As the 2023 General elections are approaching, two intermediate areas in Tivland are laying claim to the turn of who to produce the next Governor of the Benue State. While the Kwande axis is standing on the adage of first come first serve, there are counter arguments by the Jerchira block on why they want to produce Gov. Samuel Ortom’s successor come 2023.
However, going by the respected Tiv gentleman sharing formula of “ya na aningban” Kwande intermediate area legitimately stands out clearly as the next in line based on the rotation principle.
A brief historical overview of how the Governorship has rotated among the Tiv political blocks is highlighted below to lay a background for those who may not be aware.
In 1979-1983per, Aper Aku from Kwande was the first Executive Governor of Benue State since it creation from the then Benue Plateau State. Rev. Fr. Orshio Adasu was elected from the Jechira block and he ruled between 1991-1993. After him, Sen. George Akume emerged from Jemgbah 1999- 2007.He handed over to Sen. Gabriel Suswam from Sankera in 2007-2015.
Samuel Ortom from the Minda who is the current Governor took over from Suswam in 2015. He is expected to leave in 2023.
Considering the above history, all the Tiv clans have taken a shot at the exalted position. It is therefore only logical by natural justice to start where it all began.
Kwande people over the past three decades demonstrated their character as peace loving People who have respect for tradition and culture hence they have never disputed any blocks turn whenever it is their time to produce the Governor.
As the traditional homested of the Tiv Nation, Kwande people have preserved the true Tiv cultural ideologies including the ya na aningban while believing that ” iyuhwe ka mtwem” meaning jealousy is like dust,when you pour,it returns to you. For this reason Kwande remained calm waiting for its turn.
No doubt everyone is aware of this fact that the next Governor of the State has to be a Kwande Man perhaps except the Jechira block which is now agitating for disruption in the logical cycle.
They have advanced several preposterous arguments to make their demand. Each and all of these arguments fall flat in the face of scrutiny using the yardstick of natural justice, order, fairplay and morality.
1. Adasu was a validly elected Governor of the state. That the late fr. Orshio Adasu was genuinely elected as the governor of Benue State in 1992 and was toppled by the Military same way Pa. Aku was ambushed in 1983. Thus the argument that Adasu was removed before the end of his tenure does not hold water. If such argument is to stand then the Kwande people should be the first to benefit from it since their son suffered the same fate first.
2. The Tiv ”ya na aningban” principle does not advocate for greed. The insistence by Jechira to jump the queue is a symptom of greed. Hence the need for Jechira to wait for her turn.
3.Aku’s tenure was also truncated by the military. Same way Adasu’s regime was short lived by Military, Aku’s regime too was destabilized and truncated by the same military who cut short Aku’s dream for a better Benue.
Pa. Aku’s case was the worst. A man who fought and worked so hard for Benue to become a better place everyone would be proud of,was falsely accused, detained for just no cause,and died in custody. This alone would have triggered Benue to give respect to whom it deserve.
4. Jolly Nyame as a case study.
The Supreme Court judgment in the case of Jolly Nyame did not annul his first election. It only stated the obvious that his first election did not count as a term under the 1999 constitution as the constitution was not existence by then. Every law student knows the adage that laws are not applied retroactively. Hence it did not prevent him from running for a third term. The fallacious reasoning by Jechira that the 1992 Republic never existed by reason of the Supreme Court judgment in case of the former governor of Taraba State,Jolly Nyame is just plain mischief.
Nyame just like Adasu was elected as the governor of Taraba State in 1992. His tenure was short-lived due to military takeover of power in 1993. He contested as a governorship candidate in 1999 and won. Nyame was also relected in 2003, making him one of those who won three governorship elections in the country.
Some Politicians in state approached a Court of law challenging his second term relection on the ground that the Constitution forbids third term for Executive arm of Government. The Court did not anull his election,. The Court only stated that the 1999 Constitution was not in place then so he could not be a victim of the law that was not in existence at the time he was elected in 1992.
5. Hence, it ammounts to legal scavenging to attempt to interpret the judgment to mean that Adasu was never elected governor. His election was valid under the prevailing legal framework at the time of his election and subsequently he validly held the office of Governor.
6. In any case the ”ya na aningban” principle is not a even a constitutional matter but a cultural philosophy which has been adopted by the Tiv section of the state for power sharing among themselves, inorder to discourage greediness and allow even distribution of power among its Clans.
7.Interestingly at the return of the Democracy in 1999 the Jechira forgot about their so called “incomplete tenure” and headed to Jemgbagh to select Akume for Governor.
8.After Akume’s Tenure they still followed the Tiv Nation to Sankera to crown Suswam Governor. No one insisted on completing the Adasu term.
9. In 2015 and 2019 they unanimously chorused for a Minda Governorship. Again nobody remembered the unfinished tenure of Jechira.
10. It is therefore, obvious that, mischief and greed are at the root of this sudden realization that Jechira had an unfinished business in Government House Makurdi.
11. All the arguments posisted by Jechira to justify their haste to usurp Kwande are equally applicable to the Kwande cause. For example Aku also ruled outside the 1999 constitution so if we want to discount pre 1999 constitution Governorship then we will start from Aku.
12.Similarly his tenure was also cut short by the military. And so Kwande should be the first to be compensated for that even if such argument holds water. But it doesn’t. So it will be wise to strat from where it all started. That is Kwande. To jump the queue is a symptom of greed and lack of decorum. For Kwande has remained steadfast and patient all these while supporting the Tiv Nation’s peaceful philosophy of ya na aningban.
Recall that in 2015 Kwande supported and gave out its Senatorial ticket to Jechira. They have done the same thing to Sankera. One good turn their said deserves another. Jechira should not forget so soon the kind gesture Kwande had done to them and queue behind Kwande to allow turn taking.
Jechira should play a “gentleman” standard and wait for their turn. For respect is reciprocal. Kwande will remember and support them when it is their turn.