By James Ibechi and Okpe Sylvanus
The problem of Idoma and Igede nations is not much different from the grievances of many minority ethnic groups in Nigeria save that the marginalization that the two ethnic groups suffers in the political arrangement of Benue state has made it a point of duty for Idoma and Igede sons and daughters to rise above the pettiness of politics and every other primordial considerations in pursuing the collective interest of their nations.
Since the creation of Benue state in 1976, no son of Idoma or Igede nations has been found worthy of occupying the position of the governor of the state.
In fact, the tripartite institutions of governance in the state, namely; the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have always been controlled by the Tivs except recently that the current chief executive officer of the state (Samuel Ortom) appointed an Idoma man as the chief judge of the basket of the nation state.
Despite the array of over 200 very prominent professors of Idoma and Igede origins, the Idoma and Igede have not been found worthy of clinching the vice chancellorship position of any of the two government universities in the state (BSU and UNIAGRIC).
In the civil service, only in a few moribund government agencies will you find Idoma CEOs with only a handful of directors in irrelevant ministries. This marginalization unfortunately extends also to the geographical location of state owned industries and siting of infrastructural projects.
Without due consideration of the fertile land of the Benue South Senatorial district, only one out of the 21 industries in Benue state (The Benue Burnt Bricks factory) which has long become ineffective is located in the trado-political headquarters of Idoma nation (Otukpo).
With little or no sense of inclusiveness in the state, the Idoma-Igede people are confined to the enclaves of their boundaries hence, the high importance of the only true political office and the hope of the people (The Benue South Senatorial Seat).
It then behooves any true patriot of Idoma-Igede nation to prosecute and defend the integrity of that office by ensuring that only men with capacity and character occupies that very sacrosanct position. Every youth must rise now to defend the virtues and the integrity of a nation with unlimited possibilities.
We deserve a senator who will not just make laws for the Idoma nation nor hoodwink us with unrealistic promises but who will bring our race to the limelight and make our problems a national concern, a candidate who will lift us from our little enclaves beyond the penumbra of Idoma-Igede nation to the world of many opportunities.
Most of the persons who have thrown their hearts into the ring to occupy this lofty position of representing our race come 2019 have no moral basis to do so just as they lack the prerequisite qualifications needed to embark on the rigorous process of bringing the Idoma land to the times in terms of development, employment opportunities and unity.
HON. HASSAN SALEH who has represented Ogbadibo, Okpokwu and Ado Federal Constituency for 8 years and who intends to represent the entire Idoma nation come 2019 has no moral grounds to even face the Idoma nation and canvass for our endorsement and vote. He is the greatest waste of political manpower in the country with an 8 years of a very disastrous representation of his constituents hanging and counting against him like the doles of molecule. The earlier he learns that it is now his scorecard that will count against him and not any smartness against the certificateless Mad Lion, the better for him and his resources.
Though the interest of Chief Stephen Lawani, the former deputy governor of Benue state is germane, his old age and apparent lack of a firm grip on the entire Idoma nation will greatly count against him. He will empower many Idoma sons but his policies judging from antecedents will be anti-youth and he will not effect any positive changes or be of any meaningful help to our developmental plans otherwise known as the Idoma project. Our unity will also be under serious threat. He is anything but a good unifying factor.
HON JOE OJOBO, the incumbent member representing Ogbadibo state constituency in the Benue House of Assembly, who also aspires to represent us in the Senate come 2019, though a fine gentleman, will not be able to shoulder the enormous responsibilities of the entirety of Idoma nation. His inability to represent a local government out of the entire nation is a testament to that. Giving him the PDP ticket will be a smooth ride to power for the APC. He cannot even win in his own polling unit. It was Sen. Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a PDP presidential aspirant that told us in one of our meetings that it is from the little you have done that you will be considered for a bigger one. Joe failed woefully in the small one we entrusted him with and therefore is not fit to even vie to represent the Idoma race.
CHIEF MIKE OKIBE, the longest serving federal permanent secretary in Nigeria, a billionaire who is also a frontrunner for the Idoma senate job has all it takes to develop Idoma nation. Many consider him the most suitable for the PDP ticket. He has the gravitas to occasion unprecedented change in our shores. The argument against him, however, is that he will deeply continue the David Mark’s legacy of elitist politics at the detriment of the poor majority and that his many billions will hamper him from exhibiting the needed humility for quality service delivery. He will not be accessible to all.
COMR ABBA MORO, immediate past minister of interior and a top contender for the Benue south senate seat who has so far affected over 80% of the families in Idoma land positively is regarded as a candidate to beat. His commitment for the Idoma project is unwavering. He is believed to have the biggest grassroots support. His love for the youths and his firm resolve to drastically tackle the massive unemployment in that region is commendable. However, his emergence will affect the integrity of that hallowed position. The illegal gun possession case and the many corruption cases against him still unresolved in the courts are too weighty to be overlooked. If we must have a senator that will focus on the Idoma project with an undivided attention, Abba Moro is not an option else we will have a senator who will spend his quality time and our resources haggling with very serious criminal cases.
COMR DANIEL ONJEH, current chairman of the Governing Board of Project Development Institute (PRODA) and a very serious contender for the Idoma senate job is revered amongst the youths.
Though not a money bag, his humility and grass roots connection to the youths and the majority of the Idoma population is a huge political point for him.
Many of his admirers refer to him as the Moses of Idoma nation. His workaholic character, untainted integrity and conversance with the many problems of Idoma land speak volume. Having wriggled out of the cobweb of Tiv propaganda the PDP maliciously used against him in 2015, his many good sides including the belief of many that he will break the jinx of elitist politics in Idoma land and especially bring countless youths to political limelight outweighs the argument in some quarters that he is unserious with time.
DR ISAAC EGBOJA, a former staff of the United Nations Organisation and ex-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Veterinary Institute, Vom, Plateau State, is an indigene of Oju LGA who once represented the hope of the Igede speaking people to ascend to the senatorial seat, but withdrew for David Mark believably in the interest of the pursuit of Apa State creation and other considerations.
His humility, vast experience and international links as a one-time envoy of the UN are some of his strengths the Idoma and Igede can benefit from. Apart from these, he is hardworking and regarded as a most sophisticated of all the aspirants in terms of competence for the seat.
When the yellow fever epidemic broke out in Benue State in 1986, it was his selfless sacrifice, who risked his life by taking blood samples from victims, that led to the diagnosis/identification and control of the disease, to his credit.
Apart from that, he is efficient and effective.
There is more to write about him politically, though he had not been a front row actor in partisan politics. It is interesting that he is keen on politics after all and the Senate might unravel whatever hidden potentials he has for community service for Idoma and Igede people. His flipside may yet be that he’s of APC and the party’s stronghold is certainly not Benue Zone C that is PDP-controlled.