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Court Stops 'Peace Committee' From Mounting Roadblocks, Extorting Motorists In Donga

A Taraba state High court sitting in Wukari, has ordered that all roadblocks mounted by the Donga Peace Central Committee, be removed and i...

Only Sharing of Political Offices with Jukuns Will Bring Peace to Southern Taraba- Tiv Leader, Tor-Agbidye

Dr. Yakubu Tor-Agbidye is a Chieftain of the Taraba Tiv Peoples Association, in this interview with Taraba Truth and Facts, Tor-Agbidye said it’s mischievous to say Peace has returned to Southern Taraba insisting that the Jukun/Tiv crisis is yet to be resolved by the state government.

The state government has set up a peace reconciliation committee, what is your assessment of the committee. The committee has come out to say that they’ve achieved peace in Southern Taraba , As a prominent leader of the Tiv people, do you agree with the committee submissions? 
First of all, when there is a disagreement between a groups of people, somebody cannot sit somewhere and select people and say they have formed a committee, they should ask the respective groups to nominate people who can speak on their behalf because when I nominate or send someone as our nominee, that’s who knows what we want and how we want it as a people. We are in a democracy and not in an autocracy. And when it comes to democracy, you elect people to represent you; you don’t then come and impose a representative on behalf of anybody or groups of people. So those who were selected by the government to go and speak on behalf of the Tiv people were selected and do not represent the Tiv people and so they did not discuss anything concerning the Tiv people interest. As far as we are concerned, we have no representation and they didn’t speak on anything to bring about peace to the Tiv people in Southern Taraba. 
But there have been drastic reduction in level of violence in Southern Taraba so far, which the committee is attributing to result of their work. Do you agree with that?
That is a mischievous statement and claim by the committee. The only thing that have been here which perhaps you could say there has been drastic reduction of killings and those acts of violence is Southern Taraba is because those people that are involved, particularly the aggressors do not find  it easy and that is why they stopped the aggression. Instantly when they know they were being killed in mass, that is why they stopped and not the because of any work by the committee. 
What has the committee done? Who did they convince? Go and take a survey of the Tiv people and ask if the committee convinced them that the government is doing these and that and so they should laid down their arms? One thing you should note is that the Tiv people are the aggressors, but unfortunately they have to defend themselves when these people came to attack them, they defended themselves and through this extensive defense by the Tiv people that the aggressors were discouraged and now there is relative peace. For example, in Wukari if there is relative peace, why is it that the Tiv people are not returning to their villages? Recently there is an attempt by some Tiv people to return and they were told that they had to go and report to the Chief and Chief will have to go to the villages to locate houses and plots of land for them, is that peace? These people are indigenes who have houses, farms in their villages and they were driven out and when they were to come back, you send them to go and report to the chief first and chief should allocate land to them, do you think that is peace? That is nonsense. 
Nobody should deceive you that these people have achieved anything and they did not represent the Tiv people. You can hear that when they came to the people, particularly Wukari Local Government, they were chased away by the Tiv people and they didn’t have any dialogue with them which means that the Tiv people did not recognize them as their representative. If the Governor had wanted, he could have asked the elders and opinion leaders of Takum, Donga, Ibi, Wukari Local Governments to nominate those people who will come and represent them in negotiating peace and would have nominated their representatives which would have since brokered peace. 
Are you saying the Government wasted money and time on the committee?
It was a total and complete waste of money and everybody’s time because the committee did not do anything as far as the Tiv people are concerned and judging from the fact that they did not nominate their own people which means the people on the committee are government nominated people who did what the government wanted and not what the Tiv people wanted. After all, the Tiv have put down many things, there is a Jalingo resolution which spelled that certain things have to be done to promote coexistence of the Tiv people and the Jukun and none of those have been implemented. There was the 10-points agenda which none of it has been implemented. So, what peace or tell me one thing that the committee did to bring about peace. 
Most of the demands from the Tiv are being described as bogus like the request for creation of Traditional council in Southern Taraba for the Tivs, the Jukun on the other side are saying these are not possible, what’s your take?
Why would they say the demands are not possible? As far back as 1922 when the white man came to that area and recognized that the Tiv people were in numbers, the white man created one head that was headed by the Tiv people, in fact, they were total of about 22 in Wukari, 3 in Donga and about 2 in Takum LG that the white man created. Those ones created along the Jukun then are those that the Jukun have now upgraded, some of them are third class and some second class while others are district heads whereas those that were created by the white man as far back as 1922 still remained village heads. For example, the Donga LG, Gondu Village was created and the first chief there coroneted by the White man was Tor Danusa, and from Tor Danusa to Tor Afuba and after Tor Afuba comes my own father, Tor Agidie who died in 1965 and after him was Tor Mange and many others which are all village head titles. Whereas, when the white men created these councils then, Donga was just a district but today, Donga has a first class ruler which no one is challenging and if that is the case, why can’t the Tiv area created by the white men and elevated to a district level not get a first class ruler? If the other ones that were t ordinary have been renovated and elevated to third and second class respectively. The white man realize that the Tiv are peculiar people with their own culture is a particular people with their own culture and they needed their own traditional council in order to work with them based on their own culture. So how will somebody come and say the Tivs should not have their own traditional council, on what ground? When the white men came here and gave us democracy, they realize it was important and gave us our space, so who are these people to claim and tell us we cannot have it. 
Now, what are the conditions to foster peace in Southern Taraba? 
The conditions to foster peace are very simple. One, what are the issues here? Part of the issues is that there is a clear agenda of domination by the Jukun and most people knows that the Tiv are not out to dominate anybody. We are out to share things and there is a fear among the Jukuns that if you allow a Tiv man to be on the throne, they will install their own people and their own people will only be into places and we are not for that. I have experimented something like that since I came back from the U.S. We sat down and experimented the major three groups which are the Hausas, Tivs and Jukun and sat down to agree that look, we are all brothers and let us share political positions. We say those that are only one should be rotational, and if the Hausas leads today and finish his tenure of three to four years, then the Tiv will have it for the same duration and it then goes to the Jukun for the same number of years. When we started that councilor rotation and a Jukun man was on the throne, after that a Hausa man succeeded him and today it is a Tiv man and after that is going to be a Jukun man in the next coming election and no Tiv man or Hausa man will contest and that is how we have shared it.
Cuts in… in which ward is that sir?
It’s in Akete ward and Donga LG of Taraba state. So, the only thing we are requesting is that let us sit on a negotiation table and share political positions and that will bring about peace. The world has gone beyond regarding some group of people as farmers. For example, I have a PhD of over twenty years around 1992 and you expect me to go and sit down there and watch while some people less in requirements are making policies that will affect me as a Tiv man should keep quiet whereas most of those people participating in the politics is not even as educated as me and you want me to be quiet? No, it is not going to happen like that.  
Let these people come and we will sit on the negotiation table. For example, we tried to tell them in the last dispensation and last election that in 2019, that look, there are eleven potential positions in Southern Taraba: Position of a governor, one Senator, two houses of representatives and seven State Houses of assembly positions. Additionally, we have five chairmen, five Secretaries, and five deputy chairmen bringing to about total of 26 positions in Southern Taraba. We say let us share and some said because the positions are 26 and they are more in numbers, so they will give us half. And if you take governor and seven, out of the two House of reps slot, give the Tiv one and the from the seven sits in State House of Assembly, give the Tivs one or two and that is all, there will be peace. But when you say you are not going to allow anything and all the positions goes to the Jukun, there can never be peace in Southern Taraba. If you like go and bring thousands of soldiers and call them any operation name, they are not going to remain there forever, they are going to leave one day and we will be back to the drawing table and the table is let us all sit down and negotiate the political positions. 
There are 10 councilors in Wukari, give at least two or three to the Tivs and take the rest. There are 10 councilors in Donga and there is a ward there is exclusively Tiv and whatever you do, a Tiv man must be a councilor and now with my rotational arrangement here, at least they are 2 Tivs and at least give the third one and take the rest of the seven, we are not asking for too much. Same thing in Takum, though the Tiv can be found in only one ward, give them the councilor there, make them the vice chairman if you don’t want a Tiv man to be the chairman of the LG, given them deputy positions. There was a time that a Tiv man was the chairman of Takum, Donga and Wukari LGs and there was no trouble. Ibi had a vice Chairman of Tiv, same as Donga, Takum and everybody was happy. So, why can’t we share, after all, Nigeria’s oil is from the South-South and people from the North are benefiting from the oil and that is because we are cooperate Nigerians and we are sharing and here we cannot share and where is the neighborliness in that when you refuse to share with your brother, Is that fair? No, it’s not fair. We have oil in Nigeria and none of it is found in Taraba but we are enjoying from its earning, what if the South-South had refused to share from the oil earnings, what is the rest of the country will be doing? That is exactly the situation in Taraba State when it comes to political position in Taraba State, this people don’t want to share. 
But the Governor said he has given a lot of political offices to Tivs in his government?
Nonsense, he has not given anything. What do you mean by he has giving a lot of offices to the Tivs? How many commissioners does he have? When he was saying that, when had about 21 commissioners then, only one among them was from the Tiv, just one lady from his  local government whereas two people are found in eight of the 16 local governments in Taraba and you gave Tiv just one commissioners and picked unjustly from others, what kind equitable distribution of affairs is that? How many advisers did he gave, just two. Again, one from Takum and the other from Wukari, so what did he do? He gave three special assistants from Donga , Ibi and Ussa. Those are the appointments he is talking about as that he has giving to the Tiv people. And how many Tiv people have been employed under his administration. Many of them are qualified to be permanent secretaries, how many of them did he make permanent secretaries and was promoted? Recently, he promoted about 13 people to permanent secretaries, how many of them were Tivs? None from Tivs. He went ahead to create 60 chiefdom, how many of them did he give to the Tivs? So what type of appointment is he talking about?  When he created the 60 chiefdom, Wukari alone got about 18 and yet Tivs are dominant there and did not get even one of that. 
Lets come to Dan Anacha, there is resurgence of crisis in the area following the naming of Dan Anacha village to Kwararafa, what is the position of the Tivs on these matter? 
You see, for anybody to attempt renaming Dan Anacha, a town that was founded solely by the Tiv people in 1984 by the then Mbatenu’s father and you come and say today that the town should be called a different name. If it is Kwararafa, why was it not named then when the Tiv were settling there, where was the Kwararafa and why is it that since 1984, that was before the creation of Taraba State because the state was created in 1991, and the village was founded before creation of Taraba during the time it was still Gongola State when the Speaker of the House was a Jukun man from Donga, why did he not kicked against it. Dan Anacha is a village that has been properly gazette by the government, and if the government wants to change the name, they could have come to the community and give them convincing reason why they should change the name. secondly, it would be taken through the state House of Assembly involving the representative of that area who would move a motion that in view of the historical origin of the place the town, its name needs to be changed from this to that. It has to be moved by the person representing the area in the House according to the Nigerian constitution and then it has to be debated upon; merits and demerits and passed as motion then it would become a law that the government can implement. 
But we have a governor who does not respect the constitutions, he thinks he can wake up; do and undo what he wants. Therefore he just woke up one day in 2017 and says this village name is changed from its name to Kwararafa because his fellow Jukun brothers convinced him that they should change the name to Kwararafa. Why did they not change the whole state to Kwararafa and claim Jukuns can be found everywhere because he has Jukuns as brothers, wives and in-laws. They should just change the state name from Taraba to Kwararafa and everybody will rest, why are they not doing that? 
What are you doing to stem the level of violence particularly in that village as of today because there has been resurgence of violence, killings over this matter?
You see, the governor started that and he alone has the solution; I did not start the problem. Why did the governor gave a directive that the name be changed? He knows what to do to stop the violence because he triggered it and he should do what is necessary to stop it. What else does he want? He has the power, enough securities, money, and everything. So, if he can take a pen and say the name should be changed and it causes violence, he can also take the pen and say that the name should not be changed again and violence will be stopped. 
So, you mean reversing the name change will stop violence in the area? 
Maybe when he kills everybody or makes sure everybody is dead, then he can now rule over dead body and name the Kwararafa as a dead body town, otherwise the Tiv will never agree. 
What is your assessment of the state government? 
He has performed poorly. He has done nothing and what kind of Project has he completed since he came to power. We heard about the cucumber and now when you go there, the place is dry and I am made to understand that billions of naira has been expended in that place and yet there is nothing to show for it. I don’t just know what kind of projects are there for me to think that the government has done anything. So, you asked me what my assessment like, I would say that he has performed poorly and has not completed any project and all we know is that the killings and violence started in April and what has he done? When Danbaba was in power, I was an adviser to him, if the late governor hears one single fracas anywhere, he would go there himself; roar like a lion and shout like an elephant and people would be quite. 
What did the governor do when the problem started since April 10, 2019, he did nothing apart from gallivanting around, going to Kaduna and overseas and allowed people to be killing themselves like a swarm of flies. So, he has done nothing and performed woefully and we can’t wait for the four years to end so he can go back to Kaduna. 

Gen. TY Danjuma will clock 82nd on 9th of December, what is your message for him?  
First of all, I wish him a very happy birthday and I regard him as a father of Taraba, but when he keeps quiet, when some of his children are killing themselves, it pains some of us and as a father I expect him to come out and say something to douse the tension and in turns stop the killings and fight. Here, I don’t attribute here and talk based on the rumors that he is part of the problem and I wouldn’t say that because I don’t have the fact with me. But, the fact that he has kept quiet and allowed this thing to fester for long makes one wonder why a father will allow his children to be killing themselves and will not say anything. 
Nevertheless, I wish him happy birthday with long life and prosperity, but he should try and start the process in curbing the violence in Taraba since he brought this governor and I knew all that he went through to bring this man to become the governor of Taraba and without him, this man will never have smell the seat of governor in Taraba State. So, some of us in Taraba hold him responsible for the poor performance of the governor and the violence going on under his nose which he is not saying anything. We hope that he will take positive steps in bringing down the violence going on in Taraba and urge his surrogate son who has not done well to perform better in the remaining three years before his tenure ends so that history will have it that Gen. Danjuma brought somebody and he performed well, that will be a legacy that he will leave for the generation now and the near future.  
So, indirectly you are saying Darius Ishaku is tarnishing the image of Gen. TY Danjuma in Taraba State?
Yes, very greatly, because TY Danjuma is known as great military man and great performer and we thought that when he brings somebody, the person will perform well as we’ve known of him but he brought a mediocre performer who has performed very badly, so we are very disappointed by the person he brought and he has tarnished the image of TY Danjuma and I think the remaining three years, if Danjuma wakes up and charges him to improve and his reputation might be salvaged, otherwise it is going down the drain as a result and performance of the person he brought. 

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