By Aondohemba Manasseh
Youth under the aegis of Benue Youth Forum today led a peaceful demonstration to the Supreme Council of the Tiv people also known as Ijir Tamen in Gboko against plans by the Tiv Area Traditional Council in conjunction with the Benue State Government to appoint first class chiefs in Benue State.
The youth marched from View Point Via Bristow Round-About to the Gboko Local Government Secretariat, venue of the meeting where they officially registered their grievances to the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Gboko Local Government Hon. Joseph Tseeka who mediated talks between the youth and the Tiv Traditional Council.
Speaking on behalf of the forum, leader of the protesters Comr. Manasseh Aondohemba maintained that the group had come to the Tiv Chambers to inform traditional rulers that Benue Youth were opposed to the move to install first class chiefs owing to dwindling economic fortunes of the state under the present administration where salaries of Civil Servants at all levels have not been paid, high institutions of learning and primary schools in the state closed with the state government maintaining a debt profile running into billions of naira. He maintained that it was insensitive for the state government to embark on ventures that are aimed at increasing the cost of governance when it can not take care of the current work load.
The group further stated that the idea of first class chiefs was not necessary at the moment when news of insurgents killing and maiming farmers all over Tiv land has displaced thousands of people when farmers should be preparing for the new cropping season. They also called on the Tiv Traditional Council to focus attention on ways of ensuring peace in the state and securing our land which is the main source of food and income for the Tiv people.
According to the youth, the idea of first class chiefs can only be realistic when a careful probe of the financial position of the state is ascertained to know if Benue has the capacity to install first class chiefs and run government otherwise, it is callous for anybody to want to be a chief when the people he seeks to lead cannot stay in their homes, carry out economic and financial activities, go to school, have food to eat, or have the ability to pay their hospital bills, the group stated.
Responding, Caretaker Committee Chairman of Gboko Local Government Hon. Joseph Tseeka commended the youth for conducting themselves orderly. He stated that base on the issues raised by the leader of the forum, it was very clear that forum has a case which he promised to forward to the appropriate channels for necessary actions.
The Benue State House of Assembly had passed an executive bill seeking amendments to the state’s chieftaincy law to pave way for the creation of additional first class chiefs.
The issue has generated concerns in the state leading to the suspension of the process by the Idoma Area Traditional Council. The Tiv Area Traditional Council however remains adamant on her desire to install the first class chiefs.