Struggling with Igbos over Leadership in Gboko main Market is shameful and politics taking too far
Rev. Fr. Michael Melladu
On 6th of December 2017, activities were shut down in Gboko Main Market by Igbo traders in a bid to resist an attempt by some Tiv youths engineered by unscrupulous politicians to take over the leadership of the market through the back door. I stand with the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, the Tor Tiv, to condemn this act as barbaric, uncivilized and altogether undemocratic.

Nigeria as we all know is a multinational country with numerous ethnic groups, each known and respected for what they can do best. If Nigeria were to be a meal, then this remains the spices that make it delicious. This same respect for different nationalities according to their areas of specialty is the glue that binds all the tribes in the Nigeria unromantic marriage. Consequently, this mutual respect is sacred and must not be sacrifice on the altar of any personal or political interest.

It is an indisputable fact that the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria are born traders, unrepented business men/women and entrepreneurs of international recognition. You don’t need to love them before you accept this fact and its validity does not need any verification and is not subject to anybody’s approval. In the same way the most tribalistic person in this country would avoid buying soya even from his sibling but patronize an Hausa person, that is how strong the recognition of Igbos as business men is in this country and beyond.

On the other hand, a typical Tiv man is naturally forged with extra ordinary strength for tough and hard works. This strength is mainly channeled towards farming by almost all Tiv people of all classes and qualification. As a result of this, Benue state without mechanized Agriculture still remains the highest producer of food in the whole country. Farming for a Tiv man is not just a profession but a way of life and that explains why even our elite who are billionaires still own and visit their farms periodically.

While an Igbo man would consider going to the farm as stressful and harassing, a Tiv man would see sitting down in a shop from morning till evening as boring and a sign of laziness. Which of them is right? None of them is right, neither are they wrong, but that is the peculiarity of the two tribes. This then gives you an explanation as to why in the ancestral home of the Tiv nation, Gboko, the Igbos still own over 90 % of shops and businesses. Symbiotically, while the Tiv rely on the Igbos for their shopping, the Igbos depend solely on their host for food supplies. What a collaborative relationship?

Armed with the above knowledge, I was sadden and so did every responsible person in Benue when we got up on 6th of December to be greeted with the sad news that some misguided Tiv youths wanted to take over the leadership of Gboko main Market from the Igbos by coercing them to succumb over a matter that is already a subject of litigation. When the Igbos attempted to resist this unwarranted and unpopular coup, these youths which some people may prefer to call hoodlums shut down the entire market by barricading traders from entering their shops. This had the potentiality of bringing about total breakdown of law and order except for the timely intervention of the Tor Tiv and security agencies.

Every detribalize Nigerian would go with me that making a Tiv person the market leader in Gboko main market is like making an Igbo or Hausa man the chairman of Farmers Association in Benue state or a Yoruba man the chairman of Cattle Breeders Association. This by all stretch of imagination is unrealistic; it is unthinkable and altogether ridiculous and impracticable. Allowing a Tiv man to occupy the position of deputy chairman in that market I am sure was done by the Igbos as a way of compensating their host community; this is enough and aught to be appreciated.
 How did we get to this?

I simply describe it as politics taking too far. We have a breed of politicians who wish to control literally everything in the state. They determine who becomes the chairman of Loaders Association, the chairman of Motto Park Workers, the chairman of Okada Riders, the chairman of Wheelbarrow Pushers, the chairman of Butchers Association etc. Whenever they fail to install a candidate of their own choice then no one in that sector will know peace until they have their way. This market coup if you ask me was certainly planned by some Abuja-base Politicians, monitored by their local leagues and only executed by their gullible foot soldiers.

Once again, as usual, I end by advising the Benue youths in the following words:
A good leader/representative would help you to form farming co-operatives to enable you access soft loans from banks so as to make your lives more productive and not sending you to go and take over an organisation you have nothing to do with.

A good leader/representative would struggle to get your names enlisted in the military or Para-military for recruitment and not using you to unleash mayhem on those going about their legitimate businesses.

A good leader/representative would establish large and small scale industries and get you employed and not sending you on missions that are suicidal.

A good leader/representative would set up skills acquisition centres to make you entrepreneurs, leading to self sufficiency and not making you political thugs.

Benue people ask yourselves these questions and try to provide answers:
Why are foreigners owners of all the dis-stoned milling machines in all our Rice Mills? Does it mean our Billionaire politicians cannot set up any of these? Why are oranges getting rotten in our orchards especially now? Why are our old feeble mothers still throwing way their tomatoes gotten from their untold labour? Why are other tribes coming to collect our soya beans and other crops at take-away prices to make millions out of them while we remain impoverished? No one to set up small scale industries or attract investors so that we can make value out our sufferings?

Our leaders will certainly not do any of these things mentioned above because their plan is to perpetually make you willing and pliable violent tools in their hands until you meet your untimely and miserable death. Their plan is to unleash poverty on the land and thereby politically enslave the Benue people for eternity. Let us break these chains; we are too rich to be poor.

Finally, I hereby call on all Igbos who are in Gboko for legitimate businesses to relax themselves as there is no cause for alarm just as they have been assured by the Tor Tiv and security agencies.
Ndi Igbo Kwenu!
Kwezuonu oooooooooooo!
I remain the desert voice,
Fr. Michael Melladu

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