3rd April, 2022
Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu,
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,
Wadata Plaza, Abuja
KWANDE DESERVES BOTH GOVERNOR AND SENATOR IN 2023
We members of the Mata PDP Grassroots Chieftains from the Ushongo State Constituency send you fraternal greetings and respect which your person and office deserve.
2. As grassroots PDP members, we wish to express our appreciation to you, our great party, and its leader in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom, for the many democracy dividends that have come our way courtesy of his PDP administration.
3. We recall the appointment of several of our sons and daughters into the State Executive Council and other high positions in government. We have also been beneficiaries of several schools upgrade, health care, water and electricity projects as well as road construction by the PDP led administration in our Constituency. For all these, we remain grateful.
4. However, a recent development within the PDP has given us sleepless nights because it has eroded the confidence of our people in the party. That is the March 31, 2022, zoning of the Governorship position to the Jechira political bloc in general, and Vandeikya local government in particular.
5. We were informed that the decision as presented by the State PDP Deputy Chairman, Chief Isaac Mfo, was based on two principal factors. These were that Governor Aper Aku from the Kwande Intermediate Area, completed a complete tenure of four years while Reverend Father Moses Adasu, from Jechira, did not complete a full tenure. The second reason was that a rat cannot have two tails, a self-serving philosophy which the late Senator Joseph Sarwuan Tarka propounded in 1979.
6. We had debunked these two factors. It is our belief that the PDP leaders who took the erroneous decision on the 2023 governorship zoning did not put the full facts before you hence the need to restate our submission so that the miscarriage of justice could be redressed.
A. THE PRINCIPLE OF RECENCY – In zoning political positions, political leaders particularly those in Tiv land always abide by the principle of recency. An area that has enjoyed a certain political position most recently naturally concedes to the other area that didn’t have that privilege. It is based on this principle that Minda, Sankera and Jemgbagh have naturally conceded the governorship seat to two geo-political axis in the state. Consequent upon this, aspirants to the 2023 governorship seat from the Tiv speaking area have emerged only from Kwande and Jechira intermediate areas. Between the two groups, Jechira enjoyed the position most recently in Reverend Father Moses Adasu. Arguments by Jechira people that Adasu’s tenure should be disregarded because it was truncated by the military cannot be sustained by convincing facts. Experienced politicians know that during the Adasu era, zoning took place for councilors, chairmen, assembly members, House of Representatives and Senators. The zoning that was done with regard to those positions during Adasu’s era when you were a Senator for less than two years, have remained intact everywhere. The governorship position cannot be isolated and treated exclusively. History has also recorded that the Jechira and Jemgbagh are biological twins who
share political affinities and positions. For example, in 1980, when JS Tarka died at the Senate, it was Jacob Tilley Gyado that succeeded him. Similarly after Adasu’s truncated tenure it can be stated unequivocally that Governor George Akume ran eight years to complete his tenure. In Tiv political lexicon, Jechira and Jemgbagh are known as Double-J who are twin brothers. Arguments that the courts voided the tenure of Adasu’s contemporaries in other states cannot be applied to Benue where such an issue never arose. Moreover, the court of public opinion in Benue State has held that Jechira has occupied that seat through Governor Adasu with Benue State University, JS Tarka Foundation and College of Education Oju as some of his legacy projects which he bequeathed to the people of the state. But if indeed reparation must be made for military disruption of governorship tenures, it should start from Kwande which was the first victim.
B. THE TOR TIV AND GOVERNOR CAN COME FROM ONE PLACE – This was settled in 2015 when both the Governor and Tor Tiv came from Guma local government area. Those who argue, mischievously we believe, that the Tor Tiv died shortly thereafter have to reckon with the fact of human mortality. Whether the governor comes from your place or not every body will die someday. Similar argument that Senator Tarka died because he violated the one-rat-two tails philosophy by going to the National Assembly with his son, Simeon Mbakorkar Tarka, is just as ridiculous as it is unsubstantiated. In real life situation, it is inevitable that the traditional institution and political positions run along parallel and mutually exclusive lines. Clear examples can currently be found in Vandeikya and Guma local government areas where there are concentrations of such positions in one place at one time because the positions came to the places along mutually exclusive lines. In Vandeikya, the current Council Chairman Mrs. Kukase Garba, the Ter Kunav, Chief Nyiyongu Achiaku, and Tor Jechira, Chief Clement Uganden, all come from Tiev lineage. In Guma local government area, Governor Samuel Ortom, Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anageende, as well as Ter Guma, Chief Denis Shemberga, all come from Nongov.
C. FORGIVE AND FORGET. The National Chairman Sir, most people who know you testify that you neither forgive nor forget once you hold grudges against anyone. For example, in 1999 when you had strong influence on Governor George Akume, it is said that you vowed that a Kwande son, Terwase Orbunde, who as the Acting Director General of his Governorship Campaign Organization, prosecuted a successful campaign that led to victory would never be given any appointment. It happened that throughout the eight-year tenure of the Akume administration, Orbunde was not qualified to hold any appointment. It is said that you opposed his reappointment as Chief of Staff to the Governor in 2019 and have also vowed that he will never be governor. It is also said that you have used your current position as PDP National Chairman to prevail on Governor Ortom and Senator Gabriel Suswam to ensure that Orbunde is excluded from being beneficiary in the PDP zoning process. We urge you to remember that part of the Lord’s prayer enjoins us to forgive those who trespass against us, so that we can also be forgiven. May you use your current position to debunk the long held view that you are a vicious, vengeful and a never forgiving person.
D. KWANDE’S MISFORTUNE SINCE 1999 – The National Chairman Sir, you will recall that since the advent of the current political dispensation in 1999, only Jechira and Sankera who share the Benue North East Senatorial District with Kwande have enjoyed the Zone A Senate seat, as well as PDP National Chairman and State Governor. From 1999 to 2007, the seat was occupied by Senator Daniel Saror from Sankera; 2007 to 2011, it was Senator Akaagerger and thereafter, Senator Barnabas Gemade, who had been PDP National Chairman, from 2011-2019 all from Jechira. Senator Gabriel Suswam, a two-term Benue State Governor, has been in the Senate from 2019 and the PDP has endorsed him for re-election in 2023. These facts are incontrovertible. If the PDP indeed believes in equity, justice and fairness, the senatorial seat should be zoned to Kwande in 2023 just as that of the governor, for the reasons adduced above. Otherwise, many wonder whether Kwande is part of Zone A or it has become Igede in Zone C. In the last 39 years after the exit of Aku as Governor there has been a deliberate plan to subjugate, deprive, ridicule and consign Kwande people to underdevelopment and retardation. Unfortunately, the PDP appears to be in the forefront of the execution of this diabolical agenda.
E. The National PDP Presidential Zoning Committee led by Governor Ortom is said to have recommended that the 2023 Presidency should be thrown open to contestants from all parts of the country. If that is the case, this might be instructive for leaders of the party in Benue State.
F. We had prepared a solid base to give the PDP block votes to win all elections in 2023 by winning all the 2019 elections for the party and ensuring the depletion of all other political parties in the Kwande Intermediate Area.
7. From the forgoing submission, we urge the PDP leaders to review the zoning of the 2023 Governorship and Senate seats in favour of the Kwande Intermediate Area. It is the review that will rekindle the confidence of PDP members in the party and reverse its negative image as a deliberate tool of subjugation, repression and underdevelopment of the Kwande people. Consensus should never be used as another name for dictatorship and imposition. Otherwise, the consequences will be disastrous for the PDP.
David Namnyi Ikyase, JP.
former Senior Lecturer,
Department of History,
College of Education,
Leader, Mata PDP Grassroots Chieftains.