Farmers/ Herdsmen Clash: What Went Amiss in Benue?
By Kabir Tsakuwa
It is a truism about the media that it can make or mar. It can aid in promoting the right things at the right time and it can be used to create a disturbing scenario. In the case of the current herdsmen/Farmers relationship, what readily comes to mind are the dangerously biased reportage about farmers/herdsmen clash in Benue state that used to be a bastion of peaceful coexistence and tranquility? Certainly, Benue State which used to occupy a special niche in the history of Nigeria socio-political developments right from colonial period until lately-most unfortunately, is not the Benue state of today!
The remembrance of how Tiv and Fulani were like cousin brothers living side by side in a symbiotic relation without problems in those good old days, evokes nostalgia. I can recall with great heartache the great fertile land and very hard working farmers tilling their lands to keep our beloved country self-sufficient in food production and the Fulani rearing their cattles freely. The’ Lemo Dan Tibi’, (Tiv Orange) is still very popular and widely consumed in Kano, many parts of Nigeria and beyond!
Indeed, very few Nigerians would remember that Benue State had produced ultra-nationalists like Late Mr. Joseph Tarka, the great Tor Tiv of blessed memory, Abubakar Tsav, and Soldier’s Soldier-General Victor Malu, in contradistinction with the contemporary political leaders who are anything but nationalistic in words, actions and outlook! What a Pity?
For those who might have forgotten or totally unaware, Benue state singlehandedly saved the North and by extension Nigeria’s unity from disintegration when Obasanjo tried to dismember it through his so-called constitutional conference some years ago. In the heat of that charade, the Former Governor of Benue State, Mr. George Akume stated that ‘Benue State is politically and geographically in the North”; and that was what saved the day against proponents of a divided North and Nigeria in general. But he nearly paid with his dear life for that singular courageous and patriotic act, in which his bossom friend, Engineer Agom was not so lucky!
Furthermore, Many Sons and daughters of Benue (Suem) have paid the supreme price to keep this country united. They enlisted in the army willingly and died defending the unity, indestructibility, and non-negotiability of Nigeria as a united, indivisible and prosperous country, where citizens have equal rights to live in peace and harmony anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance. Can that be true in Benue state of today, under Gov. Ortom?
To an average Tiv, courage and hard work are so much inbuilt. These twin qualities have been ingrained in his psyche and psychological makeup, to the extent that fear was never an option. Worth recalling also was that, in all the successful and failed coups in Nigeria’s history, Tiv people played prominent roles out of strong-willed convictions and ability to conquer fear and death! But today, all that are about becoming history because of dubious and selfish politicians who are using every trick to overshadow and destroy those fine attributes on the altar of selfish interest and divisiveness, thereby imperiling the unity and cohesiveness of our dear country!
And sadly today, Benue state have become Launchpad for the ‘Rwandisation’ of Nigeria through Politics of ethnicity and tribalism sectionalism and division, and ethnic profiling which have been elevated into a state policy; all in the vain desire to hide cluelessness and miss-governance; incompetence, and corruption; and inability to help the people out of their many artificially induced woes.
Nigerians should learn to say NO! to the antics of such dubious characters masquerading as leaders anywhere they might be in Nigeria for the sake of our beloved country that is far greater than anybody. The sacrifices of many Nigerians including those gallant heroes and heroines from Benue State which solidify and keep it united SHALL NEVER BE IN VAIN.
Mr. Kabir Tsakuwa wrote in from Tsakuwa town, Kano