By James Ibechi
Rt. Hon. Nick Eworo, Deputy Majority Leader, Benue State House of Assembly, since shot himself into political limelight in 2011 has remained one politician who is both at the heart and forefront of the state and especially Igede socio-political maneuvering and development.
Ask me, I would say this is rare and unique in the history of political representation in the land.
He wields enormous political clout in Igede nation so much that, though a state lawmaker of Obi constituency extract he is, a constituency he primarily represents at the state Assembly–albeit this is not ignoring the fact that he is a principal officer of the state legislature by virtue of his position as deputy majority leader–any new breed Oju and Obi politicians who however wish to succeed in their ambitions go to him for advice and approval, judging by the 2019 political aspirants from the two LGAs who daily throng his Makurdi residence cap-in-hand.
Rt. Hon. Eworo, popularly known as Odukelaho and revered as Ikemba of Igede politics by Igbo community resident in Igedeland, lost a 2015 struggle to represent Igede people at the House of Representatives at the primary level of the election that pitted him against his rival Samson Okwu the present federal lawmaker representing Oju/Obi constituency, then both of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Yet, the political clout of Eworo the most vocal state lawmaker, to borrow a description from some writers, who commands the respect of many people because of his eloquence and political sagacity, has never waned.
Instead, his popularity and acceptability all seem to be soaring higher by the day, even as his clout waxes stronger.
Though arguable, Eworo’s political clout due to how he deployed it at the height of the parliamentary debate on the state 2016 chieftaincy bill in the state Assembly culminated in the eventual passing into law of the amended bill which Igede people stand today as a beneficiary through the Igede Intermidiate Traditional Council creation, with its first class chiefdom now enshrined in the state law.
As it later came to be discovered, what was uppermost in the mind of Eworo was to see Paramount Ruler stool created for Igede people, but for Tiv supremacy in the Assembly, which for political reasons never allowed Eworo’s Igede interest to see the light of day.
A deep look at Nick Eworo’s spirit and political philosophy however shows a sharp contrast when compared to many other Igede politicians’.
He’s shown beyond reasonable doubts that his political motives are guided by service to Igede people’s cause.
What is the Igede cause? It is the struggle to emancipate from socio-political and economic backwardness; Liberation from the shackle of marginalization by Tiv and Idoma power mongers in any sector of igede nation’s life.
In the forefront of all this you find Eworo tirelessly even at such times when his contemporaries and colleagues in the Assemblies become reclusive, occupying their minds with only how they can capture power in the next election. Either that or they are busy with personal private businesses so much that they don’t have time for issues that bother on the collective welfare of the Igede man and woman. Too bad! Is it not little wonder therefore that Eworo is embraced by the population of the Igede poor, the commonest people and even become a model of a good politician to the up-and-coming leaders in Igedeland, but to the envy of selfish ones?
On the other hand, many Igede politicians unlike Eworo are disturbingly selfish as though they are accursed with selfishness.
Eworo is not a friend of Senator David Mark and the Idoma paramount ruler because it is believed that while the state lawmaker represents the hope for the development of Igede nation David Mark is viewed by many Igede people as anathema to their emancipation. So any Igede man who dines with the senator is seen with the same eye as Mark is seen.
It is part of the reason Igede political turf appears presently to be polarized into two camps: Camp of David Mark which is PDP and Camp of Ogiri Ajene (of blessed memory). But since Ogiri is now late, the heir of the camp is Eworo of the APC while Samson Okwu is viewed as David Mark’s point man in Igede. But it may not be correct to say that Samson Okwu sees himself as representing Mark’s evil interest against Igede people. But that is how he is judged by some of his critics.
The defection to APC of PDP elders and chieftains such as Prof. John Enyi and Chief RG Ade sometime last year at Otukpo is now taken to mean that Only Samson Okwu with a pocket of his PDP supporter politicians is now the “arrowhead” of David Mark standing in the whole of Oju and Obi put together, perhaps that needs to be gotten rid of.
It is against that backdrop that when the PDP in Oju has consensually retained the 2019 slot of the House of Representatives seat in Okwu’s hand, it is fueling the thinking in larger APC circles that zoning has to be relaxed to enable a politician of Eworo’s clout and weight to fight Okwu (David Mark) and free Igede from Mark’s grip.