We in Zone B Senatorial District otherwise referred to as Benue North-West Senatorial District have been following and enjoying all the political arithmetic and manipulations ongoing in Zone C Senatorial District on who represents them in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after the February 20, 2016, Senatorial Rerun election. We also are fully aware that the contenders for the coveted seat are two Idoma sons viz: Distinguished Senator David A.B. Mark and Comrade Daniel Onjeh. The dossiers of these two men have been carefully x-rayed hence, we have resolved to make this brotherly request to our Idoma neighbours to please do us a favour by loaning Senator David Mark to us and go ahead to send an Onjeh to the Senator or vote for Sen. Akume, our three-term senator to represent their interest in the Red Chambers.
This request may sound ridiculous to some but to those who know the worth and laudable contribution of Senator David Mark to his Idoma kinsmen since 1999 to date in comparison with the dismal performance of our leaders from Zone A and B since the present democratic experimentation will agree that our request for Senator Mark is quite timely, hence we urge all our fellow constituents and other well-meaning citizens of Tiv extraction to join hands with us to convince our Idoma neighbours to do us this great favour by releasing to us their illustrious son, Senator David Mark whom they claimed to be tired of, except they are fooling us to only collect the monies Governor Ortom and Senator Akume is dishing out all in the name of trying to unseat Senator Mark. We have argued variously in different joints across Gboko that Ortom and Akume should beware of some Idoma politicians as they can change their minds at the eleventh hour to support their brother Mark. The large sums of money being given to some of these expired politicians from Zone C who have no political relevance should instead be used to develop Tivland to make us have a feel of what it means to have leaders, but Senator Akume and Gov. Ortom will have none of these.
Time shall tell whether Akume and Ortom will actually make real their threat of using all machinery at their disposal to unseat Senator Mark whose achievements towers very high among his constituents. No Tiv son can feign ignorance that if place side by side, the best choice between Akume and Mark is to go for Mark, if not for anything, but at least for his tenacity and single-mindedness towards uplifting his people and placing them in relevant positions at the federal level. I think our boast of controlling the State is becoming very useless and of no consequence by the day, as our dear State have remained stagnant these forty (40) years of its existence with little or nothing tangible in terms of development to make one boast of. I would rather get a job in Abuja than sit all year long in Benue boasting of the Tiv man imagined political domination which brings no food to my table.
I am always shocked and surprised each time an Idoma son or daughter asks the question “what has David Mark done for these 16 years?”. It is either the Idomas are the worst ingrate the Nigerian nation has ever produced or they are both myopic, insensitive, unappreciative and uninformed about the achievements recorded by their son or they are fooling and making jest of us in Tivland each time they ask the silly question – “what has David Mark done since 1999?”.
It was precisely in the first week of February 2016 that I stumbled on an internet material – a write-up by Yemi Itodo, an Idoma young man, cataloguing Senator David Mark’s unparallel achievements in the area of human capital development all in his efforts to educate his Idoma folks of the laudable achievements of their son. This young man in the said write-up shows the stuff he was made up of as he did an in-depth research on David Mark’s achievements over the past sixteen years. The phase-1 of the list according to him, was the over 85 Idoma sons and daughters that the distinguished Senator has influenced their appointments mostly as Chairmen and members of Boards and Parastatals across the length and breadth of this country. That none of the people on that list has come out to deny or fault the said publication is a further testimony to its authenticity, hence this write-up and a timely request from the Idomas, if they are actually serious and are not just fooling us. I could not but envy the Idoma, and I am pretty sure any ethnic nationality in this country will envy the Idoma for these numerous appointments that have come their way through the efforts of their Senator. No wonder, my Senator, George Akume keeps having sleepless nights and headaches over David Mark’s stay in the Senate. My friends in Gboko and Makurdi town have been bombarding me with calls to prove my never dying loyalty and support to Senator Akume, since the said publication by Yemi Itodo. Frankly, Senator Akume has next to nothing to show to his constituents, going by these long list of personalities from Zone C whose appointments were all credited to the Senator from that Zone. Of course, I have kept mute since them to save myself unnecessary insults and assaults from friends.
Take note that the list of appointments as released by Mr. Yemi Itodo does not contain the usual employment of men and women into the Police, Army, Navy, Airforce, Custom, Civil Defence, Prisons Service, Immigration, Fire Service and so many countless other ministries and parastatals where Senator Mark’s constituents hold sway; what do you say of his scholarship scheme to all indigenes of Benue State since 1999 and many infrastructural facilities he has brought to his people, yet the question on the lips of the average Zone C citizen is“what has Senator Mark done since 1999?”. That is the height of ingratitude and a show of complete foolishness for a people so blessed to deride their leader and make him an object of ridicule and opprobrium despite his tireless efforts at uplifting them both politically and economically. If my Senator in Zone B has done 40% of what Senator Mark has done for his constituents, I am pretty sure the Tiv Area Traditional Council would have conferred a chieftaincy title on Senator George Akume long ago.
Senator Akume and Gemade’s only challenge are their inability to speak out for their people when the occasion demands. They would rather come home to flex their muscle with small boys while over there in Abuja they appear powerless and have clearly abdicated in their constitutional duties to their constituents. It is on record that Senator George Akume has not sponsored any bill of relevance to his constituents since 2007 when he got elected to the National Assembly. We in Tivland are so unfortunate that even when debates are made on the floor of the Senate, our own sons are mostly silent and when they attempt to make any contribution, it’s mostly incoherently presented that you will begin to wonder if these so-called illustrious sons of Tivland are afraid of the faces they meet in the Senate. And every of their misfortune they quickly blame on Senator Mark.
I am still at a loss how Senator David Mark has become the albatross to the glaring non-performance of these two leaders of Tivland. Senator George Akume embarrassed the entire Tiv nation when during the contest for the seat of Senate President in 2007, he in his presentation told his colleagues, in the full view of the whole world that he was the Governor of Benue State from 1979 to 2007. This was an insult, not only to his senatorial district but the entire Tiv nation. Even if this was a slip of the tongue, then it was quite unfortunate, as it contributed in no small measure in robbing him of the exalted office of the Senate President. 2007 to date is long a period for Senator Akume to have purified himself of this shortcoming and timidity but I doubt if he is not worse-off now as he is hardly heard when issues of national importance and relevance to his people are discussed. As usual, all that will be blamed on Senator David Mark, as if he was bewitched. To the average Tivman and woman on the street, Senator Mark is the only reason why their Senators have performed abysmally and poorly since they got to the Senate. We were almost believing their lies until recently, when though Mark was not in the Senate, and why we have our two Senators in the ruling All Progressive Congress, the Tivs with their numerical strength and near-complete support for the APC-controlled government could not produce a Minister in this present democratic dispensation. Who then do we blame for our non-inclusion in the Ministerial list of President Muhammadu Buhari – do we still blame Senator Mark and our Idoma neighbours for our ill-luck? It is on record that President Buhari earlier on confided in Senator Akume to bring a man of proven integrity from Benue State for a ministerial appointment and all Akume could present was an Akange Audu.
For those of us from Tivland and particularly Jemgbagh axis, we know the man Akange Audu with all his baggage could not score more than 38% in Buhari’s integrity test, hence he was outrightly rejected. If we may ask, don’t we have men of proven integrity in all the fourteen (14) local councils in Tiv land, that Senator Akume, a man in whom we have entrusted our future will choose such a character like Akange Audu for the exalted office of a Minister? Now that Buhari has rejected his man, why didn’t he present the said Akange Audu to Gov. Ortom to be made a Commissioner if really he was that good? How was it Senator Mark’s fault that we couldn’t get a Minister from Tivland in this case? Is Senator Mark also an APC senator? My answer to some of these questions is that unless and until our leaders put away selfishness and begin to sincerely and patriotically articulate the cause for which they are voted for – which is projecting the image of the larger Tiv nation and not just that of a section or clan, we are far from being liberated from our woes and none should lay the blame at the doorstep of another man in far away Otukpo.
It is for all these frustrations which we in Zone A and B have been constantly subjected to because of our leaders’ ineptitude and selfishness that I would rather have Senator Mark with his outstanding performance for his constituents than an Akume or a Gemade. If the Idomas are fed up with such unbroken and unmatched achievements by their son, then I think we in Zone B need his type. If Senator Akume had done 1/3 of all that Mark has done for his people, we will be worshipping him like we did to his uncle the late Joseph Saawuan Tarka. At least, Tarka defended the Tivs all his political life and we were far better off than we are now under an Akume and a Gemade. The mystery behind one Senator from Zone C being a threat to two Senators in Zone A and B is still strange to many of us.
If really Senator Akume sees Sen. David Mark as truly being powerful, why is David Mark not also calling the shots in the State politics – meaning Senator Akume is better off as a local politician than one to send on national assignments. Is Akume not dictating to Gov. Samuel Ortom whatever he is doing presently? It is on record that of every appointment purportedly made by the Governor, Senator Akume actually made all. More than 80% of all appointments so far made bear the imprints of Senator Akume, the Governor is not even in charge of minor appointments like his own private and personal assistants as he is completely tied to the apron string of his benefactor, Akume, hence, we are seeing little or nothing in terms of development in Benue State even after accessing billions in loan and bailout. The State appears worse-off under the present Ortom-APC government than the Suswam led PDP-government. Salaries, as usual, are still largely unpaid as some civil servants are still being owed up to three months arrears of salaries. Only God knows where all the loans taken in the name of offsetting salary arrears is taken to.
If Senator Akume still has any shame, I advise him to please engage in face-saving measures by impressing it on the State Government to urgently begin work on the Makurdi-Wanune-Gboko-Ugbema road as these routes have remained death traps since 1999. For his over nine years of stay in the Senate, the distinguished Senator has not seemed reason to have this all-important road in his zone to be put to proper use. A trip from Makurdi to Ugbema will make you hate the Senator as this road which directly lies within his senatorial district has remained dilapidated since 1999, despite the fact that same road has been captured in successive federal budgets. Only God knows where the monies appropriated for the road over the years usually ends up! Ortom should come to our rescue and repair the road since he appears to have no any state project to embark upon. If I may still ask, is it Senator Mark that should come and construct the roads lying within Tivland too? The answer, of course, is NO.
All these frustrations I think are the reasons for the sworn declaration by the trio of Akume and Ortom to dethrone Senator Mark at all cost. If I still have any right to advise them, a right I am entitled to as their constituent, I wish to advise Senator Akume and Governor Ortom to think twice before drawing the two ethnic tribes (Tiv and Idoma) that have cohabited for years into avoidable crises. As thing stand now, I think they are only wasting state resources in the guise of lobbying some expired Idoma politicians who have no political relevance in their wards to join the APC, all in a quest to unseat Senator Mark. The resources used in bribing these selfish leaders from zone C, I think would rather benefit us more if channeled into productive ventures for the development of Zone A and B. The Idoma has had their fair share in the Nigerian polity already, hence, I doubt seriously the sincerity of these men whom Akume and Ortom look up to deliver Zone C to the APC come February 20, 2016. Such elections can be highly sensitive and you never can tell how the swing we turn later. It has to do with ethnicity and the long held view and belief that an Idoma man is a second class citizen in Benue State, I think will make the Idomas change their minds when the hour of decision beckons.
Furthermore, the February 20 senatorial rerun is about the general well-being and tomorrow of the Idomas as a people, hence, sentiments will later play up to the extent that Senator David Mark might still carry the day. I don’t see the Idomas sending an Onjeh to represent their interest in the Senate. I am surprised that Akume thinks otherwise as if he is dealing with complete fools! The fact that Senator Akume and Ortom has come out clearly to show themselves as those behind the candidature of Daniel Onjeh has already created a serious crack in the once cordial relationship between us and our Idoma brothers. Abu King Shuluwa and Alhaji Abubakar Tsav may have the last laugh as they have already cautioned against Tiv’s involvement in an entirely Idoma affair. The earlier our State resources are not further wasted in the name of politicking, I think the better for us, as we will not forgive Senator Akume and Governor Ortom at the end of the day. A word is enough for the wise.
The Idomas must be mocking us each time they castigate their son for non-performance. Senator Akume and Gov. Ortom should be wary and very careful of the characters they are relating with from Zone C. It is difficult to believe that a people can so hate their son as the Idoma pretends to be doing now. I see deception and mockery in so many of them. If it is not mockery, I am yet to see or read of any Senator since Nigeria became independence in 1960 who has attracted the number of appointments / laurels Senator Mark has won for his people in just a space of sixteen (16) years. If a tribe does not value human capital development, then such a tribe will have no value for any level of development in his area. I am beginning to think that why we in Tivland hate and scorn Senator Mark due to his consistent and persistent fight to have his kinsmen in every sector of the Nigerian political cum economic space, the Idoma in return sees no reason in his continual stay in the Senate hence they are calling for his head. To my Idoma neighbours, I beg once more, “GIVE US SENATOR MARK AND TAKE SENATOR AKUME”.
Ayilaga Igbayima G. is of Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue State