16th February, 2017
Re: Special Appeal on Agatu Ordeal
I read your letter to Distinguished Senator David Mark on the recent crisis in Agatu and did not miss the point that you have not forgiven the senator for giving you and your sponsors a bloody nose since in the last Senate rerun election in Zone ‘C’.
I say this because the stench of animosity and even hostility oozed from the opening paragraph of your letter when you chose to use the phrase “it is with a sense of humility” while writing to a respected person as Senator Mark.
At this stage, I must confess however that I am not sure if it was out of mischief or ignorance that you resorted to such risible preamble but I won’t hesitate to point out to you that it is not in your place to say you are writing to David Mark ‘with a sense of humility.’
Let’s assume you used this phrase out of ignorance even though I have reasons to believe otherwise, but let me be quick to point out to you that such phrases are used to chiefly express the absence of pride while communications and this is required only when there is cause for the party communicating to feel proud or arrogant.
It is for example used when people receive life time awards and in the bid to show they have not lost their heads as result, preface their speeches with the phrase.
This has been borrowed in letter writing but the general guiding principle to reassure the addressee that the intent of the communication is devoid of pride stands.
Hence, it is used when a person of higher status communicates with somebody below his status or position and not the other way round.
So I cannot see how the phrase is applicable in your communication with Senator Mark.
The senator, everyone knows is not your mate in age, political experience and status as he eclipses you in whatever sphere of human endeavor having risen to the rank of a brigadier general in the Nigerian Army, served as governor of a state more than 30 years ago, became a minister of the Federal republic, served in the highest decision making body in the land, the Supreme Military Council and under a democracy won a seat to represent Benue South senatorial district and later became the Senate President and served in that capacity for eight straight years!
Lest you have forgotten, it will not be out place to remind you that apart from being the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANs) and president of the little known West African Student Union, you have not realized a single of your political ambition having aspired to be in the House of Representatives and later Senate from whence you suffered a terrible defeat in the hands of Senator Mark.
I advise that next time you write Senator Mark, you should preface it with the intro, ‘I write with a sense of respect and admiration,’ because that is what expected of an underachiever writing to someone he desires to be in his shoes.
That said, you wrote that you are seeking the intervention of Mark on what you call the Agatu ordeal because as you claimed, the crisis falls squarely within his purview of the senator as the leader and representative of the Idoma people and Zone ‘C’ in the Senate.
But this to me comes as highly embarrassing and unfortunate because it exposes the fact when you aspired to be a senator, you did not even take the time to study the responsibilities of a senator and what falls squarely within the purview of that office.
For your information Mr. Onjeh, the security situation in a part of a state, in this case a whole local government, does not fall squarely within the purview of the senator under which the area falls under.
When you used a word such as ‘squarely’, what you are saying is that it is the direct responsibility of a senator to address the security situation in his zone but foremost responsibility of senator as spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution does not include being the chief security officer of the senatorial zone as you are trying to suggest.
I know you know who the chief security officer of Benue State is and who the current security crisis in Agatu falls squarely within his purview and I can understand why you cannot direct any blame towards that quarter since one does not bite the fingers that feed him but you should do that with tact and wisdom.
You are right to say that Agatu has suffered incessant attacks in the hands of herdsmen and to acknowledge the contribution of Senator Mark in providing relief to those displaced by the unfortunate situation. This, you will agree with me, shows that as leader, Senator Mark has never folded his arms concerning the Agatu crisis.
But it is curious that while you said it is beyond the capacity of an individual and even state government to address the crisis, you called on Senator Mark to solely take up the responsibility of calling the attention of the federal government to the Agatu crisis.
And in the bid to undermine the efforts of Senator Mark, you delved into another big lie by claiming that it was Senator Danjuma La’ah’s (of Kaduna South senatorial zone) sole intervention that compelled the hands of the federal government to provide relief material and to move towards establishing a military formation in the area.
Nothing can be further from the truth and I believe even your party, the APC will not be happy with you for making that false claim.
In case you don’t know what happened in Kaduna, let me volunteer to help you on that.
Unlike in Benue, where the governor wants to abandon his responsibility on account of party difference with the senator representing a zone, let it be known you that it was Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State that ran to Abuja after series of attacks in Southern Kaduna and met with the Chief of Defense Staff as well as other defense chiefs and specifically requested for the establishment of a military formation in the Southern Kaduna which the government complied with.
Let me further educate you on the similarities of the Kaduna situation with that of Benue and how the two governors reacted to similar situations.
Whereas in Kaduna (just as in Benue), the southern senatorial was won by the PDP and the senator representing the zone is of the PDP, the governor after each attack goes to visit the affected communities and had on two occasions moved the meeting of the state security council to Kafanchan, the headquarters of Southern Kaduna.
Due to the concern he has shown to the zone, El-Rufai is on record to have visited Southern Kaduna no less than 10 times between when the first attack in Ninte community happened last year and now.
He has also met with President Buhari and later his colleagues in the Northern States Governors Forum on the issue and was able to get both federal government’s commitment to resolving the crisis as well that of his colleagues in collaborating with him.
El-Rufai has also moved to establish no less than four industries including what is proposed as the biggest poultry farm in Africa by Olam, a ginger processing plant and other development projects in Southern Kaduna despite the crises in the area.
El-Rufai as a responsible governor, did all that for the people of Southern Kaduna even though majority of the people in the zone are not only of different ethnic stock and partisan affiliation but of a different faith with him.
But what do we have in Benue? Ortom would not want anything to do with Benue South simply because they refused to be subservient to him and his sponsor.
It has for instance been reported that the governor told an Agatu delegation when they came to cry to him when their land was attacked by herdsmen that they should go and cry to Senator Mark.
Reports suggest he visited Agatu only once after which he went behind their backs to cede a portion of their land to the Fulani for the grazing of their cattle.
There’s no gainsaying the fact that he has abandoned Agatu people to their faith and seems to be happy whenever a misfortune falls on them because they chose to exercise their democratic rights at the last rerun election.
So if as Onjeh noted, the crisis in Agatu is getting far less attention than Southern Kaduna, it is not because of Senator Mark but it is because the APC government in Benue State wants it so just so that it can exert a sadistic pleasure on the zone since it failed to allow a stooge imposed as the senator representing the zone.
Onjeh, you also goofed when you said it was because of the intervention of the state governor that the latest episode in Agatu did not take the form of Zaki Biam and Odi. While you have every right to worship your benefactor, it should not be done at the expense peoples’ lives as we are not too foolish to know that it is the inaction of the state government and its unkind policy regarding Agatuland that has led to the fracas in Agatu leading to the recent killing of some youths. Is it any wonder that herders’ attacks which was more in the other zones of the state seems to have reduced only for it to now concentrate on Agatu?
We note the tendency to try to impress the undiscerning but we hasten to say that it is not in your place to teach Senator Mark his duty as a senator.
Mark has been discharging his duties as a senator quite effectively since he was elected to represent the zone in 1999 and is on record to be the longest serving senator in Nigeria today.
In saner climes, Mark would be revered as an authority on the Senate and it would be considered an insult for a person whose only claim to knowledge in legislative procedure is the inheritance of an abandoned ticket to contest a senate seat.
With regards to the Agatu issue, Senator Mark has lived up to responsibility as you acknowledged in your letter and does not need any lesson from an ignoramus.
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