By Tor Shiekuma Felix
A month ago, whispers crept into the nooks and crannies of the agriculture-oriented state that the crowned head of Tiv Kingdom cash in his chips. In actuality, many received this scoop as a mere scuttlebutt, because it was heard on the grapevine. Eventually, the supreme citizen of the state, Dr. Samuel Ortom, substantiated the news, that the paramount monarch of the famous Tiv kingdom, His Royal Highness Dr. Afred Akawe Torkula Tor Tiv IV, went to meet his progenitors.
We must take as gospel that, Tiv nation did not only lose a ruler; also, a competent,
potential and 21st century academician. I must divulge that I am among the beneficiaries of his quality and relevant intellectual outputs. Certainly, posterity will also benefit from his scholarly contributions to the warehouse of knowledge, and give thumbs up for his colossal input towards the projection of Tiv culture to the outside world in areas of marriage, death and language.
At the outset, let me employ this platform to particularly outstretch my condolence message to the immediate family of the late monarch, Tiv kingdom as a whole, and Benue State in general. May God almighty give everyone the grit to endure this unpremeditated lost.
However, mourning mood does not hamstring king-making process, because the laid down principles demand a new helmsman to top off the vacuum launched by the deceased traditional chief. Indeed, every mentally sound human being will boldly come to terms with me that the assignment of generating a new traditional big cheese in an unethical, unprincipled and unscrupulous society is a herculean task; it needs to be painstakingly carried out. This implies that king makers must be sensibly guided in terms of eligibility, hardwork, experience, qualification, and community spirit. I am not in any way discrediting their age and wealth of experience on this subject but Methuselah was the oldest man in the Bible, yet King Solomon (like a son to Methuselah) was rated as the father of wisdom. So, age does not mean monopoly of knowledge; they can still learn from younger ones. Regardless of multifarious submissions received on this kid-glove issue, I implore king makers to accord necessary attention to this constructive guide, so as to avoid coronation of bad egg as numero uno ruler.
It becomes incontrovertible that countless dignitaries have already registered their appellations on the contest list. Horse trading, lobbying and meeting upon meetings characterized the activities of the moment. Tactical handshakes, weighed smiles and premeditated laughter are very common in every assembly. Unusual official and unofficial visit to influential and distinguished big cats in the driving seats is skyrocketing. These schemes are devised by each contestant so as to win a gold medal at the end of the marathon race.
Before I venture into the crux of this piece, I want the king makers to grasp that the rationale behind the installation of the first Tiv paramount ruler, Orchirigh Makir Zakpe Tor Tiv I, in 1946 was to secure the Tiv nation from alien enslavement, because Fulanis wanted to inaugurate an Emirate ruling dynasty for the Tiv. The great King Zakpe wholeheartedly tussled for our freedom until he finally changed his earthly address. So, the king makers should ensure that the next TorTiv has proper orientation and adequate knowledge in respect to this cardinal objective. Such person must be capable and well primed to conserve our freedom and liberate the peace idolizing people of Tiv Kingdom from the hands of deadly insurrectionists. .
The fortified walls of Tiv nation were aggressively shattered by the Fulanis. The same set of people that were gallantly knocked out of our land, recently returned with unbearable fighting force; and they greatly tampered with our freedom and peace. Many innumerable Tiv natives lost their lives and properties in that invasion. There was a time, they even expelled our late monarch from his village, making it impossible for him to attend official invitations and perform other functions. Though the situation seems to be very phlegmatic now, but no one can correctly define the true state of their mind. So the next Tor Tiv must be ready to do finishing job on this matter; he must be geared up to proffer a formula that will drag this case to a lasting and desired end. The communal crisis exuding for Jukum fraction of Taraba State should also be not trivialized.
The next Tor Tiv will emerge from political processes; but he should not be a partisan ruler. The king makers should commit to memory that Tiv traditional institution is not a political association so its supreme leader should also not be a lover of partisan politics. This is to enable the cultural institution pull off its expected responsibilities without being dictated like television remote by party field marshals. Moreover, this will limit politicians of easy virtue to influence his official duties. Transparency, accountability, honesty, commitment will be harvested if only the next traditional boss does not identify himself with any political party.
During the reign of the deceased overlord, the Tiv traditional council which is saddled with the onus of addressing issues affecting the Tiv nation became a platform for canvassing votes for political office seekers. In facts, our highly revered palace became a state party secretariat, where party issues were deliberated upon. Some even muttered that the palace was a venue for behind-the-scene party primaries. This was so because the late big boss was unable to truly define the demarcation between his office and politics. It therefore becomes crucial for king makers to note that the republican Tiv people are expecting a king, who will father to all, not a party delegate. Moreover, the 1999 constitution does not make provision for political roles of traditional rulers in governance, including the next king.
A political party lacks moral standing to produce the next King; the king Makers should jot this. Now that the change-oriented party, APC, is at the helm of affairs, with all the powers at its disposal, Tiv people are whispering incessantly that they do not want an APC Tor Tiv. I don’t know their reason for that decision but I think that, that will amount to Politicalization of Tiv traditional institution. Apart from this, Benue APC is yet to prove to people that it can do anything outside propaganda. Some political harlots, who indicated interest in the race, are silently joining the change bandwagon, expecting to be considered for the race. These are people who deliberately refused to wish Tiv nation well. King makers should be careful with these political magicians, all they want are benefits of this plum and venerated office, not the demands of the office. The next Tor Tiv should be somebody who deserves the job, not who desperately wants the job. In the same vein, this highly hallowed throne should not be used as compensation for any party loyalist or stooge.
In addition, the king makers should realize that Tiv people believed so much in the principle of ‘chop give brother’, zoning. I am not familiar with the internal zoning arithmetic but on a larger perspective, zone A senatorial district ought to produce the next Tiv helmsman. They (king makers) should be conscious of this fact and be set not to compromise it for whatever reasons. The seat shouldn’t be dragged to where there are political majors, human influence and financial weight. The right people who are to take up the throne should be adequately guided to produce the next Sovran. This will do justice to our unity, peace; and it’ll avert ‘civil war’. Otherwise, it may amount to Pandora’s Box.
It is also consequential to assert that the duties of our next kingpin are not circumscribed to Tiv locality only; it also involves the outside world. Therefore, the next ruler should not be a case-study in incompetence; it should be somebody that has created a memorable mark in academic. In essence, he should be knowledgeable. This will definitely enable him to freely interact with his contemporaries all over the world, confront enormous challenges, partake in decision making process; and policies formulation. Tiv people don’t want an analphabetic or unlettered king – someone who is imprisoned by illiteracy. Nevertheless, if the King Makers claim deafness over this issue, they’ll produce ‘I support’ or ‘I concur’ type of king for well-schooled aborigines of Tivland.
I also want to put forth that, King Makers should be very careful with some self-appointed political godfathers or the so-called statesmen, who hail from Tiv nation. They are the sole reason why Tivland is sinking on the daily basis. I am quite sure, they have already compiled and forwarded lists of their loyalists, qualified or unqualified, for consideration. Their intention is not to plant somebody that will resuscitate the decayed institution, rather to install a ‘boy’ that will be answerable to them, and tolerate their evil deeds. The king makers should boldly stymie their influence, by letting them understand that king making is not party primaries, councilor election or local government election. It is neither a man’s business nor a family affair; it’s a collective issue that concerns the entirety of Tiv nation, which must be done outside personal interests, clique anchored agenda and imposition. Unanimous and consensus interest supersedes any other. The republican Tiv people will appreciate their statesmanship or godfatherism if they can only pull masses-oriented projects from federal government to Tivland. We can’t afford to sit and watch them introduce error in the system again!
Prior to now, Tiv people were appreciated for their togetherness and deep affection for another. However, Tiv nation is being divided along political lines: Kwande, Jechira, Jemgbah, Sankera and Minda. I am not challenging this, these political divisions are good means of sharing political seats and ensuring evenly distribution of resources, but in recent times, they are causing more harm than the projected blessing. For instance, a Kwande man is not a Tiv man before a man from Jemgbah, especially if he/she is affiliated to a political party he detests. We have sold our oneness to selfishness and discontentment. This has created openings for saboteurs to penetrate our once united nation. I therefore implore king makers to produce a king that will restore our oneness; a king that will take us back to: ‘’Ayatutu Ka Unu, Ka se”.
The key men’s mobile phones might unprecedentedly buzz because of banks alerts. Ghana-must-go bags and armed men might also be seen around dedicated and flamboyant houses, mostly at the dusk. It is very common to see all these things when issue like this arises. However, the men saddled with the assignment of generating a successor of the late monarch should be wise, not to scale down the office of Tor Tiv to cash and carry business. Money, in no small measure, jeopardizes merits and eligibility. Those thinking money could buy the throne should not change the dancing steps of the king makers, it should rather point to them corrupt people that are eyeing the office for individual enrichment; and they should screen out such unscrupulous elements before it gets too late. On the other hand, good reputation is better than riches. This should not be an avenue for King Makers to enmasse wealth, but they should prove to the entire world that they are worthy to be entrusted with greater responsibilities and that, their love for Tiv nation takes the place of personal wealth.
Before I draw the curtain, let the king makers bury their selfish interests and regards the will of the masses; be ready to work with the right people, because two responsible and useful heads are better than one. Rebuke devil-sponsored agents, stand by the truth, and embrace fairness.
Predominantly, the next Tor Tiv should be somebody who has the fear of God. It is a traditional matter but God uses Godly kings as human instruments to direct, guide and instruct his people. That being the case, the king makers should pray to God for God fearing king, for the well meaning people of Tiv nation.
Tor Shiekuma Felix can be reached by mail email@example.com