By Danjuma Auta
A group, under the aegis of Benue Rebirth Movement (BRM), has said, it has been marginalized in the governance of Benue State and advocated for inclusiveness in the affairs of the state by allowing the Idoma zone which comprising Idoma, Igede and other ethnic nationalities to produce the next governor of the state.
The group made its position known at a press conference in Jos, Plateau state.
Addressing journalists at the NUJ press center, leader of the BRM, Gen. Geoffrey Ejiga rtd, said that Benue people through the Benue Rebirth Movement had in 1998, agreed that the governorship position be rotated among the three zones of the state.
Gen. Ejiga stated that after a careful review of the earlier arrangement especially, the previous administrations of former governors, Aper Aku and Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, it was then, agreed that the zoning should start from zone B to be followed by C.
He added that after the tenure of former Governor George Akume, from zone B in 2007, it was supposed to be the turn of the Tiv people that make up the zone A.
Gen. Ejiga pointed out that since then, the position has been rotating among zone A and B only thereby making it difficult for zone C to clinch the seat.
Said he: “Benue which was created in 1976, the Tiv had made it impossible for the Idoma and other tribes to be governor, speaker, Head of the judiciary or Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture.’’
He maintained that before the administration of Gov. Samuel Ortom, it was agreed that the position of the Secretary to the State Government be given to zone C but the governor later jettisoned the initial arrangement which he said, was a clear indication that the Tiv had set a precedence for themselves to perpetually rule Benue.
He also disclosed that a zoning agreement was reached by the political elites from the three zones and wondered why such ‘gentleman agreement’ had not been followed over the years which he alleged had retarded development of Benue.
“At a meeting that was held in Gemade’s house in Makurdi in 1999, it was agreed that the governorship position be rotated between the zones and now their brothers from zone A and B have hijacked the whole thing making it their sole responsibility to govern Benue. That is not right. The Idoma and other tribes will not fold their arms and watch things go this way.’’
Gen. Ejiga said that, there has been the perception in some quarters that Idoma people cannot produce a governor in the state due to their population or they do not consult widely or for being the minority was not a good reason to deny them the governorship slot alleging that the Tiv using the administration of Gov. Samuel Ortom to create division among the Idoma and the Igede people who were their brothers.
While cautioning that the Southern Senatorial zone would not accept such divide and rule principle, the group also accused Gov. Ortom and some Tiv political leaders of trying to create division among the people of the state which he said, is capable of creating crisis.
He however, called on well-meaning citizens of Benue State to urgently wade into the situation so as to change the negative narratives politicking among the people.
“Doing the right thing would go a long way in dousing tension, and bringing unity among different ethnic nationalities in the state.’’
Ejiga called on the Tiv political leaders to consider the people’s interest far and above personal interest. He also warned that the Idoma and other ethnic groups in the state, would not accept any attempt to impose candidates on them or restrict them to the position of a deputy governor rather they should be given the chance to rule the state in 2023 in the spirit of justice and fairness.