WHY TIV SHOULD VOTE JUKUN CANDIDATES, Elder Shaakaa
CHIEF TEGHTEGH SHAAKAA ADAGBA, is a Taraba State`s elder statesman. He is a Special Adviser to the Governor of Taraba State, as well as Chairman, Forum of Taraba State Tiv Political Appointees. Last week, he celebrated his 74th birthday and Worldview’s CHRISTIANA BABAYO asked him to share his experience in life with our readers and he agreed to do so. He shared with Babayo, his low moments in life and why it is important for the Tiv people of Taraba State to vote Jukun candidates in the forthcoming elections.
You celebrated your birthday yesterday and many of us only saw it on social media platforms. What happened?
Yes, I clocked 74 years yesterday. There was a celebration, but it was low key. That is why many of you did not know. I did not intent to celebrate, but some younger ones who believe in my ideology gathered and gave me a surprised package. Before one would know what was happening, we were celebrating my birthday.
Why do you decided that you will not celebrate?
At 74, I still don’t have a feeling of fulfilment. A lot of things are going wrong. I have been in the vanguard of playing some key roles so that things would be better, so that our society would be a better place for all, so that there would be peaceful existence across board. Yet, we are where we are at the moment, where crisis continued to infiltrate the ranks of our people. For this reason, I was disillusioned and this killed my mood of celebration.
At my age, I’m rated as an elder everywhere that I go. If 50 people are seated, in most instances, I will be the eldest among them. And by this, I’m expected to proffer solution on some challenges, especially those that bother on peace and stability of our society. Unfortunately, as much as I try in contributing to solution finding so as to have a peaceful existence across divergent interests and communities, the situation is rather getting worst.
Day after day, we continue to hear killings, tribal and religious conflicts in the communities. When I look at all these, I fell disillusioned. I feel that these years of grace, which the Almighty God has given me is not useful. That is why I did not celebrate.
But on the side of life, I can say that I’m fulfilled. I have children and grandchildren. We are a large family that I can proudly say that it’s a successful one. We have countless number of graduates. We have professors, technocrats chattered accountants and successful business men. For that I’m happy. But nothing gives happiness more than peace of mind and a peaceful environment. That is why I’m complaining of not being fulfilled.
You are not only an elder. You are also a politician. Now, the era of politics has come. What will you be telling your people, especially the Tiv population in Taraba State?
They should cast their votes to candidates from Jukun ethnic extraction. When we were children, we used to hunt with bows and arrows. Anytime that we shoot an arrow and it missed, our father will advise us to stand at the very spot and shoot another arrow at the same direction. Where it landed, it is where we should search for the missing one.
It’s a good thing that the Tiv people are contesting election on different political platforms. But we need to ask ourselves how it was been done in the past. This is not the first time that the Tiv people are contesting election.
In 1979 a Tiv man won election. How did it happen? How Tangul Gaza did won election? How Simon Awua and David Mtuem did won election? What about Hon Dooga Gbashi, how did he win the election? Is it only the Tiv votes that gave these people victory at the polls? Some Jukun people also voted for them. How does it happen?
Now, how come the Jukun are not willing to vote for a Tiv man during election? How come that the Jukun don’t want to go together with his Tiv brother on any engagement? We need to study the past. We need to go back to the drawing board. It is with the Jukuns that our political future is missing. It is within the Jukun that we will search for our missing political future. The Bible also told me that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. Our neigbour in this sense is the Jukuns.
Sometimes we make mistake by saying that we cannot do this and that with the Jukun. We do it with other people. Some of these people that we invest our trust in them are very loyal to the Jukuns, they indeed fear them. After every arrangement or engagement, they would betray us and continue their business with the Jukuns thereby living us out, alone and frustrated. We should learn our lesson by now.
Therefore, I’m advising my people not to insist that that they would not vote for a Jukun man because of the crisis phenomenon, rather, they should review the antecedents of those Jukun candidates and select the one that best suits their interest and vote for the person. Emphasis should be on what the candidate is bringing on the table for the Tiv people.
I believe strongly that it’s only the Tiv and the Jukun themselves that will decide on how to resolve their age long crisis. They know why they started and they know how to end it. Other stakeholders can only support them to fast tract this process and that is my appeal to them. As an elder, with my wealth of experience in conflicts resolution, I will continue to explore means of resolving this age long crisis within the Jukun circle, in spite of daunting challenges and bitter experiences.
It seems that Jukun are not interested in involving Tiv in their scheme of politics. They share political positions among themselves without involving the Tiv. How will your principle work in the circumstances, in other words how would you convince the Tiv people to follow your path?
I cannot rule out the aspect of greed among some of them in this circumstances. Not all of them are on the same page when it comes to power sharing. I’m aware that a lot of them use to canvass for a Tiv interests in some of these arrangements.
Be it that as it may, I wish that our people should look at a bigger picture of our relationship with the Jukun people. We need each other to survive and develop as a people. In achieving this feat, sacrifices has to be made. Sacrifice, as you know, is a voluntary disposition to endure pain. You can only sacrifice when you are strong. In this instance, sacrifice can come from any side or from any person.
At the end of the day, we are looking at a situation whereby one day, both the Tiv and the Jukun will sit back and say that this our crisis, which has lingered for so long, depleting our population and destroying our economy, is needless. I believe that this is achievable.
What we should be doing now is to upscale our bargain capacity, by doing our voter registration massively, so that we will be negotiating with the candidates for our interests on the side of strength and influence. We should also be supporting the government in power, so that we can confidently ask for our share in the next political dispensation.
With all modesty, I wish to plead with Tiv and Jukun elders that they should be telling the younger generation the truth on what their parents were doing for each other.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no Tiv family that was not yoked with a Jukun family, in terms of mutual love and understanding for each other. This was vice versa. If we tell our younger generation, continually, how their grandparents were friends and their brothers’ keepers, the hatred among them would reduce drastically. One will expect that civilization and modernization will act on the hostile nature of the younger generation, but it’s getting worse. They are growing with heavy doses of ethnic hatred in their brain. This is very unfortunate and it’s very painful.
With this this position, who among the Jukun candidates is your choice for governorship in the forthcoming election in the state?
He is Agbu Kefas. Kefas is the hope for a better Taraba. I’m not saying that other Jukun candidates are not good. But Kefas is just the best for the state. I advise all Tiv people in the state to vote for him. I’m glad that our party, PDP has gotten the best candidate.
Why Tiv for Agbu Kefas?
Agbu Kefas has a lot of friends in Tiv. He studied in the same school with lots of Tiv people. At the peak of the last Jukun Tiv crisis, he was one of those Jukun people that were synergizing with concerned Tiv people to search for solution.
Aside this, he is a devote Christian. One of the cardinal commandments of God is that, thou shall not kill. I’m sure that with this background, a Tiv man will never be killed for whatever reason under his watch. Aside these, the young man has a vibrant intellectual background. He was an intelligent officer during his service in the Nigerian Army. He is well educated and very principled. Looking in his face, you would notice desire, hunger and taste for service to his people. Ironically, you cannot see desperation on his face and in his attitude.
You cannot manipulate the conscience of such a person. You cannot mislead such a person and such a person cannot descend so low to serve as a tribal or religious bigot. For me, Agbu Kefas symbolizes these virtues. He deserves our vote.
What is your suggestion on how to tame the lingering crime wave in some parts of the country, especially in Taraba State?
We should continue to encourage government at various levels not to be overwhelmed. In Taraba we used to hear in the news. But now, it has come to stay with us. The good news is that Taraba State government, under Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku is not resting on his oars to ensure that these criminal elements are flushed out from the state. All that we need now is collaborate, cooperate and encourage the government, so that it can do more.
Tiv are the first victim. We are farmers with rural background. These criminals live in the forest or in the bush and we are usually their soft target. We live at their mercy. Sometimes they enslave our people by intimidating them and forcing them to render some services such as cooking for them or giving them food items. Any suspicion that you are reporting to the authority, you are a death person. Sometimes, they kill indiscriminately to hide their identity.
Worst still, the source of our livelihood is not friendly for crisis. While the herders quickly move their herds from any crisis zone, our people do not have such opportunity. Our farms are fixed, and once you abandon your farm, it will take you many years to stabilize. This is what we are going through as a people.
The economic situation of a Tiv man is depleted. That is why nowadays, you can see some Tiv people begging and engaging in low profile lifestyles. This is alien to Tiv culture. In those days, even if you offer a gift to a Tiv man, he would feel you are insulting him. But these values are vanishing.
What a Tiv man needs most now is peace. With a peaceful environment, he can till his land and make millions and live a good life.