Monday, 25 January 2016

The Idoma Nation (Mark vs. Onjeh): THE PROVERBIAL COW AND ITS TAIL

By
MATTHEW COLLINS
(Wuse II, FCT, Abuja)



As we approach the day of decision, come February 13th 2016 when we shall collectively as a people file out to elect for ourselves a Senator to represent Zone C Senatorial District in the hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly, it is instructive to  brainstorm once more and do some stock-taking – inward thinking and deep soul-searching to come clean in victory so as to avoid the mistake of the proverbial cow who did not know the value of its tail until it was cut-off, and came back to its senses only when it needed the said tail dearly to send flies that had become a constant torment to him away, but alas the tail was no more!

We the Idoma nation has had a chequered history in the Nigerian polity. We have had our ups and downs, we have had our sweet moments and bitter moments alike but by and large we have continued to triumph always. There is no gain-saying the fact that God in His infinite mercy has shown us His favour as we cannot deny the fact that we have had our fair share in every segment of life in this country of ours. We have featured our best aforetimes and they have not disappointed us in any way – as they came back with laurels of achievements to their fatherland. Featuring our best as it applies here is to the extent that these men and women of renown from Idomaland were truly the representative of their people, chosen by their people and not outsiders or external forces, hence they went, saw and conquered. In this write-up, I seek to impress on our minds the need to exercise utmost caution as we file out come 13th February, 2016 to exercise our franchise in electing the Senator of our choice. Methinks, we as a people ought to seat back and in retrospect examine the consequences whether positive or negative of our decision on this great day as it will go a long way in shaping and redefining our destinies many decades to come.

Who represents us in the Senate in all intent and purposes is a very serious issue that we ought not to play cheap politics with. The Senator from Zone C traditionally and politically is the most powerful political representative from Idomaland – he is the one who champions, projects and do all the needful political manipulations and maneuverings to bring the greatest goodies to the Idoma people.  The Senator from Zone C therefore, I think should not be a man or woman who is ill-prepared for such a high office - for the office indeed is quite demanding, tasking. The level of impact made by Senators from their various constituencies is a function of their wealth of experience in their various fields of endeavour.  Zone C has been blessed to have produced two Senate Presidents in the history of this country (i.e. Distinguished Senators Ameh Ebute and David A.B. Mark). These our sons performed most creditably why they held sway as leaders of not just their own people but the entire Nigerian nation. But for the Idoma people who have etched their names in the memory of this great country to now be contemplating sending a very immature, undeveloped and a quack fellow in the person of Daniel Onjeh to be their Senator leaves much to be desired, hence this timely warning – to be careful lest we fall prey to the traps already set for us.

It will be surprising for any sincere and patriotic Idoma son or daughter to feign ignorance of the current happenings. Lest we claim not to know, I wish to still state clearly, without any ambiguity that some of our Tiv neighbours have sworn to reduce us to naught in the scheme of things not only in the State but also at the federal level. The trio of Akume, Ortom and Gemade have amply vented their anger and disdain for the person of Senator Mark at different times and occasions and subtly and cunningly they found a ready help in the Appeal Court which nullified the election of our Senator at their very instance going by the denial of the Governor via his Special Assistant even when no Idoma son or daughter raised an allegation of interference. As if that was not wicked enough, these men in their hatred for us are not leaving any stone unturned in their evil quest to unseat Senator Mark – they have vowed to stop at nothing in ensuring that Senator David Mark does not go back to the Senate again and this boast, Governor Ortom abundantly made clear recently when he said no resources is too big or too much to be expended in the quest to dethrone Senator Mark and deny the Idoma the rare privilege of having him represent them again at the National Assembly. This is a boast from the Executive Governor and Chief Security Officer of Benue State and I am seriously troubled that a man of his calibre could descend so low to championing a cause that could easily snowball into an unimaginable conflagration.

It is stating the obvious when one concludes that some Tiv leaders like Senator Akume and Ortom hate Senator Mark with an undying and unquenchable hatred going by their various actions and inactions in recent times. If not, what is their business with who becomes our representative from Zone C in the Senate? Do the likes of Akume and his co-travellers have any cultural affinity to the Idomas? Why do they feel uncomfortable with a David Mark in the Senate? Are they denied their constituency allowances / salaries with a David Mark in the Senate? Are their constituents not having their fair share in appointments and other democratic dividends? Is David Mark actually the reason for Akume and Gemade’s imagined non-performance by their constituents? What have our son done bad to deserve all these unwarranted and unprovoked assault and persecution from these leaders of Zone A and B?  Is it to further perpetuate their hegemony, control and domination of Idomaland?

My heart bleeds and I am shocked and awe-stricken that a people can choose to hate a neighbour they have cohabited with for centuries this much. If not, are we not already completely removed and detached from every segment of Benue politics (in appointments and citing of industries, to mention but a few?). Out of a number of twenty-one (21) industries cited in Benue State, twenty are spread across Zone A and B with only the now moribund Otukpo Burnt Brinks situated in Zone C. The usual office of the Secretary to the State Government which has been our share for a very long time is now taken away from us. The number of our sons and daughters in Benue State Civil Service is in the ratio of 12 Tiv to 2 Idoma / Igede.  In the recently constituted Local Government Service Commission and Judicial Service Commission, only
one Idoma or Igede is found worthy to be in a Commission with six members – a zone with the highest number of Local Government (9) has the ‘privileged’ of having only one of its own in these boards and nobody is complaining. To the Tivs it’s just a privilege as they could as well outrightlhy deny us any slot and none will complain, and according to them, heavens will also not fall.

Again, while Zone C is barred, banned, proscribed, disqualified and prohibited from producing a Governor for these thirty-nine years of Benue’s existence, the other two, Zone A and B keep rotating the governorship slot among themselves and Akume and his kinsmen does not see any evil in that. In fact, the Tiv has a formula of rotation even among the two zones like the turn for MINDA, SANKERA, KPAREV, JEMGBAH or ICHONGUL, IPUUSU, and what not to,  to the flagrant and deliberate exclusion of Zone C which has the highest number of Local Government Areas, yet the trio of Akume, Ortom and Gemade are having sleepless nights, with the allegation that Senator Mark has denied and deprived them appointments. The Ortom-led State Government even went a step further by setting up a Committee to look into the ‘perceived marginalization of the Tivs by the  Idomas’. For goodness sake, who is actually marginalizing who in Benue State?

With all these challenges of underdevelopment and incapacitation agenda foisted on us by the Tiv imperialist agents, it is shocking and astounding to note that some Idoma elders and supposed elites have already been hoodwinked  into following and supporting our Tiv neighbours in their unending quest to unseat Senator Mark, who they claimed has been the reason for their personal and private political under-development. Senator Akume and Ortom wants to attain relevance in Tivland and become demigods in the State and they feel the only way to achieve their sinister agenda is to deploy all resources within their reach, including State Government borrowed money to unseat Mark, hence they have gone out bribing our elders and luring them into decamping to the All Progressive Congress (APC). The testimonial of some of the decampees like Sam Ode whose mother is from Akume’s Tarka Local Government is not strange in any way as they can threaten killing him if he refuses to decamp to serve the interest of his uncle Akume. The Idoma nation don’t want to loose him so it is better he decamps and save his life. For Ada Chenge who is married to Engr. Chenge, a Tiv man, none can blame her for decamping to the APC as she risks divorce if she does otherwise. Even as she was busy criss-crossing the State last year in search of the PDP governorship ticket, not many knew she was on a mission by her husband’s people, but that I think was exactly the case, as we can now clearly see which side her loyalty and patriotism tilts towards.

Decamp or not, any genuine son or daughter of Idoma extraction should have known  by now that the battle at hand is not about party politics but a straight fight between Akume, Ortom, Gemade and the soul of the Idoma nation and not against Mark as some of us childishly see and view it.  Leaders are known by their principled stand in times of adversity. Let it not go down in history that some Idoma elites and leaders of thought whom their subjects look up to for direction and guidance did otherwise and failed in this regard when occasion seriously demanded. Money is not the answer to every thing as some would have us believed. Money can either keep your integrity intact or destroy same when it stands in-between you and the offer to sell your fatherland beckon. I make bold to state that we will be selling out at this crucial time if we reduce the ongoing battle for the soul of Idoma nation to one of party affiliation and other primordial sentiments to the extent of mortgaging wholesale, the very future of Idomaland to the likes of Akume and Ortom. Posterity, I think we be harsh to us and our grandchildren if we falter in this hour of greatest need – a time we need to exhibit a true sense of patriotism and willingness to give even our blood to preserve our heritage from being taken over by these usurpers.

I shall not for any minute stoop down low to begin a comparison of Senator David Mark with Daniel Onjeh in this write-up. To me, it is sheer and absolute waste of time as there is actually no basis for comparison between these two men except that they are all Idoma sons. Aside this, for any genuine Idoma man or woman to begin to do a comparative study or analysis of Onjeh and Mark is laughable and most uncharitable. If I do a comparison here, will I be comparing their maturity in age which also translate to a sense of maturity in handling burning and sensitive issues that touch on the welfare and wellbeing of the Idoma nation which Onjeh clearly lacks? Or will I be comparing David Mark’s many years of experience first as a Military officer of the Intelligence corps, or his years as the Military Administrator of Niger State, Minister of Communication, to a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (the highest military organ at the time), or as a 5th time Senator and Senate President for eight unbroken years without any allegation of wrong-doing or  is it his exploits at keeping the Nigerian polity in one piece at various moments of national upheavals that I should be comparing with Onjeh who has never won a Councillor seat in his native Ogbadibo?

I will not dignify anyone with a comparison of Distinguished Senator David Mark, a man who has distinguished himself in the service of his fatherland with unparallel record of achievements with a toddler in the person Daniel Onjeh who cannot win a Councillorship seat in his local government, talkless of a State Assembly seat for Ogbadibo. In fairness to Onjeh, I challenge him to go contest a House of Assembly seat and see if he can win same. Let him test the waters first from his Local Government of Ogbadibo and see if he is actually popular, except for the propaganda by his sponsors which gives him the false hope and impression that he can win a race like this. I also challenge Senator Akume and his kinsmen to come clean and tell the world if they can feature an Onjeh for a State Assembly election in either Tarka, Guma or Konshisha. If they can permit him this luxury which I greatly doubt, then let them go ahead and present him come 2019 to prove us wrong. But if Akume cannot have an Onjeh sit in Benue State House of Assembly to legislate for his Mbakor kinsmen, why then does he want him willy-nilly as a Senator for Zone C?

For my Idoma kinsmen who will not sieve the truth from falsehood and are busy campaigning for change, I still would want to remind them that when the chips are down we will know the truth eventually. Then and only then will the present truth that Akume is against the entire Idomaland but not David Mark be clearly revealed; and the truth also that it is not all about APC vs PDP and Enone vs Enochi be manifestly made known. Have we cared to ask why Daniel Onjeh at the instance of Senator Akume and Gov. Ortom wrote a petition against Chief Audu Ogbe’s ministerial nomination? Is Chief Ogbe not a member of APC with Akume and Onjeh? Why then did Onjeh, a youngman who is not even of the age of Audu Ogbe’s son,  and from the same Ogbadibo LGA with Chief Audu Ogbe be the one to be used in authoring a document that could have disqualified Chief Ogbe, his uncle and kinsman from being a Minister? Can’t we still see beyond our nose?

May we sincerely proffer answers to these burning questions and come to terms with the reality that all we now see playing out is a fight for tribal supremacy between Tiv and Idoma and not just about David Mark. Having this at the back of our minds, we should unanimously and in one voice come out to say a resounding NO to these intrigues and manipulations come February 13, 2016 by voting Senator David A.B. Mark back to the Senate to shame our enemies and detractors. It is an understatement to say he has performed creditably, for his imprints abound everywhere, if you doubt this, then ask the Tivs and they would awe you with his great feats these sixteen years in the Red Chambers. The Tivs know his worth and his contribution to the survival of the Idoma nation more than we do ourselves, hence the bitter war of attrition and campaign of calumny they have employed and keep employing and deploying to bring him down. It is not Senator Mark the Tiv seeks to bring down but the entire Idoma kingdom. May our story not end like the proverbial cow who never knew the value of his tail until it was severed.  God help the Idoma nation!

Thanks

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