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Helping To Set Agenda for the Next Tor Tiv (Part One)

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A great loss has befallen the Tiv Nation. The Paramount ruler of the Tiv Nation (worldwide), Orchivirigh (His Royal Highness), Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula (Tor Tiv IV) [above], has passed on. To the entire Tiv people in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Cross River state and in the Diaspora, I extend my heart-felt condolences.

God does not do bad things, so even as we mourn, we receive the grace to praise Him for His good work; we find the fortitude to strengthen ourselves; and we pray God to grant him eternal rest…in Jesus’ Name- Amen.

Straight away, I must confess that writing this has not been easy for me. And while waiting for the answer from ityo, let me start thinking aloud. I have agonized over the propriety of this contribution. Two reasons have agitated my mind. One, can we talk about an agenda for Tor Tiv (V) without being sacrilegious when the late Tor Tiv (IV), Orchivirigh Dr Alfred Akawe Torkula, is not yet buried? And two, can an agenda for the Tor Tiv be so openly discussed?

But then it occurred to me that, perhaps; yes, we may. After all, with the formal announcement of his death, the race is on. Although we are still in a mourning mood, from now on, there will be strategic handshakes, calculated smiles, and measured laughter, choreographed appearances and all. And there would be meetings upon meetings upon meetings, even meetings inside meetings.

My country men and women, the race is on. And if so, then we may talk about it. In fact, I believe this is the right time, given my argument, lately, for an interrogation of our leadership recruiting processes. In any case, I am told that people are already discussing the matter.

I find the discussion in order (if it is true), and i join the discourse. I believe if we talk constructively now, the king-makers may be properly guided with respect to eligibility, qualification, preparation, the community spirit, antecedents as well as our sense of natural justice. However, if we keep quiet, the race for the revered stool might be reduced to a cash-and-carry affair as obtained in the delegates’ elections or a person of an abbreviated morality and wait-and-take degrees, but with access to the powers that be, may corner the stool, one way or the other, and use it to legitimize his person and history.

And two, as for setting an agenda for the Tor Tiv, if that does not sit well or if it sounds too presumptuous, we could rephrase it to mean: Memo to the next Tor Tiv.  A subordinate is allowed to do a memo to the boss. In any case, as someone has said, it wasn’t raining when Noah made the ark.

The points I make are not necessarily in the order of importance. If they make sense, we can re-order them, panel-beat/improve on them, and amplify them for maximum effect.

1.                      A POLITICAL, BUT NON-PARTISAN TOR TIV

We all agree that man is a political animal, and since the next Tor Tiv is going to be a man, we cannot, in all fairness, expect him not to be political. Even if our expectation of him is to be apolitical once he assumes office, we really cannot drain his system of politics, especially at its basic level of resource allocation in a ruggedly competitive system.

So I do not make a case for an apolitical Tor Tiv; I rather make a case for a politically, non-partisan one. We live in political times, and the environment in which he will operate is a political one just like his peers across the country. In fact, despite our misgivings, even his ultimate emergence may be through a charged and convoluted political process.

Furthermore, some of the things happening to us as a nation are orchestrated and denominated, not just by regular politics, but by its high-stakes variety.  

One of them is the unjust locking out of the Tiv Nation from all the strategic rooms or spaces of Federal power: the corridors of power, the sitting-rooms of power, the kitchens of power, the bedrooms of power, and even the anterooms of power! Any situation that leads to Nigeria’s 4th largest ethnic group being exiled to the terraces or the verandas of power is decidedly political. And as the Father of the Tiv Nation, the Tor Tiv will have to call attention to it, with his political voice.

Another is the premeditated, continual and continuous invasion of the Tiv-homeland by so-called Fulani-herdsmen. I say so-called because nomadic herdsmen do not come all the way from Chad, Niger or even the Sudan to the fertile, Benue Valley; and when they reach its green pastures, they start killing farmers off the land, raping their women/daughters, taking over their homes, and harvesting their crops; thereby up-rooting and destituting otherwise proud Benue people (Tiv, Idoma, Igede… included) and their families. I say these are not herdsmen, but hatchet men who have been hired and imported for a political agenda. And our Tor Tiv, the Father of Benue State and Tiv people world-wide, will need to speak to the sponsors of these mercenaries in a very political language. 

And even at home here, within his domain, when people shopping at the leadership counter exhibit more ambition than preparation or when politicians begin to gorge themselves on the commonwealth in the guises of Joint-Accounts, Joint- Committees, Joint-Taskforces etc, he can summon his political voice to tell them that there is a Father in the House; a father who would not condone such! Experience is still the best teacher, and it is teaching us right now that: Prevention is still better than cure!

And if, in such noble circumstances, a politician, with more mischief than honour, charges our father with playing politics, we (his subjects) would not hesitate to put it to them, as lawyers do, that: “Democracy is too important to be left for politicians alone.” (Elizabeth May).

But in being political, the Tor Tiv does not have to belong to the APC or the PDP or any party for that matter. The truth is that irrespective of whosoever becomes His Excellency or whatsoever party takes over GHM, Tor Tiv will remain Tor Tiv. 

If he treads this path of enlightened and dignified neutrality, adroitly refusing to get sucked into the vortex of political partisanship, the Tor Tiv (V) would be walking in the footsteps of Tor Tiv (III), the late Orchivirigh Dr. James Akperan Orshi. 

This is why it is imperative that the selection and appointment of the new Tor Tiv is not subjected to political pressures, left or right, so that we do not have an APC Tor Tiv or a PDP Tor Tiv; and th king-makers must take note of this! The issue at stake is bigger than APC, bigger than PDP….it is about a Tor Tiv who will aggregate the best of our golden dreams/yearnings (whether we are in Benue state, Taraba state, Nasarawa state and Cross River state or even in the Diaspora), and galvanize us, lead us, to the beckoning frontiers of Change. No.1 Takeaway: He must be political, without partisanship.

2.                      NEITHER A DIPLOMAT NOR A GENERAL, BUT A LAMB AND LION

Tor Tiv (V) does not have to be a diplomat or a general. The quintessential diplomat is too much of a gentleman – enamoured, as he is, with diplomatic niceties and establishment etiquette. The same goes for the general – for, in a classic sense, he is too soldierly: everyone looks like a target; and everything deserves, what I may take the liberty of terming, the ABC formula i.e. Armament, Bombardment and Conquest.  

Yes, in an ever-changing world where things are no longer just black and white; where interests challenge interests, then repel or hug, overlap and entangle, but only to disentangle and, at some other point, entwine again, we need a Tor Tiv who is a cross between the diplomat and the general; the pacifist and the militant. 

Specifically, at a time when the Tiv Nation is being assailed, from the outside, by the twin-evils of political genocide and economic exclusion; and, from within, by the multi-negating forces of witchcraft (tom-imegh), envy (iyuhe), gluttony (zwa-pough), Animal-Farm longings (u soon u korun ior mba gen chii ikpyan), communal crises (inya-i-kperan/inyum-i-nyaagh) and, wicked leadership (hemen-u-ifyer tseegh) …, the next paramount chief of the Tiv Nation must be a cross between the diplomat and the combatant.

In other words, he should be a lamb-and-lion of a Tor Tiv! The lamb, in him, would enable him to give the Tiv Nation a servant-leadership, with all its salutary virtues; while the lion, in him, would make him judge with royal sagacity as well as benevolent firmness. 

We can still put it this way. The next Tor Tiv must be simple without being simple-minded; majestic without being magisterial; courageous without being conceited; and granting graces without being taken for granted. This way, our new Tor Tiv will combine: conciliation with candour; grace with grit; bark and bite, and, will consequently, marry his reign with results. No.2 Takeaway: A lamb and lion!

(To be continued)

Simon Imobo-Tswam, a media consultant, author and public speaker, writes from Abuja. He can be reached at: simonpita2008@yahoo.com

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