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» » » » » » » TOR TIV STOOL EXCLUSIVE! One Of The Top Contenders Speak & Its a Must Read!

As the Tiv nation awaits for the announcement of a new traditional ruler come 20th ,December 2016. one of the top contenders speak on his ambition on vying to become the next Tor Tiv. Read it below;
A Professor of Biochemistry, James Ayatse, 60, who was Vice Chancellor of two federal universities speaks about his aspiration to become the fifth paramount ruler of the Tiv people in Benue State.
Why are you in the race for the Tor Tiv?
I’ve indicated interest for being considered for selection as the fifth Tor Tiv so that I’ll make a contribution towards the upliftment of our people traditionally and developmentally. I’ve taken this decision because by the grace of God I’ve had the opportunity to serve in public office and I think I have the experience and the exposure that I think will be relevant in that office. I’ll bring that experience to bear in administering the affairs of the Tiv people. I could say that we need to look at our culture and see the positive aspects and use them for the development of our people. Those cultural aspects that develop the improvement of the people we’ll promote, such cultures like songs and dances can be used positively instead of using them negatively. We can use them for purposes of worshipping God, for example, and for purposes of entertainment in a way that will not expose or bring out negative aspects of human life. I’ve seen that it’s important that as a people we draw near to God and it will be my intention to encourage the Tiv nation to return to God, to submit to God and invite God into the affairs of our people so that God will guide and help us to overcome the different challenges that our people are going through individually and collectively as a Tiv nation. I want to be able to use that position to uplift the Tiv nation because our people have a lot of potentials which are not being harnessed and we would be in a position to encourage our youths, encourage skilled people to come forward and manifest and showcase the skills they have for development and promotion of our people. These are very important aspects that I think would be useful. We also discovered that in our lives we’ve borrowed some cultures that are not very useful positively and such cultures are becoming a nuisance to our society. We can look at burial ceremonies, ceremonies in general; they consume a lot of resources. We were not doing this before so we need to take a second look at it to see how we can modify some things and in accordance with some general guidelines so that people will channel their resources better for their personal development. I would also be thinking in the direction of promoting the Tiv language which among the young ones is getting more or less extinct. We need to encourage the teaching of Tiv language in schools and the teaching of Tiv language at home because once you lose your language you lose your culture. We shall go back to developing the language and having it properly spoken and read and taught to our younger people in the land. The other thing I think is important for me to do is to set up structures that will address the security of our people at the local level. We will have the vigilantes at the different levels of chiefs to coordinate with the local governments to ensure that security issues that are arising will be tackled at the local level so that the burden on the central government in the state will be reduced. I would also wish to promote the study of science and professional courses among my people. A lot of people go to school but they read mainly the arts and social sciences. These are useful courses but we want to see more people going into engineering, into medicine, into technology, and so on so that we diversity. We need more people in the science-oriented areas, in information and communication technology, ICT, and in the new sciences, in genetic engineering and so on for better development. Our people, especially the young ones are not taking agriculture seriously and farming is the mainstay of the Tiv nation. When by God’s grace I occupy that stool I’ll use it to encourage young people to go back to the farm instead of just loitering around in the streets and being idle and the devil finding work for the idle hands and idle minds. We’ll get them occupied in a more useful way. These are some of the very important things I would want to do and I believe I’ll be helped in this direction by the cooperation of my people at different levels and also by partnering with the state government and the local governments to be able to bring these things to fruition. It’ll be an inclusive kind of agenda for the Tiv nation. Another thing that is very important that we will need to do as a nation it’s to ensure that we get united, unity is very important. Generally, I’ve noticed that the Tiv people are not united and because we’re not united we lose out on many things. There’s division, there’s infighting and sometimes outsiders exploit these and deny us our due share of what should come to us. But if we’re united and speaking one voice I believe our lot in Nigeria will be better. If we unite and reason together and agree together we’ll be able to achieve more and obtain more for our nation. I think these are the key areas I would want to address if I have opportunity to occupy the stool.
You’ve held positions of influence, how have you deployed these to the benefit of the Tiv people?
By the grace of God I’ve held public office twice. I was Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi for five years between 2001 and 2006. When I was in the University of Agriculture, the student population was less than 2,000 when I started, by the end of my tenure the student population rose up to over 7, 000. I created a lot of admission opportunities and opportunities for university education for our people. The population of students increased and the intake from the Tiv nation went up astronomically as the majority of the students in the university were Tiv speaking. New courses were introduced; new programs, new departments and new colleges and that benefited our people a lot. They had opportunity to read choice courses and many of them are engineers now and many of them are agricultural scientists and so on. With the expansion of the student population we also expanded employment opportunities and a lot of Tiv people were employed when I was the Vice Chancellor and they were also given positions of responsibility in the university. The participation of the Tiv people increased beyond what it had been before when I assumed office so they had a fair share of the activities in the university. Many of them were also awarded contracts in the university to build structures; some functioned in the area of consultancy or in the cleaning services of the university. I also had opportunity to serve as a board member of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme and when I was there I was able to facilitate the employment of 35 Tiv people and I believe that was the first time in history that they had that kind of massive entry into that agency. Again I was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University at Dutsima, a new University, I actually was the pioneer VC and I gave Tiv people a lot of admission chances. They were admitted there in large numbers and on the staff population also the Tiv people had a very good share of employment in that university. I can say that part of the problems or the challenges I had with the host government was that Tiv people were employed in a number that they felt was more than should be. But this did not actually contravene the federal character principle because the host state still had more staff than those from Benue. Benue had about 12 per cent whereas the host state had about 46 per cent. We did a lot to grant opportunities to Tiv people in the university there. So everywhere I’ve been I’ve always thought of Tiv interest and I think that is also one of my motivations to vie for this stool.
In the course of your public career, have you ever had an encounter or brush with the anti-graft bodies?
I’ve been in public life in the two places I served in the universities and I want to say of a truth that public life is open to people saying a lot of things, all kinds of allegations come up. But I want to say that there has never been any proven allegation against me in my public life and I’ve never had any anti-graft bodies taking me to court because of any allegations against me. I’m also aware that some people who want to assassinate my character are publishing that I have issues with ICPC but as I speak with you I’ve never received any invitation from ICPC, that is my comment on that, I’ve never received any invitation from ICPC.
There is the controversy that the Tor Tiv should take the oath of office either by the Christian Bible or the ancestral Swem; if given the opportunity, on what would you swear?
If given the opportunity I would swear by the Bible which stands for the truth and which is the word of God, the Almighty God, the compassionate and merciful, full of grace and the one that created the heavens and the earth. That is my conviction, I’m a Christian, I’ll swear by the Bible.
Why should the Tor Tiv come from the Kwande area?
I’m from Shangev-ya in Kwande and my conviction and belief is that the Kwande axis or the intermediate area referred to as Kwande has never occupied the Tor Tiv stool. The Tiv people have been compartmentalized into intermediate areas and these intermediate areas have come to stay and there is no way you can wish them away, therefore, we must consider the intermediate areas in sharing opportunities that are available. When I looked at it the Jechira intermediate area has benefited, I also see that the Jemgbagh intermediate area has benefited, the Minda and Sankera intermediate areas have also benefited. The intermediate area that has not occupied that stool is Kwande and my belief is that in fairness it’s proper for the next Tor Tiv to go to Kwande, that is what I believe and that is what I think. There are people that are arguing that the intermediate area is not how things should be shared. They have their own points, but again these are not the points that consider fairness because it’s not now that we know the concept of “ya na aningban” which is being advanced. Fairness would demand that all the intermediate areas taste it first so that if you want to change the formula, after everybody has tasted we’ll sit down and then agree on the formula that will be more acceptable. But so far it’s been the intermediate areas that have been used and I believe that we should go the whole term round and then we sit down and if we want to modify it we jointly agree and modify it. But that is my personal view, I’m not a king maker. The king makers are the ones who will decide where the thing will go but as somebody that is interested, I will draw the rope to my own side, it’s natural but the king makers have the final say. When they meet to consider, they will take a decision on where the next Tor Tiv will come from and their decision will be binding on all of us but that does not stop us from making our own inputs.
Do you have any appeal to make to the king makers and fellow contestants?
My appeal, first to fellow contestants, is that we should look at the whole exercise as sports which should be without bitterness as we know that only one person will emerge. Let us do the contest in a very clean manner; this is not politics where sometimes politicians would say that the end justifies the means. But here we’re talking about tradition which requires truth and fairness and so we should have an attitude of sportsmanship and that any of us could be the Tor Tiv. We don’t need to go into character assassination and blackmailing the other contestant so that we would have an advantage. That is my counsel to my fellow contestants. We are in the race but we know only one person will win and whoever wins we should all rally round that person and put all our ideas on the table to help him succeed for the good of the Tiv nation. To the king makers I would advise that they should be fair and be guided by the truth and the tradition in which the Tiv people do their own things. They have a culture of sitting down and talking until they agree without being violent and being negative about certain things so we believe that they would do that. Secondly, they should not allow themselves to be influenced by whatever means – by politicians, by money, or any other methods. They should see and do what is right because the Tiv nation is at a point in their history that they need to bring out the best that is available to lead them at this point in time. Therefore, they should allow God to guide them, be honest and pure in their motive in selecting who will occupy the next Tor Tiv stool. That is my counsel to them, they should not even allow us the contestants to influence them negatively but they should look at us objectively. We are their children, we’ve lived among them and they know us and they would know who would be the best for the stool this time. Situations and circumstances define leadership; therefore they should look at where we are as a people and decide who is the person that best fits that stool at this point in time.

Credit: Iorliam Shija

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