Monday, 19 December 2016

Battle Of Wit As New Tor Tiv Emerges

Barring change of plans, the Tiv nation will welcome the emergence of a new paramount ruler, Tor Tiv,  in the next 48 hours, one year after the demise of the last occupant of the stool. In this report, SOLOMON AYADO, writes on the ensuing battle of who occupies the stool.



Gone the way of his ancestors, the Late Tor Tiv IV, Alfred Akawe Torkula, the paramount ruler of the Tiv ethnic group in Nigeria who ruled his people like a czar, left a big vacuum.

Unarguably,  the Late Tor Tiv IV, HRH Alfred Akawe Torkula who died in November 2015, left memories of a paramount ruler who reigned and was loved by virtually all his descendants.

Indeed, each time his name is mentioned, what readily comes to mind is the thought of a monarch  who stood and fought doggedly to ensure peace reign supreme in his dormain and beyond.

Well schooled with sterling academic background, the scholarly personality of the late Tor Tiv IV added candour to his ingenuity as a highly revered paramount ruler.

He left the proverbial big shoes that most be worn only by some as prepared as he was if not more. Since his demise, a year ago, the Tiv nation has faced many hurdles in the selection of a new Tor that would match the big shoes that the late Torkula literally left.

What the Tiv nation has been continously scouting for is to get a new ruler that will take it to the promise land of permanent peace and prosperity. It appears this became a hard but to crack. It was no little of a surprise for the long time it took for the kingmakers to pronounce a successor.

Finally, the much expected time has come and the Tiv people are set to welcome a new Tor Tiv, in the next 48 hours.

Significance of Tor Tiv Stool

The Tor Tiv provides the father figure who bears the traditional torch of the Tiv nation. little wonder that the stool plays significant role and is accorded premium respect by the Tiv people.

To an average Tiv person, living for about a year without a paramount ruler is a sad story that depict pains and gains. Many likened the existence of the Tiv nation without custodian of its culture to a household existing without breadwinner.

However, with the reverence and respect that the Tiv nation has earned from other ethnic nationalities in the country, regarding the people as beckon of hope for the country’s development, the Tivs living without a ruler, for long, is  equally a  source of worry for the generality of the people.

But not long after the exit of the Tor Tiv IV, it became realizable that existing without a father figure can be the biggest risk any nation would take in its determination to foster unity and development.

At some point, it nearly became like the Tivs were schemed out of both traditional and political happenings of the country due largely to the fact that the Tor Tiv who ordinarily would have roared like the lion (Begha) that he was, is no more.

The Trend of Succession

According to history, succession to the Tor Tiv stool has evolved without acrimony since 1946. There was total agreement that the philosophy of power sharing by rotation between the two sons of Tiv-Ichongo and the Ipusu lineage-is the guiding criteria.

According to Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, when the Tor Tiv dies, the stool passes to the next lineage. The wisdom of the rotation disqualifies any body in the late Tor Tiv’s family and lineage.

In Tiv canons, it is safe to say that since the Tiv’s do not practice primogeniture, the last person to aspire for the next Tor Tiv in Tivland is the son of a late Tor Tiv.

It was gathered that the man “Tiv” had ten grandsons from his two sons, Ichongo and Ipusu since his third son Poor reportedly died without an issue. These ten have become the super-clans between whom the chieftaincy stool rotates.

Indeed, the Ichongo super-clans are, Iharev, IKurav, Masev, Nongov, Turan and Ugondo.Also, among the Ipusu super-clans are Shitile, Ukum, Kparev and Tongov respectively.

Reflectively, Chief Makir Zakpe, a Kunav man from Jechira, son of Kpar (Kparev) from Ipusu, became the first Tor Tiv. Chief Gondo Aluor, an Ugondo man son of Ichongo accordingly became second Tor Tiv 2nd based on the Tiv policy of eat and give brother. After his demise,His Royal Highness, Chief Akperan Orshi, a Tombo man from Jemgbagh, son of Kparev and of the Ipusu, emerged as third Tor Tiv while Chief Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, a Ihyarev man and son of Ichongo, who was the last occupant of the stool, became the fourth Tor Tiv and 2nd Tor Tiv to have come from the Ichongo extraction.

However, after the death of HRH. Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, an acting Tor Tiv was appointed. The Ter Guma, a second class traditional ruler, Chief Ivokor Unongo who hail from the same area with the late Torkula was nominated to act pending  the selection of a substantive Tor.

From the established sharing formula and stool rotation, it became unarguable that hence the late Tor Tiv IV came from the Ichongo extraction, it is now the turn of Ipusu to produce the next Tor Tiv.

The Late Tor Tiv And His Journey To Join Ancestors

The late Tor Tiv IV, Orchivirigh Alfred Akawe Torkula, the Begha U Tiv (Lion of the Tiv nation) was born on 10th July, 1944 at Tse-Torkula in Mbadwem District of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. He attended the then Tiv N. A. Elementary School, Gboko St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School, Naka, Gwer West LGA in

Mt. Saint Micheal’s Secondary School, Aliade and later proceeded to Kings College Lagos,  Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and then University of Besancon, France between 1953 and 1971.

Dr. Torkula joined the then Benue Plateau State Civil Service and later on transferred his services to Benue State upon the creation of Benue in 1976. He held many positions including the Permanent Secretary and Director-General.

In April, 1989, he was appointed a Commissioner thus becoming a member of the Benue State Execitive Council.

He became The Tor Tiv IV and got installed on 21 April, 1991 emerging as Chairman of the Benue State council Of Traditional Rulers.

Dr Alfred Akawe Torkula who holds a Ph. D in Cultural Anthropology, had an Honorary LL.D and Doctor  of Science  from The University of Ibadan and Michael Okpara University Of Agriculture, Umudike respectively.

He was variously Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and Chancellor Of the University Of Agriculture, Umudike.

The monarch, an academic par excellence, authored more than six books which includes; Death and Burial Custom of the Tiv People of Central Nigeria, The Cosmology in Tiv Worldview, The Tiv Woman, (Challenges and Prospect), Presidential Democracy in Nigeria: Grassroots Experience.

The politics of his succession

Immediately after the demise of the late Tor Tiv IV, tension quickly mounted as scores of prominent sons of the Tiv nation including second class chiefs began to jostle to occupy the vaccant stool.

Apart from prominent personalities from the Ichongo extraction where the demised Tor Tiv came from, virtually all well meaning sons of the Ipusu entity, of all varied divides opted to contest for the reverence traditional seat.

However, the battle to occupy the stool intensified among the varied blocs of Ipusu, just as consultations by the intending contestants to gain the ancestral backing of the kingmakers began, amidst even before the last occupant was laid to rest.

At the time, from the Ipusu sharing unit, prominent politicians from the Sankera, Kwande and Jerchira intermediate areas had started holding last minute meetings, donating gifts, campaigning to become successors.

It became a matter of vested interest which prompted the Benue state House of Assembly to wade into the matter by tinkering with the state chieftaincy law.

The Amendment of Chieftaincy Law

It quickly became a political matter of do or die affair. While other contestants moved with campaigns, reportedly claiming to being sponsored by incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom, others had alleged that they were detailed by leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator George Akume.

This made the appointment of a new Tor Tiv to prolong. Instead of  making the selection immediately, political interests vested into the matter which culminated into the decision of the state legislative arm to module the chieftaincy law.

The Assembly passed the bill for a law to make provisions for the Amendment of Benue State Council of Chiefs and Traditional Councils,  2016.The passage followed two days of marathon sessions of the House and consideration of the bill in the Committee of the whole chaired by the Speaker, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange.

Before the passage, the Assembly had resolved to refer the issue of determing the true descendants of the two major component units of Tiv-Ichongo and Ipusu-back to the the Supreme Council of the Tiv people known as “Ijir Tamen”  so as to guarantee peaceful resolution.

By designed resolution, Schedule 3 to Section 16 of the proposed amendment to the Council of Chiefs and Traditional Councils bill was reduced to Ichongo and Ipusu blocs so that their component units (descendants) will be determined by the Tiv Supreme Council. It further resolved that the selection  Committee for the Tor Tiv stool which was to be constituted should comprise of Six  First Class Chiefs, 14  Second Class Chiefs and the 28  Third Class Chiefs in the Tiv chiefdom, for equitable representation.

The Assembly however held that sharing formula where the two Tiv sons coexist should be between Ichongo and Ipusu, and not by geopolitical division or Electoral Constituencies.

Ortom Declares Fasting And Prayer

Apparently overwhelmed by the varied political interests and to end the pressure reportedly mounted on him by his political god father, Akume one hand and the contenders for the stool on the other,  Governor Samuel Ortom  resorted to Devine intervention, declaring fervent fasting and prayers to be embarked by the people.

But the spiritual intervention did not seem to put an end to the political pressure as he (Ortom) again, summoned an emergency meeting of the kingmakers and the contenders to chart the way forward.

The meeting which lasted for several hours, was held at Government House Makurdi. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the fixing of Tuesday, December 20, as the date for the emergence of a new Tor Tiv.

Meanwhile, appearing to be showing some level of fairness and not seemingly depicting any posture of sponsoring or backing any contender, Ortom insisted that the Tiv Traditional Council should first resolve the issue of who among the Ipusu bloc would produce the next Tor Tiv, between the Ipusu lineage in Sankera and Kwande so that, according to him, only contestants from one of the two blocs would vie for the paramount stool.

The Contestants: Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Conspicuous among the never-ending list of Ipusu extraction vying for the traditional stool, from Sankera and Kwande axis, are a Makurdi High Court judge, Justice Moris Ikpambese, former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Senator Daniel Saror, a retired Director of NITEL, Adaa Maagbe, a former chairman of Kwande local government, Chief Terlumun Akputu and a former Ambassador to Argentina, Barrister Chive Kaave. Others are a former governorship aspirant, Chief Shima Ayati, a professor of Geography at the Benue State University Makurdi, Prof. Ambrose Liam, special adviser to the governor on security, Col Edwin Jando (retd) and Prince Bendega among others.

While Ikpambese is been said to be Senator Akume’s favorite, Maagbe is said to be from the Senator’s camp but partly backed by Governor Ortom and it is pretty dicey to say if the people would prefer a contender emanating from the ‘change’ cabal. For Saror, he is said to be more favored by the people but his old age remains a challenge to his likely emergence, just as Kaave, a former diplomat with vast global exposure is said to be younger and ripe for the stool but allegedly being sponsored by former Governor Gabriel Suswam. While Ayati is said to be a political chieftain whose traditional prowess is not satisfactory, Liam, Jando, Bendega and Akputu are said to be mere pretenders to the race.

As it stands, the reality of who will emerge the new Tor Tiv depend largely on the decision of the electoral college (kingmakers) but the alleged political interference still remains a dicey factor.

All things said, the Tivs will, within the next couple of hours, know who is favoured to take over the baton of leadership.

 https://leadership.ng/features/564314/benue-battle-of-wit-as-new-tor-tiv-emerges

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