By Elvis Ogenyi
As each day progresses to the eventual political crescendo in 2019, there is a horizontal expansion of political interest groups. The vertical increase awaits the crucial moment when elections are only a few months away. At the moment are meetings and gatherings of various descriptions across the country, some disguised in social garbs and availing, other unavailing.
Whatever meeting it is, if it involves politicians, the undertone is transparent and unambiguous and points to the 2019 polls. Every gathering, therefore, is important and nobody wants to take chances. That is why politicians of Igede extraction in Benue State seek a greater involvement in affairs of the people of the Benue South Senatorial District.
The recent public presentation of the biography of Chief Mike Onoja in Abuja turned out to be the rallying point of political gladiators in the Benue South senatorial district. Party leaders who bestride the scene like a colossus, those plucked out of relevance and driven into oblivion, others who sneeze in power and others catch cold and many of those angling for power and influence, were at the presentation.
Bizarre though were the handful Igede personalities at the occasion. The first class chief of Igede was not among his peers who had been invited from the senatorial district to the occasion. Though inadvertent, it merited a comment to safeguard an existing cordial relationship between Idoma and Igede. This was the prompting of Igede-born astute politician, Dr. Isaac Akwuma Egboja who literally ‘gate-crashed’ into the event.
More appropriately, Egboja, in detribalized, selfless and unassuming mien, made the occasion uninvited principally, to honour the celebrant and at the occasion faulted the obvious absence of the Igede first class chief at the event. The first class chief of Enone, Chief Obande Obeya tendered an apology for the obvious slip of not inviting the Igede ruler explaining it was unintentional.
Apart from Chief John Enyi who attended the Abuja event, there was hardly any politician of note of Igede descent seen. This would not ruffle any feather on an ordinary day. With the echoing from the horizon, nothing can be overlooked. No matter how trivial an issue is, the political consequence may be far reaching and Egboja’s outpouring couldn’t be more sensible.
If one exclusion of Igede from affairs of Idoma or Zone C is excusable, what description does a reoccurrence fits into? Perhaps a cursory look into the matter will aid a proper response. Recently, the former president of the senate, David Mark invited the leadership of socio-cultural groups and individuals from Zone C to the public hearing on the bill for the establishment of the Federal University of Medical Sciences in Otukpo and not a single inclusion to the list of invitees came from Igede.
The Igede socio-cultural umbrella, Omi ny’Igede deserved an invitation by the distinguished senator, to say the least. The location of the proposed university is in the Benue South senatorial district comprising Idoma and Igede. Courtesy therefore demand that an important matter such as this should consider the interest of every member of the senatorial zone.
It is indeed, worrisome that Igede were not invited to the National Assembly public extravaganza. It cannot go without a political reason as the entire gamut of the bill proposing the establishment of the university is politics. Else, why the sudden revival of a bill that had been moribund at the threshold of elections?
It is the political connotation of the bill that has prompted a pondering on the political consequence of the sudden ‘Igede alienation by Idoma. Analysts contend that the relationship between Idoma and Igede has had a crack from previous political engagements where Igede proved disloyal.
But perhaps more profound is the perception that Idoma has turned her red eyes on Igede to scare the latter from bargaining for the senatorial slot in 2019. Such thinking can only be pedestrian reflection as the argument that fairness and equity favour Igede in the zoning of the senatorial slot is without controversy.
The political tripod of Zone C consists of old Okpokwu; Old Otukpo and Old Oju. For fairness sake, political positions should alternate among the critical triangle. Therefore, Old Okpokwu proceeded to the senate and held the position for six years. It was the turn of Old Otukpo in 1999. The yearning of people of the zone is that the reign of Old Otukpo in the senate would terminate in 2019.
If Old Oju does not merit a chance in the senate in 2019, then politics in the zone is anything but fair. The minority status of Igede left the people at the mercy of Idoma politically. In the matter of senate, Igede’s political ally outside of the zone can make no more than an insignificant impact. Therefore, Igede’s fate is in the hand of Idoma in this matter. That is why reason should prevail.
In reason and pondering, Idoma’s bent on fairness should be examined. Idoma’s agitation for the Benue governorship position has not been fruitful due to size disadvantage. The argument therefore, is for the position to be zoned in favour of Idoma. If Idoma fault Tiv monopoly of the governorship of the state, does it not judge itself when it metes a similar treatment to Igede? Do to others what you want them to do to you, says the Holy Book.
Indeed, Idoma should walk the walk by conceding the senatorial ticket to Igede in 2019. There is no better way that Idoma can justify its advocacy for fairness and equity in politics than allow Igede proceed to senate. This can unlock the gate for Idoma admittance into Government House in 2023 at the state chief executive.
The tendency is for Idoma to think that it is risky to give away its highest political office when it has not been enthroned in an equal or higher political position. This is similar to the reluctance of Tiv to concede the governorship position when it is yet to ascend to a higher political position, a habit Idoma has criticized.
Current emphasis is on synergy and cooperation for the attainment of set goals for the collective good of society. The era of politics of exclusion, marginalization or discrimination is over. There is a deliberate quest globally, for individuals with the required competent mode and charisma for quality leadership. Let this search be extended to Igede as who proceeds to the red chamber of parliament from Benue South senatorial district in 2019 is decided.
*Ogenyi is of The Voice, of Idoma extract.