Igede are the most educated tribe in Nigeria —Hon. Nick Eworo
Hon. Nick Eworo is Dep. Majority Leader of the Seventh Benue State House of Assembly and representing Obi State Constituency. He is in the race to becoming the House of Reps member representing Oju/Obi federal constituency, come 2015, by which time he will have served out his present tenure in the state Assembly. The above cut line is a statement he made in the context of a lamentation that the Igedes are well educated people yet they are not known neither given their pride of place in the comity of ethnic nationalities in the state and Nigeria, Though such a statement is arguable, when you place it in propinquity with the fact that, Eworo like Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, knows his people very well and his people know him no less, you would see a scintilla of truth in his argument. The lawmaker has been speaking of his strategic thinking for his Igede people.
In 2010, some Igede youths had the cause to weep in Makurdi. After the recruitment interview for the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the five names allocated each for Oju and Obi Local Governments were replaced with Idoma names. Even though Igede had two distinguished House of Assembly Members, House of Reps Member, and a state commissioner, there was nobody for Igede youths to carry their complaints to.
Till date, the Adakoles, Adejos, Achegbulus of Idoma are enjoying the slots reserved for Igede people of Oju and Obi.
Makurdi, the Benue State capital has been a bane of Igede youth employment into military and paramilitary organizations in Nigeria. Anytime there was any recruitment exercise in the state capital, Idoma names always surfaced under Oju and Obi. Any Igede youth found in any paramilitary agency between 1999 and 2011 got it from outside of Makurdi through rigorous lobby. Yet these are the only areas in the country that employment opportunities come up regularly.
The coming of Hon. Nick Odukelaho Eworo into politics and his election into the State House of Assembly has changed this scenario. Indeed, Hon. Eworo is a unique personality in Igede politics. He has always been living the biblical dictum that as a man thinket in his heart so is he.
It has been observed over the years of political activities in the state and country that an average Igede politician is not only pessimistic in his thoughts and outlook he is also thoroughly enmeshed in inferiority complex among other ethnic leaders. Between 1999 and 2011, it was difficult to see any political office holders from Igede (elected or appointed), who had any discernible mission, agenda or vision.
Politicians and political office holders of that era thrived more on self-conceit, egomania, illusion of grandeur; at worst, a lord to be worshipped and followed. All these posturing only ended with the Igede enclave. But outside of Igede and in the midst of other politicians, they were a pitiable sight. They brought the Igedeman down. The fallout of the disdainful performance of the Igede political representation between 1999 and 2011 is the current descent of their people from the position of deputy governor in 1999 to zero position in the decision making of the state government in 2011.
With what magic and bravado has Hon. Eworo been spearheading the reversal of this trend? Just within three years in office, the pride and voice of Igede have started to show and respected because of the activities of one man from Obi LGA in the state House of Assembly.
It would be recalled that when elections in Oju 1 and 11 state constituencies were not held Hon. Eworo stood in the gap for Igede with his famous slogan of ” I, Hon. Eworo, Obi State Constituency standing for Igede nation.” This surprised many watchers of the Benue state House of Assembly that an Igedeman can be proud of himself and his people.
An encounter with this Obi politician early after his election, showed that given an opportunity he knows what level he wants to take his people (Igede) to. He told Igede media proprietors that he did not only desire Igede to be respected and recognized in the state but their voice to be heard at the national political arena.
As an individual, he has worked himself into recognition and respect not only within the state Assembly but the entire state. For the first time, the position of the Deputy Majority Leader was created to accommodate a particular person. That was what happened to the new political kid on the bloc.
In his quiet moment he has always brooded on the poverty level of the Igede people. Having come also from a poor background in Obi, he always asks how the monster could be tamed or reduced.
He said: when I look at the poverty level of Igede people, it bothers me as a person. If 20 people visit you, their problem all would be money for school fees, hospital bill, burials, marriages and all that. When you look at their faces you can’t help but do something. Sometimes the little salary I take as an Assembly member is not enough to solve people’s problem.”
According to him, a solution needed to be found to reduce poverty. He came out with the drive for employment.
“So my first issue is how do we reduce the level of poverty and the only way you can do it is to get people some sorts of livelihood. How do you do it? They must get the jobs. That is why in my entrance into politics I consider it as the first issue in reducing poverty.
According to him, he could not do much in the state civil service because of the embargo on employment. “In Benue civil service, it is difficult getting jobs. You all know there is a kind of embargo on employment. So, the avenue that comes once in a while is the recruitment into military and para-military agencies. And that is why my first strike is in those areas, to make sure that my people get these recruitments.
“My first strike is these people that got into military. We had boys recruited in the military. Also one boy in the police got the IG’s award at Oji River. He is Sunday Adegwu to be precise.
“Because of my deep involvement in the selection of Igede boys in the police force, I was called to be present when they were passing out at Oji River. I recall that the Inspector General of Police personally requested my presence because he was told of my persistent insistence that Igede boys and and girls must get their quota in the police force. The IGP was happy with the support I was giving the boys. So, naturally when one of the boys, Sunday Adegwu won the overall best recruitment which is the IG’s award, I was called,” Eworo had recalled.
Hon. Eworo was not done at the level of the lower ranks. Recently a boy from Obi Local Government, Mr. Jackson Olima paid a thank-you visit to the House of Assembly member for ensuring his recruitment in the cadet ASP category. The new ASP from Igede was all praises for Hon. Eworo for the fight that ensured his recruitment.
Commenting on the role he played in the recruitment of Mr.Olima, Hon. Eworo said it was not easy, “indeed it was not an easy battle. But we thank God we got an Igede boy in. You should know that only about twenty-two cadet APSs were recruited in the country meaning that not all the state of the federation were able to produce one. You will also recall that in almost thirty years now, Igede has not been recruited into the ASP category of the police” he said.
The Obi-born politician argued that one of the banes of development in Igede land from the seventies and nineties was the fact that people had nobody in the military, and that the country was ruled in those period by the military.
We were sidelined, our development was lopsided. So, the military professions is good for us. I also stood for the police. In the navy today there are Igede boys in the Academy. One has graduated. Chief John Enyi also tried. His son is there. So, if we go along the line, we are sure in the next 15 to 20 years to produce police commissioners.
Hon. Eworo continues: “We should also try to make sure our boys get the Defence Academy. If we do that it will be good. Since Ode left the Academy twenty years ago no Igede boy has gone there. That means a whole generation is one without you having any officer from the whole Igede nation. That is tragic.”
He explained that he has been struggling to make one boy a pilot without much success: “I was following one boy strictly to make sure he becomes a pilot. Unfortunately I have not been able to get it through, but I am still on it. We must have a pilot. This is how we strategically develop men.
“I am an advocate of the fact that before you can think well, before you can develop in the society you should be able to have some level of economic leverage; you should be able to feed, cloth and have a house. For Igede boys who are in the military today, whether you like it or not, they should be able to affect some five or six people in Igede. They must come back. They must build houses. If you want to lay a foundation for tomorrow, the emphasis should be on human development,” he said.
Even though Hon. Eworo was only elected to serve Obi constituency he appears to have imposed on himself the responsibility of serving the whole Igede people. Politicians, youths and women groups as well as private individuals from Oju and Obi state constituencies have continued to invade his Nyiman residence for solution to one problem or the other.
He has also propagated the image of Agba festival. In the last year’s celebration of Igede Agba he solely sponsored Omi’NYIgede, Makurdi branch and was the only House Member that physically attended the ceremony at Matino Hall, Barracks Road Markudi.
It would be recalled that in 2011, Hon Eworo personally sponsored NTA to the Igede Agba festival. “If you know the Igede Agba in 2011, I partnered with NTA. I brought them from Abuja and Makurdi and usher the Igede Agba to the whole country. I brought them to usher us to the world.
“Who are these people and what do they represent? What is their background? And we have a full documentary of Igede and Igede Agba itself. It was packaged by the NTA. It is one of the documentaries that the NTA’s don’t toy with. You see it comes on air once in a while ,”he said. According to him, he was always angry each time he travelled out and had to explain where he comes from.”At a point we meet people. They tell you that you sound good. But when I tell them I am from Benue state, they would ask whether Tiv and Idoma.
I had to start explaining. It worries me that I had to explain. So, the first thing that is my mind is to make sure we usher ourselves to the world and to the people of Nigeria in particular.
“They should know that there are good people somewhere who exist as Igede nation. Decent, educated, and humble people. If I have a higher financial capacity, my next level is to package Igede Agba in such a way that it can attract visitors.
“We have to tell people that we exist. We have been hidden for too long. We must be advertised to the world and let them know that there are good people somewhere. We are the most educated tribe in Nigeria”, he said.