of the Tiv Nation), who ascended the throne in April 1991, was a revered spiritual guide of his people. He was a true custodian of the rich culture and traditions of the Tiv nation.

The late Tor Tiv was a great advocate of peace and unity, and he played a pivotal role in trying to find a lasting solution to the incessant communal conflicts in the North Central geo-political zone, especially the clashes between farmers in Benue and neighbouring Nasarawa and Taraba states with Fulani herdsmen.  He was a reformist who encouraged and promoted the peaceful co-existence of different ethnic nationalities in the country.

Some of his achievements include the creation of 14 second class stools in his domain; proposed creation of six additional first class stools and 60 third class chiefdoms in the Tiv Area Traditional Council (TATC) as well as the introduction of the use of beads by traditional rulers in Tiv land. Instead of the turban that is the usual wear of royal fathers in the North, Dr. Torkula instead adopted the traditional regalia of the leopard skin cap and beads popular with kings of Bantu origin, where the Tiv link their ancestry.

He brought integrity, colour and glamour to the traditional institution to the admiration of many in Benue State and beyond. He also introduced honourific chieftaincy titles which were bestowed on prominent Tiv sons and daughters as well as non-indigenes.

Some of the beneficiaries of these titles include the late Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, a former Secretary
to the Government of the Federation, who was honoured as the first Zege Mule U Tiv (The Great Shade of the Tiv), the highest traditional title in the land, an honour that was later conferred on ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar.

Before his coronation in 1991, the Tor Tiv had spent more than two decades in the state civil service, rising to the position of director general before he was appointed Commissioner for Local Government Affairs by the
then Colonel Fidelis Makka administration.

The Begha U Tiv was not just a seasoned administrator; the versatile monarch of international repute was also an educationist. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in French from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and later bagged a Master’s degree from the University of Calabar, where he translated a play in English to French for his thesis. He authored several books including ‘Death and Burial Customs of the Tiv People of Central Nigeria,’ ‘The Cosmology in Tiv Worldview,’ ‘The Tiv Woman: Challenges and Prospects,’ ‘Presidential Democracy in Nigeria: Grassroots Experience’ and ‘The Culture of Partisan Politics in Nigeria: A Historical Perspective.’

The late Orchivirigh Torkula served as Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from March 1994 to November 2001 and was later appointed Chancellor of the University of Calabar. Until his death he was the Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.

The late Tor Tiv was born on July 14, 1944 in what is today known as Mbadwen district of Guma local government area of Benue State. He lived an accomplished and eventful life and the vacuum created by his demise will be difficult to fill.

We urge the Tiv Area Traditional Council and the concerned kingmakers to follow diligently the established procedure in selecting the next Tor Tiv in order not to create division among the people. May God grant his soul eternal rest and his family and the entire Tiv nation the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Amen!


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