July, 29 2023.
Credit: Olusegun Adeyemi
With the new administration in Nigeria gradually finding its rhythm both at the state and the federal level, the dusts are just beginning to rise in Benue State, with lopsidedness and unequal representation rocking the Food Basket of the Nation.
Stakeholders in Benue state have decried the wanton disregard for equality and inclusiveness in the leadership outlook of the state. What has manifested as unequal spread of leadership is setting the state on a dangerous pedestal of dissatisfaction, mistrust, and lack of sense of belonging to all groups that make up the state.
On an outlook of the state’s pyramid, the Governor of the state, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia hails from the TIV speaking part of the state, just as the Chief of Staff to the Governor. What has drawn the most irk across board is the fact that the Secretary General of the Federation, Sen. George Akume, the Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly and the recently announced ministerial nominee from the state, Joseph Utsev are all TIVs, from the same local government area. This rollout is visibly wrong to the blind and loud enough in the ears of the deaf.
Section 14, subsection 3 of the 1999 Federal Constitution of Nigeria, as amended states that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and also promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there be no predominance of persons from a few state or from a few ethnic or sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.
This law remains domesticated and practiced in States across Nigeria. With the foregoing in Benue state, it brings to question the ethical uprightness and the legal standing upon which the SGF, the nominated minister, the Governor, the Chief of Staff, Speaker of the House of Assembly, etc are all members of the same ethnic group, in a multi-ethnic group where the Idomas, Igedes, etc., also belong. This maligns the other groups and breeds a sense of resentment that is capable of derailing efforts in the state.
One hopes that this tide is curtailed and not fostered to look like a norm. With rancor already building up, the onus is now placed on the government and high ranking sons and daughters of the state to do what is right.