By Achiri Igiri-West
Benue is a state that comprised different ethnic nationalities which include Tiv, Idoma, Igede and Etulo ranked according to their numerical strength.
These people are highly ingenious and so it is not surprising to see them doing their country proud in all fields of life be it in the arts, professions, entertainment and similar others.
Benue indigenes are also very proud of their culture which they express through music, food, and dress pattern amongst others. As part of their attempt to project their image to the outside world they gaily adorn their traditional attires that come in various colorations.
While the Tivs come to town with black and white, the Idomas hit the street with black and red while the Igedes adorn black, white and blue. Even though these ethnic groups give a posture of a water-tight compartment as if nothing unites them especially in terms of dress pattern, the black that runs in all their attires is a clear reminder of a point of their convergence.
As if in agreement with this striking depiction of oneness through the colour in their various attires, the people brings their ingenuity to bear by weaving these various ethnic colours to form a whole that comes to be known as unity attire. It comes in wrapper, cap, bags, beads, and so on.
But that is where it seemed to end as the adornment of the unity attire is far apart as tenacious cleavages to ethnic colours held sway until recently.
The people are however letting go this tight hold to their various colours thanks to the entrance of Governor Samuel Ortom into governance in the state. Since the coming into power in 2015, Governor Ortom has never hidden his Christian background in what he does.
He has always alluded to his faith and how he would bring that to bear in his government. And true to type the governor is living that life, the most conspicuous being the adornment of Benue unity attire.
The governor in line with biblical injunction of love, unity and oneness is living that to the letter. That he is embracing issues that unite rather than polarizes is not far-fetched considering his background as a minister of the gospel of Christ.
With this hind sight, it is therefore not surprising to see changes the biblical way which he is bringing as all true children of God see wherever they find themselves as avenue for carrying out their ambassadorial duties of evangelism and pulling down old walls of partition and erecting new ones of brotherhood.
It is gratifying to note that this good posturing is not lost out on the people as both the small and mighty are fast embracing the unity item. It is now a common sight to see who is who at functions adorning the unity cap.
At a function recently, hawkers of traditional attires especially caps ran out of stock of the unity cap. One of them was heard musing regrets for not carrying enough of the caps to the occasion.
When asked on how business was, the seller who craved anonymity said “the most sought after item now is Benue Unity cap, no matter the number you carry, people must buy all of them.”
Reacting to this new way of doing things with regard to adornment of traditional dressing, another man who did not want his name mentioned said, “my brother, you see I am a Tiv man to the core, I love my culture very well but common, I also think we must come closer together and so anything that can bring that about, I am in support. After all, when you take a look at it, my tribal colour is not missing out there too. We are one people with one destiny whether we like it or not.”
Speaking on this, the honourable commissioner for Information and Orientation, Chief Odeh Ageh said “what you may not know is that the governor gives unity attire as gift item to his guests at Benue People’s (government) house. Even though he is very proud of his Tiv heritage, he is living his Christ-like life; embracing all, loving all and working for all.”
Chief Ageh added further, “His Excellency brings that to bear on all his actions be it in terms of appointments, project implementation, name it. When he talks of accountability, he means to man and his creator, his savior. The governor knows that he will render account on the last day and so he is mindful of his actions.”
The question to ask is whether the governor whom the people now call Governor Unity has a plan to create Benue logo and make the unity colour form part of it. That will be a fantastic idea, creating a state logo with the unity colour and the food basket of the nation super imposed on it. This will be taking a cue from other states like Lagos, Osun, Bayelsa, and Ondo amongst others.
According to the commissioner “well you know the governor is highly creative, he is full of ideas, with good intention to move the state forward. I have no doubt that anything that will bring positive image to the state; His Excellency will not hesitate to do it. This man has a burning desire to move the state forward, he means business.”